Nehemiah 9:1
Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackcloths, and earth on them.
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(1) In the twenty and fourth day.—After one day of rest, the people assembled with all the tokens of sorrow, even to dust on the head (1Samuel 4:12): the external signs and the internal spirit were one.

Nehemiah 9:1. Now in the twenty and fourth day — The feast of tabernacles began on the fourteenth day, and ended on the twenty-second, all which time mourning had been forbidden, as contrary to the nature of the feast, which was to be kept with joy. But now, on the twenty-fourth, the next day but one after the feast, their consciences having been fully awakened, and their hearts filled with grief for their sins, which they were not allowed to express in that time of public joy, they resume their former thoughts, and, recalling their sins to mind, set apart a day for solemn fasting and humiliation.9:1-3 The word will direct and quicken prayer, for by it the Spirit helps our infirmities in prayer. The careful study of God's word will more and more discover to us our own sinfulness, and the plenteousness of his salvation; thus it calls us to mourn for sin, and to rejoice in him. Every discovery of the truth of God, should render us more unwearied in attendance on his sacred word, and on his worship.The festival lasted from the 15th day of the 7th month to the first. The 22nd day was a day of solemn observance Nehemiah 8:18. One day seems to have been allowed the people for rest; and then the work of repentance, for which they had shown themselves ready Nehemiah 8:9, was taken in hand, and a general fast was proclaimed. CHAPTER 9

Ne 9:1-3. A Solemn Fast and Repentance of the People.

1. Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month—that is, on the second day after the close of the feast of tabernacles, which commenced on the fourteenth and terminated on the twenty-second (Le 23:34-37). The day immediately after that feast, the twenty-third, had been occupied in separating the delinquents from their unlawful wives, as well, perhaps, as in taking steps for keeping aloof in future from unnecessary intercourse with the heathen around them. For although this necessary measure of reformation had been begun formerly by Ezra (Ezr 10:1-17), and satisfactorily accomplished at that time (in so far as he had information of the existing abuses, or possessed the power of correcting them) yet it appears that this reformatory work of Ezra had been only partial and imperfect. Many cases of delinquency had escaped, or new defaulters had appeared who had contracted those forbidden alliances; and there was an urgent necessity for Nehemiah again to take vigorous measures for the removal of a social evil which threatened the most disastrous consequences to the character and prosperity of the chosen people. A solemn fast was now observed for the expression of those penitential and sorrowful feelings which the reading of the law had produced, but which had been suppressed during the celebration of the feast; and the sincerity of their repentance was evinced by the decisive steps taken for the correction of existing abuses in the matter of marriage.The solemn fast and repentance of the people, Nehemiah 9:1,2; and the manner of it, Nehemiah 9:3. The Levites confess and bless God for his goodness to them and their fathers, Nehemiah 9:4-8, in Egypt, Nehemiah 9:9,10; in their journey out of it, Nehemiah 9:11,12; upon Mount Sinai, Nehemiah 9:13,14; in their journey towards Canaan, Nehemiah 9:15-18; in the wilderness, Nehemiah 9:19-21; in driving out the nations before them, Nehemiah 9:22-26; in hearing their prayer when in trouble, and saving them, Nehemiah 9:27-31. They confess their sins, Nehemiah 9:32-37; and seal a covenant, Nehemiah 9:38.

In the twenty and fourth day of this month; the next day but one after the feast of tabernacles, which begun on the 14th day, and ended on the 22nd day, Le 23; for their consciences having then been fully awakened by the law read to them, and their hearts being full of grief for their great sins, which they were not allowed to express in that time of public joy and triumph; now when that was past, they resume their former thoughts and passions, and recalling their sins to mind, set apart a day for solemn fasting and humiliation.

Now in the twenty fourth day of this month,.... The seventh month, the month Tisri or September, two days after the feast of tabernacles was ended:

the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them; which were all outward tokens of mourning and humiliation, see Joel 1:8 which they could not show during the festival; but that being over, they return to it, see Nehemiah 8:9.

Now in the twenty and fourth day of this {a} month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them.

(a) Meaning, the seventh.

1. in the twenty and fourth day of this month] i. e. on the second day after the 8th day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

fasting] Cf. Ezra 8:21; Ezra 10:6.

sackclothes] R.V. sackcloth. The symbol of sorrow, often of the sorrow of penitence, as in Daniel 9:3; Jonah 3:5; Jonah 3:8; 1 Chronicles 21:16.

earth upon them] For the sign of mourning, earth or dust upon the head, cf. 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; 2 Samuel 15:32; Job 2:12.

1–5a. The Day of National Humiliation, and its religious services

It must be admitted that, if the Great Day of Atonement were observed at this time, it is strange that its occurrence in this month was not made use of for the solemn service of confession. Perhaps this was one of the commands of ‘the law,’ of which the stricter observance as of the Feast of Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:17), was now first publicly made known to the people.Celebration of the feast of tabernacles. - Nehemiah 8:13 On the second day were gathered together the heads of the houses of all the people, of the priests, and of the Levites to Ezra the scribe, to attend to the words of the law. The infinitive להשׂכּיל may indeed be taken (as by Bertheau) as the continuation of the finite verb, instead of as infinitive absolute (Ewald, 352, c); this is, however, admissible only in cases where the second verb either states what must be done, or further describes the condition of affairs, while להשׂכּיל here states the purpose for which the heads of the people, etc. assembled themselves unto Ezra. Hence we take להשׂכּיל in its usual meaning, and the w before it as explicative. אל השׂכּיל, as in Psalm 41:1, expresses taking an attentive interest in anything. They desired to be further and more deeply instructed in the law by Ezra.
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