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This is the last Book of Old Testament history. An interval of about twelve years occurred between the reformation under Ezra and the coming of Nehemiah. The story is the continuation of the work commenced by Zerubbabel rebuilding the wall.
With a fine touch of natural and unconscious humility, Nehemiah tells us, in parenthesis only, what his office was at the court of the Gentile king. He was cupbearer. Such a position was one of honor, and admitted the holder not only into the presence of the king, but into relationships of some familiarity. Nehemiah's account of himself in this chapter gives us a splendid illustration of patriotism on the highest level. It is evident, first, that he had no inclination to disown his own people, for he spoke of those who came to the court as "my brethren." In the next place, it is manifest that his consciousness of relationship was a living one, in that he held intercourse with them. Moreover, he was truly interested, and made inquiry concerning Jerusalem.
The news brought to him was full of sadness, and all the man's devotion to his people was manifest in his grief as he heard the sad story. The final proof of true patriotism lay in his recognition of the relationship between his people and God, and in his carrying the burden of God in prayer. The prayer itself was full of beauty, and revealed a correct conception of what prayer under such circumstances ought to be. It opened with confession. Without reserve, he acknowledged the sin of the people, and identified himself with it. He then proceeded to plead the promises of God made to them, and ended with a personal and definite petition that God would give him favor in the eyes of the king.
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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Nehemiah 1". "Morgan's Exposition on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany