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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Thy good spirit.—Probably a reference to Numbers 11:17; Numbers 11:25. The epithet given to the Spirit is in Psalm 143:10. But His teaching function occurs here only, and is a remarkable anticipation of the New Testament.

Nehemiah 9:20. Thou gavest also thy good Spirit to instruct them — Which thou didst graciously and plentifully impart, first unto Moses, and then unto the seventy elders, (Numbers 11:17-26,) to the end that they might be able to direct and govern thy people wisely, and in thy fear.

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. Thou gavest also thy good spirit; which thou didst graciously and plentifully impart unto Moses, and then unto the seventy eiders, Numbers 11:17,25,26, to the end that they might be able to direct and govern thy people wisely, and in thy fear.

Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them,.... In the knowledge of the laws delivered to them; the spirit of prophecy, according to Ben Melech, and which Aben Ezra interprets of the spirit put upon the seventy elders, Numbers 11:17,

and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth; all the while they were in the wilderness, until they came to Canaan's land; called the Lord's manna, because prepared by him, and given by him to them; a part or portion and gift from the Lord, as Ben Melech, from whence it had its name, see Exodus 16:15

and gavest them water for their thirst; which seems to have respect to the last rock stricken for them, after their many provocations in the wilderness, Numbers 20:11.

Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. thy good spirit] Referring possibly to Numbers 11:17 ‘And I will take of the spirit which is upon thee and will put it upon them,’ 23–29, but mainly to the general Divine teaching of the people, cf. Isaiah 63:11, ‘Where is he that brought them out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he that put his holy spirit in the midst of them?’ For the expression ‘thy good spirit’ cf. Psalm 143:10, Marg. ‘Let thy good spirit lead me.’

to instruct] i.e. to make them understand. For the use of the verb ‘sakal,’ see note on Nehemiah 8:12; cf. Psalm 32:8, ‘I will instruct thee and lead thee in the way which thou shalt go.’

thy manna] The reference here seems to be to Numbers 11:6-9; that in Nehemiah 9:15 had been to Exodus 16:14-36.

Similarly ‘water for their thirst’ refers to the second miraculous gift of water described in Numbers 20:2-8 (not to Exodus 17:3-6).

Verse 20. - Thou gavest them also thy good Spirit to instruct them. The "good Spirit" of God is mentioned in Psalm 143:10; and the fact of God's "instructing and teaching" men in Psalm 32:8. But instruction by God's Spirit is nowhere else distinctly mentioned in the Old Testament. Nehemiah 9:20"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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