, 1 Kings 14:19, the acts of Jeroboam, which are more exactly defined by the addition maalak| wa'asher nil|cham 'asher.
So, too, in the case of the other kings, when reference is made to historical works concerning their reigns. It is in this sense that the title of the present book must be understood; and hence both Luther and de Wette have correctly translated it: the history of Nehemiah. Hence the title only testifies to the fact, that the work at the head of which it stands treats of the things, i.e., of the acts, of Nehemiah, and the events that happened to him, without stating anything concerning its author. That Nehemiah was himself the historian of his own deeds, appears only from the circumstance that the narrative is written in the first person.
The contents of the book are as follows: Nehemiah, the son of Hachaliah, a Jew, of whom nothing further is known, and cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes Longimanus, is plunged into deep affliction by the account he receives from his brother Hanani, and certain other men from Judah, of the sad condition of those who had returned from Babylon, and especially of the state of the ruined walls and gates of Jerusalem. He entreats with fervent supplications the mercy of God (ch. 1), and shortly after seizes a favourable opportunity to request the king to send him to Judah to build the city of his fathers' sepulchres, and to give him letters to the governors on the other side of Euphrates, that they may provide him with wood for building from the royal forests. This petition being graciously acceded to by the monarch, he travels, accompanied by captains of forces and horsemen, to Jerusalem, and soon after his arrival rides by night round the city, accompanied by some few companions, to ascertain the state of the walls. He then communicates to the rulers of the people his resolution to build and restore the walls, and invites them to undertake this work with him (ch. 2). Then follows in Neh 3 a list of the individuals and families who built the several portions of the wall with their gates; and in Neh 3:33-6:19, an account of the difficulties Nehemiah had to overcome in the prosecution of the work, viz.: (1) the attempts of the enemies of the Jews forcibly to oppose and hinder the building, by reason of which the builders were obliged to work with weapons in their hands (3:33-4:17); (2) the oppression of the poorer members of the community by wealthy usurers, which Nehemiah put a stop to by seriously reproving their injustice, and by his own great unselfishness (ch. 5); and (3) the plots made against his life by his enemies, which he frustrated by the courageous faith with which he encountered them. Thus the building of the wall was, notwithstanding all these difficulties, brought to a successful termination (ch. 6).-This work accomplished, Nehemiah directed his efforts towards securing the city against hostile attacks by appointing watches at the gates (Neh 7:1-3, and increasing the numbers of the dwellers in Jerusalem; in pursuance of which design, he assembled the nobles and people for the purpose of enrolling their names according to their genealogy (7:4-5). While occupied with this matter, he found a list of those houses of Judah that had returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel and Joshua; and this he gives, Josh 7:6-73.
Then, on the approach of the seventh month of the year, the people assembled at Jerusalem to hear the public reading of the law by Ezra, to keep the new moon and the feast of this month, and, after the celebration of the feast of tabernacles, to observe a day of prayer and fasting, on which occasion the Levites making confession of sin in the name of the congregation, they renewed their covenant with God by entering into an oath to keep the law.
This covenant being committed to writing, was sealed by Nehemiah as governor, by the chiefs of the priests, of the Levites, and of the houses of the people, and the contributions for the support of the worship of God and its ministers arranged (8-10). The decision arrived at concerning the increase of the inhabitants of Jerusalem was next carried into execution, one of every ten dwellers in the provinces being chosen by lot to go to Jerusalem and dwell there (Neh 11:1-2). Then follow lists, (1) of the houses and races who dwelt in Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah and Benjamin (11:3-36); (2) of the priestly and Levitical families who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel and Joshua, and of the heads of priestly and Levitical families in the days of Joiakim the high priest, Nehemiah, and Ezra (Ez 12:1-26).
These are succeeded by an account of the solemn dedication of the walls (Neh 12:27-43). Then, finally, after some general remarks on certain institutions of divine worship, and an account of a public reading of the law (12:44-13:3), the book concludes with a brief narration of what Nehemiah effected during his second sojourn there, after his journey to the court in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes, and his return for the purpose of putting a stop to certain illegal acts which had prevailed during his absence, such as marriages with heathen women, non-payment of tithes and dues to Levites, desecration of the Sabbath by field-labour, and by buying and selling (13:4-31).
According to what has been stated, this book may be divided into three sections. The first, chs. 1-6, treats of the building of the walls and gates of Jerusalem through the instrumentality of Nehemiah; the narrative concerning the occasion of his journey, and the account of the journey itself (Neh 1:1-2:10), forming the introduction. The second, chs. 7-12:43, furnishes a description of the further efforts of Nehemiah to increase and ensure the prosperity of the community in Judah and Jerusalem, first, by securing Jerusalem from hostile attacks; then, by seeking to increase the population of the city; and, lastly, by endeavouring to bring the domestic and civil life of the people into conformity with the precepts of the law, and thus to furnish the necessary moral and religious basis for the due development of the covenant people. The third, Neh 12:44-13:31, states how Nehemiah, during his second sojourn at Jerusalem, continued these efforts for the purpose of ensuring the permanence of the reform which had been undertaken.
The aim of Nehemiah's proceedings was to place the civil prosperity of the Israelites, now returned from exile to the land of their fathers, on a firm basis. Briefly to describe what he effected, at one time by direct personal effort, at another in conjunction with his contemporary Ezra the priest and scribe, is the object of his record. As Nehemiah's efforts for the civil welfare of his people as the congregation of the Lord were but a continuation of those by which Zerubbabel the prince, Joshua the high priest, and Ezra the scribe had effected the foundation of the community of returned exiles, so too does his book form the continuation and completion of that of Ezra, and may in this respect be regarded as its second part. It is, moreover, not merely similar in kind, to the book of Ezra, especially with regard to the insertion of historical and statistical lists and genealogical registries, but has also the same historical object, viz., to show how the people of Israel, after their return from the Babylonian captivity, were by the instrumentality of Nehemiah fully re-established in the land of promise as the congregation of the Lord. 2. Integrity of the Book of Nehemiah, and Date of Its Composition Nehemiah gives his account of the greater part of his labours for the good of his fellow-countrymen in the first person; and this form of narrative is not only uniformly maintained throughout the first six chapters (from Neh 1:1-7:5), but also recurs in Neh 12:27-43, and from 13:6 to the end. The formula too: Think upon me, my God, etc., peculiar to Nehemiah, is repeated 5:19; 6:14; 13:14,22,29,31. Hence not only has the composition of the larger portion of this book been universally admitted to be the work of Nehemiah, but the integrity of its first section (1-6) has been generally acknowledged. On the composition and authorship of the second section, 7:73b-12:26, on the contrary, the verdict of modern criticism is almost unanimous in pronouncing it not to have been the work of Nehemiah, but composed from various older documents and records by the compiler of the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah-the so-called chronicler who lived a hundred years later-and by him interpolated in "the record of Nehemiah." This view has been chiefly based upon the facts, that in chs. 8-10 the style is different; that Nehemiah himself is not the prominent person, Ezra occupying the foreground, and Nehemiah being merely the subject of a passing remark (8:9 and 10:2); that there is in 8:14 no reference to Ezra 3:4 with respect to the feast of tabernacles; and that Ezra 3:1 is in verbal accordance with Neh 8:1 (Bertheau, Comm. p. 11, and de Wette-Schrader, Einl. in das A. T. 236).
Of these reasons, the first (the dissimilarity of style) is an assertion arising from a superficial examination of these chapters, and in support of which nothing further is adduced than that, instead of Elohim, and especially the God of heaven, elsewhere current with Nehemiah when speaking of God, the names Jehovah, Adonai, and Elohim are in this section used promiscuously. In fact, however, the name Elohim is chiefly used even in these chapters, and Jahve but seldom; while in the prayer ch. 9 especially, such other appellations of God occur as Nehemiah, with the solemnity befitting the language of supplication, uses also in the prayer in ch. 1. (Note: Compare the exact statement of the case in my Lehrbuch, 149, note 4, which opponents have ignored, because nothing in the way of facts can be brought against it.)
The other three reasons are indeed correct, in so far as they are actual facts, but they prove nothing. It is true that in ch. 8-10 Nehemiah personally occupies a less prominent position than Ezra, but this is because the actions therein related, viz., the public reading of the law, and the direction of the sacred festivals, belonged not to the office of Nehemiah the Tirshatha and royal governor, but to that, of Ezra the scribe, and to the priests and Levites. Even here, however, Nehemiah, as the royal Tirshatha, stands at the head of the assembled people, encourages them in conjunction with Ezra and the priests, and is the first, as praecipuum membrum ecclesiae (Neh 10:2), to seal the document of the covenant just concluded. Again, though it is certain that in the description of the feast of tabernacles, 8:14f., there is no express allusion to its former celebration under Zerubbabel and Joshua, Ezra 3:4, yet such allusions are unusual with biblical writers in general.
This is shown, e.g., by a comparison of 2 Chron 35:1,18 with 2 Chron 30:1,13-26; and yet it has never struck any critic that an argument against the single authorship of 2 Chr. might be found in the fact that no allusion to the earlier passover held under Hezekiah,2 Chron 30, is made in the description of the passover under Josiah,2 Chron 35. Finally, the verbal coincidence of Neh 8:1 (properly 7:73b and 8:1) with Ezra 3:1 amounts to the statement that "when the seventh month was come, all Israel gathered out of their cities as one man to Jerusalem." All else is totally different; the assembly in Neh 8 pursues entirely different objects and undertakes entirely different matters from that in Ezra 3. The peculiarities, moreover, of Nehemiah's style could as little appear in what is narrated, chs. 8-10, as in his description of the building of the wall, Neh 3, or in the list of the families who returned from captivity with Zerubbabel and Joshua, ch. 7- portions which no one has yet seriously objected to as integral parts of the book of Nehemiah. The same remark applies to the list of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the province, 11:3-36, which even Bertheau and Schrader admit to have originated from the record of Nehemiah, or to have been composed by Nehemiah. If, however, Nehemiah composed these lists, or incorporated them in his record, why should it not also be himself, and not the "subsequent chronicler," who inserted in his work the lists of priests and Levites, 12:1-26, when the description of the dedication of the wall which immediately follows them is evidently his own composition?
One reason for maintaining that these lists of priests and Levites are of later origin than the times of Nehemiah is said to be, that they extend to Jaddua the high priest, who was contemporary with Alexander the Great.
