::Nehemiah - General::

An historical book, supervised by divine providence and intended for the instruction and edification of God's people. This book is sometimes recognized as the second book of Ezra, because its narrative is the sequel to the book of Ezra. Undoubtedly, however, Nehemiah was the writer of the major portion of it. Portions of the book are apparently copied from the state archives and written in the third person, while Nehemiah evidently was the writer of the portion presented in the first person. R2524:3

Though strictly historical, the book of Nehemiah admirably tells the story of the soul's renewal. Chapter 1

represents conviction and confession of sin; 2, determination to rebuild with God's grace; 3, actual rebuilding the soul's defense in sanctification; 4, attacks upon the soul from without; 5, assaults from within; 6, temptations of the Adversary, disguised; 7, successful accomplishment of spiritual work in the soul; 8, study of the Word; 9, confession of weaknesses; 10, covenant relationship emphasized; 11, systematizing the efforts of the godly life; 12, acknowledgment of God in everything; 13, a sad exhibition of the Christian's fall and renewed influence of the Spirit. R2524:3* Nehemiah was an Israelite of the tribe of Judah. He was of one of those families which had not returned to Palestine under Cyrus' decree of about ninety years previous. R1495:3

Nehemiah occupied a confidential position with Artaxerxes, the Persian king, somewhat similar to the office held by Mordecai under King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) the father of Artaxerxes. His official title does not give the proper conception of the dignity of his position. In those days, kings needed to be continually guarded against poisons, which could be easily mingled without detection with their liquid refreshments. Consequently, the cupbearer was one whose loyalty was esteemed irreproachable. They became confidants of royalty and court advisors, really occupying the position of Minister of State. R3662:2

Thirteen years after Ezra's company returned to Jerusalem, Nehemiah went thither. The Jews, now considerable in number, were despised by their neighbors, who wished to drive them out of the land. R4912:3 The seventy years had not been years of prosperity, but of adversity to the Israelites, both in Jerusalem and in Babylon. Their enemies, taking advantage of the weaknesses of Ahasuerus, who reigned during the interim, had attacked the partially rebuilt walls and gates of the city of Jerusalem and had wrecked the former and burned the latter . . . and at Babylon, as we learn from the book of Esther, a plot for the complete extermination of the Israelites had almost succeeded but had been prevented by divine interposition. R1496:1

The year 1391 AD corresponds with the year 454 BC, when Nehemiah received his commission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It was in 1391 that John Huss might be said to have received his commission to rebuild the walls of spiritual Jerusalem, for it was in that year that he became acquainted with the works of Wycliffe. R3575:6*

::Neh. 1:1::

Words of Nehemiah -- A young man of the tribe of Judah; of one of the prominent families of the Babylonian captivity. R1495:3, R3662:2

Sometimes recognized as the second book of Ezra because its narrative is the sequel to the book of Ezra. R2524:3

Shushan the palace -- Josephus says that Nehemiah, wealthy and favored of the king of Persia, resided in the king's palace at Shushan. R4912:6

::Neh. 1:2::

Hanani -- Nehemiah's brother, who had been amongst those who went up to Jerusalem with Ezra. Having returned, Nehemiah gained information respecting the deplorable condition of affairs at Jerusalem. R3662:3, R2525:1, R4913:1

::Neh. 1:3::

In great affliction -- God used this trouble to raise up wealthy and friendly brethren yet in Babylon to come to their relief. R2525:4

Just so with spiritual Israelites. Trials and difficulties are often the very means God employs to bring needed relief. R2525:4

Is broken down -- In spiteful retaliation by Israel's enemies for the sending back to their homes of all foreign wives under Ezra. R3662:3

::Neh. 1:4::

Sat down and wept -- The news made him heartsick. He had an intensity of love for the land of promise. R3662:6

All Christians who are spiritual Israelites should have the same spirit of love and sympathy for their brethren, and look for the prosperity of spiritual Zion and her ultimate deliverance. R2525:3

Mourned certain days -- Not that the Lord needed urging on the subject, but because the subject was growing on Nehemiah's mind and heart. R1496:4

Fasted, and prayed -- For the Lord's blessing, that the promises respecting the holy city and land might be fulfilled. This prayer is a general outline of the sentiments he expressed for four months without ceasing. R3662:6, R4912:1

Self-denial, fasting and prayer should be associated. It is the fervent, earnest prayer that is effectual and that prayer is not to be entered into with a view to changing the divine will, but rather to bringing our hearts and minds and conduct into conformity to the divine will. R3664:6, R1496:1

::Neh. 1:5::

O LORD God of heaven -- Acknowledgment of the divine greatness and the relative littleness of the petitioner. R2525:5

