Nehemiah 1:1
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,
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The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah - The prophetical books commence generally with a title of this kind (see Jeremiah 1:1); but no other extant historical book begins thus. Nehemiah, while attaching his work to Ezra, perhaps marked in this manner the point at which his own composition commenced. (See the introduction of the Book of Nehemiah.)

Chisleu - The ninth month, corresponding to the end of November and beginning of December.

In the twentieth year - i. e. of Artaxerxes Longimanus (465-425 B.C.). Compare Nehemiah 2:1.

Shushan the palace - Compare Esther 1:2, Esther 1:5, etc.; Daniel 8:2. Shushan, or Susa, was the ordinary residence of the Persian kings. "The palace" or acropolis was a distinct quarter of the city, occupying an artificial eminence.

The words of Nehemiah - That this book was compiled out of the journal or memoranda made by Nehemiah himself, there can be no doubt: but that he was not the compiler is evident from several passages in the work it. self. As it is written consecutively as one book with Ezra, many have supposed that this latter was the author: but whoever compares the style of each, in the Hebrew, will soon be convinced that this is not correct; the style is so very different, that they could not possibly be the work of the same person.

It is doubtful even whether the Nehemiah who is mentioned Ezra 2:2, who came to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel, be the same with him who is the reputed author of this book. By the computation of the best chronologists, Zerubbabel came to Jerusalem in A. M. 3468; and Nehemiah, who is here mentioned, did not come before the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, which falls in with A. M. 3558, ninety years after: and as his account here is carried down to A. M. 3570, nearly twenty years later, he must at his death have been about a hundred and thirty, allowing him to have been only twenty years old at the time that Zerubbabel went up to Jerusalem. This is by no means likely, as this would make him the king's cupbearer when he was upwards of a hundred years of age! It seems, therefore, evident that the Nehemiah of Ezra cannot be the same with the reputed author of this book, and the cup-bearer of the Persian king.

Son of Hachaliah - Of what tribe or lineage he was, we cannot tell: this is all we know of his parentage. Some suppose he was a priest, and of the house of Aaron, on the authority of 2 Maccabees 1:18, 21; but this is but slender evidence. It is likely he was of a very eminent family, if not of the blood royal of Judah, as only persons of eminence could be placed in the office which he sustained in the Persian court.

The month Chisleu - Answering to a part of our November and December.

Twentieth year - That is, of Artaxerxes, A. M. 3558, b.c. 446.

Shushan the palace - The ancient city of Susa; called in Persian Shuster: the winter residence of the Persian kings.

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah,.... Or his transactions and deeds; for "dibre" signifies things done, as well as words spoken; who Hachaliah his father was is not known; the Arabic version adds, the high priest, without any foundation; though some have thought that Nehemiah was a priest, from a passage in"Therefore whereas we are now purposed to keep the purification of the temple upon the five and twentieth day of the month Chisleu, we thought it necessary to certify you thereof, that ye also might keep it, as the feast of the tabernacles, and of the fire, which was given us when Neemias offered sacrifice, after that he had builded the temple and the altar.'' (2 Maccabees 1:18)and from signing and sealing the covenant at the head of priests, Nehemiah 10:1, but he rather seems to be of the tribe of Judah, see Nehemiah 2:3, and Nehemiah may be the same that went up with Zerubbabel, and returned again, and then became the king's cupbearer; though some are of another opinion; see Gill on Ezra 2:2,

and it came to pass in the month Chisleu; the ninth month, as the Arabic version; of which see Ezra 10:9,

in the twentieth year; not of Nehemiah's age, for, if he went up with Zerubbabel, he must be many years older; but in the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, Nehemiah 1:1,

