Nehemiah 1:3
And they said to me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.
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(3) And they said.—Nehemiah’s question and his friends answer refer first to the people and then to the city. As to the former the terms used have a deep pathos. Those who had returned to their country—now only the province—are, in the question, the Jews that had escaped; in the answer they are the Remnant that are left: both being from the captivity.

In great affliction and reproach.—In distress because of the contempt of the people around. All these expressions are familiar in the prophets; but they are united here in a peculiar and affecting combination. As to the city, the report is that the walls were still “broken down”: lying prostrate, with partial exceptions, as Nebuchadnezzar left them a hundred and forty-two years before (2Kings 25:10), and, moreover, what had not been recorded, “the gates thereof burned with fire.” Though the Temple had been rebuilt, there is no valid reason for supposing that. the walls of the city had been in part restored and again demolished.

Nehemiah 1:3. They said, The remnant that are left in the province — In Judea, which was now made a province under the Persian kings; are in great affliction and reproach — Despised and distressed by the neighbouring nations. The wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, &c. — The walls and gates continue as the Chaldeans left them after their conquest of the city, the Jews not being in a condition to rebuild them, nor having commission from the kings of Persia to do so, but only to build the temple, and their own private houses. This made their condition both very despicable, under the abiding marks of poverty and slavery, and very dangerous, for their enemies might, when they pleased, make an easy prey of them. 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.The attempt to rebuild the wall in the time of the Pseudo-Smerdis Ezra 4:12-24 had been stopped. It still remained in ruins. The Assyrian sculptures show that it was the usual practice to burn the gates. 2, 3. Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah—Hanani is called his brother (Ne 7:2). But as that term was used loosely by Jews as well as other Orientals, it is probable that no more is meant than that he was of the same family. According to Josephus, Nehemiah, while walking around the palace walls, overheard some persons conversing in the Hebrew language. Having ascertained that they had lately returned from Judea, he was informed by them, in answer to his eager enquiries, of the unfinished and desolate condition of Jerusalem, as well as the defenseless state of the returned exiles. The commissions previously given to Zerubbabel and Ezra extending only to the repair of the temple and private dwellings, the walls and gates of the city had been allowed to remain a mass of shattered ruins, as they had been laid by the Chaldean siege. In the province, i.e. in Judea, which was now made a province under the Persian monarchs: See Poole "Ezra 5:8".

In great affliction and reproach; despised and distressed by the neighbouring nations.

The wall is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned, i.e. the walls and gates continue in the same woeful plight in which Nebuchadnezzar left them; the Jews not being yet in a condition to rebuild them, nor having commission from the kings of Persia to do so, but only to build the temple and their own private houses. And this made their enemies scorn them; who also would have ruined them, but for fear of offending the Persian king. And they said unto me, the remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province,.... In Judea, now reduced to a province of the Persian empire:

are in great affliction and reproach; harassed and distressed, calumniated and vilified, by their enemies the Samaritans:

the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burnt with fire; that is, its wall and gates were in the same condition in which Nebuchadnezzar had left them, for since his times as yet they had never been set up; for this is not to be understood of what was lately done by their adversaries, which is not at all probable.

And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the {c} province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

(c) Meaning in Judea.

Verse 3. - The wall of Jerusalem also is broken down. It has been supposed, either that the demolition of the wall here referred to was quite recent, having occurred during the space of twelve years which intervenes between the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, or else that it belonged to a time of depression which followed shortly after the completion of the temple by Zerubbabel (Ewald, 'History of Israel,' vol. 5. pp. 120, 121, and 148, note 3, E. Tr.); but there is really no reason to believe that the demolition effected under the orders of Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:10) had ever hitherto been repaired, or the restoration of the wall even attempted. The Samaritan accusation in Ezra 4:12 falls short of a statement that the wall was restored, and, if it asserted the fact, would be insufficient authority for it. The supposition of Ewald, that "as soon as the city was rebuilt, the attempt would be made to fortify it" (p. 121, note 3), ignores the jealousy of the Persians and their power to step in and prevent a subject town from fortifying itself. 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.
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