The great -- Reminding one of the Lord's prayer, "Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." (Matt. 6:9) R2525:5

That keepeth covenant -- Acknowledged that the Lord's ways and dealings with Israel had been just and true, having before the mind the testimonies of God's Word. R3663:3

God's dealings were in exact fulfilment of his covenant (Lev. 26:33, etc.; Deut. 4:25, etc.; Deut. 28:64). R1496:4

For them that love him -- He expressed confidence that the Lord would keep his covenant and have mercy upon his people. R3663:3

::Neh. 1:6::

Day and night -- He prayed after this manner for four months before he began to have an answer. R3662:6

Of course, during all this time he attended to his duties. But this prayer was always in his heart. R3662:6

"Men ought always to pray and not to faint" (Luke 18:1). The things which lie close to our hearts should become our continual prayer ... making sure they are the right things. R3662:6, R4913:1

We have sinned -- No proper prayer can be offered to the great Creator which does not in some manner acknowledge the comer's imperfections. Our boldness is not that of self-confidence. R3663:3

Against thee -- Nehemiah was very open in his confession, which is proper for all who approach the Lord; but sins and weaknesses may be reasonably screened from the eyes of others while we are doing our best to walk after the Spirit. R3663:4

::Neh. 1:7::

We have dealt -- He confesses the justice of the Lord's chastisement and properly includes himself with the others of his nation. R1496:4, R2525:5

::Neh. 1:9::

If ye turn unto me -- This turning to the Lord's promises for forgiveness and mercy and reconciliation is proper for all--Jew or Gentile. R3663:5

To all Israelites indeed who are in trouble for past unfaithfulness the Lord says, "Draw nigh unto me and I will draw nigh unto you." (Jas. 4:8) R2525:6

Will I gather them -- Claiming the promises of returned favor (Deut 30:4, Deut. 9:29; Isa. 11:12). R1496:4

Nehemiah's prayer has not yet been fully answered, but we do see that the Lord is ready to do this as soon as he shall have gathered the spiritual seed to heavenly conditions. R2526:1, R3663:6

The gathering of natural Israel will not include all Jews, but such as maintain their Abrahamic faith in the divine promises. R2526:1

::Neh. 1:10::

Whom thou hast redeemed -- Israelites indeed who transgress can plead the Lord's promise to be merciful based upon the great redemption sacrifice. R3663:5

::Neh. 1:11::

I beseech thee -- All who would engage in divine service require not only zeal, but wisdom; and only those who seek it prayerfully can be helpful as reformers amongst their brethren. R2530:3

Thine ear be attentive -- The Lord did respond to Nehemiah's prayer by granting privileges possible at the time; but it was not God's due time for fulfilling all the gracious promises that he had made to that nation. His prayer will be much more than fulfilled in accordance with the Lord's plan in due time. R3663:5, R3664:1

The prayer of thy servant -- All true Israelites. R3664:2

Prosper, I pray thee -- He resolved that he would not only pray to the Lord, but would consecrate himself, his wealth and his favored relationship with the king to the answering of his own prayers. R2525:2

Gradually he was made earnest and strong enough to take an important part in the answering of his own prayer. R1496:1

Sight of this man -- Artaxerxes, an absolute monarch, whose ill will might be easily aroused by imagined disloyalty, the result being Nehemiah's execution. R3664:3

Nehemiah's prayer to the Lord to grant mercy in the sight of Artaxerxes shows he had faith in the divine power. R3664:3

The Lord's people have similar privileges in prayer at the present time and should remember that, as in the case of Nehemiah, God has full power to open ways and means and to shape all our earthly affairs for us. R3664:3

The king's cupbearer -- Minister of State, confidential advisor. R3662:3, R1495:6, R2524:6

In presenting wine to the king it was the custom for this officer to pour out a sample for himself. From this probably originated the title, Cup-bearer. R2524:6

That it was not impossible for Hebrews to occupy confidential and high positions in the Persian empire is shown by such other cases as Daniel, Esther and Mordecai. R2525:1

The Lord chooses as noble, great and learned as he can find who have the right condition of heart. R3676:5

::Neh. 2:1::

The month Nisan -- A delay of four months (Neh. 1:1) waiting for a favorable opportunity to approach the king. R2525:2

The four-month delay was doubtless used by the Lord to prepare the king to cooperate with Nehemiah's request; and so, while we pray, the Lord not only prepares us but also the circumstances and conditions to bring us the opportunities in the best form. R3664:6

In the twentieth year -- 454 BC, troublous times. R3574:6*, R3578:2* The beginning of the 70 weeks of Daniel (Dan. 9:24-27); dated by Rollins as 454 BC. R3575:4* A parallel date to 1391 AD when Huss carried Wycliffe's teachings into effect. R3578:5*

