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into fifty four sections, and that he added the last chapter of Deuteronomy, and other parts which appeared necessary for connection and illustration.
In the twenty-ninth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, Ezra resigned the government of Judea to Nehemiah; but still continued to instruct the people as an expounder of the law, and a preacher of righteousness.
NEHEMIAIl's AFFLICTION, AND INTERCESSION FOR THE JEWS. , ' . tr
From Nehemiah, Chap. i, ii.
It came to pass that as Nehemiah, the king's cup* bearer, was in Shushan the palace, that Hanani one of his brethren, and others, came unto him, and he asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
And they said unto him, the remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in a great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.
And it came to pass when Nehemiah heard these words, that he sat down, and wept and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, and said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe thy commandments:
Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now day and night for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of
Israel, Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned.
We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandest thy servant Moses.
Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress I will scatter you abroad among the nations:
But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them, though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.
Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, a.rid by thy strong hand.
O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this.day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this inan.
And it came to pass that shortly after' wine was before the king: and Nehennah took up the wine, and gave it to the king. Now he had not before time been sad in his presence. Wherefore the king said unto him, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then was Nehemiah sore afraid;
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 consumed. with fire?
Then said the king unto him, For what dost thou
make request? So Nehemiah prayed in his heart to the God of heaven to direct him. v
And 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 father's sepulchres, that I may build it.
And the king said unto him, the queen also sitting by him, For how long shall thy journey be i and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send him; and Nehemiah fixed a time.
Moreover he 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; .
And a lettter 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 him, according to the good hand of his God upon him.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
Nehemiah was a Jew, whose ancestors had formerly been citizens of Jerusalem; but who having obtained a' good-settlement in the land of their captivity, staid there in preference to returning with their brethren." His office as cup bearer to king Artaxerxes was both an honourable and profitable place, and Nehemiah had accumulated a very great fortune; yet he was so far from being insensible to the distresses of his countrymen, that when he was told that they were continually exposed to danger, derision, and contempt, on account of their city being defenceless, he felt their sorrows with the tenderest sympathy, and the Lord lent a gracious ear to his humble request.
It is worthy of remark, that God always finds proper instruments to perform the work of His providence, and frequently makes the enemies of His church guards and protectors to its friends and patrons.
KEHEMIAH ARRIVES AT JERUSALEM—HE INCITETH THE JEWS TO REBUILD THE WALLS.
Front Nehemiah, Chap. ii.
Titex came Nehemiah to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army, and horsemen with him.
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.
So Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. And he arose in the night, and some few men with him; neither told he any man what his God had put into his heart to do at Jerusalem neither was there any beast with him, save the beast that he rode upon.
And he 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 Jerusulem, which ..were broken , down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.
Then he 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 him to pass.
Then he went 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.
And the rulers knew not whither he went, or what he did: neither had he 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.
Then said he unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem licth 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.
The hand of my God is with me, as also the king's •words that he had spoken unto me. And they suid, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, red Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed them to scorn, find despised them, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? . .
Then answered Nehemiah, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper iis: therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial in Jerusalem.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
We find from this section, that Nehemiah, having once taken up the idea of serving his brethren the Jews, he never lost sight of his pious and generous design.
It seems that the agitation of his mind was perceived by the king, who appears to have been glad of giving to his beloved Esther a fresh proof of his kindness to her people.
Nehemiah did not proceed in the business with haste and precipitation: for though he trusted that the good Providence of God attended him, he did not expect a miracle to be wrought, where human means, under the Divine blessing, were likely to succeed.