as I was in Shushan the palace; a city in Persia, the royal seat of the kings of it; as Ecbatana was in the summer time, this in the spring, as Cyrus made it, according to Xenophon (b); but others say (c) it was their seat in winter, and this was the season now when Nehemiah was with the king there; for Chisleu was a winter month, answering to part of November and of December; of Shushan; see Gill on Daniel 8:2, to which may be added what a traveller of the last century says (d) of it,"we rested at Valdac, once the great city Susa, but now very ruinous; it was first built by Tythonus, and his son Memnon, but enlarged by Darius the son of Hystaspes; in the building whereof Memnon was so exceeding prodigal, that, as Cassiodorus writeth, he joined the stones together with gold--such was the beauty and delectableness of it for situation, that they called it "Susa", which in the Persian tongue signified a "lily", but now it is called Valdac, because of the poverty of the place;''and it is generally supposed to have its name from the abundance of lilies about it; but Dr. Hyde (e) gives another signification of its name, he says the Persians called it, "Sus", which signifies "liquorice", but for what reasons he says not. There is a city now called Shustera, and is thought by some travellers to be built at least very near where Shushan formerly stood (f).

(b) Cyropaedia, l. 8. c. 44. (c) Athenaeus, l. 12. c. 1.((d) Cartwright's Preacher's Travels, p. 87, 88. (e) Hist. Relig. Vet. Pers. c. 35. p. 414. (f) Tavernier, tom. 1. l. 4. c. 1.

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month {a} Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,

The Argument - God, in all ages and at all times, sets up worthy persons for the convenience and profit of his Church, as now within the compass of seventy years he raised up various excellent men for the preservation of his people after their return from Babylon. Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, of which the first was their captain to bring them home, and provided that the temple was built: the second reformed their manners and planted religion: and the third built up the walls, delivered the people from oppression and provided that the law of God was carried out among them. He was a godly man, and in great authority with the king, so that the king favoured him greatly and gave him letters to accomplish all the things he desired. This book is also called the second of Ezra by the Latins because he was the author of it.

(a) Which contains part of November and part of December, and was their ninth month.

THE BOOK OF NEHEMIAH Commentary by Robert Jamieson


Ne 1:1-3. Nehemiah, Understanding by Hanani the Afflicted State of Jerusalem, Mourns, Fasts, and Prays.

1. Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah—This eminently pious and patriotic Jew is to be carefully distinguished from two other persons of the same name—one of whom is mentioned as helping to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Ne 3:16), and the other is noticed in the list of those who accompanied Zerubbabel in the first detachment of returning exiles (Ezr 2:2; Ne 7:7). Though little is known of his genealogy, it is highly probable that he was a descendant of the tribe of Judah and the royal family of David.

in the month Chisleu—answering to the close of November and the larger part of December.

Shushan the palace—the capital of ancient Susiana, east of the Tigris, a province of Persia. From the time of Cyrus it was the favorite winter residence of the Persian kings.