Artaxerxes -- An arbitrary, self-willed, passionate king who, a few years before, had issued an edict against Jerusalem and put a stop to the building of its walls (Ezra 4:8-24). R2526:2*

::Neh. 2:2::

Very sore afraid -- And with good reason, because his life was in danger. Monarchs demand smiling countenances on all occasions. R2526:2*

::Neh. 2:5::

Thou wouldest send -- Prayers not accompanied by earnest efforts brand themselves as insincere. R4913:1

::Neh. 2:8::

Wall of the city -- "From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah shall be 69 weeks" (Dan. 9:25). Sixty-nine symbolic weeks would be 483 symbolic days, or 483 literal years. B67

And the king -- In the year 454 BC, according to Dr. Hale and also according to Dr. Priestlie. B67

1845 years (the length of the Jewish "double") prior to 1391 AD when Huss, the reformer, became acquainted with the works of Wycliffe and continued the Reformation. R3575:6*

::Neh. 2:9::

King had sent captains -- Nehemiah did not permit any spirit of bravado to hinder his acceptance of the escort. Similarly, spiritual Israelites are in no case to refuse reasonable safeguards, when under the Lord's providence they are furnished. R2526:3

Horsemen with me -- It was perfectly proper for Nehemiah to make use of this protection, just as today a Christian, while fully trusting in God, may properly carry fire insurance. R3674:3

::Neh. 2:11::

So I came -- The preparations for the journey occupied nearly a month, the journey itself about three months, bringing Nehemiah to Jerusalem about July. R2526:2

Three days -- Nehemiah was a man of action. He had come to Jerusalem for a purpose and wasted no time. R3675:2

::Neh. 2:12::

Some few men -- Some of his trusted servants. R3675:2

Neither told I any man -- Had he told of his plan, enemies would have taken steps to interfere. R3674:6

Many of the Lord's people need to learn this lesson of secretiveness: to be wise as serpents while harmless as doves, swift to hear and slow to speak. R3675:1

An evil mind can put an evil construction upon the noblest words and deeds. R3675:1

::Neh. 2:13::

Went out by night -- He wasted no time, but made a thorough inspection of the walls and then promulgated his plan for speedy work. R3675:2

Inspection properly precedes intelligent and profitable reformation of any kind; no less the walls of spiritual Zion. We should first take a full survey of our weaknesses and deficiencies in order to build up ourselves. R2526:5

::Neh. 2:17::

Then said I unto them -- He did not begin his work by chiding or boasting. R2526:5

Coworkers with God should work guided by the spirit of love which is not unkind, slighting or boastful. R2526:6

See the distress -- Distress is from the Hebrew word "ra" also rendered "evil" and "calamity." R1351:2* Calamities or evils sent as chastisements. A125

Build up the wall -- For the security of the people, to arouse their national spirit, to revive their hopes in the promised kingdom of God, to afford a practical demonstration of God's favor, thus leading to trust in other promises. R3676:2

Illustrating both the walls of spiritual Zion, the Church of the living God, and the walls of our characters. R2526:5

::Neh. 2:18::

The hand of my God -- The proper course is to begin work afresh with confidence, not in ourselves, but in him who called us. R2526:6

Let us rise up and build -- The entire wall was reared in 52

days. R3675:2

Their hearts were in the work. R3675:2

::Neh. 2:20::

We his servants -- They were all to be associates and partners in whatever blessing and honor might accrue from this service. R2527:1

Arise and build -- Nehemiah not only prayed and labored, but he planned that each should undertake the building of the wall nearest his own residence. We, too, should begin our reform work of character building at home--within ourselves. R3675:2, R2527:1

::Neh. 3:1::

With his brethren -- Each person of prominence and capability should have a certain share in the work and responsibility. R2527:1

::Neh. 3:28::

Against his house -- So he would not only get credit for rapid and good workmanship, but because he would be anxious that the wall would be strong in the vicinity of his own house. R2527:1

So the Lord gave "to every man his work" (Mark 13:34) represented by his talents. R2627:1

A practical illustration of such distribution of labor is the varied work of colporteurs, pilgrims, tract distribution in the general co-laboring with the Lord. R3675:3

::Neh. 4: 1::

When -- The Christian finds the gates and fortresses of his nature weak and broken down. The moment he starts to repair and build he finds enemies within and without to hinder. R1498:5

Sanballat -- The Christian's opposition today is chiefly from the Sanballat followers of nominal Christianity--the "mixed peoples" who have a form of godliness without its power. R3675:4

