Nevertheless for your great mercies' sake you did not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for you are a gracious and merciful God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Nehemiah 9:31. Nevertheless, thou didst not utterly consume them — But didst leave a remnant of the poorer people in the land, and show favour to the captives in Babylon. For thou art a gracious and merciful God — To which alone they owed their preservation from utter destruction.Judges 3:15 etc.
and didst divide them into corners—that is, into tribes. The propriety of the expression arose from the various districts touching at points or angles on each other.
the land of Sihon, and the land of the king of Heshbon—Heshbon being the capital city, the passage should run thus: "the land of Sihon or the land of the king of Heshbon."
thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; some were left in the land, and those that were carried captive found favour in the eyes of those that carried them away, and were suffered to live, and many of them now had returned to their own land:Nevertheless for thy great mercies' sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)31. for thy great mercies’ sake] R.V. in thy manifold mercies. The emphasis on the variety of the mercy even more than on its magnitude. Cf. Lamentations 3:22-23, ‘It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning.’
thou didst not utterly consume them] R.V. thou didst not make a full end of them (LXX. οὐκ ἐποίησας αὐτούς συντέλειαν. Vulg. ‘non fecisti eos in consumptionem.’ For the phrase see Jeremiah 4:17; Jeremiah 5:10; Jeremiah 5:18; Jeremiah 46:28; Ezekiel 20:17. The promise that though grievously humbled, Israel should not be utterly consumed, ever animated the courage of the prophets, cf. Leviticus 26:44, ‘And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them;’ Isaiah 6:13, ‘As a terebinth, and as an oak, whose stock remaineth, when they are felled.’
gracious and merciful] The same words in Heb. as Nehemiah 9:17 ‘gracious and full of compassion.’Nehemiah 9:22 "And Thou gavest them kingdoms and nations, and didst divide them by boundaries; and they took possession of the land of Sihon, both the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan. Nehemiah 9:23 And Thou didst multiply their children as the stars of heaven, and bring them into the land which Thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess. Nehemiah 9:24 And the children went in and possessed the land, and Thou subduedst before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gavest them into their hands, both their kings and the people of the land, to do with them according to their pleasure. Nehemiah 9:25 And they took fortified cities, and a fat land, and took possession of houses filled with all kinds of goods, wells digged, vineyards and olive gardens, and fruit trees in abundance; and they ate and became fat, and delighted themselves in Thy great goodness." לפאה ותּחלקם is variously explained. Aben Ezra and others refer the suffix to the Canaanites, whom God scattered in multos angulos or varias mundi partes. Others refer it to the Israelites. According to this view, Ramb. says: fecisti eos per omnes terrae Cananaeae angulos habitare; and Gusset.: distribuisti eis terram usque ad angulum h. l. nulla vel minima regionum particula excepta. But חלק, Piel, generally means the dividing of things; and when used of persons, as in Genesis 49:7; Lamentations 4:16, to divide, to scatter, sensu malo, which is here inapplicable to the Israelites. חלק signifies to divide, especially by lot, and is used chiefly concerning the partition of the land of Canaan, in Kal, Joshua 14:5; Joshua 18:2, and in Piel, Joshua 13:7; Joshua 18:10; Joshua 19:51. The word פּאה also frequently occurs in Joshua, in the sense of a corner or side lying towards a certain quarter of the heavens, and of a boundary; comp. Joshua 15:5; Joshua 18:12, Joshua 18:14-15, Joshua 18:20. According to this, Bertheau rightly takes the words to say: Thou didst divide them (the kingdoms and nations, i.e., the land of these nations) according to sides or boundaries, i.e., according to certain definite limits. Sihon is the king of Heshbon (Deuteronomy 1:4), and the ו before ח את־ארץ מ is not to be expunged as a gloss, but regarded as explicative: and, indeed, both the land of the king of Heshbon and the land of Og. The conquest of these two kingdoms is named first, because it preceded the possession of Canaan (Numbers 21:21-35). The increase of the children of the Israelites is next mentioned, Nehemiah 9:23; the fathers having fallen in the wilderness, and only their children coming into the land of Canaan. The numbering of the people in the plains of Moab (Numbers 26) is here alluded to, when the new generation was found to be twice as numerous as that which marched out of Egypt; while the words לרשׁת לבוא, here and in Nehemiah 9:15, are similar to Deuteronomy 1:10. The taking possession of Canaan is spoken of in Nehemiah 9:24. ותּכנע recalls Deuteronomy 9:3. כּרצונם, according to their pleasure, comp. Daniel 8:4. Fortified cities, as Jericho and Ai.
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