Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
THE BOOK OF NEHEMIAS;
commonly called THE SECOND BOOK OF ESDRAS.
This Book takes its name from the writer, who was cup-bearer to Artaxerxes, (surnamed Longimanus) king of Persia, and was sent by him with a commission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It is also called the Second Book of Esdras, because it is a continuation of the history begun by Esdras, of the state of the people of God after their return from captivity. (Challoner) --- Genebrard believes that the latter wrote the work. But how long must he thus have lived? and how come the lists to vary so much? (Calmet) --- We may allow that these variations are owing to the mistakes of transcribers, (1 Esdras ii. 1.) for the writer of both works was certainly inspired. Esdras lived a long time along with Nehemias; (chap. xii. 35.) and he may have left memorials, as well as the latter, from which the present work seems to be compiled. (Haydock) --- Some additions have been made since the days of Nehemias, articularly chap. xii. to ver. 26, or at least (Calmet) the five last of these verses. (Capel.) (Chronicles) --- The passage cited from the commentaries of Nehemias, (2 Machabees ii. 13.) is not to be found here; which shews that we have not his entire work, but only an abridgment, in which the author has adopted his words, with some few alterations. The fifth chapter seems to be out of its place, and also the dedication of the walls, chap. xii. 27. Nehemias was a person in great favour at the court of Persia; and of high birth, probably of the royal family, (Eusebius; Isidore; Genebrard in Chron.) as most of the ancients believe that all who governed, till the time of the Asmoneans, were of the tribe of Juda. Hence he styles Hanani his brother, (chap. i. 2.) and declines entering into the temple, chap. vi. 11. His name never occurs among the priests; and though we read [in] 2 Machabees i. 18, 21, jussit sacerdos Nehemias, (Tirinus) the Greek has, "Nehemias order the priests;" Greek: iereis: (Calmet; Huet; Du Hamel) and the title of priest sometimes is given to laymen at the head of affairs. (Haydock) --- In this character Nehemias appeared, by order of Artaxerxes: and notwithstanding the obstructions of the enemies of Juda, rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, and returned after twelve years to court, making a second visit to his own country, a little before the death of the king, whom he probably survived only one year, dying the year of the world 3580, about thirty years after he had been appointed governor. (Calmet) --- In the two first chapters, we behold his solicitude for the welfare of his country, in the ten following his success, and in the last what abuses he corrected. (Worthington) --- He renewed the covenant with God, (chap. ix., and x.) sent for the sacred fire, and established a library at Jerusalem, 2 Machabees i. 19, 34., and ii. 13. (Haydock)
Words, or transactions written by Nehemias. (Menochius) --- Helcias, or Hebrew and Septaugint, "Chelcias." --- Casleu, the third of the civil year, 1 Esdras x. 9. --- Year of Artaxerxes, (Calmet) after he was associated with his father on the throne; (Tirinus) or rather the death of Xerxes. From this period the seventy weeks of Daniel are dated, (Du Hamel) or from the 23rd of Artaxerxes, and the 28th of Xerxes, (Tirinus) as above three years must have been consumed in making preparations for the walls, &c. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] xi. 5.) --- The name of Nehemias, "comforter of God," as well as his being sent by a king to build, &c., prefigured Jesus Christ, sent by God to comfort and establish his Church. (Ven. Bede) (Worthington) (Haydock) --- Susa. Hebrew, "in Susa, the palace," where the kings of Persia resided in the months of winter, (Atheneus xii. 1.) and of spring. (Xenophon) (Cyr. viii.) (Curtius v. 8.) --- Here Darius probably kept his court at other times, Esther i. 2. (Calmet) --- Susa was situated on the river Coaspes, between the provinces of Babylon and Persia. (Du Hamel)
Hanani, a relation, whom Nehemias brought back, chap. vii. 2. --- Came. Some Latin copies add, "to me," (Lyranus) as if a deputation had been sent; but of this the text is silent. (Calmet)
Province of Judea, subject to the Persians, as it was afterwards to the Romans; though, at present, they were allowed to have governors of their own nation. (Menochius) --- Reproach, on account of the surrounding enemies. (Haydock) --- Fire, recently; (Menochius. See 1 Esdras iv. 12., and xi. 9.) or rather by Nabuchodonosor; as the kings of Persia would not suffer the city to be fortified, for fear of a fresh rebellion. (Lyranus) (Tirinus) --- We find that little progress (chap. ii., and iv.; Calmet) had at least been made in the work, though the blame must rather be laid on the enemies of Israel, than on several of the kings of Persia, who seem to have authorized the undertaking, which Cambyses, or Smerdis, had for a time interrupted. They only specify, indeed, that leave was granted to build the temple. But they allowed them to erect houses for themselves, which could not have been done to any purpose, among so many enemies, unless they had been defended by some sort of fortifications. (Haydock)
Days; about four months, till Nisan. (Calmet)
They. Hebrew and Septuagint, "we have sinned." (Menochius)
Vanity. Hebrew, "we have been corrupted." (Vatable) "we have dealt very corruptly." (Protestants) (Haydock) --- The author of the Vulgate has read e for e. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "we have been very dissolute, or weak."
World. Literally, "of heaven, or the sky," (Haydock) which seems to the vulgar (Calmet) to rest upon the horizon. (Tirinus) See Deuteronomy xxx. 4.
Redeemed, or liberated from great evils. (Menochius)
Man; (virum) the great king, (Haydock) Artaxerxes. (Calmet) --- Cup-bearer; Athersatha, 1 Esdras ii. 63., and 2 Esdras vii. 65.