Nehemiah 9:18
Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations;
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Nehemiah 9:18-19. Yea, they made them, a molten calf — This was a very high provocation, considering how little a time before God had expressly commanded them not to make any graven image, and how many cautious he had afterward given them against doing any such thing. Yet thou forsookest them not in the wilderness — Where, if thou hadst left them without thy conduct and support, they would have been utterly undone and lost. The pillar of cloud departed not, &c. — Notwithstanding their great provocations, thou didst still continue thy gracious presence among them, of which the pillar of the cloud was a glorious token.

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. No text from Poole on this verse.

Yea, when they had made them a molten calf,.... In imitation of the Apis, or ox of the Egyptians:

and said, this is thy god that brought thee out of Egypt; or the image of thy god, as the Arabic version, see Exodus 32:4,

and had wrought great provocations; of all which nothing was greater than idolatry.

Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations;
18–20. The Golden Calf and God’s Mercy

18. molten calf … Egypt.] The language is based on Exodus 32:4, ‘… made it a molten calf, and they said, These be thy gods (marg. This is thy god), O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.’

wrought great provocations] Cf. Nehemiah 9:26. The same word is rendered ‘blasphemies’ in Ezekiel 35:12.

Verse 18. - Great provocations. Or "great blasphemies," as the same word is rendered in Ezekiel 35:12. Nehemiah 9:18"Yea, they even made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy god that brought thee up out of Egypt, and wrought great provocations. Nehemiah 9:19 Yet Thou, in Thy manifold mercies, didst not forsake them in the wilderness; the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day to lead them, and the pillar of fire by night to show them light in the way wherein they should go. Nehemiah 9:20 Thou gavest also Thy good Spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not Thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst: Nehemiah 9:21 And forty years didst Thou sustain them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not." כּי אף, also (even this) equals yea even. On the worship of the golden calf, see Exodus 24:4. The words "they did (wrought) great provocations" involve a condemnation of the worship of the molten calf; nevertheless God did not withdraw His gracious presence, but continued to lead them by the pillar of cloud and fire. The passage Numbers 14:14, according to which the pillar of cloud and fire guided the march of the people through the wilderness after the departure from Sinai, i.e., after their transgression in the matter of the calf, is here alluded to. הענן עמּוּד is rhetorically enhanced by את: and with respect to the cloudy pillar, it departed not; so, too, in the second clause, האשׁ את־עמּוּד; comp. Ewald, 277, d. The words, Nehemiah 9:20, "Thou gavest Thy good Spirit," etc., refer to the occurrence, Numbers 11:17, Numbers 11:25, where God endowed the seventy elders with the spirit of prophecy for the confirmation of Moses' authority. The definition "good Spirit" recalls Psalm 143:10. The sending of manna is first mentioned Numbers 11:6-9, comp. Joshua 5:12; the giving of water, Numbers 20:2-8. - In Nehemiah 9:21, all that the Lord did for Israel is summed up in the assertion of Deuteronomy 2:7; Deuteronomy 8:4, חסרוּ לא; see the explanation of these passages.
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