The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Nehemiah 9

Neh 9:1

Vv 1-3: Note the progression: (1) self-denial; (2) recognition of unworthiness; (3) great humility; (4) separation; (5) remorse; (6) repentance; (7) study and reflection; and finally -- in v 38 -- (8) dedication.

THE TWENTY-FOURTH DAY OF THE SAME MONTH: Two days after the solemn assembly (Neh 8:18) the people were still mourning over their sins -- this was a genuine spiritual revival!

"These first 3 vv represent what we would see as an extreme reaction, and yet it was clearly what was needed. Do we have a great enough awareness of the enormity of our sins? If we do, then we can also appreciate more fully the grace and mercy of God. How can we love God if we are not aware of the greatness of his salvation?" (PC).

Neh 9:3

CONFESSION: After hearing Lev 26:40-42.

Neh 9:4

WITH LOUD VOICES: In order to be heard by the whole assembly, but also indicative of great fervor.

Neh 9:5

Vv 5-38: The prayer of praise. The prayer is intended to instruct the readers. It gives us a survey of the history of Israel with emphasis on certain events in the life of the Covenant People. This approach is comparable to that of Psa 78; 105; 106; 135; 136. It is especially helpful to read this prayer through the eyes of the returned exiles. They had experienced many of the same things their forefathers had. We too can identify with their appreciation of God's grace since we have seen these things in God's dealings with us.

STAND UP: They had been prostrating themselves because of their sins.

BLESSED BE YOUR GLORIOUS NAME...: Add before this, "And Ezra said" (RSV; from LXX).

Neh 9:7

Vv 7,8: Abraham: divine selection and kindness.

Neh 9:8

YOU FOUND HIS HEART FAITHFUL: Examples of faithfulness in service: Samuel (1Sa 3:20); David (1Sa 22:14); the temple overseers (2Ki 12:15); the workers (2Ch 34:12); Hananiah (Neh 7:2); Abraham (Neh 9:8); the treasurers (Neh 13:13); Daniel (Dan 6:4); Timothy (1Co 4:17); Epaphras (Col 1:7); Tychicus (Col 4:7); Onesimus (Col 4:9); Paul (1Ti 1:12); Moses (Heb 3:2,5); Gaius (3Jo 1:5); Jesus Christ (Rev 1:5); Antipas (Rev 2:13).

Cp Luk 16:10; 2Ch 31:12.

TO GIVE TO HIS DESCENDANTS THE LAND...: Promise to the natural descendants of Abraham: Gen 15:13-16. NOT the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham individually (cp Heb 11:13; Gal 3:17,18; Acts 7:5).

Neh 9:9

Vv 9-11: Deliverance from Egypt: divine mercy.

Neh 9:12

V 12: Wilderness guidance: divine care: cp Psa 78:52; 80:1.

Neh 9:13

Vv 13,14: Theophanies: divine instruction.

Neh 9:15

V 15: Food and water: divine provision.

Neh 9:16

Vv 16-31: Forgiveness and blessing, despite perversity and insolence.

Neh 9:23

Neh 9:23

AS NUMEROUS AS THE STARS IN THE SKY: Sym Israel: Gen 26:4; Exo 32:13; Deu 1:10; 10:22; 28:62.

Neh 9:26

BUT THEY WERE DISOBEDIENT AND REBELLED AGAINST YOU: Cp Pro 30:8,9: "Give me [not] riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' "

Neh 9:27

Vv 27-31: Saviours sent: God's abounding compassion.

Neh 9:29

STIFF-NECKED: Suggests a beast of burden who draws back and refuses to accept yoke, or go forth with burden.

Neh 9:32

Vv 32-37: Ezra's plea to God. The returned Jews then called on God to remember their sufferings in exile (v 32). They acknowledged that the exile was a consequence of their disobedience to God's Word (vv 33,34). Even in exile most of the Israelites had not returned to God (v 35). Consequently much of the Jewish nation was still in bondage to its Persian rulers (vv 36.37). Nonetheless now they, the faithful remnant of returnees, were ready to make a formal commitment to obey Yahweh again (v 38).

AWESOME: Heb "yare" -- to be feared or reverenced. "Terrible" in KJV.

KINGS OF ASSYRIA: Menachem and Pekah suffered at the hands of Pul and Tiglathpileser; Hoshea became vassal to Shalmaneser: 2Ki 15.

Neh 9:38

WE ARE MAKING A BINDING COVENANT: Lit, "cutting a covenant" (cp Gen 15:9,10; Jer 34:19). The covenant is explained and outlined in detail in Neh 10.

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