Nehemiah 9:18
Yes, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is your God that brought you up out of Egypt, and had worked 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. "And Thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar, and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go. Nehemiah 9:13 And Thou camest down upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments and true laws, good statutes and commandments: Nehemiah 9:14 And madest known unto them Thy holy Sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses Thy servant. Nehemiah 9:15 And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst; and Thou commandedst them to go in and possess the land, which Thou hadst lifted up Thine hand to give them." Three particulars in the miraculous leading of Israel through the wilderness are brought forward: a. Their being guided in the way by miraculous tokens of the divine presence, in the pillar of fire and cloud, Nehemiah 9:12; comp. Exodus 13:21; Numbers 14:14. b. The revelation of God on Sinai, and the giving of the law, Nehemiah 9:13, Nehemiah 9:14. The descent of God on Sinai and the voice from heaven agree with Exodus 19:18, Exodus 19:20, and Exodus 20:1., compared with Deuteronomy 4:36. On the various designations of the law, comp. Psalm 19:9; Psalm 119:43, Psalm 119:39, Psalm 119:142. Of the commandments, that concerning the Sabbath is specially mentioned, and spoken of as a benefit bestowed by God upon the Israelites, as a proclamation of His holy Sabbath, inasmuch as the Israelites were on the Sabbath to share in the rest of God; see rem. on Exodus 20:9-11. c. The provision of manna, and of water from the rock, for their support during their journey through the wilderness on the way to Canaan; Exodus 16:4, Exodus 16:10., Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:8; comp. Psalm 78:24, Psalm 78:15; Psalm 105:40. לרשׁת לבוא like Deuteronomy 9:1, Deuteronomy 9:5; Deuteronomy 11:31, and elsewhere. את־ידך נשׂאת is to be understood according to Numbers 14:30.
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