If this assertion were as certain as it is confidently brought forward, then indeed these lists might well be regarded as a subsequent interpolation in the book of Nehemiah. For Nehemiah, who was at least thirty years of age when he first came to Jerusalem, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, i.e., B.C. 445, could hardly have lived to witness the overthrow of the Persian monarchy by Alexander, B.C. 330; or, even if he did attain the age of 145, would not have postponed the writing of his book to the last years of his life. When, however, we consider somewhat more closely the priests and Levites in question, we shall perceive that vv. 1-9 of ch. 12 contain a list of the chiefs of the priests and Levites who returned from captivity with Zerubbabel and Joshua, which consequently descends from the times before Nehemiah; vv. 12-21, a list of the heads of the priestly houses in the days of the high priest Joiakim, the son of Joshua; and vv. 24 and 25, a list of the heads of chiefs of Levi (of the Levites), with the closing remark, v. 26: "These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Joshua, and in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra," Now the high priest Joiakim, the son of Joshua, the contemporary of Zerubbabel, was the predecessor and father of the high priest Eliashib, the contemporary of Nehemiah. Consequently both these lists descend from the time previous to Nehemiah's arrival at Jerusalem; and the mention of Ezra and Nehemiah along with Joiakim proves nothing more than that the chiefs of the Levites mentioned in the last list were still living in the days of Nehemiah. Thus these three lists contain absolutely nothing which reaches to a period subsequent to Nehemiah. Between the first and second, however, there stands (vv. and 11) the genealogical notice: Joshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim begat Eliashib, Eliashib begat Jonathan (correct reading, Johanan), and Jonathan begat Jaddua; and between the second and third it is said, v. 22: With respect to the Levites, in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, the heads of houses are recorded, and the priests under the reign of Darius the Persian; and v. 23: With respect to the sons of Levi, the heads of houses are recorded in the book of the Chronicles even to the days of Johanan. From these verses (10, 11, and 22, 23) it is inferred that the lists descend to the time of the high-priesthood of Jaddua, the contemporary of Alexander the Great. To this we reply, that viewing the circumstance that Eliashib was high priest in the time of Nehemiah (Neh 3:1; 13:4,7), it cannot be an absolute objection that Jaddua was still living in the days of Alexander the Great, since from the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, i.e., from B.C. 433, to the destruction of the Persian empire B.C. 330, there are only 103 years, a period for which three high priests, each exercising his office thirty-five years, would suffice.
But on the other hand, it is very questionable whether in vv. 11 and Jaddua is mentioned as the officiating high priest, or only as the son of Johanan, and grandson of Joiada the high priest. The former of these views receives no corroboration from v. 11, for there nothing else is given but the genealogy of the high-priestly line. Nor can it any more be proved from v. 22 that the words, "in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, were the Levites recorded or enrolled," are to be understood of four different lists made under four successive high priests. The most natural sense of the words, on the contrary, is that one enrollment took place in the days of these four individuals of the high-priestly house. If Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua were all alive at the same time, this, the most natural view, must also be the correct one, because in each of the other lists of the same chapter, the times of only one high priest are mentioned, and at the close of the list, v. 26, it is expressly stated that the (previously enrolled) Levites were chiefs in the days of Joiakim, Ezra, and Nehemiah.
It is not, moreover, difficult to prove that Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua were living contemporaneously.
For Eliashib, whom Nehemiah found high priest at his arrival at Jerusalem (Neh 3:1), being the grandson of Joshua, who returned from Babylon in the year 536 with Zerubbabel, would in 445 be anything but a young man.
Indeed, he must then have been about seventy-five years old. Moreover, it appears from 13:4 and 7, that in 433, when Nehemiah returned to Artaxerxes, he was still in office, though on Nehemiah's return he was no longer alive, and that he therefore died soon after 433, at the age of about ninety. If, however, this was his age when he died, his son Joiada might then be already sixty-three, his grandson Johanan thirty-six, his greatgrandson Jaddua nine, if each were respectively born in the twentyseventh year of his father's lifetime. (Note: If Jaddua were on the death of his great-great-grandfather (between 433 and 430 B.C.) about ten years old, he might also live to witness the appearance of Alexander the Great before Jerusalem, B.C. (mentioned by Josephus, Ant. xi. 8. 4), since he would then have attained the age of 110, which does not seem incredible, when it is considered that Jehoiada, the high priest in the reign of Joash, was 130 when he died (2 Chron 24:15).)
The view (of vv. 11, 12, and 22) just stated, is confirmed both by vv. 22b and 23, and by Neh 13:28. According to 22b, the chiefs or heads of the priestly houses were enrolled under the government of Darius the Persian.
Now there is no doubt that this Darius is Darius Nothus, the successor of Artaxerxes Longimanus, who reigned from 424 to 404. The notion that Darius Codomanus is intended, rests upon the mistaken view that in v. Jaddua is mentioned as the high priest already in office. According to v. 23, the heads of the houses of the Levites were enrolled in the book of the Chronicles even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib. The days of Johanan-that is, the period of his high-priesthood-are here named as the latest date to which the author of this book extends the genealogical lists of the Levites. And this well agrees with the information, Neh 13:18, that during Nehemiah's absence at Jerusalem, one of the sons of Joiada the high priest allied himself by marriage with Sanballat the Horonite, i.e., married one of his daughters, and was driven away by Nehemiah. If Joiada had even in the days of Nehemiah a married son, Johanan the first-born son of Joiada, the presumptive successor to the high-priesthood, might well have been at that time so long a married man as to have already witnessed the birth of his son Jaddua.
To complete our proof that the contents of ch. 12 do not extend to a period subsequent to Nehemiah, we have still to discuss the question, how long he held office in Judaea, and when he wrote the book in which he relates what he there effected. Both these questions can be answered with sufficient accuracy for our purpose, though the exact year cannot be named. Concerning the time he held office in Jerusalem, he only remarks in his book that he was governor from the twentieth to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes, and that in the thirty-second year of that monarch he again returned to the court, and afterwards, yaamiym l|qeets , came back to Jerusalem (Neh 5:14, and 13:6). The term yaamiym l|qeets is very indefinite; but the interpretation, "at the end of the year," is incorrect and unsupported.
It is quite evident, from the irregularities and transgressions of the law which occurred in the community during his absence from Jerusalem, that Nehemiah must have remained longer than a year at the court, and, indeed, that he did not return for some years. Besides the withholding of the dues to the Levites (Neh 13:10f.) and the desecration of the Sabbath (13:15f.)- transgressions of the law which might have occurred soon after Nehemiah's departure-Eliashib had not only the priest fitted up a chamber in the forecourt of the temple as a dwelling for his connection Tobiah (13:4), but Jews had also married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab, and had children by them who spake not the Jews' language, but only that of Ashdod, in the interval (13:23). These facts presuppose an absence of several years on the part of Nehemiah, even if many of these unlawful marriages had been previously contracted, and only came to his knowledge after his return.-Neither are there adequate grounds for the notion that Nehemiah lived but a short time after his return to Jerusalem. The suppression of these infringements of the law, which is narrated Neh 13:7- 31, might, indeed, have been accomplished in a few months; but we are by no means justified in inferring that this was the last of his labours for the welfare of his fellow-countrymen, and that his own life terminated soon after, because he relates nothing more than his procedure against these transgressions.
After the removal of these irregularities, and the re-establishment of legal order in divine worship and social life, he might have lived for a long period at Jerusalem without effecting anything, the record of which it might be important to hand down to posterity. If we suppose him to have been from thirty-five to forty years of age when, being cupbearer to Artaxerxes, he was sent at his own request, in the twentieth year of that monarch's reign (445 B.C.), as governor to Judah, he might well have exercised his office in Judah and Jerusalem from thirty-five to forty years, including his journey back to the court in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes, i.e., till 405 B.C. This would make him live till the nineteenth year of Darius Nothus, and not die till he was from seventy-five to eighty years of age.
If we further suppose that he composed this book some ten years before his death, i.e., thirty years after his first arrival at Jerusalem, when he had, as far as lay in his power, arranged the affairs of Judah, it would then be possible for him to relate and describe all that is contained in the canonical book of Nehemiah. For in the year 415 B.C., i.e., in the ninth year of Darius Nothus, genealogical lists of priests and Levites of the time of Joiakim the high priest, reaching down to the days of Johanan the son (grandson) of Eliashib, and of the time of the reign of Darius Nothus, might already be written in the book of the Chronicles, as mentioned Neh 12:23, compared with 22 and 26. Then, too, the high priest Joiada might already have been dead, his son Johanan have succeeded to the office, and Jaddua, the son of the latter, have already attained the age of twenty-five.- This book would consequently contain no historical information and no single remark which Nehemiah might not himself have written. Hence the contents of the book itself furnish not the slightest opposition to the view that the whole was the work of Nehemiah.
When, however, we turn our attention to its form, that unity of character to which modern criticism attaches so much importance seems to be wanting in the second half. We have, however, already remarked that neither the lack of prominence given to the person of Nehemiah, nor the circumstance that he is in these chapters spoken of in the third person, furnish incontestable arguments against the integrity of this book. For in the section concerning the dedication of the wall, Neh 12:27-43, Nehemiah's authorship of which no critic has as yet impugned, he only brings himself forward (31 and 38) when mentioning what he had himself appointed and done, while the rest of the narrative is not in the communicative form of speech: we sought the Levites, we offered, etc., which he employs in the account of the making of a covenant, but in the objective form: they sought the Levites, they offered, etc. (27 and 43).
The want of connection between the several sections seems to us far more striking. Chs. 8-10 form, indeed, a connected section, the commencement of which (Neh 7:73b) by the circumstantial clause, "when the children of Israel dwelt in their cities," combines it, even by a repetition of the very form of words, which the preceding list; but the commencement of ch. is somewhat abrupt, while between 11 and 12 and between vv. 26 and of ch. 12 there is nothing to mark the connection. This gives the sections, chs. 8-10 and 12:1-26, the appearance of being subsequent interpolations or insertions in Nehemiah's record; and there is thus much of real foundation for this appearance, that this book is not a continuous narrative or description of Nehemiah's proceedings in Judah-historical, topographical, and genealogical lists, which interrupt the thread of the history, being inserted in it.
But it by no means follows, that because such is the nature of the book, the inserted portions must therefore have been the subsequent interpolations of another hand, in the record composed by Nehemiah. This inference of modern criticism is based upon an erroneous conception of the nature and intention of this book, which is first of all regarded, if not as a biography or diary of Nehemiah, yet as a "record," in which is noted down only the most important facts concerning his journey to Jerusalem and his proceedings there. For this preconception, neither the canonical book of Nehemiah, nor a comparison of those sections which are universally admitted to be his, furnish any adequate support. For with regard, first, to these sections, it is obvious from v. 14, where Nehemiah during the building of the wall reproaches the usurers, saying, "From the time that I was appointed to be governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth to the two-and-thirtieth year of Artaxerxes, that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor," that Nehemiah wrote the account of his labours in Judah from memory after the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes. When we compare with this the manner in which he speaks quite incidentally (Neh 13:6f.) of his absence from Jerusalem and his journey to the court, in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes, and connects the account of the chamber vacated for Tobiah in the fore-court of the temple (13:4) with the previous narrative of the public reading of the law and the severance of the strangers from Israel by the formula mizeh w|lip|neey , "and before this," making it appear as though this public reading of the law and severance of strangers had followed his return from the court; and further, consider that the public reading of the law mentioned, 13:1, is combined with the section, Neh 12:44, and this section again (12:44) with the account of the dedication of the wall by the formula, "at that time;" it is undoubtedly obvious that Nehemiah did not write his whole work till the evening of his days, and after he had accomplished all that was most important in the labours he undertook for Jerusalem and his fellow-countrymen, and that he makes no decided distinction between his labours during his second sojourn at Jerusalem and those of his former stay of twelve years.
