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Return from Exile
(Category 11 of 16)
The book of
NEHEMIAH, contemporary of Ezra and cupbearer to the king in the Persian
palace, leads the third and last return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile.
His concern for the welfare of Jerusalem and its inhabitants prompts him to take
bold action. Granted permission to return to his homeland, Nehemiah challenges
his countrymen to arise and rebuild the shattered wall of Jerusalem. In spite of
opposition from without and abuse from within, the task is completed in only
fifty-two days, a feat even the enemies of Israel must attribute to God’s enabling.
By contrast, the task of reviving and reforming the people of God within the
rebuilt wall demands years of Nehemiah’s godly life and leadership.
The Hebrew for Nehemiah is Nehemyah, “Comfort of Yahweh.” The book is
named after its chief character, whose name appears in the opening verse. The
combined books of Ezra–Nehemiah is given the Greek title Esdras Deuteron, “Second
Esdras” in the Septuagint, a third-century B.C. Greek-language translation of
the Hebrew Old Testament. The Latin title of Nehemiah is Liber Secundus Esdrae,
“Second Book of Ezra” (Ezra was the first). At this point, it is considered a separate
book from Ezra, and is later called Liber Nehemiae, “Book of Nehemiah.”
Nehemiah Prays for His People
1 THE words of aNehemiah the son of Hachaliah. It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the btwentieth year, as I was in cShushan1 the 2citadel,
2 that aHanani one of my brethren came with men from ; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jeru− salem.
3 And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the aprovince are there in great distress and breproach. cThe wall of Jerusalem dis also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”
4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
5 And I said: “I pray, aLORD God of heaven, O great and bawesome God, cYou who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love 1You and observe 2Your commandments,
6 “please let Your ear be attentive and aYour eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and bconfess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned.
7 a“We have acted very corruptly against You, and have bnot kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.
8 “Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, a‘If you 1are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations;
9 a‘but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, bthough some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’
10 a“Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have
CHAPTER 1 References
1 aNeh. 10:1
cEsth. 1:1, 2, 5
1Or Susa 2Or
palace, and so
2 aNeh. 7:2
3 aNeh. 7:6
d2 Kin. 25:10
5 aDan. 9:4
34:6, 7] 1Lit.
Him 2Lit. His
6 a2 Chr. 6:40
7 aDan. 9:5
8 aLev. 26:33
10 aDeut. 9:29
11 aNeh. 1:6
bIs. 26:8 cNeh.
CHAPTER 2 References
1 aEzra 7:1
2 aProv. 15:13
3 aDan. 2:4;
5:10; 6:6, 21
b2 Chr. 36:19
4 aNeh. 1:4
6 aNeh. 5:14;
7 aEzra 7:21;
8 aNeh. 3:7
redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.
11 “O Lord, I pray, please alet Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who bdesire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” For I was the king’s ccupbearer.
Nehemiah Sent to
1 And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of aKing 1Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that bI took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before.
2 Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but asorrow of heart.” So I became 1dreadfully afraid,
3 and said to the king, a“May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when bthe city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with cfire?”
4 Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I aprayed to the God of heaven.
5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to , to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”
6 Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him aa time.
7 Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the agovernors of the region beyond 1the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to ,
8 “and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the 1citadel which pertains ato the 2temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me
baccording to the good hand of my God upon me.
9 Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.
10 When aSanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite 1official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.
Nehemiah Views the Wall of Jerusalem
11 So I acame to Jerusalem and was there three days.
12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode.
13 And I went out by night athrough the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the 1Refuse Gate, and 2viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were bbroken down and its gates which were burned with fire.
14 Then I went on to the aFountain Gate and to the bKing’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass.
15 So I went up in the night by the avalley,1 and 2viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned.
16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies 1waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be aa reproach.”
18 And I told them of athe hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they bset1 their hands to this good work.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? aWill you rebel against the king?”
20 So I answered them, and said to them, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, abut you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”
Rebuilding the Wall
1 Then aEliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests band built the Sheep Gate;
8 bEzra 5:5;
7:6, 9, 28;
10 aNeh. 2:19;
4:1 1Lit. servant
11 aEzra 8:32
13 a2 Chr. 26:9;
bNeh. 1:3; 2:17
14 aNeh. 3:15
b2 Kin. 20:20
15 a2 Sam.
17 aNeh. 1:3;
79:4; Jer. 24:9;
Ezek. 5:14, 15;
18 aNeh. 2:8
b2 Sam. 2:7
19 aNeh. 6:6
20 aEzra 4:3;
CHAPTER 3 References
1 aNeh. 3:20;
12:10; 13:4, 7,
28 bJohn 5:2
2 aEzra 2:34;
Neh. 7:36 1Lit.
On his hand
3 a2 Chr.
1:10 bNeh. 6:1;
4 aEzra 8:33
5 a[Judg. 5:23] 1Lit. necks
6 aNeh. 12:39
7 aNeh. 7:25
2West of the
8 aNeh. 12:38
1Lit. the son
11 aNeh. 12:38
13 aNeh. 2:13,
15 bNeh. 2:13
14 aJer. 6:1
15 aNeh. 2:14
bIs. 8:6; John
9:7 c2 Kin.
they consecrated it and hung its doors. They built cas far as the Tower of 1the Hundred, and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of dHananel.
