¶ And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of
Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine,
and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.
2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,
.3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?
4 Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
- Let the king live for ever Nehemiah was diplomatic and
a wise administrator as we see in the rest of the book. He was also faithful
to the God of heaven.
4 - So I prayed This confirms for us that we may lift our hearts in petition to the Father even while talking with someone.
And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have
found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto
the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it.
6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.
7 Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;
.8 And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.
- The queen also The Hebrew word actually means concubine
(a woman kept for the physical pleasure of the king). It's quite possible
that she was primarily responsible for the favorable decision or Nehemiah
would not likely have mentioned her. The Old Testament world was not as
much male dominated as some casual readers claim.
8 - The king granted ... Notice, in the verse, who Nehemiah recognized as the source of this blessing.
¶ Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the
king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen
.10 When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
| 9 -
Being accompanied by Persian soldiers and with royal letters, he was not
10 - Sanballat A document discovered in B.C. 407 named this "enemy of the Jews" as governor of Samaria. He had an army ne0402 and was a serious threat to the work of Nehemiah.
So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.
12 And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon.
13 And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.
.14 Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king's pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass.
15 Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned.
.16 And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.
- Arose in the night Nehemiah had, so far, told no one but
the king of Persia about his purpose for coming. Having personal information
gave him insight and prepared him for possible opposition from those who
would be asked to work on the walls. Being a man of prayer, we may expect
that he committed the whole project to the guidance of the Lord.
16 - Jews According to 1:2, these were people living in the area who had escaped the captivity.
Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem
lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let
us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.
18 Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
.19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?
20 Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.
- Strengthened their hands Encouragement for us today when
faced with building projects for the Lord.
19 - Laughed us to scorn As Christians today in the end of time, we may expect a similar response from those who would oppose the work of God. Notice that they immediately cast the work in the light of rebellion. In the final time of test, those who refuse the beast's mark will do so in disobedience to national and international law re1315.
20 - God of heaven will prosper us Nehemiah did not depend on the royal letter. Sanballat was probably not in a mood to recognize it. The glory was to go to God.