If, then, these circumstances indisputably show that the work composed by Nehemiah himself did not bear the form of a diary, the admission into it of the list of those who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel and Joshua (Josh 7:6-73) makes it manifest that it was not his intention to give an unbroken narrative, of his efforts and their results in Jerusalem. This list, moreover, which he found when occupied with his plan for increasing the population of Jerusalem, is shown by the words, "I found therein written," to have been admitted by himself into his work, and inserted in his account of what God had put it into his heart to do with respect to the peopling of Jerusalem (Neh 7:5), and of the manner in which he had carried out his resolution (11:1-2), as a valuable document with respect to the history of the community, although the continuous thread of the narrative was broken by the interpolation. From his admission of this list, we may infer that he also incorporated other not less important documents, such as the lists of the priests and Levites, 12:1-26, in his book, without troubling himself about the continuous progress of the historical narrative, because it was his purpose not merely to portray his own labours in Jerusalem, but to describe the development and circumstances of the reinstated community under his own and Ezra's leadership. (Note: "Nehemie," remarks Ed. Barde in his Etude critique et exegetique, p. 48, "n'ecrit pas sa biographie: son but est l'histoire de la restauration de Jerusalem et du culte, pour montrer l'accomplissement des promesses de Dieu.") This being the case, there can be no reason whatever for denying Nehemiah's authorship of the account of the religious solemnities in chs. 8- 10, especially as the communicative form in which the narrative is written, bears witness that one of the leaders of that assembly of the people composed this account of it, and the expression, "we will not forsake the house of our God," with which it closes (10:40 ), is a form of speech peculiar to Nehemiah, and repeated by him Neh 13:11. Such considerations seem to us to do away with any doubts which may have been raised as to the integrity of the whole book, and the authorship of Nehemiah.
For the exegetical literature, see my Lehrb. p. 460. Comp. also Ed. Barde, Nehemie etude critique et exegetique, Tübing. 1861, and Bertheau's Commentary already quoted, p. 18.
I. NEHEMIAH'S JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM, AND THE RESTORATION OF THE WALLS OF JERUSALEM. CH. 1-6.
Nehemiah, cup-bearer to King Artaxerxes, is plunged into deep affliction by the account which he receives from certain individuals from Judah of the sad condition of his countrymen who had returned to Jerusalem and Judah. He prays with fasting to the Lord for mercy (ch. 1), and on a favourable opportunity entreats the king and queen for permission to make a journey to Jerusalem, and for the necessary authority to repair its ruined walls. His request being granted, he travels as governor to Jerusalem, provided with letters from the king, and escorted by captains of the army and horsemen (Neh 2:1-10). Soon after his arrival, he surveys the condition of the walls and gates, summons the rulers of the people and the priests to set about building the wall, and in spite of the obstacles he encounters from the enemies of the Jews, accomplishes this work (2:11- 6:19). In describing the manner in which the building of the walls was carried on, he first enumerates in succession (3) the individuals and companies engaged in restoring the walls surrounding the city (3), and then relates the obstacles and difficulties encountered (3:33-6:19).
CH. 1. NEHEMIAH'S INTEREST IN AND PRAYER FOR JERUSALEM.
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, Verse 1-4. In the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, Nehemiah, being then at Susa, received from one of his brethren, and other individuals from Judah, information which deeply grieved him, concerning the sad condition of the captive who had returned to the land of their fathers, and the state of Jerusalem. V. 1a contains the title of the whole book: the History of Nehemiah (see p. 89). By the addition "son of Hachaliah," Nehemiah is distinguished from others of the same name (e.g., from Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, Neh 3:16). Another Nehemiah, too, returned from captivity with Zerubbabel, Ezra 2:2. Of Hachaliah we know nothing further, his name occurring but once more, Neh 10:2, in conjunction, as here, with that of Nehemiah. Eusebius and Jerome assert that Nehemiah was of the tribe of Judah-a statement which may be correct, but is unsupported by any evidence from the Old Testament. According to v. 11, he was cup-bearer to the Persian king, and was, at his own request, appointed for some time Pecha, i.e., governor, of Judah. Comp. 5:14; 12:26, and 8:9; 10:2. "In the month Chisleu of the twentieth year I was in the citadel of Susa"-such is the manner in which Nehemiah commences the narrative of his labours for Jerusalem. Chisleu is the ninth month of the year, answering to our December. Comp. Zech 7:1, 1 Macc. 4:52. The twentieth year is, according to Neh 2:1, the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus. On the citadel of Susa, see further details in the remarks on Dan 8:2. Susa was the capital of the province Susiana, and its citadel, called by the Greeks Memnoneion, was strongly fortified. The kings of Persia were accustomed to reside here during some months of the year.
Verse 2-3. There came to Nehemiah Hanani, one of his brethren, and certain men from Judah. mee'achay 'echaad , one of my brethren, might mean merely a relation of Nehemiah, 'achiym being often used of more distant relations; but since Nehemiah calls Hanani 'aachiy in Neh 7:10, it is evident that his own brother is meant. "And I asked them concerning the Jews, and concerning Jerusalem." hay|huwdiym is further defined by wgw' hap|leeyTaah , who had escaped, who were left from the captivity; those who had returned to Judah are intended, as contrasted with those who still remained in heathen, lands. In the answer, v. 3, they are more precisely designated as being "there in the province (of Judah)." With respect to ham|diynaah , see remarks on Ezra 2:1. They are said to be "in great affliction (raa`aah ) and in reproach." Their affliction is more nearly defined by the accessory clause which follows: and the wall = because the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates burned with fire. m|poretset, Pual (the intensive form), broken down, does not necessarily mean that the whole wall was destroyed, but only portions, as appears from the subsequent description of the building of the wall, ch. 3.
Verse 4. This description of the state of the returned captives plunged Nehemiah into such deep affliction, that he passed some days in mourning, fasting, and prayer. Opinions are divided with respect to the historical relation of the facts mentioned v. 3. Some older expositors thought that Hanani could not have spoken of the destruction of the walls and gates of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, because this was already sufficiently known to Nehemiah, but of some recent demolition on the part of Samaritans and other hostile neighbours of the Jews; in opposition to which, Rambach simply replies that we are told nothing of a restoration of the wall of Jerusalem by Zerubbabel and Ezra. More recently Ewald (Geschichte, iv. p. 137f.) has endeavoured to show, from certain psalms which he transposes to post-Babylonian times, the probability of a destruction of the rebuilt wall, but gives a decided negative to the question, whether this took place during the thirteen years between the arrivals of Ezra and Nehemiah (p. 107). "For," says he, "there is not in the whole of Nehemiah's record the most distant hint that the walls had been destroyed only a short time since; but, on the contrary, this destruction was already so remote an event, that its occasion and authors were no longer spoken of." Vaihinger (Theol. Stud. und Krit., 1857, p. 88, comp. 1854, p. 124f.) and Bertheau are of opinion that it indisputably follows from Neh 1:3-4, as appearances show, that the walls of Jerusalem were actually rebuilt and the gates set up before the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, and that the destruction of this laborious work, which occasioned the sending of an embassy to the Persian court, was of quite recent occurrence, since otherwise Nehemiah would not have been so painfully affected by it. But even the very opposite opinion held concerning the impression made upon the reader by these verses, shows that appearances are deceitful, and the view that the destruction of the walls and gates was of quite recent occurrence is not implied by the words themselves, but only inserted in them by expositors. There is no kind of historical evidence that the walls of Jerusalem which had been destroyed by the Chaldeans were once more rebuilt before Nehemiah's arrival.
The documents given by Ezra Ezra 4:8-22, which are in this instance appealed to, so far from proving the fact, rather bear testimony against it.
The counsellor Rehum and the scribe Shimshai, in their letter to Artaxerxes, accuse indeed the Jews of building a rebellious and bad city, of restoring its walls and digging its foundations (Ezra 4:12); but they only give the king to understand that if this city be built and its walls restored, the king will no longer have a portion on this side the river (v. 16), and hasten to Jerusalem, as soon as they receive the king's decision, to hinder the Jews by force and power (v. 23). Now, even if this accusation were quite well founded, nothing further can be inferred from it than that the Jews had begun to restore the walls, but were hindered in the midst of their undertaking. Nothing is said in these documents either of a rebuilding, i.e., a complete restoration, of the walls and setting up of the gates, or of breaking down the walls and burning the gates.
It cannot be said that to build a wall means the same as pulling down a wall already built. Nor is anything said in vv. 3 and 4 of a recent demolition. The assertion, too, that the destruction of this laborious work was the occasion of the mission of Hanani and certain men of Judah to the Persian court (Vaihinger), is entirely without scriptural support. In vv. and 3 it is merely said that Hanani and his companions came from Judah to Nehemiah, and that Nehemiah questioned them concerning the condition of the Jews in the province of Judah, and concerning Jerusalem, and that they answered: The Jews there are in great affliction and reproach, for the wall of Jerusalem is broken down (m|poretset is a participle expressing the state, not the praeter. or perfect, which would be found here if a destruction recently effected were spoken of). Nehemiah, too, in Neh 2:3 and 17, only says: The city of my fathers' sepulchres (Jerusalem) lieth desolate (chareebaah is an adjective), not: has been desolated.
Nor can a visit on the part of Jews from Judah to their compatriot and relative, the king's cup-bearer, be called a mission to the Persian court.- With respect also to the deep affliction of Nehemiah, upon which Bertheau lays so much stress, it by no means proves that he had received a terrible account of some fresh calamity which had but just befallen the community at Jerusalem, and whose whole extent was as yet unknown to him. Nehemiah had not as yet been to Jerusalem, and could not from his own experience know the state of affairs in Judah and Jerusalem; hence he questioned the newly arrived visitors, not concerning the latest occurrences, but as to the general condition of the returned captives. The fact of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldees could not, of course, be unknown to him; but neither could he be ignorant that now ninety years since a great number of captives had returned to their homes with Zerubbabel and settled in Judah and Jerusalem, and that seventy years since the temple at Jerusalem had been rebuilt.
Judging from these facts, he might not have imagined that the state of affairs in Judah and Jerusalem was so bad as it really was. When, then, he now learnt that those who had returned to Judah were in great affliction, that the walls of the town were still lying in ruins and its gates burned, and that it was therefore exposed defenceless to all the insults of hostile neighbours, even this information might well grieve him. It is also probable that it was through Hanani and his companions that he first learnt of the inimical epistle of the royal officials Rehum and Shimshai to Artaxerxes, and of the answer sent thereto by that monarch and thus became for the first time aware of the magnitude of his fellow-countrymen's difficulties.
Such intelligence might well be such a shock to him as to cause the amount of distress described v. 4. For even if he indulged the hope that the king might repeal the decree by which the rebuilding of the wall had been prohibited till further orders, he could not but perceive how difficult it would be effectually to remedy the grievous state in which his countrymen who had returned to the land of their fathers found themselves, while the disposition of their neighbours towards them was thus hostile.
This state was indeed sufficiently distressing to cause deep pain to one who had a heart alive to the welfare of his nation, and there is no need for inventing new "calamities," of which history knows nothing, to account for the sorrow of Nehemiah. Finally, the circumstance that the destruction of the walls and burning of the gates are alone mentioned as proofs of the affliction and reproach which the returned exiles were suffering, arises simply from an intention to hint at the remedy about to be described in the narrative which follows, by bringing this special kind of reproach prominently forward.
