Moreover I said to the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)To the governors beyond the river.—Between the Euphrates and Susa protection was not needed.Nehemiah 2:7-8. That they may convey me over till I come into Judah — May conduct me with safety through their several territories, and furnish me with necessaries on my journey. And a letter unto Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest — The forest of Lebanon, famous for choice trees. That he may give me timber for the gates — The gates of the temple. For though the temple itself was built, yet the several courts seem not to have been walled about, nor the gates made leading to the temple. Of the palace — The king’s palace, which adjoined to the house of God. And for the house that I shall enter into — He desired leave to build a convenient house for himself, and for those that should be future governors. According to the good hand of my God upon me — By the divine favour, which inclined the king to do what he desired; which he calls God’s good hand, because we extend favour with our hands.
I set him a time - Nehemiah appears to have stayed at Jerusalem twelve years from his first arrival Nehemiah 5:14; but he can scarcely have mentioned so long a term to the king. Probably his leave of absence was prolonged from time to time.Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. letters] see note on Ezra 4:8.
the governors beyond the river] The ‘Pekhahs’ of the province on the west bank of the Euphrates (Ezra 8:36). A reference to Ezra 4:7-10; Ezra 4:17 shows the importance of securing the recognition of these provincial governors.
convey me over … into Judah] R.V. let me pass through … unto Judah. Letters of safe conduct through their territory. The governors would not be asked to assist the journey, but to secure that Nehemiah should not be hindered or molested on the way.Verse 7. - Let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river. It is not quite clear why no letters were needed to the governors between Susa and the Euphrates. Perhaps, while travelling was safe, at any rate with an escort, in the more central provinces, beyond the river it became unsafe (see Ezra 8:31). Nehemiah 1:1-11, the twentieth year of Artaxerxes is named, and the month Chisleu there mentioned (Nehemiah 1:1), which, after the Hebrew method of computing the year, was the ninth month and preceded Nisan by three months, is placed in the same year. This can only be explained on the grounds that either the twentieth year of Artaxerxes did not coincide with the year of the calendar, but began later, or that Nehemiah here uses the computation of time current in anterior Asia, and also among the Jews after the captivity in civil matters, and which made the new year begin in autumn. Of these two views we esteem the latter to be correct, since it cannot be shown that the years of the king's reign would be reckoned from the day of his accession. In chronological statements they were reckoned according to the years of the calendar, so that the commencement of a year of a reign coincided with that of the civil year. If, moreover, the beginning of the year is placed in autumn, Tishri is the first, Chisleu the third, and Nisan the seventh month. The circumstances which induced Nehemiah not to apply to the king till three months after his reception of the tidings which so distressed him, are not stated. It is probable that he himself required some time for deliberation before he could come to a decision as to the best means of remedying the distresses of Jerusalem; then, too, he may not have ventured at once to bring his request before the king from fear of meeting with a refusal, and may therefore have waited till an opportunity favourable to his desires should present itself. לפניו יין, "wine was before the king," is a circumstantial clause explanatory of what follows. The words allude to some banquet at which the king and queen were present. The last sentence, "And I have not been sad before him" (רע according to רעים פּניך of Nehemiah 2:2, of a sad countenance), can neither mean, I had never before been sad before him (de Wette); nor, I was accustomed not to be sad before him; but, I had not been sad before him at the moment of presenting the cup to him (Bertheau), because it would not have been becoming to serve the king with a sad demeanour: comp. Esther 4:2. The king, however, noticed his sadness, and inquired: "Why is thy countenance sad, since thou art not sick? this is nothing but sorrow of heart, i.e., thy sadness of countenance can arise only from sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid;" because the unexpected question obliged him to explain the cause of his sorrow, and he could not tell how the king would view the matter, nor whether he would favour his ardent desire to assist his fellow-countrymen in Judah.
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