Was wroth -- For four reasons: (1) the exclusiveness of the Jews; (2) racial and religious differences; (3) Israelites, under divine favor, prospered beyond themselves; and (4) the wall would interfere with their plundering of the Jews. R2527:2

Mocked the Jews -- Opposition first took the form of sarcasm and ridicule. Those who today are building upon the wall of Zion must be prepared for similar sarcasm. R3675:4

::Neh. 4:2::

Revive the stones -- Precious truths. R2527:4

Gold, silver and precious stones for the erection of Zion. R2527:3

Heaps of the rubbish -- Sectarianism. R2527:4

Human tradition. R2527:3

::Neh. 4:3::

If a fox go up -- Sarcasm is one of the most successful of our Adversary's weapons. R2527:4

Ridicule, saying that the wall was not scientifically done and would not stand the test of "Higher Criticism." R3675:4

::Neh. 4:6::

So built we the wall -- It would be well for all the Lord's people charged with the building of the wall of righteousness to encourage and stimulate one another in the work all have at heart. R3675:2

The harvest work is the rebuilding of the walls of Zion, the replacing of the doctrines of righteousness and truth overthrown by the Adversary during the Dark Ages. R3675:4

Had a mind to work -- The people entered into the matter spiritedly. So, in this harvest of the Gospel age, there is an abundance of labor for all who have a mind to work. R3675:2

::Neh. 4:7::

Sanballat -- Governor of the Samaritans, a people of mixed Jewish and heathen blood. R3675:3

Tobiah -- Governor of the Ammonites, across Jordan. R3675:3

Arabians and the Ammonites -- Illustrating how the lust of the flesh and the eye and the pride of life conspire against the New Creature once he begins building the wall of righteousness in his life. R2527:3

Ashdodites -- Ashdod was a Philistine city in the South. R3675:3

Were made up -- It is only from the time that it begins to build that Zion is opposed by the forces of Babylon. R2527:3

They were very wroth -- Being opposed because the fortification meant an increase of Jewish power and because the success of the Jews in Jerusalem meant the triumph of the God of the Jews. R3675:3

They feared that scattered Jews would become amalgamated with those in Jerusalem if the capital were again a stronghold. R3675:4

As these enemies were wroth, so those who are engaged in the harvest work find opposition, not only from the world, the flesh and the devil, but also from the followers of nominal Christianity. R3675:4

::Neh. 4:8::

Conspired -- Conspiracies of the great deceiver and his hosts are not because injury has been done to them, but because the progress of the truth is of itself a rebuke to all who are not of the truth. R2527:3

Opposing influences are ready to combine to hinder the re-establishment of the truths and principles which properly separate the Lord's consecrated people from all others. R3675:4

To fight against -- The city would be rebuilt under unfavorable circumstances, in troublous times (Dan. 9:25). B65

When sarcasm availed nothing, they secretly took counsel to make an attack. R3675:5

To hinder it -- So it is with individuals who resolve to build themselves up. They immediately find themselves beset with enemies bent on hindering their work. R2527:2

::Neh. 4:9::

Prayer... watch -- Each of us must do as this band did--put on the armor and watch and pray and build. R1498:5, R2527:6

::Neh. 4:10::

Judah -- Apparently the less zealous of the Israelites residing in favorable localities nearer the Samaritans. R2527:3

Much rubbish -- Illustrating the present rubbish pile of human tradition and falsity. R2527:3

Not able to build -- Fighting without and foes within tended to hinder and discourage the workers. R3676:1

How many spiritual Israelites who began with great courage and zeal have become disheartened by suggestions respecting the difficulties and impossibilities of the work they are undertaking. R3676:2, R2527:4

::Neh. 4:14::

Fight for your brethren -- "We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren." (1 John 3:16) R2528:1

::Neh. 4:15::

When our enemies -- The preparation for the conflict itself hindered it; so those of the Lord's people who most carefully prepare themselves with the armor of God are much less frequently attacked than are those who neglect it. R2528:1

::Neh. 4:16::

Half of my servants -- The special guard, divided into two parts, relieved each other at labor and at military service. R3675:5

::Neh. 4:17::

Held a weapon -- The hod-carriers were armed. Those who did the mason work had swords at their sides. Similarly, all who labor in the harvest work need to be armed; not, however, with carnal weapons. "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." (2 Cor. 10:4) R3675:5

::Neh. 4:18::

For the builders -- Typifying the reformers of the great Reformation. R1484:4

Had his sword -- Typifying the Word of God. R1484:4

All those laboring today upon the walls of Zion need to be equipped with the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of patient endurance, the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit. R3675:5