And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:
Nehemiah's prayer, as given in these verses, comprises the prayers which he prayed day and night, during the period of his mourning and fasting (v. 4 comp. v. 6), to his faithful and covenant God, to obtain mercy for his people, and the divine blessing upon his project for their assistance.
Verse 5. The invocation of Jahve as: Thou God of heaven, alludes to God's almighty government of the world, and the further predicates of God, to His covenant faithfulness. "Thou great and terrible God" recalls Deut 7:21, and "who keepest covenant and mercy," etc., Deut 7:9 and Ex 20:5-6.
Verse 6. "Let Thine ear be attentive, and Thine eyes open," like 2 Chron 6:40; 7:15-lish|moa`, that Thou mayest hearken to the prayer of Thy servant, which I pray, and how I confess concerning...mit|deh still depends upon 'asher in the sense of: and what I confess concerning the sins. hayowm does not here mean to-day, but now, at this time, as the addition "day and night" compared with yaamiym in v. shows. To strengthen the communicative form laak| () chaaTaa'nuw , and to acknowledge before God how deeply penetrated he was by the feeling of his own sin and guilt, he adds: and I and my father's house have sinned.
Verse 7. We have dealt very corruptly against Thee. chabol is the inf. constr. instead of the infin. abs., which, before the finite verb, and by reason of its close connection therewith, becomes the infin. constr., like 'eh|yeh heyowt, Ps 50:21; comp. Ewald, §240, c. The dealing corruptly against God consists in not having kept the commandments, statutes, and judgments of the law.
Verse 8-10. With his confession of grievous transgression, Nehemiah combines the petition that the Lord would be mindful of His word declared by Moses, that if His people, whom He had scattered among the heathen for their sins, should turn to Him and keep His commandments, He would gather them from all places where He had scattered them, and bring them back to the place which He had chosen to place His name there.
This word (hadaabaar ) he designates, as that which God had commanded to His servant Moses, inasmuch as it formed a part of that covenant law which was prescribed to the Israelites as their rule of life.
The matter of this word is introduced by lee'mor : ye transgress, I will scatter; i.e., if ye transgress by revolting from me, I will scatter you among the nations-and ye turn to me and keep my commandments (i.e., if ye turn to me and...), if there were of you cast out to the end of heaven (i.e., to the most distant regions where the end of heaven touches the earth), thence will I gather you, etc. nidaach , pat. Niphal, with a collective meaning, cast-out ones, like Deut 30:4.
These words are no verbal quotation, but a free summary, in which Nehemiah had Deut 30:1-5 chiefly in view, of what God had proclaimed in the law of Moses concerning the dispersion of His people among the heathen if they sinned against Him, and of their return to the land of their fathers if they repented and turned to Him. The clause: if the cast-out ones were at the end of heaven, etc., stands verbally in v. 4. The last words, v. 9, "(I will bring them) to the place which I have chosen, that my name may dwell there," are a special application of the general promise of the law to the present case. Jerusalem is meant, where the Lord caused His name to dwell in the temple; comp. Deut 12:11. The entreaty to remember this word and to fulfil it, seems ill adapted to existing circumstances, for a portion of the people were already brought back to Jerusalem; and Nehemiah's immediate purpose was to pray, not for the return of those still sojourning among the heathen, but for the removal of the affliction and reproach resting on those who were now at Jerusalem. Still less appropriate seems the citation of the words: If ye transgress, I will scatter you among the nations.
It must, however, be remembered that Nehemiah is not so much invoking the divine compassion as the righteousness and faithfulness of a covenant God, the great and terrible God that keepeth covenant and mercy (v. 5).
Now this, God had shown Himself to be, by fulfilling the threats of His law that He would scatter His faithless and transgressing people among the nations. Thus His fulfilment of this one side of the covenant strengthened the hope that God would also keep His other covenant word to His people who turned to Him, viz., that He would bring them again to the land of their fathers, to the place of His gracious presence. Hence the reference to the dispersion of the nation among the heathen, forms the actual substructure for the request that so much of the promise as yet remained unfulfilled might come to pass. Nehemiah, moreover, views this promise in the full depth of its import, as securing to Israel not merely an external return to their native land, but their restoration as a community, in the midst of whom the Lord had His dwelling, and manifested Himself as the defence and refuge of His people.
To the re-establishment of this covenant relation very much was still wanting. Those who had returned from captivity had indeed settled in the land of their fathers; and the temple in which they might worship God with sacrifices, according to the law, was rebuilt at Jerusalem. But notwithstanding all this, Jerusalem, with its ruined walls and burned gates, was still like a city lying waste, and exposed to attacks of all kinds; while the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah were loaded with shame and contempt by their heathen neighbours. In this sense, Jerusalem was not yet restored, and the community dwelling therein not yet brought to the place where the name of the Lord dwelt. In this respect, the promise that Jahve would again manifest Himself to His repentant people as the God of the covenant was still unfulfilled, and the petition that He would gather His people to the place which He had chosen to put His name there, i.e., to manifest Himself according to His nature, as testified in His covenant (Ex 34:6-7), quite justifiable. In v. 10 Nehemiah supports his petition by the words: And these (now dwelling in Judah and Jerusalem) are Thy servants and Thy people whom Thou hast redeemed, etc. His servants who worship Him in His temple, His people whom He has redeemed from Egypt by His great power and by His strong arm, God cannot leave in affliction and reproach. The words: "redeemed with great power"...are reminiscences from Deut 7:8; 9:26,29, and other passages in the Pentateuch, and refer to the deliverance from Egypt.
Verse 11. The prayer closes with the reiterated entreaty that God would hearken to the prayer of His servant (i.e., Nehemiah), and to the prayer of His servants who delight to fear His name (yir|'aah , infin. like Deut 4:10 and elsewhere), i.e., of all Israelites who, like Nehemiah, prayed to God to redeem Israel from all his troubles. For himself in particular, Nehemiah also request: "Prosper Thy servant to-day (hayowm like v. 6; l|`ab|d|kaa may be either the accusative of the person, like Chron 26:5, or the dative: Prosper his design unto Thy servant, like 2:20), and give him to mercy (i.e., cause him to find mercy; comp. 1 Kings 8:50; Ps 106:46) before the face of this man." What man he means is explained by the following supplementary remark, "And I was cup-bearer to the king," without whose favour and permission Nehemiah could not have carried his project into execution (as related in ch. 2).
CH. 2. NEHEMIAH JOURNEYS TO JERUSALEM WITH THE KING'S PERMISSION, AND FURNISHED WITH ROYAL LETTERS. HE MAKES A SURVEY OF THE WALLS, AND RESOLVES TO UNDERTAKE THE WORK OF BUILDING THEM.
Three months after receiving the tidings concerning Jerusalem, Nehemiah perceived a favourable opportunity of making request to the king for leave to undertake a journey to the city of his fathers for the purpose of building it, and obtained the permission he entreated, together with letters to the governors on this side the Euphrates to permit him to pass through their provinces, and to the keeper of the royal forests to supply wood for building the walls and gates, and an escort of captains of the army and horsemen for his protection (vv. 1-9), to the great vexation of Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite (v. 10). In the third night after his arrival at Jerusalem, Nehemiah rode round the city to survey the walls, and incited the rulers of the people and the priests to undertake the work of rebuilding them (vv. 11-18). Sanballat and other enemies of the Jews expressed their contempt thereat, but Nehemiah encountered their ridicule with serious words (vv. 19, 20).
And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.
Verse 1-2. In the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, Nehemiah as cupbearer took the wine and handed it to the king. Nisan is, according to the Hebrew calendar, the first month of the year; yet here, as in ch. 1, the twentieth year of Artaxerxes is named, and the month Chisleu there mentioned (v. 1), which, after the Hebrew method of computing the year, was the ninth month and preceded Nisan by three months, is placed in the same year. This can only be explained on the grounds that either the twentieth year of Artaxerxes did not coincide with the year of the calendar, but began later, or that Nehemiah here uses the computation of time current in anterior Asia, and also among the Jews after the captivity in civil matters, and which made the new year begin in autumn. Of these two views we esteem the latter to be correct, since it cannot be shown that the years of the king's reign would be reckoned from the day of his accession.
In chronological statements they were reckoned according to the years of the calendar, so that the commencement of a year of a reign coincided with that of the civil year. If, moreover, the beginning of the year is placed in autumn, Tishri is the first, Chisleu the third, and Nisan the seventh month.
The circumstances which induced Nehemiah not to apply to the king till three months after his reception of the tidings which so distressed him, are not stated. It is probable that he himself required some time for deliberation before he could come to a decision as to the best means of remedying the distresses of Jerusalem; then, too, he may not have ventured at once to bring his request before the king from fear of meeting with a refusal, and may therefore have waited till an opportunity favourable to his desires should present itself. l|paanaayw yayin , "wine was before the king," is a circumstantial clause explanatory of what follows.
The words allude to some banquet at which the king and queen were present. The last sentence, "And I have not been sad before him" (ra` according to raa`iym paaneykaa of v. 2, of a sad countenance), can neither mean, I had never before been sad before him (de Wette); nor, I was accustomed not to be sad before him; but, I had not been sad before him at the moment of presenting the cup to him (Bertheau), because it would not have been becoming to serve the king with a sad demeanour: comp. Est 4:2. The king, however, noticed his sadness, and inquired: "Why is thy countenance sad, since thou art not sick? this is nothing but sorrow of heart, i.e., thy sadness of countenance can arise only from sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid;" because the unexpected question obliged him to explain the cause of his sorrow, and he could not tell how the king would view the matter, nor whether he would favour his ardent desire to assist his fellow-countrymen in Judah.
Verse 3. He nevertheless openly expressed his desire, prefacing it by the accustomed form of wishing the king prosperity, saying: "Let the king live for ever;" comp. Dan 2:4; 3:9. "Why should not my countenance be sad? for the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and its gates are burned with dire." The question, Why...? means: I have certainly sufficient reason for sadness. The reason is, that ('asher ) the city where are the graves of my fathers lieth waste.
Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
Then the king, feeling interested, asked him: For what dost thou make request? `al biqeesh , to make request for or concerning a thing, like Ezra 8:23; Est 4:8; 7:7. The question shows that the king was inclined to relieve the distress of Jerusalem which had been just stated to him. "And so I prayed to the God of heaven," to ensure divine assistance in the request he was about to lay before the king. Then Nehemiah answered (v. 5), "If it please the king, and if thy servant is well-pleasing before thee, (I beg) that thou wouldest send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it." lip|neey yiyTab , here and Est 5:14, is of like meaning with b|`eeyneey yiyTab or Towb , Est 8:5; 2 Sam 18:4: if thy servant is right in thine eyes, i.e., if he thinks rightly concerning the matter in question. The matter of his request is directly combined with this conditional clause by 'asher , the connecting term, I beg, being easily supplied from the king's question: For what dost thou beg?
And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.
The king and the queen, who was sitting near him (sheegaal , Ps 45:10), grant him permission to depart after he has, in answer to their inquiry, fixed the period of his absence. Nehemiah makes the result of the conversation, "And it pleased the king," etc., follow immediately upon the question of the king and queen: For how long shall thy journey be, and when wilt thou return? before telling us what was his answer to this question, which is not brought in till afterwards, so that z|maan low () waa'et|naah must be understood as expressing: since I had determined the time.
Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; Hereupon Nehemiah also requested from the king letters to the governors beyond (west of) the river (Euphrates), to allow him to travel unmolested through their provinces to Judah (liy () yit|nuw , let them give me = let there be given me; he`ebiyr , to pass or travel through a country, comp. Deut 3:20); and a letter to Asaph, the keeper (inspector) of the royal forests, to give him timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple, and for the walls of the city, and for the governor's own house. These requests were also granted. par|deec in Song 4:13; Eccl 2:5, signifies a park or orchard; it is a word of Aryan origin (in Armenian pardez, the garden round the house, in Greek para'deisos ), and is explained either from the Sanscrit parta-dêça, a superior district, or (by Haug) from the Zend. pairi-daêza, a fenced-in place. In Old-Persian it probably denoted the king's pleasure-grounds, and in our verse a royal wood or forest. Of the situation of this park nothing reliable can be ascertained. As wood for extensive buildings was to be taken from it, the sycamore forest in the low plains, which had been the property of King David (1 Chron 27:28), and became, after the overthrow of the Davidic dynasty, first a Babylonian, and then a Persian possession, may be intended. (Note: Older expositors supposed a regio a Libano ad Antilibanum protensa et arboribus amoenissimus consita to be meant. In this view, indeed, they followed Song 4:13, but incorrectly. Cler. thought it to be a tractus terrarum in Judaea, qui Paradisus regius dicebatur. Josephus speaks (Ant. viii. 7. 3) of fine gardens and ponds at Etham, seven miles south of Jerusalem, where Solomon often made pleasure excursions. Hence Ewald (Gesch. iv. p. 169, comp. iii. p. 328) thinks that the par|deec which belonged to the king must have been Solomon's old royal park at Aetham, which in the time of Nehemiah had become a Persian domain, and that the hill town lying not far to the west of it, and now called by the Arabs Fureidis, i.e., paradisaic, may have received its Hebrew name Beth-Kerem, i.e., house of vineyards, from similar pleasure-grounds. Hereupon Bertheau grounds the further conjecture, that "the whole district from Aetham to the hill of Paradise, situate about a league east-south-east of Aetham, may from its nature have been once covered with forest; and no hesitation would be felt in connecting the name of the mountain Gebel el- Fureidis or el-Feridis (Paradise-hill-hill which rises in a Pardes) with the Pardes in question, if it could be proved that this name was already in existence in prae-Christian times."
All these conjectures rest on very uncertain bases. The Dshebel Fureidis is also called the Hill of the Franks. See the description of it in Robinson's Palestine, ii. p. 392f., and Tobler, Topographie von Jerusalem, ii. pp. 565-572.) l|qaarowt , to timber, to overlay, to cover with beams (comp. Chron 34:11) the gates of the citadel which belongs to the house, i.e., to the temple. This citadel-biyraah , in Greek Ba'ris-by the temple is mentioned here for the first time; for in 1 Chron 29:1,19, the whole temple is called biyraah . It was certainly situate on the same place where Hyrcanus I, son of Simon Maccabaeus, or the kings of the Asmonean race, built the akro'polis and called it Baris (Jos. Ant. xv. 11. 4, comp. with xviii. 4. 3). This was subsequently rebuilt by Herod when he repaired and enlarged the temple, and named Antonia, in honour of his friend Mark Antony. It was a citadel of considerable size, provided with corner towers, walls, chambers, and spacious courts, built on a north-western side of the external chambers of the temple, for the defence of that edifice, and did not extend the entire length of the north side of the present Haram, as Robinson (see Biblical Researches, p. 300) seeks to show; comp., on the other hand, Tobler, Topographic von Jerusalem, i. p. 688f., and Rosen, Haram von Jerusalem, p. 25f. uwl|chowmat is coordinate with l|qaarowt : "and for the walls of the city;" the timber not being used for building the wall itself, but for the gates (Neh 3:3,6). "And for the house into which I come (to dwell)." This must be Nehemiah's official residence as Pecha. For though it is not expressly stated in the present chapter that Nehemiah was appointed Pecha (governor) by Artaxerxes, yet Nehemiah himself tells us, Neh 5:14, that he had been Pecha from the twentieth year of Artaxerxes. Former governors had perhaps no official residence becoming their position. By labayit the temple cannot, as older expositors thought, be intended. This request also was granted by the king, "according to the good hand of my God upon me;" comp. rem. on Ezra 7:6.
Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.
Nehemiah delivered the letter when he came to the governors on this side Euphrates. The king had also sent with him captains of the army and horsemen. The second half of v. 9 contains a supplementary remark, so that wayish|lach must be expressed by the pluperfect. Ezra had been ashamed to request a military escort from the Persian monarch (Ezra 8:22); but the king gave to the high dignitary called Pecha a guard of soldiers, who certainly remained with him in Jerusalem also for his protection (4:17). Besides these, there were in his retinue his brethren, i.e., either relations or fellow-countrymen, and servants, comp. Neh 4:10; 5:10.
That this retinue is not mentioned in the present verses, is owing to the fact that the journey itself is not further described, but only indirectly alluded to.
When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite heard of his coming, it caused them great annoyance (laahem () yeera` is strengthened by g|dowlaah raa`aah , as in Jonah 4:1) that a man (as Nehemiah expresses himself ironically from their point of view) was come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel. Sanballat is called the Horonite either after his birthplace or place of residence, yet certainly not from Horonaim in Moab, as older expositors imagined (Isa 15:5; Jer 48:34), since he would then have been called a Moabite, but from either the upper or nether Beth-horon, formerly belonging to the tribe of Ephraim (Josh 16:3,5; 18:13), and therefore in the time of Nehemiah certainly appertaining to the region of the Samaritans (Berth.). Tobiah the Ammonite is called haa`ebed , the servant, probably as being a servant or official of the Persian king. These two individuals were undoubtedly influential chiefs of the neighbouring hostile nations of Samaritans and Ammonites, and sought by alliances with Jewish nobles (Neh 6:17; 13:4,28) to frustrate, whether by force or stratagem, the efforts of Ezra and Nehemiah for the internal and external security of Judah.
Nehemiah mentions thus early their annoyance at his arrival, by way of hinting beforehand at their subsequent machinations to delay the fortifying of Jerusalem.
So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.
Nehemiah's arrival at Jerusalem. He surveys the wall, and resolves to restore it.-V. 11. Having arrived at Jerusalem and rested three days (as Ezra had also done, Ezra 8:32), he arose in the night, and some few men with him, to ride round the wall of the city, and get a notion of its condition. His reason for taking but few men with him is given in the following sentence: "I had told no man what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem." Although he had come to Jerusalem with the resolution of fortifying the city by restoring its circumvallation, he spoke of this to no one until he had ascertained, by an inspection of the wall, the magnitude and extent of the work to be accomplished. For, being aware of the hostility of Sanballat and Tobiah, he desired to keep his intention secret until he felt certain of the possibility of carrying it into execution.
Hence he made his survey of the wall by night, and took but few men with him, and those on foot, for the sake of not exciting attention. The beast on which he rode was either a horse or a mule.
And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire. "And I went out by night by the valley-gate, and towards the dragon-well, and to the dung-gate." 'el-p|neey, in the direction towards. The dragon-well only occurs here by this name. Judging from its position between the valley-gate and the dung-gate, it is either identical with the well of Gihon (Robinson, Palestine, ii. p. 166), whose waters supply the upper and lower pools in the valley of Gihon, the present Birket el Mamilla and Birket es Sultan, or situate in its immediate neighbourhood. The valleygate is the modern gate of the city leading to the valley of Gihon, and situated at or near the present Jaffa gate; see rem. on Neh 3:13. The dunggate (haa'ash|pot sha`ar ), which in 3:13 also is placed next the valley-gate, and was a thousand cubits distant therefrom, must be sought for on the south-western side of Zion, where a road, to the south of Nebi Dâûd and the Zion gate, now descends into the valley of Hinnom, towards Sûr Baher. "And I viewed the walls of Jerusalem which lay broken down, and its gates which were consumed by fire." The word shobeer , which the LXX read, "I was breaking down," gives no tolerable sense; for it cannot mean, I broke through the walls, or, I made a path through the ruins. Many MSS, however, and several editions, offer sbeer ; and R. Norzi informs us that D. Kimchi and Aben Ezra read shbeer. saabar , of which only the Piel occurs in Hebrew, answers to the Aramaean c|bar , to look to something; and to the Arabic sbr, to investigate; and b| cbr means to look on, to consider, to direct the eyes and thoughts to some object. In the open m of heem Hiller conjectures that there is a trace of another reading, perhaps maap|raatsiym; comp. 1:3.
Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king's pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. "And I went on to the fountain-gate, and to the king's pool, and there was no room for the beast to come through under me." The very name of the fountain- or well-gate points to the foundation of Siloah (see rem. on Neh 3:15); hence it lay on the eastern declivity of Zion, but not in the district or neighbourhood of the present Bâb el Mogharibeh, in which tradition finds the ancient dung-gate, but much farther south, in the neighbourhood of the pool of Siloah; see rem. on 3:15. The King's pool is probably the same which Josephus (bell. Jud. v. 4. 2) calls Solomoo'nos kolumbee'thra , and places east of the spring of Siloah, and which is supposed by Robinson (Palestine, ii. pp. 149, 159) and Thenius (das vorexil. Jerus., appendix to a commentary on the books of the Kings, p. 20) to be the present Fountain of the Virgin. Bertheau, however, on the other hand, rightly objects that the Fountain of the Virgin lying deep in the rock, and now reached by a descent of thirty steps, could not properly be designated a pool.
He tries rather to identify the King's pool with the outlet of a canal investigated by Tobler (Topogr. i. p. 91f.), which the latter regards as a conduit for rain-water, fluid impurities, or even the blood of sacrificed animals; but Bertheau as an aqueduct which, perhaps at the place where its entrance is now found, once filled a pool, of which, indeed, no trace has as yet been discovered. But apart from the difficulty of calling the outlet of a canal a pool (Arnold in Herzog's Realencycl. xviii. p. 656), the circumstance, that Tobler could find in neither of the above-described canals any trace of high antiquity, tells against this conjecture. Much more may be said in favour of the view of E. G. Schultz (Jerusalem, p. 58f.), that the half-choked-up pool near Ain Silwan may be the King's pool and Solomon's pool; for travellers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries mention a piscina grandis foras and natatoria Siloë at the mouth of the fountain of Siloah (comp. Leyrer in Herzog's Realencycl. xvi. p. 372). See also rem. on Neh 3:15. Here there was no room for the beast to get through, the road being choked up with the ruins of the walls that had been destroyed, so that Nehemiah was obliged to dismount.
Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned.
Then I (went on) ascending the valley and viewing the wall, and so entered by the valley-gate, and returned. waa'ehiy with the participle expresses the continuance of an action, and hence in this place the continuous ascent of the valley and survey of the wall. The nachal which he ascended was doubtless the valley of Kidron (qid|rown nachal , 2 Sam 20:23; 1 Kings 2:37, and elsewhere). waa'aabow' waa'aashuwb are connected, shuwb expressing merely the idea of repetition (Gesenius, heb. Gram. §142, 3): I came again into the valley-gate. Older expositors incorrectly explain these words to mean, I turned round, traversing again the road by which I had come; Bertheau: I turned to go farther in a westerly direction, and after making the circuit of the entire city, I re-entered by the valley-gate. This sense is correct as to fact, but inadmissible, as requiring too much to complete it. If we take 'aashuwb adverbially, these completions are unnecessary.
