|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
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.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
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