So must Christians maintain their armor and keep watch against the Adversary while building themselves up in the most holy faith. R2528:4

::Neh. 4:20::

Sound of the trumpet -- The sound of the trumpet was used to summon the workers. The same is true today. The seventh trumpet sounding is gathering together his saints unto him. R3676:5

::Neh. 4:21::

So we laboured -- The work progressed under serious difficulties which demonstrated that zeal and love were behind the movement. R3675:5

So must the Christian maintain his defensive armor while seeking to build up himself and others. R2528:4

::Neh. 5:1::

A great cry -- The poor Jews had been giving all their time to the repairing of the walls and had thus cut off their income from other sources, and they went into debt. R4921:2

Some of those who labored on the wall were made to suffer for their faithfulness by wealthy Jews who took advantage of their destitution. R3676:2

::Neh. 5:3::

We have mortgaged -- Their richer brethren had made hard contracts with them, taking away their possessions when they were unable to pay because engaged in the Lord's service. R3676:4

::Neh. 5:6::

I was very angry -- Nehemiah was righteously indignant with this condition. R3676:4

::Neh. 5:7::

I rebuked the nobles -- Shaking out the flowing folds of his outer garment he declared that thus the Lord would shake out any who had such a selfish spirit. R3676:4

Amongst the Lord's people we find not only a general tendency to avoid asking the poor brethren to contribute, but a willingness to assist the needy ones. R3676:4

::Neh. 5:11::

Restore, I pray you The Law required brotherly obligations-- "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Lev. 19:18) R4921:3

::Neh. 5:13::

Said, Amen -- In contrast with Ezra, Nehemiah kindly and moderately remonstrated against the wrong course and was successful in correcting it without antagonizing the wrongdoers. R2531:1

::Neh. 5:17::

At my table -- It may be inferred from these verses that Nehemiah inherited great wealth. R2525:1

::Neh. 5:19::

For this people -- Examples of justice are powerful in opposition to wrong. Christians should not only take the proper stand, but let it be known to others as reproofs of unrighteousness. R4921:3

Pray, pleading our righteousness. R5381:2*

::Neh. 6:2::

Let us meet together -- Finding that the Jews could not be taken unawares, their enemies invited Nehemiah away to a conference relative to his authority. R3675:6, R4921:3

Doubtless our opponents now would like to divert our attention from the work we have to do. R3675:6, R4921:3

In the plain of Ono -- Twenty miles from Jerusalem on neutral ground. R4921:6

::Neh. 6:3::

I cannot come down -- Nehemiah refused four times to confer with them, sending them word that his work was great and urgent. R3675:6

Similarly we have the Lord's work to do and no time to discuss social reform, etc. R3675:6

We should always have time to discuss God's Word and his love with the brethren and to give the reason for the hope that is in us, but we have no time for discussing outside questions. R4921:5

::Neh. 6:7::

Prophets to preach -- To publicly expound the Law of the Lord. A55

Let us take counsel -- Nehemiah perceived that during his absence they might overpower the garrison of Israel and destroy the work accomplished or do him violence at the conference. R4921:6

::Neh. 6:8::

Thou feignest them -- A false rumor to alarm the Jews to thus discourage the completion of their work. How cruel are the multitudinous methods of slander. R4922:1

::Neh. 6:12::

God had not sent him -- The next step of the Adversary was to threaten Nehemiah, but he could not be frightened. May it be so with us. May our confidence in the Lord be such that the fear of man will not be a snare to us. R3675:6

::Neh. 7:5::

By genealogy -- He reorganized the people socially according to the heads of their families, especially the priests and Levites. R2531:1

::Neh. 7:65::

The Tirshatha -- Nehemiah was the Tirshatha (Persian for provincial governor). R2531:1

::Neh. 7:70::

Gave unto the work -- Total about $400,000--one-third contributed by those who remained in Babylonia; one-third by the few wealthy of the returned Israelites; one-third by the mass of the people--about $3 each. R2511.2

The Tirshatha gave-Nehemiah himself setting an example of liberality with his large gifts. R2531:2

::Neh. 7:73::

All Israel -- The breach between the two tribes and the ten tribes was already healed. R2084:6

::Neh. 8:1::

Into the street -- The Plaza. R2531:2

::Neh. 8:2::

First day -- The "Feast of Trumpets" on the first day was a time for general gathering, the beginning of their civil year, announced by trumpet blowing. R2531:2

Nehemiah not only chose a pleasant season, but an accustomed occasion, for gathering the people. R2531:1

Arrangements are already made for the antitypical "Feast of Trumpets" and the beginning of a new civil year, or Millennial era for mankind. R2531:4

::Neh. 8:3::