Nehemiah does not give the particulars of the latter portion of his circuit, but merely tells us that after having ascended the valley of Kidron, he reentered by the valley-gate, and returned to his residence, obviously assuming, that from the upper part of the vale of Kidron he could only return to the valley-gate at the west by passing along the northern part of the wall.
And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.
He had spoken to no one of his purpose (v. 12); hence the rulers of the city knew neither whither he was going nor what he was doing (i.e., undertaking) when he rode by night out of the city gate accompanied by a few followers. As yet he had said nothing either to the Jews (the citizens of Jerusalem), the priests, the nobles, the rulers, or the rest who did the work. hachoriym and hac|gaaniym are connected, as in Ezra 9:2 hasaariym and hac|gaaniym . The nobles (choriym , nobiles) or princes are the heads of the different houses or races of the people; c|gaaniym , the rulers of the town, the authorities. ham|laa'kaah `oseeh , the doers of the work, are the builders; comp. Ezra 3:9. When these are, in comparison with the priests, nobles, and rulers, designated as yeter , the remnant, this is explained by the fact that the priests and rulers of the people were not actively engaged in building. ham|laa'kaah , the work in question, i.e., here the building of the walls. keen `ad , until thus, i.e., until now, until the time apparent from the context. Nehemiah then, having inspected the condition of the ruined walls, and being now persuaded of the possibility of restoring them, made known his resolution to the nobles, the rulers, and the community, i.e., to a public assembly called together for this purpose (v. 17). "Ye see (have before your eyes, know from experience) the distress that we are in, that Jerusalem lieth waste: come (l|kuw ), let us build up the walls of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach." In other words: Let us by building our walls put an end to the miserable condition which gives our adversaries occasion to reproach us.
Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
To gain the favourable regard of the assembly for his design, he informs them how God had so far prospered his undertaking: I told them of the hand of my God, that it = that the hand my God had graciously provided for me, i.e., that God had so graciously arranged my journey to Jerusalem; and the king's words that he had spoken to me, sc. with respect to the building of the wall, of which we are told Neh 2:8 only thus much, that the king gave orders to the keeper of the royal forest to give him wood for building. Encouraged by this information, the assembly exclaimed, "Let us arise and build;" and "they strengthened their hands for good," i.e., they vigorously set about the good work.
NEHEMIAH 2:19,20 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?
When the adversaries of the Jews heard this, they derided their resolution.
Beside Sanballat and Tobiah (comp. v. 10), Geshem the Arabian is also named as an adversary: so, too, Neh 6:1-2, and 6, where Gashmu, the fuller pronunciation of his name, occurs. He was probably the chief of some Arab race dwelling in South Palestine, not far from Jerusalem (comp. the Arabians, 4:1). These enemies ironically exclaimed: What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? The irony lies in the fact that they did not give the Jews credit for power to build fortifications, so as to be able to rebel. Comp. 6:6, where Sanballat, in an open letter to Nehemiah, again reproaches them with rebellion.
Verse 20. Nehemiah replied with impressive gravity: "The God of heaven, He will prosper us, and we His servants will arise and build; but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial in Jerusalem." ts|daaqaah like Sam 19:29. zikaarown , memorial; only members of the congregation, who may hope to live in their descendants in Jerusalem, can be said to have a memorial there.
CHS. 3 AND 4. THE BUILDING OF THE WALLS AND GATES OF JERUSALEM.
In these two chapters is described the building of the walls and gates of Jerusalem: the individuals and families who performed the work, and the portion of wall and the gates on which different families were respectively employed, being specified in Neh 3; while the attempts of Sanballat and his associates to obstruct the building and the defensive measures resorted to by Nehemiah follow, 3:33-4:17.
Verses 1-32. The enumeration of the builders, and of the gates and portions of wall built, begins with the sheep-gate and the portion of the wall adjoining it, built by the priests (1 and 2), and concludes with the goldsmiths and merchants who built up to the sheep-gate (v. 32).
Throughout it is almost constantly said of the several parties of builders that they built yaadow `al , by the side of, next to, the party previously named. Hence we are justified in inferring that the course of the wall is adhered to in this statement, and that the gates are mentioned in the actual order in which they were found in the walls. (Note: This description of the walls of Jerusalem, together with the short statements in Neh 2:13-15 and 12:27-40, forms the chief authority for the topography of ancient Jerusalem (before the captivity), and has been frequently discussed and explained. Comp. a summary of recent topographical investigations on this subject by Arnold in Herzog's Realencycl. xviii. p. 620f. Among the numerous plans of ancient Jerusalem, the best is: A plan of the town and environs of Jerusalem, constructed by C. W. M. Van de Velde; with Memoir by Dr. Titus Tobler, 1858, Gotha.)
NEHEMIAH 3:1,2 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel.
Verse 1,2. The narrative of the building is connected with what precedes by wayaaqaam , which alludes to the carrying out of the resolve, naaquwm , Neh 2:18. The enumeration begins with Eliashib the high priest and his brethren, i.e., the ordinary priests. These built the sheepgate, rightly sought by modern topographers in the eastern wall north of Haram, the site of the ancient temple, i.e., in the position or neighbourhood of the present St. Stephen's gate, through which the Bedouins to this day drive sheep into the town for sale (Tobler, Topogr. i. p. 149). "Although," as Bertheau remarks, "we are not generally justified, after the lapse of so many centuries, during which great changes have been made in the positions of the gates and walls, and in face of the fact that the present walls and gates were not erected till the years 1536, 1537, and 1539, in determining the direction and extent of the walls between the several gates, and the locality of the gates in this description, by the direction and extent of the wall and the locality of the gates in modern Jerusalem (Tobl. Topogr. Dritte Wanderung, p. 265), yet in the present instance valid arguments exist in favour of this view. The very neighbourhood of the temple and the nature of the soil bear witness that from ancient times a gate was placed here which took its name from the circumstance that sheep were driven in by it, whether for sale in the market or for sacrificial purposes." (Note: In the neighbourhood of this gate was the pool of Bethesda (John 5:2), i.e., either the present Birket Israel or Birket es Serain, south of St. Stephen's gate (Tobler, Denkblätter, p. 53f., and Dritte Wanderung, p. 221), or the Struthion pool mentioned by Josephus, bell. Jud. v. 11. 4, kolumbee'thra tou' strouthi'ou ; Krafft, Topographie von Jerusalem, p. 127f.)
They sanctified it and set up its doors: and to the tower Hammeah they sanctified it unto the tower Hananeel. qideesh , to sanctify, to dedicate (comp. 1 Kings 8:64), can here only mean that the priests dedicated that portion of building on which they were engaged, as soon as they had finished it, for the purpose of sanctifying the whole work by this preliminary consecration; the solemn dedication of the whole wall not taking place till afterwards, and being related 12:27f. The setting up of the doors in the gates did not, according to Neh 6:1, take place till after all the breaches in the wall had been repaired, i.e., till the building of the wall was completed. It is, however, mentioned here, and in vv. 3, 6, etc., contemporaneously with the wall-building; because the builders of the several gates, undertaking also the construction and setting up of the doors, the intention is to give a summary of the work executed by the respective building parties. hamee'aah w|`ad-mig|dal is still dependent on yib|nuw , that is to say, this verb must be mentally repeated before the words: they built to the tower Hammeah, they sanctified it (the suffix in qid|shuwhuw can only relate to mig|dal ). yib|nuw must also be repeated before chanan|'eel mig|dal `ad : and they built further, unto the tower Hananeel. The tower hamee'aah (the hundred) is only mentioned here and Neh 12:39, but the tower Hananeel is likewise spoken of Jer 31:38 and Zech 14:10.
From these passages it appears that the two towers were so situated, that any one going from west to east along the north wall of the city, and thence southward, would first come to the tower Hananeel, and afterwards to the tower Hammeah, and that both were between the fish-gate and the sheep-gate. From the passages in Jeremiah and Zechariah especially, it is evident that the tower Hananeel stood at the north-east corner of the wall.
Hence the statement in this verse, that the portion of wall built by the priests extended to the north-east corner of the wall; and the tower Hammeah must be sought between the sheep-gate and the north-east corner of the wall. Whence the names of these towers were derived is unknown.
Verse 2. Next to him built the men of Jericho (comp. Ezra 2:24); and next to them built Zaccur the son of Imri. The suffix of the first yaadow `al , though in the singular number, refers to Eliashib and the priests (v. 1), and that of the second to the men of Jericho, while in vv. 4 and 9, on the contrary, a singular noun is followed by yaadaam `al ; both yaadow `al and yaadaam `al expressing merely the notion beside, next to, and builders of the respective portions being at one time regarded as in a plural, at another in a singular sense (as a company). The portion built by the men of Jericho and Zaccur the son of Imri, the head of a family, not mentioned elsewhere, let between the tower Hananeel and the fish-gate in the north wall. When individuals are, like Zaccur, mentioned in the following description, e.g., vv. 4, 6, as builders or repairers of portions of wall, they are heads of houses who engaged in the work of building at the head of the fathers of families and individuals who were dependent on them.
But the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build, who also laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.
The fish-gate did the sons of Senaah build (see rem. on Ezra 2:35); they laid its beams, and set up its doors, bolts, and bars. The fish-gate probably received its name from the fish-market in its neighbourhood, to which the Syrians brought sea-fish (13, 16); it is also mentioned in Neh 12:39; Chron 33:14, and Zeph 1:10. It was not situated, as Thenius has represented it in his plan of Jerusalem, close to the corner tower of Hananeel, but somewhat to the west of it in the north wall; two lengths of wall being, according to v. 2, built between this tower and the gate in question. With respect to qeeruwhuw , see rem. on Neh 2:8. Besides the doors for the gate, man|`uwlaayw and b|riychaayw are mentioned, as also vv. 6, 13-15. Both words denote bars for closing doors. b|riychiym are, to judge from the use of this word in the description of the tabernacle (Ex 26:26f. and elsewhere), longer bars, therefore cross-bars, used on the inner side of the door; and man|`uwliym the brackets into which they were inserted.
And next unto them repaired Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz. And next unto them repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabeel. And next unto them repaired Zadok the son of Baana.
Next to these, Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Hakkoz, Meshullam the son of Berechiah, Zadok the son of Baana, and the Tekoites, repaired in the above order, each a portion of wall. hecheziyq , to strengthen, means here to repair the gaps and holes in the wall; comp. Ezra 27:9,27. Meremoth ben Urijah repaired, according to v. 21, another portion besides. Meshullam ben Berechiah was, according to Neh 6:18, a person of consideration in Jerusalem. The men of Tekoa, who do not occur among those who returned with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2), also repaired a second portion. "But their nobles brought not their neck to the service of their Lord." The expression "to bring the neck to service" is, according to Jer 27:11, to be understood as meaning: to bring the neck under the yoke of any one, i.e., to subject oneself to the service of another. tsauwaaraam stands for tsauwaa'raam . It is questionable whether 'adoneeyhem is to be taken as the plural of excellence, and understood of God, as in Deut 10:17; Ps 135:3; Mal 1:6; or of earthly lords or rulers, as in Gen 40:1; 2 Sam 10:3; 1 Kings 12:27. The former view seems to us decidedly correct, for it cannot be discerned how the suffix should (according to Bertheau's opinion) prevent our thinking of the service of God, if the repairing of the wall of Jerusalem may be regarded as a service required by God and rendered to Him. Besides, the fact that 'adoniym is only used of kings, and is inapplicable whether to the authorities in Jerusalem or to Nehemiah, speaks against referring it to secular rulers or authorities.