2 1Next to Eliashib athe men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.
3 Also the sons of Hassenaah built athe Fish Gate; they laid its beams and bhung its doors with its bolts and bars.
4 And next to them aMeremoth the son of Urijah, the son of 1Koz, made repairs. Next to them bMeshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs. Next to them Zadok the son of Baana made repairs.
5 Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their 1shoulders to athe work of their Lord.
6 Moreover Jehoiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired athe Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors, with its bolts and bars.
7 And next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite, Jadon the Meronothite, the amen of Gibeon and Mizpah, repaired the bresidence1 of the governor of the region 2beyond the River.
8 Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Also next to him Hananiah, 1one of the perfumers, made repairs; and they 2fortified Jerusalem as far as the aBroad Wall.
9 And next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, leader of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs.
10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs in front of his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabniah made repairs.
11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hashub the son of Pahath- repaired another section, aas well as the Tower of the Ovens.
12 And next to him was Shallum the son of Hallohesh, leader of half the district of Jerusalem; he and his daughters made repairs.
13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired athe Valley Gate. They built it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall as far as bthe Refuse Gate.
14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, leader of the district of aBeth Haccerem, repaired the Refuse Gate; he built it and hung its doors with its bolts and bars.
15 Shallun the son of Col-Hozeh, leader of the district of Mizpah, repaired athe Fountain Gate; he built it, covered it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired the wall of the Pool of bShelah1 by the cKing’s Garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the City of David.
16 After him Nehemiah the son of
Azbuk, leader of half the district of Beth Zur, made repairs as far as the place in front of the 1tombs of David, to the aman-made pool, and as far as the House of the Mighty.
17 After him the Levites, under Rehum the son of Bani, made repairs. Next to him Hashabiah, leader of half the district of Keilah, made repairs for his district.
18 After him their brethren, under 1Bavai the son of Henadad, leader of the other half of the district of Keilah, made repairs.
19 And next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, the leader of Mizpah, repaired another section in front of the Ascent to the Armory at the abuttress.1
20 After him Baruch the son of 1Zabbai carefully repaired the other section, from the 2buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest.
21 After him Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of 1Koz, repaired another section, from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib.
22 And after him the priests, the men of the plain, made repairs.
23 After him Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs by his house.
24 After him aBinnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to bthe 1buttress, even as far as the corner.
25 Palal the son of Uzai made repairs opposite the 1buttress, and on the tower which projects from the king’s upper house that was by the acourt of the prison. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh made repairs.
26 Moreover athe Nethinim who dwelt in bOphel made repairs as far as the place in front of cthe Water Gate toward the east, and on the projecting tower.
27 After them the Tekoites repaired another section, next to the great projecting tower, and as far as the wall of Ophel.
28 Beyond the aHorse Gate the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house.
29 After them Zadok the son of Immer made repairs in front of his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, made repairs.
30 After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah made repairs in front of his 1dwelling.
31 After him Malchijah, 1one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the Nethinim and of the
16 a2 Kin.
20:20; Is. 7:3;
18 1So with
Binnui (cf. v.
19 a2 Chr. 26:9
20 1A few Heb.
21 1Or Hakkoz
24 aEzra 8:33
25 aJer. 32:2;
26 aEzra 2:43;
b2 Chr. 27:3
cNeh. 8:1, 3;
28 a2 Kin.
11:16; 2 Chr.
30 1Lit. room
31 1Lit. a son
of the goldsmiths
32 aNeh. 3:1;
merchants, in front of the 2Miphkad Gate, and as far as the upper room at the corner.
32 And between the upper room at the corner, as far as the aSheep Gate, the goldsmiths and the merchants made repairs.
The Glory of God in Zion
A Song. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
1 GREAT is the LORD, and greatly to be praised In the acity of our God, In His holy mountain.
2 aBeautiful in 1elevation, The joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, The city of the great King.
3 God is in her palaces; He is known as her refuge.
4 For behold, athe kings assembled, They passed by together.
5 They saw it, and so they marveled; They were troubled, they hastened away.
6 Fear atook hold of them there, And pain, as of a woman in birth pangs,
7 As when You break the aships of Tarshish With an east wind.
PSALM 48 References
1 aPs. 46:4;
2 aPs. 50:2
4 a2 Sam. 10:6,
6 aEx. 15:15
7 a1 Kin.
8 a[Ps. 87:5; Is.
2:2]; Mic. 4:1
9 aPs. 26:3
7:9; Mal. 1:11
13 a[Ps. 78:5–7] 14 aIs. 58:11
1So with MT,
9 We have thought, O God, on aYour lovingkindness, In the midst of Your temple.
10 According to aYour name, O God, So is Your praise to the ends of the earth; Your right hand is full of righteousness.
11 Let Mount Zion rejoice, Let the daughters of be glad, Because of Your judgments.
12 Walk about Zion, And go all around her. Count her towers;
13 Mark well her bulwarks; Consider her palaces; That you may atell it to the generation following.
14 For this is God, Our God forever and ever; aHe will be our guide 1Even to death.
DREAM IT => PLAN IT => DO IT
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