He read therein -- The public reading of the Scriptures was the only means of keeping them before the people. R1145:4

Morning -- Daybreak. The service began early in the morning. R2531:3

The people were attentive -- Gave close attention, to hear and to understand every word. R2531:3

It was not only necessary that they should desire to know and they should be in the attitude of heart to implore divine blessing and assistance, but it was also necessary that they should be attentive. R2531:3

::Neh. 8:4::

Ezra the scribe -- In recognizing Ezra to be more suitable than himself for this work, Nehemiah manifested his humility. R3676:6

While God has all power, he nevertheless uses human instrumentalities. R2532:1

Stood upon a pulpit -- Raised above the people, on a higher plane of being, will be Christ, the great Priest, and his associates, spiritual Israel, to declare the law of righteousness. R2531:4

On the plaza of the Temple. R3676:6

Beside him stood -- On Ezra's right were seven prominent men and on his left six more, and the reading of the Law was done by course, probably by all fourteen. R3676:6

Mattithiah, and Shema and -- Chiefs of the people, representing the various tribes. R2531:2

::Neh. 8:5::

Ezra opened the book -- Ezra's chief place of importance was the ceremony of reading the Law and introducing it to the attention of the people. R3676:6

Stood up -- Out of respect, while the Law was being read; then sat on the ground while it was being discussed. R4922:3, R3678:6, R2531:4

::Neh. 8:6::

Ezra blessed the LORD -- Apparently the convention was opened with prayer. No one can be taught and blessed by the Lord's Word unless he be in the attitude of heart which appreciates the greatness of God and the unworthiness of self. R2531:2

::Neh. 8:7::

Jeshua -- Shortened form of Jehoshua or Joshua. Jehoshua signifies "Jehovah's salvation." R5335:3

The Levites -- Is it not time to strive as Levites and spiritual Israelites to turn afresh to the Bible and instruct the people respecting its teachings? R4923:4

To understand -- Having been scattered so long, they needed these teachers for two reasons: (1) to explain the classical Hebrew which they probably didn't understand, and (2) to give a particular explanation of the sentiment or meaning. R3677:1

Teachers expounded the Law, explaining the meaning of words, how the Law applied to daily life, and what it signified. R2531:3

::Neh. 8:8::

So they read -- God chose human instrumentalities to make his will known to the people. R2532:1

Evidently this was the first presentation of the Law since their return from captivity. Ezra had given his attention to the rearranging of the Law and the instruction of the priests and Levites, but had not as yet caused it to be promulgated amongst the people. R3677:3

As the returned Israelites were blessed by the reading and understanding of Moses' Law, much more those returning to the Lord, out of bondage to "Babylon the Great," are being blessed by an appreciation of the divine law, love, granted to the house of sons. R1498:3

It will not do to attempt to tell the Lord's plan but ignore the Lord's Word. R3677:3

Book In the law -- Nehemiah's method was to make general a knowledge of the divine Law, appealing to the awakened consciences of the people to act for themselves heartily, unto the Lord. R2531:1

Distinctly -- Typifying the time when the declaration of the Gospel message will come to the people and they will get the "sense" and "understanding" of it. R2531:5

In the Millennium it will no longer be a din, a Babylon of confused noises. R2531:5

Gave the sense -- The real essence of preaching, "Preach the word." (2 Tim. 4:2) R3677:1

Caused them to understand -- It was not sufficient that the priests and the Levites be learned in the Law, but that the people themselves should be made to understand the divine message. The same is true today. R3677:3, R4923:1

::Neh. 8:9::

And Nehemiah -- The man of opportunity. R3676:6

Representing the Lord Jesus at his second advent. Our great and wise governor is instructing the Royal Priesthood and thus preparing for the great work of the future. R2531:5

The Tirshatha -- Provincial Governor. R2531:2

And Ezra -- Nehemiah recognized Ezra as more suitable than himself to take a prominent part in educating the people, thus manifesting his humility. R3676:6

Levites that taught -- The unconsecrated cannot be recognized as religious teachers in any sense. R2531:4

This day is holy -- In the Lord's providence the work was accomplished in time to celebrate the civil new year, which symbolized to them a fresh start in the ways of the Lord. R3676:3, R3677:5

Mourn not, nor weep -- With repentance and the forgiveness of sins, the time for mourning is past. R3677.3

Because the great sacrifice for sins has already been offered. In consequence, the Millennial day is not a day of mourning, but of rejoicing. R2531:5

For through Christ there is a full propitiation, not only for the sins that are past, but also for the inherited weaknesses of the present and future. R2531:6

All the people wept -- When the Law was read and expounded they saw that they had been under chastisement because they had neglected divine institutions. R3677:3, R4922:6

