Nehemiah 9:17
And refused to obey, neither were mindful of your wonders that you did among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but you are a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsook them not.
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(17) In their rebellion.—Rather, appointed a captain to return to their bondage in Egypt. This is the reading of some MSS., followed by the Septuagint, and is in harmony with Numbers 14:4, though there the appointment is only proposed.

A God ready to pardon.A God of pardons; only in Daniel 9:9 and Psalm 130:4.

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.In their rebellion - The Septuagint and several maunscripts have "in Egypt" (the words in the original differing by one letter only), and translate - "And appointed a captain to return to their bondage in Egypt." Compare the margin reference. The appointment of a leader is regarded here as made, whereas we are only told in the Book of Numbers that it was proposed. 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. Refused to obey; persisted in their disobedience after many admonitions, and invitations to repentance.

Appointed a captain, i.e. designed, purposed, and resolved to do so, Numbers 14:4, and therefore they are said to do so, as Abraham is said to have offered up Isaac, Hebrews 11:17, because he intended and attempted to do it. And refused to obey,.... Though exhorted, admonished, and threatened, such was their obstinacy:

neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; in delivering them at the Red sea, in raining manna about them, and giving them water out of the rock:

but hardened their necks; see the preceding verse:

and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage; they not only proposed it, but determined upon it, which is reckoned the same as if they had done it, see Numbers 14:4,

but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; as he had proclaimed his name before Moses, and as the whole of his conduct towards the people of Israel abundantly shewed, see Exodus 34:6

and forsookest them not; when in the wilderness, where otherwise they must have perished, but still fed and protected them, notwithstanding their provocations.

And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.
17. in their rebellion appointed a captain, &c.] Based on Numbers 14:4, and perhaps representing a tradition that the words ‘And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt’ were partially carried into effect.

The R.V. marg. runs, ‘The Sept. has, And appointed a captain to return to their bondage in Egypt.’ See Numbers 14:4. The Sept. (ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ) read b’mizraim for b’miryam. Another proposed rendering instead of ‘appointed a captain’ is ‘turned their attention,’ or ‘directed their thoughts,’ literally ‘set their head.’

a God ready to pardon] R.V. marg. ‘Heb. a God of forgivenesses’. The word for ‘forgivenesses’ is found only in Daniel 9:9; Psalm 130:4.

merciful] R.V. full of compassion.

and of great kindness] R.V. plenteous in mercy.

For these descriptive epithets of Divine mercy cf. Nehemiah 9:31; Exodus 33:19; Exodus 34:6-7; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 111:4; Psalm 145:8; 2 Chronicles 30:9; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3.

forsookest them not] Cf. Nehemiah 9:31; Ezra 9:9.Verse 17. - In their rebellion. Several MSS. have b'Mitzraim for b'Miryam, which would give the sense "appointed a captain to return to their bondage in Egypt." So the Septuagint. Appointed a captain. The reference is to Numbers 14:4, where we are told that the Israelites "said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt." The Levites speak as if the appointment had been made, perhaps regarding the intention as morally equivalent to the act. A God ready to pardon. Literally, "a God of pardons." The word used is a rare one, occurring only in Daniel 9:9 and Psalm 130:4, besides the present passage. Gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness. This is quoted from Joel 2:13, which is perhaps a conscious reproduction of Jonah 4:2. The fulfilment of this word by the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and their guidance through the wilderness to Canaan.

Nehemiah 9:9-11

"And Thou sawest the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red Sea: Nehemiah 9:10 And showedst signs and wonders upon Pharaoh and all his servants, and on all the people of his land, because Thou knewest that they dealt proudly against them, and madest Thyself a name, as this day. Nehemiah 9:11 And Thou dividedst the sea before them, and they went through the midst of the sea on dry land; and their persecutors Thou threwest into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters." In Nehemiah 9:9 are comprised two subjects, which are carried out in Nehemiah 9:10, Nehemiah 9:11 : (1) the affliction of the Israelites in Egypt, which God saw (comp. Exodus 3:7), and out of which He delivered them by the signs and wonders He showed upon Pharaoh (Nehemiah 9:10); (2) the crying for help at the Red Sea, when the Israelites perceived Pharaoh with his horsemen and chariots in pursuit (Exodus 14:10), and the help which God gave them by dividing the sea, etc. (Nehemiah 9:11). The words in Nehemiah 9:10 are supported by Deuteronomy 6:22, on the ground of the historical narrative, Exodus 7-10. The expression עליהם הזידוּ כּי is formed according to עליהם זדוּ אשׁר, Exodus 18:11. על הזיד occurs Exodus 21:14 in a general sense. On וגו שׁם לך ותּעשׂ comp. Jeremiah 32:20; Isaiah 58:12, Isaiah 58:14; 1 Chronicles 17:22. A name as this day - in that the miracles which God then did are still praised, and He continues still to manifest His almighty power. The words of Nehemiah 9:11 are supported by Exodus 14:21-22, Exodus 14:28, and Exodus 15:19. אבן כּמו בּמצולות are from Exodus 15:5; עזּים בּמים from Exodus 15 and Isaiah 43:16.

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