Nehemiah 9:11
And you did divide the sea before them, so that they went through the middle of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors you threw into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters.
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(11) As a stone into the mighty waters—Compare the Song of Moses, and mark in the Hebrew both the identity and the variation.

9:4-38 The summary of their prayers we have here upon record. Much more, no doubt, was said. Whatever ability we have to do any thing in the way of duty, we are to serve and glorify God according to the utmost of it. When confessing our sins, it is good to notice the mercies of God, that we may be the more humbled and ashamed. The dealings of the Lord showed his goodness and long-suffering, and the hardness of their hearts. The testimony of the prophets was the testimony of the Spirit in the prophets, and it was the Spirit of Christ in them. They spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and what they said is to be received accordingly. The result was, wonder at the Lord's mercies, and the feeling that sin had brought them to their present state, from which nothing but unmerited love could rescue them. And is not their conduct a specimen of human nature? Let us study the history of our land, and our own history. Let us recollect our advantages from childhood, and ask what were our first returns? Let us frequently do so, that we may be kept humble, thankful, and watchful. Let all remember that pride and obstinacy are sins which ruin the soul. But it is often as hard to persuade the broken-hearted to hope, as formerly it was to bring them to fear. Is this thy case? Behold this sweet promise, A God ready to pardon! Instead of keeping away from God under a sense of unworthiness, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. He is a God ready to pardon.The host of heaven worshippeth thee - i. e the angels. See 1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 103:21. 6-38. Thou, even thou, art Lord alone, &c.—In this solemn and impressive prayer, in which they make public confession of their sins, and deprecate the judgments due to the transgressions of their fathers, they begin with a profound adoration of God, whose supreme majesty and omnipotence is acknowledged in the creation, preservation, and government of all. Then they proceed to enumerate His mercies and distinguished favors to them as a nation, from the period of the call of their great ancestor and the gracious promise intimated to him in the divinely bestowed name of Abraham, a promise which implied that he was to be the Father of the faithful, the ancestor of the Messiah, and the honored individual in whose seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. Tracing in full and minute detail the signal instances of divine interposition for their deliverance and their interest—in their deliverance from Egyptian bondage—their miraculous passage through the Red Sea—the promulgation of His law—the forbearance and long-suffering shown them amid their frequent rebellions—the signal triumphs given them over their enemies—their happy settlement in the promised land—and all the extraordinary blessings, both in the form of temporal prosperity and of religious privilege, with which His paternal goodness had favored them above all other people, they charge themselves with making a miserable requital. They confess their numerous and determined acts of disobedience. They read, in the loss of their national independence and their long captivity, the severe punishment of their sins. They acknowledge that, in all heavy and continued judgments upon their nation, God had done right, but they had done wickedly. And in throwing themselves on His mercy, they express their purpose of entering into a national covenant, by which they pledge themselves to dutiful obedience in future. Into the mighty waters, i.e. the deep waters, such as these were, into which, when a stone is thrown, there is no hopes of seeing it again. And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land,.... That is, the Israelites, see Exodus 14:21,

and their persecutors thou threwest into the deeps; with great ease, and with indignation, meaning the Egyptians, that pursued hotly after them, and were thrown into the sea:

as a stone into the mighty waters; where they sunk and perished, see Exodus 15:4.

And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors thou threwest into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters.
11. divide … the dry land] The description is based on Exodus 14:21-22; Exodus 15:19. The verbal correspondence is striking.

their persecutors thou threwest into the deeps] R.V. their pursuers thou didst cast into the depths. The poetical language of the latter part of the verse is drawn from Exodus 15:4-5, ‘Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea; … they went down into the depths like a stone.’