The first hearing of the divine law brings remorse and tears as we realize our shortcomings. R2531:6

::Neh. 8:10::

And drink the sweet -- The exceeding great and precious promises given to us, and to drink of the sweets of his favor, and to send portions of this blessing to others who have not yet seen and heard and tasted of the riches of divine grace. R2532:1

And send portions -- Representing the sending forth of the knowledge of the Lord to fill the whole earth. R2531:5

For this day -- Typifying the Millennial day. R2531:5

Joy of the LORD -- The joy of realizing that the Lord is our fortress, that no ill can betide us without his knowledge, that all things work together for good. R3677:5

Is your strength -- So that all the trials and difficulties of the way would seem as nothing. R3677:5

::Neh. 8:11::

Stilled all the people -- The message that the leaders set forth was repeated to the people by the Levites and the tears were dry. R3677:5

::Neh. 8:12::

Make great mirth -- They rejoiced in the opening of a new year, which symbolized to them a fresh start in the way of the Lord and in his favor. R3677:5

::Neh. 8:13::

The chief of the fathers -- The reading of the Law on the second day was to heads of families, emphasizing their responsibilities amongst the Lord's people. R3677:5

::Neh. 8:14::

They found written -- During this reading they discovered that the "Feast of Tabernacles" feature of the Law had been overlooked. R3677:6

Dwell In booths -- For a week, to remind them how once they had been a people without a home from Egypt to Canaan; a special festival of thanksgiving. R3677:6

Our present sojourn is toward the kingdom and everything of the present should be considered as a temporal or tabernacle condition. R3678:1

::Neh. 8:15::

Olive branches -- Symbols of peace. D651

::Neh. 8:17::

Sat under the booths -- The Jews rejoiced and had a feast of good fellowship. The whole people for a time were on a common level studying the Word. R3678:1

This corresponds well with our conventions, in temporal tabernacles away from our usual home. R3678:2

Jeshua -- Shortened form of Jehoshua or Joshua. Jehoshua signifies "Jehovah's salvation." R5335:3

::Neh. 8:18::

Read in the book -- It was a time for Bible study. R3678:1

Feast seven days -- Our conventions are after this Feast of Tabernacles pattern, only on a higher spiritual plane. We exhort all to have in mind the spending of one week in each year separate and apart from ordinary business and work. R3677:6

::Neh. 9:2::

Seed of Israel -- There was then no division in Israel (between the ten tribes and the two). R2124:5

Separated themselves -- Israel was thus separated because God's covenant was with them and not with others. R4963:6

::Neh. 9:9::

In Egypt -- Type of the kingdom of darkness. F458

By the Red sea -- Representing Second Death. F459

::Neh. 9:10::

Upon Pharoah -- Representing Satan. F458

::Neh. 9:13::

And gavest them -- The Ten Commandments were given only to Israel after the flesh. R971:5, R1726:5

::Neh. 9:14::

The holy sabbath -- Type of the Millennial age. B40

::Neh. 9:16::

Hardened their necks -- A figure drawn from the stiffness of neck of an unruly yoke of bullocks. R3464:1

::Neh. 9:17::

A God -- A God who appeals to our hearts. How much Christians and the world have lost through misconceptions of God's character. R5299:4

Ready to pardon -- To such as renounce sin and desire to return to the Lord, God proffers mercy, forgiveness, through the merit of Christ's sacrifice. R4811:6

God has not yet forgiven the world's sins. He has only made proper provision for their cancellation, in due time, through the death of his Son. R5299:5

Of great kindness -- Abundant in loving-kindness; not intent upon torturing his creatures. R5299:4

::Neh. 9:20::

Thy manna -- It represented the living bread supplied to the world by God through Christ. T122

::Neh. 9:23::

Thou hadst promised -- Pray, trusting God's faithfulness. R5380:4*

::Neh. 9:27::

When they cried -- Such a cry to the Lord implies that the sins and weaknesses of the flesh are contrary to the transgressor's will. R5646:3

Thou heardest them -- When the spiritual Israelite cries for deliverance from his own weaknesses, his prayer is heard and deliverance provided with the assurance that the Lord's grace is sufficient. R5646:3

Gavest them saviours -- With spiritual Israel, God also raises up, from time to time, special counselors, deliverers, ministers. R5645:3

::Neh. 9:28::

They did evil again -- The book of Judges gives a discouraging picture; but was in many respects a favorable time. R5645:6

::Neh. 9:29::

Again unto thy law -- The Lord's corrections in righteousness are evidences of special protection, care and relationship. R5646:2

::Neh. 11:1::

