Nehemiah’s Grief for the Exiles
1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah:
Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the [a]twentieth year [of the [b]Persian king], as I was in the [c]capitol of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them about the surviving Jews who had escaped and survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its [fortified] gates have been burned (destroyed) by fire.”
4 Now it came about when I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying [constantly] before the God of heaven. 5 And I said, “Please, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, 6 please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You, day and night, on behalf of Your servants, the [d]sons (descendants) of Israel (Jacob), confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have committed against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.(A) 8 Please remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful and violate your obligations to Me I will scatter you [abroad] among the peoples;(B) 9 but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered are in the most remote part of the [e]heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen for My [f]Name to dwell.’(C) 10 Now they are Your servants and Your people whom You have redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. 11 Please, O Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to [reverently] fear Your Name [Your essence, Your nature, Your attributes, with awe]; and make Your servant successful this day and grant him compassion in the sight of this man [the king].”
For I was [g]cupbearer to the king [of Persia].
- Nehemiah 1:1 445 b.c.
- Nehemiah 1:1 Artaxerxes I (son of Xerxes I) ruled the Persian Empire from 465-424 b.c.
- Nehemiah 1:1 Or palace or citadel.
- Nehemiah 1:6 In general, sons of Israel or Israel or Israelites refers to all the people (males and females) of the various tribes descended from the twelve sons (Gen 35:23-26) of Jacob (later renamed Israel by God). In verses concerning things such as warfare or circumcision sons of Israel or Israel or Israelites usually refers only to the males. Tribes of ancient people were identified by the name of their founding ancestor. Therefore, this same general rule applies when referring to individual tribal groups, e.g. sons of Reuben, Reuben, Reubenites and so throughout.
- Nehemiah 1:9 This seems to be a hypothetical expression, but the grammatical form is that of a real possibility, to emphasize that God will find His people no matter where in the world they may be.
- Nehemiah 1:9 See note Deut 12:5.
- Nehemiah 1:11 The cupbearer was an official of high rank in royal courts. He served the wine at the king’s table and sometimes tasted it first to be certain it was not poisoned. He was often a trusted confidant of the ruler, and his position was one of influence in the court.