Of Israel, as distinguished from priests and Levites, i.e., of the laity. Of these latter are given in all eighty-six names, belonging to ten races, vv. 25-43, who returned with Zerubbabel. See Nos. 1, 5, 6, 9, 8, 4, 30, 17, and 27 of the survey of these races. ירמות in Ezra 10:29 should, according to the Chethiv, be read ירמות. - The twofold naming of sons of Bani in this list (Ezra 10:29 and Ezra 10:34) is strange, and Bani is evidently in one of these places a mistake for some other name. Bertheau supposes that Bigvai may have stood in the text in one of these places. The error undoubtedly lies in the second mention of Bani (Ezra 10:34), and consists not merely in the wrong transcription of this one name. For, while of every other race four, six, seven, or eight individuals are named, no less than seven and twenty names follow בּני מבּני, though all these persons could hardly have belonged to one race, unless the greater number of males therein had married strange wives. Besides, no names of inhabitants of cities of Judah and Benjamin are given in this list (as in Ezra 2:21-28, and Ezra 2:33-35), although it is stated in Ezra 10:7 and Ezra 10:14 that not only the men of Jerusalem, but also dwellers in other cities, had contracted these prohibited marriages, and been summoned to Jerusalem, that judgment might be pronounced in their several cases. These reasons make it probable that the twenty-seven persons enumerated in Ezra 10:34-42 were inhabitants of various localities in Judah, and not merely individuals belonging to a single house. This supposition cannot, however, be further corroborated, since even the lxx and 1 Esdr. read the name Bani in Ezra 10:27 and Ezra 10:34, nor can any conjecture respecting the correct reading laying claim to probability be ventured on. In the single names, the Greek texts of the Septuagint and 1 Esdras frequently differ from the Hebrew text, but the differences are almost all of a kind to furnish no material for criticism. A considerable number of these names reappear in the lists of names in the book of Nehemiah, but under circumstances which nowhere make the identity of the persons bearing them certain. 1:15-44 The best reformers can but do their endeavour; when the Redeemer himself shall come to Zion, he shall effectually turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And when sin is repented of and forsaken, God will forgive it; but the blood of Christ, our Sin-offering, is the only atonement which takes away our guilt. No seeming repentance or amendment will benefit those who reject Him, for self-dependence proves them still unhumbled. All the names written in the book of life, are those of penitent sinners, not of self-righteous persons, who think they have no need of repentance.Verse 1. - The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. Compare Jeremiah 1:1; Hosea 1:2; Amos 1:1, etc. No other historical book commences in this manner, and we may best account for the introduction of the clause by the consideration that "Nehemiah" having been originally appended to "Ezra," it marked the point at which a new narrative began by a new author. The month Chisleu. The word Chisleu, or rather Kislev, is probably Persian. It was unknown to the Jews before the captivity, and is found only in this passage and in Zechariah 7:1, where Kislev is said to be "the ninth month," corresponding nearly to our December. The twentieth year. The twentieth regnal year of Artaxerxes (Longimanus) is intended (see ch. 2:1). This began in B.C. 445, and terminated in B.C. 444. Shushan the palace, where Daniel saw the vision of the ram with two horns (Daniel 8:2), and Ahasuerus (Xerxes) made his great feast to all his princes and servants (Esther 1:3), is beyond all doubt Susa, the capital city of Kissia, or Susiana, one of the most ancient cities in the world, and the place which, from the time of Darius Hystaspis was the principal residence of the Persian court. It was situated in the fertile plain east of the Lower Tigris, and lay on or near the river Choaspes, probably at the spot now known as Sus, or Shush. Remains of the palace were discovered by the expedition under Sir Fenwick Williams in the year 1852, and have been graphically described by Mr. Loftus ('Chaldaea and Susiana,' pp. 373-375). SCOFIELD REFERENCE NOTES (Old Scofield 1917 Edition)

Book Introduction

Margin Chisleu Margin Shushan

The Book of Nehemiah

Fourteen years after the return of Ezra to Jerusalem, Nehemiah led up a company (B.C. 444) and restored the walls and the civil authority. Of those events this book is the record. It is in eight divisions:

I. The journey to Jerusalem, 1.1-2.20

II. The building of the wall, 3.1-6.19.

III. The census, 7.1-73.

IV. The revival, 8.1-11.36.

V. The census of the priests and Levites, 12.1-26.

VI. Dedication of the wall, 12.27-43.

VII. Restoration of the temple worship, 12.44-47.

VIII. The legal order restored, 13.1-31.

The moral state of the time is disclosed by the prophet Malachi. This book affords many instances of individual faith acting on the written word (e.g. Neh 1.8,9; 13.1). It is the principle of 2Tim 2.

The events recorded in Nehemiah cover a period of 11 years (Ussher).

Margin Chisleu

i.e. December.

Margin Shushan

Or, Susa, ancient capital of Persia.

in the month

Ezra 10:9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together …

Zechariah 7:1 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word …

in the twentieth

Ezra 7:7 And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, …

Shushan (Shushan, or Susa, was the capital of Susiana, a province of Persia, and the winter residence of the Persian monarchs; situated about

Esther 1:2 That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of …

Esther 3:15 The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and …

Daniel 8:2 And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was …

1:1 The words - Or rather, the acts, as the word often signifies. Chisleu - Which is the ninth month, containing part of November, and part of December. Year - Of Artaxerxes. Shushan - The royal city of Persia.
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