One of ten -- Regardless of the original tribe to which they belonged. B206

::Neh. 11:20::

Residue of Israel -- Of all the tribes who had respect to the promises. B206

No more a divided nation; but as at first, one people, known by the original name, Israel. B206

::Neh. 12:47::

All Israel -- The twelve tribes, not just Judah. R2084:6

::Neh. 13:2::

But hired Balaam -- Illustrating those forsaking righteousness for earthly gain. F166

::Neh. 13:4::

Eliashib -- The High Priest. R2534:1

Allied unto Tobiah -- An Ammonite; became related to the High Priest by marriage. R2534:1

::Neh. 13:6::

Came I unto the king -- Nehemiah remained with his people for 12 years, when he was recalled to the palace by Artaxerxes. R2534:1

Obtained I leave -- He returned to Jerusalem by the king's permission, probably five years afterward. R2534:1

::Neh. 13:7::

The evil -- In Nehemiah's absence the Israelites had prospered in temporal matters, but suffered morally and religiously through desire to be on friendly terms with the Gentiles. R2534:1

See comments on Nehemiah 13:16.

::Neh. 13:9::

Cleansed the chambers -- Nehemiah at once ordered the cleansing of the Temple with the restoration of its service. R2534:3

::Neh. 13:15::

On the sabbath -- The conciliation of foreigners and relaxing of interest in the Lord and his commandments resulted in the disregarding of sabbath observance. R2534:2

The spiritual Israelite, although not under the Law, has his sabbath day--a grander and more perfect rest--resting in faith in Christ. R2534:4

The antitype is not a rest of one day out of seven, but a continual rest every day. The fact that it was the seventh day is further typical that the fulness of the antitype will not be realized until 6000

years of evil end and the seventh or Millennial day begins. R1499:4

"Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest (sabbath,) lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief (of fleshly Israel)." (Heb. 4:11) R2534:5

Although not a substitute for the Jewish sabbath, Sunday is a great blessing to the spiritual Israelite, giving opportunity to glorify the Lord, bless the brethren and do good unto all men. R2535:1

The general observance of the first day of the week gives spiritual Israel opportunities to assemble for the study of the Word, for praise, for prayer, for spiritual fellowship--building one another up. R2535:2

Sunday should be carefully observed by Truth people as a God-given privilege: lest it fall into disuse or disrespect: lest it lead others to a violation of a less enlightened conscience: and to maintain a proper religious influence with neighbors. R2535:4

::Neh. 13:16::

Dwelt men of Tyre -- As heathen people surrounding Israel exercised a continual pressure upon them, so worldly influences surrounding spiritual Israelites continually press them with the spirit of worldliness which must be repelled. Let us be on guard against the influences of the world, the flesh and the devil. R2534:2

::Neh. 13:17::

Contended with the nobles -- Remonstrated against such a violation of the divine command, the fourth in Israel's Decalogue. R2534:3

::Neh. 13:18::

Did not your fathers -- He reminded them that sabbath desecration had much to do with their Babylonish captivity. R2534:3

Profaning the sabbath -- Doubtless had Israel properly observed their sabbath days they would also have properly observed their sabbath years and jubilees. R2534:3

::Neh. 13:19::

Gates should be shut -- We must all commend Nehemiah's devotion to the divine Law. R2534:4

::Neh. 13:20::

Lodged without Jerusalem -- Foreign tradesmen were disappointed and obliged to camp outside the city. R2534:4

Once or twice -- In expectation that the reformation would be short-lived, they came in like manner the next sabbath. R2534:4

::Neh. 13:21::

Testified against them -- Nehemiah warned them that to come again for sabbath trade would subject them to arrest as disturbers of the Law and peace of the city. R2534:4

::Neh. 13:22::

Remember me, O my God -- Nehemiah asks the Lord's blessing upon himself in view of the work which he has done in the name of the Lord. R2535:4

Spare me -- He was fighting valiantly for God's cause, making many enemies; hence it was very proper that he should think of the Lord's faithfulness toward all faithful to him. R2535:5

::Neh. 13:23::

Married wives of -- A lesson for spiritual Israel who are commanded to be separate from the world, to seek fellowship with their own people, and not be unequally yoked in marriage, or even business partnership. R2534:2

::Neh. 13:28::

One of the sons of Jolada -- The High Priest's grandson, Manasseh, married the daughter of Sanballat, once a prominent enemy of the Jews. R2534:1

::Neh. 13:31::

Remember me, O my God -- See comments under Nehemiah 13:22.

For good -- To be amongst the Worthies of the past, mentioned in Hebrews 11--those who wrought righteousness and were valiant on the side of God and his Law. R2535:5, R2526:4