|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:1-9 Israel was a peculiar people, and not to mingle with the nations. See the benefit of publicly reading the word of God; when it is duly attended to, it discovers to us sin and duty, good and evil, and shows wherein we have erred. We profit, when we are thus wrought upon to separate from evil. Those that would drive sin out of their hearts, the living temples, must throw out its household stuff, and all the provision made for it; and take away all the things that are the food and fuel of lust; this is really to mortify it. When sin is cast out of the heart by repentance, let the blood of Christ be applied to it by faith, then let it be furnished with the graces of God's Spirit, for every good work.
Verse 6. - In all this time. Literally, "during all this"- while all this was being done. The reference seems to be solely to the affair of Eliashib and Tobiah. Artaxerxes, king of Babylon. The title "king of Babylon," which was certainly borne by Cyrus, Cambyses, and Darius Hystaspis, may have continued in use down to the time of Nehemiah, or even later. If he visited Artaxerxes at Babylon, the court happening to be there at the time, he would naturally think and speak of him as "king of Babylon." After certain days. Literally, "at the end of days," which is thought to mean "at the expiration of a year." I obtained leave of the king. Gesenius and Professor Lee render, "I asked leave of the king; Houbigant, Rambach, and others, "I was asked for from the king," i.e. "the Jews asked to have me sent back to govern them."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem,.... Nehemiah, who was absent all the while these things were done by Eliashib, or otherwise they would not have been suffered:
for in the thirty second year of Artaxerxes, king of Babylon, came I unto the king from Jerusalem; after he had governed there twelve years, to whom he came to give an account of affairs there; this was not Xerxes, as some (b) have thought, for he reigned but twenty one years; but Darius Hystaspis, who reigned thirty six years, according to Ptolemy's canon, and with which Herodotus (c) agrees; he is called king of Babylon, because that, with the whole empire, was in the hands of the king of Persia, as it had been from the times of Cyrus:
and after certain days obtained I leave of the king; to return to Jerusalem again; not after five years, as Dr. Prideaux (d) thinks; for it is not likely that Nehemiah would stay so long ere he asked leave of the king to return to Jerusalem, which was so much his care, and on whose prosperity his heart was so much set; rather at most it was but a full year he stayed ere he got leave to return, as Vatablus and Piscator interpret it; in which sense the phrase of certain days is used in Leviticus 25:29, and in other places quoted by the last mentioned interpreter.
(b) Apud Ganz. Tzemach David, par. 2. fol. 8. 2.((c) Polymnia, sive, l. 7. c. 1.((d) Connect. par. 1. p. 397.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6-9. But in all this was not I at Jerusalem—Eliashib (concluding that, as Nehemiah had departed from Jerusalem, and, on the expiry of his allotted term of absence, had resigned his government, he had gone not to return) began to use great liberties, and, there being none left whose authority or frown he dreaded, allowed himself to do things most unworthy of his sacred office, and which, though in unison with his own irreligious character, he would not have dared to attempt during the residence of the pious governor. Nehemiah resided twelve years as governor of Jerusalem, and having succeeded in repairing and refortifying the city, he at the end of that period returned to his duties in Shushan. How long [Nehemiah] remained there is not expressly said, but "after certain days," which is a Scripture phraseology for a year or a number of years, he obtained leave to resume the government of Jerusalem; to his deep mortification and regret, he found matters in the neglected and disorderly state here described. Such gross irregularities as were practised, such extraordinary corruptions as had crept in, evidently imply the lapse of a considerable time. Besides, they exhibit the character of Eliashib, the high priest, in a most unfavorable light; for while he ought, by his office, to have preserved the inviolable sanctity of the temple and its furniture, his influence had been directly exercised for evil; especially he had given permission and countenance to a most indecent outrage—the appropriation of the best apartments in the sacred building to a heathen governor, one of the worst and most determined enemies of the people and the worship of God. The very first reform Nehemiah on his second visit resolved upon, was the stopping of this gross profanation [by Eliashib]. The chamber which had been polluted by the residence of the idolatrous Ammonite was, after undergoing the process of ritual purification (Nu 15:9), restored to its proper use—a storehouse for the sacred vessels.
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