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Nehemiah 2:1 . Nisan. See the chronology, Exodus 12:0. Artaxerxes was well disposed towards the Jews. He had sent Ezra to Jerusalem in the seventh year of his reign; he now sends Nehemiah in the twentieth year, and with a larger commission.
Nehemiah 2:6 . The queen also sitting by. Menochius supposes this queen to be Esther, whose interest contributed towards the grant of Nehemiah’s commission: and as he made very great haste in raising the walls of the city, it is highly probable that he returned to Shushan according to the set time, and procured a permanent commission to govern the Jews. We find him appointed to this government in the same year, and he continued in it twelve years: Nehemiah 5:14. He then returned to the king, and shortly afterwards went again to Jerusalem: Nehemiah 13:6-7.
Nehemiah 2:7 . Let letters be given me, without which he could not pass the fortified places; nor receive assistance from the Persian garrisons.
Nehemiah 2:8 . The king’s forest, his hunting seat, connected with a palace and parks of pleasure. Xenophon names the kings of Babylon as hunting the boars in their forests.
Nehemiah 2:9 . The river, the Euphrates.
Nehemiah 2:13 . The gate of the valley of Jehoshaphat, through which the brook Kedron flows, and receives the foul waters of the Gihon, after washing the streets of the city.
Nehemiah 2:14 . The gate of the fountain, of Siloam.
Nehemiah 2:15 . By the brook, Kedron. Thus he went all round the city, and entered at the gate of the valley through which he went out: Nehemiah 2:13.
Nehemiah having gained the favour of heaven, awaited opportunity till his daily prayer, and frequent fasting, should attract the attention of the king. God in regard to providential blessings may seem slow to help his people, but his help is happily timed. Nehemiah was a man of great prudence and modesty. Not willing to obtrude himself precipitately on the royal notice, his dejected appearance, a natural consequence of his grief, spoke for him, even before a fit opportunity, as he thought, presented to urge his supplication. This was most evidently an answer to prayer. And when the king enquired the cause of his dejection, he said it was because his fathers’ sepulchres and the walls of the city lay in ruins, reciting at the same time the particulars of those calamities which had originated in the revocation of the edict of Cyrus, obtained by the malice and falsehoods of Sanballat and others. Grace harmonizes with prudence, but is opposed to obstinacy and folly.
Having before seen that the zeal of Nehemiah was disinterested, we here see that it was free from ostentation. He came to Jerusalem as a private person, though accustomed to the pomp of so great a court. He spent three days in acquainting himself with the situation of his people, and surveyed the fortifications by night to avoid the notice of the enemies’ spies. Having now availed himself of perfect information, and arranged his plans, he assembled the elders and priests, and told them of the good hand of God, in the renewal of Cyrus’s grant. This was a burst of glad tidings to the afflicted. Overpowered with joy, their hearts kindled with a hallowed patriotic flame, and they said with one voice, “Let us rise up and build.” Little till now did this poor and despised city think what a friend the Lord had sent from the east. While they slept, little did they dream who was perambulating their demolished walls, and fired gates; and little did they imagine the strong defence he was about to throw round the Zion of God. Just so Christ comes more especially in seasons of affliction to his church. He surveys at a hopeless time the low and dejected state of Zion, and opens the rich designs of grace that he may revive his people with joy, and prompt every soul to energy and zeal in his work. Oh how valuable are the spiritual and the temporal shepherds of the Lord’s flock. They built the wall, without acquainting the wicked with it. Zion shall flourish, while Samaria shall grieve.
Sanballat in Samaria, and other governors, who had wished to keep Zion in servitude, heard of the great works by actions rather than words; and they laughed at the efforts of the people, for they intended to demolish the works as before. But while they laughed, and hoped, they secretly grieved, and were haunted with despair. Hence their first efforts were to throw discouragements on the work by accusations of revolt against the king. The sight of Israel’s prosperity was insupportable to their pride. In the artifice, malice, and persecution of those wicked men, we have a general portrait of the enemies of the church. And as God frustrated all their foul designs, so he will be the help and defence of his people in every age of the world. Their hope is to ruin the work of the Lord, when it does not accord with their interest; but the ruin shall recoil on their own heads, and in blots of shame which cannot be wiped away. The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; they shall gnash with their teeth; the desire of the wicked shall fail.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Nehemiah 2". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany