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Nehemiah 9

1 - Now in the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, with sackcloth, and dirt on them.

2 - The offspring of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.

3 - They stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God a fourth part of the day; and a fourth part they confessed, and worshiped the LORD their God.

4 - Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani of the Levites stood up on the stairs, and cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God.

5 - Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, "Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting! Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise!

6 - You are The LORD, even you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their army, the earth and all things that are on it, the seas and all that is in them, and you preserve them all. The army of heaven worships you.

7 - You are The LORD, the God who chose Abram, brought him out of Ur of the Chaldees, gave him the name of Abraham,

8 - found his heart faithful before you, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite, to give it to his offspring, and have performed your words; for you are righteous.

9 - "You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heard their cry by the Red Sea,

10 - and showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, and against all his servants, and against all the people of his land; for you knew that they dealt proudly against them, and made a name for yourself, as it is today.

11 - You divided the sea before them, so that they went through the middle of the sea on the dry land; and you cast their pursuers into the depths, as a stone into the mighty waters.

12 - Moreover, in a pillar of cloud you led them by day; and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light in the way in which they should go.

13 - "You also came down on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them right ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments,

14 - and made known to them your holy Sabbath, and commanded them commandments, statutes, and a law, by Moses your servant,

15 - and gave them bread from the sky for their hunger, and brought water out of the rock for them for their thirst, and commanded them that they should go in to possess the land which you had sworn to give them.

16 - "But they and our fathers behaved proudly, hardened their neck, didn't listen to your commandments,

17 - and refused to obey. They weren't mindful of your wonders that you did among them, but hardened their neck, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage. But you are a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and didn't forsake them.

18 - Yes, when they had made themselves a molten calf, and said, 'This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,' and had committed awful blasphemies;

19 - yet you in your manifold mercies didn't forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud didn't depart from over them by day, to lead them in the way; neither did the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way in which they should go.

20 - You gave also your good Spirit to instruct them, and didn't withhold your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst.

21 - "Yes, forty years you sustained them in the wilderness. They lacked nothing. Their clothes didn't grow old, and their feet didn't swell.

22 - Moreover you gave them kingdoms and peoples, which you allotted according to their portions. So they possessed the land of Sihon, even the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan.

23 - You also multiplied their children as the stars of the sky, and brought them into the land concerning which you said to their fathers, that they should go in to possess it.

24 - "So the children went in and possessed the land, and you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hands, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they pleased.

25 - They took fortified cities and a rich land, and possessed houses full of all good things, cisterns dug out, vineyards, and olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate, were filled, became fat, and delighted themselves in your great goodness.

26 - "Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against you, cast your law behind their back, killed your prophets that testified against them to turn them again to you, and they committed awful blasphemies.

27 - Therefore you delivered them into the hand of their adversaries, who distressed them. In the time of their trouble, when they cried to you, you heard from heaven; and according to your manifold mercies you gave them saviors who saved them out of the hands of their adversaries.

28 - But after they had rest, they did evil again before you; therefore left you them in the hands of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them; yet when they returned, and cried to you, you heard from heaven; and many times you delivered them according to your mercies,

29 - and testified against them, that you might bring them again to your law. Yet they were arrogant, and didn't listen to your commandments, but sinned against your ordinances (which if a man does, he shall live in them), turned their backs, stiffened their neck, and would not hear.

30 - Yet many years you put up with them, and testified against them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet would they not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.

31 - "Nevertheless in your manifold mercies you did not make a full end of them, nor forsake them; for you are a gracious and merciful God.

32 - Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness, don't let all the travail seem little before you, that has come on us, on our kings, on our princes, on our priests, on our prophets, on our fathers, and on all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria to this day.

33 - However you are just in all that has come on us; for you have dealt truly, but we have done wickedly.

34 - Also our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law, nor listened to your commandments and your testimonies with which you testified against them.

35 - For they have not served you in their kingdom, and in your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and rich land which you gave before them. They did not turn from their wicked works.

36 - "Behold, we are servants today, and as for the land that you gave to our fathers to eat its fruit and its good, behold, we are servants in it.

37 - It yields much increase to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. Also they have power over our bodies and over our livestock, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress.

38 - Yet for all this, we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, our Levites, and our priests, seal it."


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Nehemiah Images and Notes

The Book of Nehemiah

Nehemiah 1:7-9 - The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and [certain] men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province [are] in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also [is] broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

Nehemiah 13:1-3 - On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever; Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing. Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.

