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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Nehemiah

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FRAMEWORKS: Nehemiah 2: Artaxerxes Sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem

 

v.1-3 When the king challenges him, Nehemiah tells about Jerusalem

v.4-6 Nehemiah asks to go and the king agrees

v.7,8 Nehemiah asks for letters of authority and is given them

v.9,10 Nehemiah takes the letters to the local governors but some are upset

v.11-15 Nehemiah secretly inspects Jerusalem's walls at night

v.16-18 Nehemiah shares with his people and they start rebuilding

v.19,20 Nehemiah rejects the opposition that arises

 

 

v.1-3 When the king challenges him, Nehemiah tells about Jerusalem

 

v.1 In the month of Nisan [ roughly April ] in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 

v.2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, 

v.3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 

 

[Notes: Some four months have passed when Nehemiah, as a royal cupbearer [and taster] appeared before the Persian king, Artaxerxes. Servants were never supposed to show a sad face that might convey negative feelings towards the king, but Nehemiah is still struggling with his feelings about Jerusalem and the king notices this. He confesses to the king his concern for his home city.]

 

 

v.4-6 Nehemiah asks to go and the king agrees

 

v.4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 

v.5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” 

v.6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time. 

 

[Notes: The king, recognises the reality of Nehemiah's feelings and simply asks what he would want. Nehemiah realises his king could act negatively and so prays silently and then steps out in faith [having been praying for four months] and asks that he may go home and rebuild his home city. The king grants his request.]

 

 

v.7,8 Nehemiah asks for letters of authority and is given them

 

v.7 I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? 

v.8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. 

 

[Notes: Nehemiah recognizes that he may need the king's help with the occupants of the land and asks for letters of authority, which he is given.]

 

 

v.9,10 Nehemiah takes the letters to the local governors but some are upset

 

v.9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king's letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me. 

v.10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.

 

[Notes: He journeys all the way back to Judah with support from the king and presents his credentials to the local officials who, not being Jews, are not very happy with his intentions. Sanballat is believed to be the governor of Samaria and he, linked in friendship with Tobiah from Ammon [to the east of the Promised Land] means an alliance that was anti the Jewish remnant who had already returned and rebuilt the Temple, but who had been subservient to the imported peoples of the Land.]

 

 

v.11-15 Nehemiah secretly inspects Jerusalem's walls at night

 

v.11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 

v.12 I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. 

v.13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 

v.14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 

v.15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 

 

[Notes: Arriving in Jerusalem, Nehemiah is somewhat circumspect in not sharing with all and sundry his purpose, so he surveys the ruins at night to see the extent of the task before him.]

 

 

v.16-18 Nehemiah shares with his people and they start rebuilding

 

v.16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work. 

v.17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 

v.18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. 

 

[Notes: The Next day [presumably] he shares with the Jewish leaders his goal and they agree to the task.]

 

 

v.19,20 Nehemiah rejects the opposition that arises

 

v.19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?” 

v.20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”

 

[Notes: We have already seen the unholy alliance that was unhappy with his arrival [2:10] and they now ridicule the project but Nehemiah responds with faith and rejects their presence.]

    

CONTINUE TO CHAPTER 3