(20 verses, 4:40 to read)
What I am about to READ
The account of Nehemiah’s journey to Jerusalem to inspect her walls.
MARK and LEARN
This chapter is divided into two sections, the first being the account of Nehemiah’s sending to Jerusalem by Persian king Artexerxes I (reigned from 465 to 424 BC). The second being his inspection of Jerusalem’s walls.
1. Nehemiah was “cupbearer” to the king (1:11) and was therefore a trusted official of the court. Being a Jew in exile, he longed for his homeland and apparently wore that desire on his shoulder in the presence of the king (2:2-3). His desire to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild her walls was fulfilled by the king and he was sent there, along with letters of passage to protect him through the vast empires beyond Persia.
- Nehemiah prayed to the Lord even as he spoke to the king. He sought the guidance and assistance of the Lord his God in all his dealing. Prayer is a significant part of Nehemiah’s life and occurs throughout the book.
- “Beyond the River” (vs. 7) was the proper name of a satrapy that was west of Persia, that is, beyond the Euphrates River. Part of this satrapy constituted Judah and her chief city Jerusalem, as a smaller part of “Beyond the River.”
- King’s forest (vs. 8) possibly a region of Lebanon, from which Solomon acquired timber for the building of the Temple.
2. Nehemiah arrives at Jerusalem but does not make his intentions to rebuild the wall readily apparent to the officials there. He secretly inspects the entire perimeter of the city’s walls on horseback and quite possibly made notes along the way. Nehemiah then makes an impassioned petition to the city’s “priests, nobles, officials and the rest who were to do the work” (vs. 16) and they resolve to rebuild the walls. Though some view this as a sign of rebellion, they continue their building project imploring the blessing of Almighty God.
- Sanballat the Horonite…Tobiah the Ammonite – They tried to detract the work of rebuilding the wall. Sanballat was probably some sort of governor or official of Samaria, whose power would be challenged should Jerusalem come to power again. Tobiah was his servant.
- “…you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.” (vs. 20) – Essentially an assertion of self-governance.
Lord God, you blessed the work and hands of Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of your holy city. So strengthen our hands, that we my prayerfully labor on behalf of your Church and her people. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Pr. Brandon Ross
Faith Lutheran Church – Johnstown, Colorado