The Old Testament - A Brief Overview

Bible Survey - Nehemiah
Hebrew Name - Nechemiyah "Nehemiah"
Greek Name - Neemias (Greek form of the Hebrew)
Author - Nehemiah (Ezra and Nehemiah were treated as one book in Jewish Tradition)
Date - From 455-420 BC Approximately
Theme of Nehemiah - The rebuilding of Jerusalem
Types and Shadows - In Nehemiah Jesus is the one who led the captives out

ARCHAEOLOGY

Tomb of Cyrus the Great at Pasargadae

The Tomb of Cyrus at Pasargadae
"O man, whoever you are and wherever you come from, for I know that you will come--I am Cyrus, son of Cambyses, who founded the Empire of the Persians and was king of the East. Do not grudge me this spot of earth which covers my body." - Cyrus

This tomb of the great Persian ruler, Cyrus, was discovered in 1951 at the ruins of Pasargadae (south-central Iran). Over 2500 years old, the tomb is in decent condition, made of white limestone and stands a total of 36 feet high. The tomb itself is 18 feet high resting on a 6 level base, also 18 feet high. It was built like a Ziggurat with Ionian and Lydian features. There is a small entrance and double doors leading to a room with no windows which once contained the "golden sarcophagus" of Cyrus, it is now an empty shell. Five huge stones make up its roof, which was slanted (gabled) to shed heavy rains. These Nordic gables were the architectural style of lands far to the north. The inscription was seen and recorded by Plutarch in AD 90.


Summary of The Book of Nehemiah

In Jewish tradition the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are regarded as one book, and it appears that they were originally two books because of the identical material in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7. Nehemiah made his journey to Jerusalem in about 445 BC, and he was not a priest or a scribe like Ezra was but he was a governor with authority given to him by the Persian king Artaxerxes to rebuild the walls and the city of Jerusalem for the Jewish people. He was originally cupbearer for the king of Persia (Nehemiah 2:1). Nehemiah completed the task in 52 days despite all the opposition from the foreigners who it settled in the land of Judah during the captivity.

The book of Nehemiah shows how God fulfilled his words written by the prophets concerning the return of the people of Israel from 70 years of captivity, and returned again to the land of their inheritance. In order to accomplish his divine will he change the hearts of the great kings of the ancient world, Cyrus Darius and Artaxerxes of Persia. He also worked through leaders like Joshua Zerubbabel Haggai Zechariah Ezra and Nehemiah in order to rebuild the wall of the city of Jerusalem and reestablish the law of Moses. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah reveal to us the history of the Jews between 536 BC and 430 BC. The book of Nehemiah covers the period from 445 BC for the next 12 years.

Quick Reference Map
Map of Jerusalem Restored by Nehemiah
Map of Jerusalem Restored by Nehemiah (Click to Enlarge)

The contents of the two books may be analyzed as follows :

Outline of the Book of Nehemiah

1 ) Nehemiah's journey to Jerusalem, made possible by Artaxerxes, for the purpose of re-building the wall (Nehemiah 1-2).
2 ) A list of the builders and the repairing of the gate (Nehemiah 3).
3 ) The rebuilding of the wall in spite of op-position led by Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem (Nehemiah 4:1-7:4).
4 ) The register of those who returned with Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 7).
5 ) The public reading and exposition of the book of the Law (Nehemiah 8).
6 ) The national repentance and the covenant of obedience (Nehemiah 9:1-10 :39).
7 ) Lists of inhabitants (Nehemiah 11:1-12:26).
8 ) Dedication of the wall and organization of the temple services (Nehemiah 12:27-47).
9 ) Nehemiah's reforms of abuses connected with tithes, the sabbath and mixed marriages (Nehemiah 13).

In order to gain a complete picture of the history of this period, these two books should be examined also with the writings of the prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

Quick Reference Maps - Nehemiah

Jerusalem Rebuilt by Nehemiah - The book of Nehemiah records in the third chapter a description of the course of the walls, beginning on the northeast side of Jerusalem and moving counterclockwise. His intention was not to be too exhaustive in the details.

Nehemiah Maps

Zerubbabel and Ezra's Journey to Restore Jerusalem - Zerubbabel, of the house of David heeded the decree of Cyrus to allow the Jews to return and restore Jerusalem and later more Jews including Ezra and Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem.

The Persian Empire in the 6th Century BC - The great rulers of the Persian Empire during the 6th century BC were Cyrus the Great, Cambyses, and Darius I the Great.

The Persian Empire in the 5th Century BC - During the 5th centuries BC the Persian Empire expanded under various rulers: Darius I, Xerxes I (Ahasuerus), and Artaxerxes I.

The First Day. Light.

Nehemiah Resources

The Return From Babylon

More About the Book of Nehemiah
Nehemiah in the Picture Study Bible
Timeline of the Ancient World
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