Moreover the old gate repaired Jehoiada the son of Paseah, and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah; they laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, and the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.
From the gate of the old wall to the valley gate.-V. 6. hay|shaanaah sha`ar does not mean the old gate, for hyshnh is genitive. Schultz (Jerus. p. 90), Thenius, and Bertheau supply haa`iyr , gate of the old town, and explain the name from the fact that Bezetha, the new town, already existed as a suburb or village in front of the gate, which was named after the contrast. To this Arnold rightly objects (in Herzog's Realencycl. xviii. p. 628) that it is by no means proved that there was at that time any contrast between the old and new towns, and as well as Hupfeld (die topograph. Streitfragen über Jerus., in the morgenl. Zeitschrift, xv. p. 231) supplies chowmaah : gate of the old wall. He does not, however, derive this designation from the remark (v. 8), "They fortified Jerusalem unto the broad wall," as though this old wall received its name from having been left undestroyed by the Chaldeans, which is irreconcilable with the fact (4-8) that both the gate of the old wall and the portions of wall adjoining it on each side were now built, but understands the term "old wall" as used in contrast to the "broad wall," which had indeed been rebuilt after the destruction by Joash (2 Kings 14:13). This view we esteem to be correct. The individuals specified as the builders of this gate are not further known. That two principes were employed in the rebuilding of this gate is explained by Ramb. as arising vel quod penitus disturbata a Chaldaeis, vel quod magnis sumtibus reparanda fuit, quos unus princeps ferre non potuit.
Verse 7. Next unto them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite, and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah. If Melatiah is to be regarded as the superintendent of the men of Gibeon, Jadon the Meronothite must be equally esteemed that of the men of Mizpah.
Meronoth, mentioned only here and 1 Chron 27:30, must have been some small place near Mizpah. Mizpah (hamits|paah , the watch-tower) is probably the modern Nebi Samwil, two leagues to the north-east of Jerusalem; see rem. on Josh 19:26. The meaning of the words next following, wgw' pachat l|kicee' , is questionable. Bertheau, together with Osiander, Cler., de Wette, and others, understands them as more precisely defining the men before named, as men of Gibeon and Mizpah, of the throne or belonging to the throne of the Pechah of Eber hannahar. This addition brings to light the fact that Jews who were not under the jurisdiction of Nehemiah, nevertheless took part in the restoration of the wall.
It also distinguishes these men of Mizpah from those mentioned vv. and 19, who were certainly not under the Pechah of Eber hannahar.
Finally, the boundary of the little territory of the returned Jewish community must have been at about Mizpah and Gibeon; and a statement that certain inhabitants of this district were not under the Pechah of Jerusalem, but under the Pechah of the province west of Euphrates, would agree with the position of Gibeon and Mizpah. None, however, of these reasons are of much force. For if, according to vv. 5 and 27, the Tekoites repaired two different lengths of wall, without this fact implying any distinction between these two parties of Tekoite builders, the same may be the case with the men of Gibeon and Mizpah. Besides, neither in this verse nor in vv. 15 and 19 are the men of Mizpah in general spoken of, so as to make a distinction necessary; for in this verse two chiefs, Melatiah and Jadon, are designated as men of Gibeon and Mizpah, and in 15 and two rulers of the district of Mizpah are specified by name.
Hence the view that part of the inhabitants of Mizpah were under the jurisdiction of the Pechah of the province west of Euphrates, and part under that of the Pechah of Jerusalem, is devoid of probability. Finally, there is no adequate analogy for the metonomy set up in support of this view, viz., that kicee' , a seat, a throne, stands for jurisdiction. The words in question can have only a local signification. kicee' may indeed by metonomy be used for the official residence, but not for the official or judicial district, or jurisdiction of the Pechah. l|kicee' does not state the point to which, but the direction or locality in which, these persons repaired the wall: "towards the seat of the Pechah," i.e., at the place where the court or tribunal of the governor placed over the province on this side Euphrates was held when he came to Jerusalem to administer justice, or to perform any other official duties required of him. This being so, it appears from this verse that this court was within the northern wall, and undoubtedly near a gate.
Verse 8. Next to him repaired Uzziel the son of Harhaiah of the goldsmiths, and next to him repaired Hananiah, a son of the apothecaries. tsowr|piym is in explanatory apposition to the name Uzziel, and the plural is used to denote that his fellow- artisans worked with him under his direction. Hananiah is called ben-haaraqaachiym, son of the apothecaries, i.e., belonging to the guild of apothecaries. The obscure words, wgw' waya`az|buw , "and they left Jerusalem unto the broad wall," have been variously interpreted. From Neh 12:38, where the broad wall is also mentioned, it appears that a length of wall between the tower of the furnaces and the gate of Ephraim was thus named, and not merely a place in the wall distinguished for its breadth, either because it stood out or formed a corner, as Bertheau supposes; for the reason adduced for this opinion, viz., that it is not said that the procession went along the broad wall, depends upon a mistaken interpretation of the passage cited.
The expression "the broad wall" denotes a further length of wall; and as this lay, according to Neh 12:38, west of the gate of Ephraim, the conjecture forces itself upon us, that the broad wall was that 400 cubits of the wall of Jerusalem, broken down by the Israelite king Joash, from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate (2 Kings 14:13), and afterwards rebuilt by Uzziel of a greater breadth, and consequently of increased strength (Joseph. Antiq. ix. 10. 3). Now the gate of Ephraim not being mentioned among the rebuilt gates, and this gate nevertheless existing (according to Neh 8:16) in the days of Nehemiah, the reason of this omission must be the circumstance that it was left standing when the wall of Jerusalem was destroyed. The remark, then, in this verse seems to say the same concerning the broad wall, whether we understand it to mean: the builders left Jerusalem untouched as far as the broad wall, because this place as well as the adjoining gate of Ephraim needed no restoration; or: the Chaldeans had here left Jerusalem, i.e., either the town or town-wall, standing. So Hupfeld in his above-cited work, p. 231; Arnold; and even older expositors. (Note: Bertheau's interpretation of this statement, viz., that at the rebuilding and re-fortification of the town after the captivity, the part of the town extending to the broad wall was left, i.e., was not rebuilt, but delayed for the present, answers neither to the verbal sense of the passage nor to the particular mentioned Neh 12:38, that at the dedication of the wall the second company of them that gave thanks went upon the wall from beyond the tower of the furnaces even unto the broad wall, and over from beyond the gate of Ephraim, etc. Haneberg (in Reusch's theol. Literaturbl. 1869, No. 12) supports this view, but understands by "the broad wall" the wall which had a broad circuit, i.e., the wall previous to the captivity, and hence infers that the Jerusalem now rebuilt was not equal in extent to the old city.
But if a portion of the former city had here been left outside the new wall, the gate of Ephraim would have been displaced, and must have been rebuilt elsewhere in a position to the south of the old gate. Still less can the attempt of the elder Buxtorf (Lexic. talm. rabb. s. v. `azab), now revived by Ewald (Gesch. iv. p. 174), to force upon the word `aazab the meaning restaurare, or fortify, be justified.)
Verse 9-10. Further lengths of wall were built by Rephaiah ben Hur, the ruler of the half district of Jerusalem, i.e., of the district of country belonging to Jerusalem (comp. v. 19 with v. 15, where Mizpah and the district of Mizpah are distinguished); by Jedaiah ben Harumaph, beeytow w|neged , and indeed before (opposite) his house, i.e., the portion of wall which lay opposite his own dwelling; and by Hattush the son of Hashabniah. Whether Hattush is to be identified with the priest of this name (Neh 10:5), or with the similarly named descendant of David (Ezra 8:2), or with neither, cannot be determined.
Verse 11. A second section of wall was repaired by Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hashshub ben Pahath-Moab, two families who came up with Zerubbabel, Ezra 2:6 and 32. Bertheau understands sheeniyt midaah of a second section of wall added to a first already repaired by the same builders. So, too, he says, did Meremoth ben Urijah build one portion, v. 4, and a second, v. 21; comp. vv. 5 and 27, 15 and 19, 8 and 30.
This first portion, however, which this mention of a second presupposes, not being named, he infers that our present text has not preserved its original completeness, and thinks it probable, from Neh 12:38 and 39, that certain statements, in this description, relating to the gate of Ephraim and its neighbourhood, which once stood before v. 8, have been omitted. This inference is unfounded. The non-mention of the gate of Ephraim is to be ascribed, as we have already remarked on v. 8, to other reasons than the incompleteness of the text; and the assertion that sheeniyt midaah assumes that a former portion was repaired by the same builders, receives no support from a comparison of vv. 5 with 27, 15 with 19, and with 30.
Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, who, according to v. 30, built sheeniy midaah , are not identical with Hananiah the son of the apothecaries, v. 8. The same remark applies to Ezer the son of Jeshua, the ruler of Mizpah (v. 19), and Shallum the ruler of the district of Mizpah (v. 15). Only in vv. 5 and 27, and 4 and 21, are the names of the builders the same. Moreover, besides vv. 21 and 27, sheeniyt midaah occurs five times more (vv. 11, 19, 20, 24, and 30) with respect to builders not previously (nor subsequently) mentioned in this list. Hence, in five different places, the names of the building parties, and the notices of the portions of wall built by them respectively, must have been lost-a circumstance à priori incredible. When, however, we consider the verses, in which sheeniyt midaah occurs, more closely, the second length is, in vv. 19, 20, 21, 24, and 27, more nearly defined by a statement of locality: thus, in v. 19, we have a second piece over against the ascent to the arsenal at the angle; in v. 20, a second piece from the angle to the door of the house of Eliashib; in v. 21, a second piece from the door of the house of Eliashib to...; in v. 24, a second piece from the house of Azariah to..., who, according to v. 23, built near his own house; in v. 27, a second piece over against the great projecting tower..., as far as which, according to v. 26, the Nethinim dwelt in Ophel.
From all this, it is evident that sheeniyt midaah in these verses, always denotes a second portion of that length of wall previously spoken of, or a portion next to that of which the building was previously mentioned.