as a stone into the mighty waters] Cf. Exodus 15:5, ‘like a stone.’ 10, ‘as lead in the mighty waters.’ For the last words cf. Isaiah 43:16, ‘a path in the mighty waters.’Verse 11. - As a stone. This phrase is taken from the "song of Moses" (Exodus 15:5). The composer of the address has also in his mind Exodus 15:10. The epithet given to the "waters" is not, however, the same, as might appear from the A.V. There stood upon the scaffold of the Levites, i.e., upon the platform erected for the Levites (comp. Nehemiah 8:4), Jeshua and seven other Levites whose names are given, and they cried with a loud voice to God, and said to the assembled congregation, "Stand up, bless the Lord your God for ever and ever! and blessed be the name of Thy glory, which is exalted above all blessing and praise." The repetition of the names of the Levites in Nehemiah 9:5 shows that this invitation to praise God is distinct from the crying to God with a loud voice of Nehemiah 9:4, and seems to say that the Levites first cried to God, i.e., addressed to Him their confessions and supplications, and after having done so, called upon the congregation to worship God. Eight names of Levites being given in both verses, and five of these - Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, and Sherebiah - being identical, the difference of the three others in the two verses - Bunni, Bani, and Chenani (Nehemiah 9:4), and Hashabniah, Hodijah, and Pethahiah (Nehemiah 9:5) - seems to have arisen from a clerical error, - an appearance favoured also by the circumstance that Bani occurs twice in Nehemiah 9:4. Of the other names in question, Hodijah occurs Nehemiah 10:14, and Pethahiah Ezra 10:23, as names of Levites, but כּנני and חשׁבניה nowhere else. Hence Bunni, Bani, and Chenani (Nehemiah 9:4), and Hashabniah (Nehemiah 9:5), may be assigned to a clerical error; but we have no means for restoring the correct names. With regard to the matter of these verses, Ramb. remarks on Nehemiah 9:4 : constitisse opinor omnes simul, ita tamen ut unus tantum eodem tempore fuerit precatus, ceteris ipsi adstantibus atque sua etiam vice Deum orantibus, hence that the eight Levites prayed to God successively; while Bertheau thinks that these Levites entreated God, in penitential and supplicatory psalms, to have mercy on His sinful but penitent people. In this case we must also regard their address to the congregation in Nehemiah 9:5 as a liturgical hymn, to which the congregation responded by praising God in chorus. To this view may be objected the circumstance, that no allusion is made in the narrative to the singing of penitential or other songs. Besides, a confession of sins follows in vv. 6-37, which may fitly be called a crying unto God, without its being stated by whom it was uttered. "This section," says Bertheau, "whether we regard its form or contents, cannot have been sung either by the Levites or the congregation. We recognise in it the speech of an individual, and hence accept the view that the statement of the lxx, that after the singing of the Levites, Nehemiah 9:4, and the praising of God in Nehemiah 9:5, Ezra came forward and spoke the words following, is correct, and that the words καὶ εἶπεν Ἔσδρας, which it inserts before Nehemiah 9:6, originally stood in the Hebrew text." But if Psalms, such as Psalm 105-106, and 107, were evidently appointed to be sung to the praise of God by the Levites or by the congregation, there can be no reason why the prayer vv. 6-37 should not be adapted both in form and matter for this purpose. This prayer by no means bears the impress of being the address of an individual, but is throughout the confession of the whole congregation. The prayer speaks of our fathers (Nehemiah 9:9, Nehemiah 9:16), of what is come upon us (Nehemiah 9:33), addresses Jahve as our God, and says we have sinned. Of course Ezra might have uttered it in the name of the congregation; but that the addition of the lxx, καὶ εἶπεν Ἔσδρας, is of no critical value, and is a mere conjecture of the translators, is evident from the circumstance that the prayer does not begin with the words יהוה הוּא אתּה of v. 6, but passes into the form of direct address to God in the last clause of v. 5: Blessed be the name of Thy glory. By these words the prayer which follows is evidently declared to be the confession of those who are to praise the glory of the Lord; and the addition, "and Ezra said," characterized as an unskilful interpolation.

According to what has now been said, the summons, יהוה את בּרכוּ קוּמוּ, Nehemiah 9:5, like the introductions to may Hodu and Hallelujah Psalms (e.g., Psalm 105:1; Psalm 106:1), is to be regarded as only an exhortation to the congregation to praise God, i.e., to join in the praises following, and to unite heartily in the confession of sin. This view of the connection of Nehemiah 9:5 and Nehemiah 9:6 explains the reason why it is not stated either in Nehemiah 9:6, or at the close of this prayer in Nehemiah 9:37, that the assembled congregation blessed God agreeably to the summons thus addressed to them. They did so by silently and heartily praying to, and praising God with the Levites, who were reciting aloud the confession of sin. On ויברכוּ R. Sal. already remarks: nunc incipiunt loqui Levitae versus Shechinam s. ad ipsum Deum. The invitation to praise God insensibly passes into the action of praising. If, moreover, vv. 6-37 are related in the manner above stated to Nehemiah 9:5, then it is not probable that the crying to God with a loud voice (Nehemiah 9:4) was anything else than the utterance of the prayer subsequently given, vv. 6-37. The repetition of the names in Nehemiah 9:5 is not enough to confirm this view, but must be explained by the breadth of the representation here given, and is rescued from the charge of mere tautology by the fact that in Nehemiah 9:4 the office of the individuals in question is not named, which it is by the word הלויּם in Nehemiah 9:5. For הלויּם in Nehemiah 9:4 belongs as genitive to מעלה, and both priests and laymen might have stood on the platform of the Levites. For this reason it is subsequently stated in Nehemiah 9:5, that Jeshua, etc., were Levites; and in doing this the names are again enumerated. In the exhortation, Stand up and bless, etc., Bertheau seeks to separate "for ever and ever" from the imp. בּרכוּ, and to take it as a further qualification of אלהיכם. This is, however, unnatural and arbitrary; comp. 1 Chronicles 16:26. Still more arbitrary is it to supply "One day all people" to ויברכוּ, "shall bless Thy name," etc. וגו וּמרומם adds a second predicate to שׁם: and which is exalted above all blessing and praise, i.e., sublimius est quam ut pro dignitate laudari possit (R. Sal.).

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