And so must sheeniyt midaah be understood in the present verse (11), where it is used because Malchiah and Hashshub repaired or built the tower of the furnaces, besides the portion of wall. sheeniyt midaah may be rendered, "another or a further piece." the word sheeniyt is chosen, because that previously mentioned is regarded as a first. The tower of the furnaces lay, according to this verse and Neh 12:38, where alone it is again mentioned, between the broad wall and the valley-gate. Now, since there was between the gate of Ephraim and the corner-gate a portion of wall four hundred cubits long (see 2 Kings 14:13), which, as has been above remarked, went by the name of the broad wall, it is plain that the tower of the furnaces must be sought for in the neighbourhood of the corner-gate, or perhaps even identified with it. This is the simplest way of accounting for the omission of any notice in the present description of this gate, which is mentioned not merely before (2 Chron 26:9; Jer 31:38; and 2 Kings 14:13), but also after, the captivity (Zech 14:10). It is probable that the tower of the furnaces served as a defence for the corner-gate at the north-western corner of the town, where now lie, upon an earlier building of large stones with morticed edges, probably a fragment of the old Jewish wall, the ruins of the ancient Kal'at el Dshalud (tower of Goliath), which might, at the time of the Crusades, have formed the corner bastion of the city: comp. Rob. Palestine, ii. p. 114; Biblical Researches, p. 252; and Tobler, Topogr. i. p. 67f.
Verse 12. Next repaired Shallum, ruler of the other (comp. v. 9) half district of Jerusalem, he and his daughters. huw' can only refer to Shallum, not to pelek| , which would make the daughters signify the daughters of the district, of the villages and places in the district.
The valley gate repaired Hanun, and the inhabitants of Zanoah; they built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof, and a thousand cubits on the wall unto the dung gate.
From the valley-gate to the dung-gate. The valley-gate lay in the west, in the neighbourhood of the present Jaffa gate (see rem. on Neh 2:13), "where," as Tobler, Topogr. i. p. 163, expresses it, "we may conclude there must almost always have been, on the ridge near the present citadel, the site in the time of Titus of the water-gate also (Joseph. bell. Jud. v. 7. 3), an entrance provided with gates." Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah are here connected, probably because Hanun was the chief or ruler of the inhabitants of this place. Zanoah, now Zanna, is in the Wady Ismail, west of Jerusalem; see rem. on Josh 15:34. They built and set up its doors, etc.; comp. v. 6. The further statement, "and a thousand cubits on the wall unto the dung-gate," still depends on hecheziyq , the principal verb of the verse. It is incomprehensible how Bertheau can say that this statement does not refer to the repairing of the wall, but only declares that the distance from the valley-gate to the dung-gate amounted to one thousand cubits.
For the remark, that a section of such a length is, in comparison with the other sections, far too extensive, naturally proves nothing more than that the wall in this part had suffered less damage, and therefore needed less repair. The number one thousand cubits is certainly stated in round numbers. The length from the present Jaffa gate to the supposed site of the dung-gate, on the south-western edge of Zion, is above two thousand five hundred feet. The dung-gate may, however, have been placed at a greater distance from the road leading to Baher. haash|powt is only another form for haa'ash|powt (without ' prosthetic). Malchiah ben Rechab, perhaps a Rechabite, built and fortified the dung-gate; for though the Rechabites were forbidden to build themselves houses (Jer 35:7), they might, without transgressing this paternal injunction, take part in building the fortifications of Jerusalem (Berth.). This conjecture is, however, devoid of probability, for a Rechabite would hardly be a prince or ruler of the district of Beth-haccerem. The name Rechab occurs as early as the days of David,2 Sam 4:5. beeyt-hakerem, i.e., the garden or vineyardhouse, where, according to Jer 6:1, the children of Benjamin were wont to set up a banner, and to blow the trumpet in Tekoa, is placed by Jerome (Comm. Jer 6) upon a hill between Jerusalem and Tekoa; on which account Pococke (Reise, ii. p. 63) thinks Beth-Cherem must be sought for on the eminence now known as the Frank mountain, the Dshebel Fureidis, upon which was the Herodium of Josephus. This opinion is embraced with some hesitation by Robinson (Pal. ii. p. 397), and unreservedly by Wilson (The Holy City, i. p. 396) and v. de Velde, because "when we consider that this hill is the highest point in the whole district, and is by reason of its isolated position and conical shape very conspicuous, we shall find that no other locality better corresponds with the passage cited.
But the gate of the fountain repaired Shallun the son of Colhozeh, the ruler of part of Mizpah; he built it, and covered it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof, and the wall of the pool of Siloah by the king's garden, and unto the stairs that go down from the city of David.
The fountain-gate and a portion of wall adjoining it was repaired by Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, the ruler of the district of Mizpah. kaalchozeh occurs again, Neh 11:5, apparently as the name of another individual. To yib|nenuw is added y|Tal|lenuw , he covered it, from Taalal , to shade, to cover, answering to the qeeruwhuw of vv. 3 and 6, probably to cover with a layer of beams. The position of the fountain-gate is apparent from the description of the adjoining length of wall which Shallum also repaired. This was "the wall of the pool of Shelach (Siloah) by the king's garden, and unto the stairs that go down from the city of David." The word shelach recalls shilowach; the pool of Shelach can be none other than the pool which received its water through the shelach , i.e., mission (aquae).
By the researches of Robinson (Pal. ii. p. 148f.) and Tobler (Die Siloahquelle u. der Oelberg, p. 6f.), it has been shown that the pool of Siloah receives its water from a subterranean conduit 1750 feet long, cut through the rock from the Fountain of the Virgin, Ain Sitti Miriam, on the eastern slope of Ophel. Near to the pool of Siloah, on the eastern declivity of Zion, just where the Tyropoean valley opens into the vale of Kidron, is found an old and larger pool (Birket el Hamra), now covered with grass and trees, and choked with earth, called by Tobler the lower pool of Siloah, to distinguish it from the one still existing, which, because it lies north-west of the former, he calls the upper pool of Siloah. One of these pools of Siloah, probably the lower and larger, is certainly the king's pool mentioned Neh 2:14, in the neighbourhood of which lay, towards the east and south-east, the king's garden.
The wall of the pool of Shelach need not have reached quite up to the pool, but may have gone along the edge of the south-eastern slope of Zion, at some distance therefrom. In considering the next particular following, "unto the stairs that go down from the city of David," we must turn our thoughts towards a locality somewhat to the north of this pool, the description now proceeding from the south-eastern corner of the wall northward. These stairs are not yet pointed out with certainty, unless perhaps some remains of them are preserved in the "length of rocky escarpment," which Robinson (Pal. ii. p. 102, and Biblical Researches, p. 247) remarked on the narrow ridge of the eastern slope of the hill of Zion, north of Siloam, at a distance of 960 feet from the present wall of the city, "apparently the foundations of a wall or of some similar piece of building." (Note: Bertheau's view, that these stairs were situated where Mount Zion, upon which stood the city of David, descends abruptly towards the east, and therefore on the precipice running from south to north, which still rises ninety-one feet above the ground northwards of the now so-called Bab el Mogharibeh or dung-gate, opposite the southern part of the west wall of the temple area, is decidedly incorrect. For this place is two thousand feet, i.e., more than one thousand cubits, distant from the pool of Siloah, while our text places them immediately after the length of wall by this pool. The transposition of these "steps" to a position within the present wall of the city is, in Bertheau's case, connected with the erroneous notion that the fountain-gate (v. 15 and Neh 2:14) stood on the site of the present dung-gate (Bab el Mogharibeh), for which no other reason appears than the assumption that the southern wall of the city of David, before the captivity, went over Zion, in the same direction as the southern wall of modern Jerusalem, only perhaps in a rather more southerly direction-an assumption shown to be erroneous, even by the circumstance that in this case the sepulchres of David, Solomon, and the kings of Judah would have stood outside the city wall, on the southern part of Zion; while, according to the Scripture narrative, David, Solomon, and the kings of Judah were buried in the city of David (1 Kings 2:10; 11:42; 14:31; 15:8, and elsewhere).
But apart from this consideration, this hypothesis is shattered by the statements of this fifteenth verse, which Bertheau cannot explain so inconsistently with the other statements concerning the building of the wall, as to make them say that any one coming from the west and going round by the south of the city towards the east, would first arrive at the fountain-gate, and then at the portion of wall in question; but is obliged to explain, so that the chief work, the building of the fountain-gate, is mentioned first; then the slighter work, the reparation of a length of wall as supplementary; and this makes the localities enumerated in v. 13 succeed each other in the following order, in a direction from the west by south and east towards the north: "Valley-gate-one thousand cubits of wall as far as the dung-gate; dung-gate-the wall of the conduit towards the king's garden, as far as the stairs which lead from the city of David-fountain-gate." No adequate reason for this transposition of the text is afforded by the circumstance that no portion of wall is mentioned (vv. 14 and 15) as being repaired between the dung-gate and the valley-gate. For how do we know that this portion on the southern side of Zion was broken down and needing repair? Might not the length between these two gates have been left standing when the city was burnt by the Chaldeans?)
After him repaired Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of the half part of Bethzur, unto the place over against the sepulchres of David, and to the pool that was made, and unto the house of the mighty.
The wall from the steps leading from the city of David to the angle opposite the armoury. From v. 16 onwards we find for the most part 'acharaayw , after him, instead of yaadow `al , which only occurs again in vv. 17 and 19. Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of half the district of Beth-zur (see rem. on 2 Chron 11:7), repaired the wall as far as "opposite the sepulchres of David, and unto the pool that was made, and to the house of the heroes." The sepulchres of David are the sepulchres of the house of David in the city of David (comp. 2 Chron 32:33). "Opposite the sepulchres of David" is the length of wall on the eastern side of Zion, where was probably, as Thenius endeavours to show in the Zeitschr. of the deutsch morgenl. Gesellsch. xxi. p. 495f., an entrance to the burying-place of the house of David, which was within the city. The "pool that was made" must be sought at no great distance, in the Tyropoean valley, but has not yet been discovered.
The view of Krafft (Topographie von Jerusalem, p. 152), that it was the reservoir artificially constructed by Hezekiah, between the two walls for the water of the old pool (Isa 22:11), rests upon incorrect combinations. "The house of the heroes" is also unknown. In vv. 17 and 18, the lengths of wall repaired by the three building parties there mentioned are not stated. "The Levites, Rehum the son of Bani," stands for: the Levites under Rehum the son of Bani. There was a Rehum among those who returned with Zerubbabel, Neh 12:3; Ezra 2:2; and a Bani occurs among the Levites in 9:5. After him repaired Hashabiah, the ruler of half the district of Keilah, for his district. Keilah, situate, according to Josh 15:44 and 1 Sam 23:1, in the hill region, is probably the village of Kila, discovered by Tobler (vol. iii. p. 151), eastward of Beit Dshibrin. By the addition l|pil|kow , for his district, i.e., that half of the whole district which was under his rule, "it is expressly stated that the two halves of the district of Keilah worked apart one from the other" (Bertheau). The other half is mentioned in the verse next following.
After him repaired their brethren, Bavai the son of Henadad, the ruler of the half part of Keilah. "Their brethren" are the inhabitants of the second half, who were under the rule of Bavai the son of Henadad.
And next to him repaired Ezer the son of Jeshua, the ruler of Mizpah, another piece over against the going up to the armoury at the turning of the wall.
Next to these repaired Ezer the son of Jeshua, the ruler of Mizpah, another piece (on sheeniyt midaah , see rem. on v. 11) opposite the ascent to the armoury of the angle. haneesheq or hanesheq (in most editions) is probably an abbreviation of beeythanesheq, arsenal, armoury; and hamiq|tsowa` is, notwithstanding the article in hanesheq , genitive; for to combine it as an accusative with `alowt