Nehemiah 9
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Ch. Nehemiah 7:73 b–8:12.

  The Public Reading of the Law.


  The Celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Ch. 9.

  The National Confession, preliminary to the Covenant.

Ch. Nehemiah 10:1-29.

  The Sealing of the Covenant.


  Certain Obligations of the Covenant.

Chs. 9, 10. The Solemn Covenant

Chapter 9. After the celebration of the ‘solemn assembly’ on the 22nd of the month Tisri one day’s interval is allowed, and on the 24th a special religious function is performed by the whole people, consisting (1) of a humble confession of national sin, (2) of a national covenant to obey the Law. Thus Ezra and Nehemiah availed themselves of the revival of religious enthusiasm to bind the people by a public declaration.

Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them.
1. in the twenty and fourth day of this month] i. e. on the second day after the 8th day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

fasting] Cf. Ezra 8:21; Ezra 10:6.

sackclothes] R.V. sackcloth. The symbol of sorrow, often of the sorrow of penitence, as in Daniel 9:3; Jonah 3:5; Jonah 3:8; 1 Chronicles 21:16.

earth upon them] For the sign of mourning, earth or dust upon the head, cf. 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; 2 Samuel 15:32; Job 2:12.

1–5a. The Day of National Humiliation, and its religious services

It must be admitted that, if the Great Day of Atonement were observed at this time, it is strange that its occurrence in this month was not made use of for the solemn service of confession. Perhaps this was one of the commands of ‘the law,’ of which the stricter observance as of the Feast of Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:17), was now first publicly made known to the people.

And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.
2. the seed of Israel] A more formal and poetical expression than ‘the children of Israel.’ It does not occur again in these books; but we find it in 2 Kings 17:20; 1 Chronicles 16:13; Psalm 22:23, and in Is. Jer. The phrase to be compared with it is ‘the holy seed’ in Ezra 9:2 (Esther 10:3).

separated themselves] See on Nehemiah 10:28; Ezra 9:2-3. No stranger was to take part in this national act of humiliation and confession. The ‘strangers,’ i.e. the heathen who had not joined themselves to the ‘holy seed,’ and yet resided in Jerusalem, were not permitted to take part in the ceremony about to be described. Some commentators regard the words as describing in anticipation the result of the action taken by the Israelites on this day, as if by their penitence and confession they finally severed themselves from ‘the strangers.’ But from the position of the verse it is more natural to understand it of a solemn act of separation preliminary to the ratification of the Covenant.

from all strangers] ‘b’ ney nêkar,’ i.e. ‘children of the foreigner,’ LXX. ἀπὸ παντὸς υἱοῦ ἀλλοτρίου. Vulg. ‘ab omni filio alienigena,’ as in Psalm 18:45; Psalm 144:7; Psalm 144:11; Isaiah 60:10; Isaiah 61:5; Isaiah 62:8; Ezekiel 44:7.

confessed their sins] So in chap. Nehemiah 1:6; and compare a possibly parallel instance of national ‘confession,’ 2 Chronicles 30:22, where however there is some doubt whether ‘confession’ or ‘thanksgiving’ is intended: cf. Ezra 10:11.

sins, and the iniquities] ‘Sin’ (ḥattâth) denoting ‘failure’ generally from the right way; ‘iniquity’ (‘âvôn), carrying also the sense of ‘guilt,’ but denoting especially ‘crookedness’ and ‘perverseness’ (2 Samuel 7:14). Both words occur with the verb ‘confess;’ ‘sins,’ Leviticus 5:5; Numbers 5:7; Daniel 9:20; ‘iniquities,’ Leviticus 16:21; Leviticus 26:40.

And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.
3. stood up] Literally, ‘arose.’

in their place] cf. Nehemiah 8:7. The people appear to have continued standing where they were for six hours, listening for three hours and worshipping three hours.

and read] the people read. By this we should understand that the people’s religious representatives, the Levites, read while the people listened. For ‘the book of the law,’ cf. Nehemiah 8:3.

one fourth part] R.V. a fourth part, i.e. a quarter of the day as opposed to the night; i.e. 3 hours. The time of day is not told us. We may conjecture 9.0 a.m.–12.0, and 12.0–3.0 p.m. to have been the two quarters.

the Lord their God] Characteristic of this section, cf. Nehemiah 9:4-5; Nehemiah 9:7, Nehemiah 10:29; Nehemiah 10:34.

Then stood up upon the stairs, of the Levites, Jeshua, and Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani, and cried with a loud voice unto the LORD their God.
4. upon the stairs (Marg. Or, scaffold) of the Levites] R.V. upon the stairs of the Levites. According to a common but inaccurate punctuation of the A.V., of the Levites is applied to the list of names which follows. It refers to the pulpit or stage erected for the Levites, that they might read the Law and conduct the service standing in view of the people. Cf. Nehemiah 8:4. For the word rendered ‘stairs’ (LXX. ἀνάβασις. Vulg. ‘gradus’) compare Nehemiah 12:37. It more generally appears as ‘ascent,’ e.g. Joshua 10:10; 2 Samuel 15:30; Isaiah 15:5.

Jeshua, &c.] See note on Nehemiah 8:7; cf. Nehemiah 10:9.

Kadmiel] cf. Nehemiah 10:9.

Bani … Bunni … Bani] The repetition of Bani’s name is probably due to an error of copyists. The Syriac version for the second ‘Bani’ reads ‘Binnui’; but as in Nehemiah 10:9, Nehemiah 12:8, Binnui’s name comes, as here, between those of Jeshua and Kadmiel, we should here substitute Binnui for the first Bani. The LXX. renders all three names as if the Hebrew in each case had been ‘B’nêy’ = ‘sons of,’ reducing the number of proper names in the verse to five (Ἰησοῦς καὶ οἱ υἱοὶ Καδμιήλ, Σεχενία υἱὸς Σαραβία, υἱοὶ Χωνενί). For ‘Bunni,’ cf. Nehemiah 10:15; for ‘Shebaniah,’ ‘Sherebiah,’ cf. Nehemiah 10:12. The names probably represent the chief Levitical houses and not individuals; cf. the mention of Jeshua, Binnui, and Kadmiel in Ezra 2:40; Ezra 3:9, and of Sherebiah in Ezra 8:18. But whether the whole house is in each case intended, or a single representative of each house mentioned, we are not told.

cried with a loud voice] If the names represent houses or families, we can picture to ourselves the platform crowded with the members of eight Levite houses, who burst forth into some well-known Psalm of adoration to the God of Israel. If they are names of individual representatives, we must suppose them to have been deputed to recite or chant a specially prepared form of prayer, in order to direct the worship of the people.

Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.
5. Then] As in Nehemiah 9:4, the ‘copula’; no very exact sequence of time is implied.

Hashabniah … Hodijah] R.V. Hashabneiah … Hodiah. The Levitical names of the previous verse appear here with some variations. Bunni, the second Bani, Chenani disappear; and the names of Hashabneiah, Hodiah, Pethahiah are introduced afresh. The remaining five names are the same in both lists; and this adds to the difficulty in accounting for the variation, for there seems to be no reason for a partial change of personnel at this juncture. Very possibly the Hebrew text is in fault.

The LXX. gives only two names, Jeshua and Kadmiel, but its tendency to shorten lists of names (cf. Nehemiah 8:7) diminishes the value of its testimony in the present instance.

The best way of accounting for the variation is to suppose that the compiler turns at this point to a different source of information, in which there was a slight disagreement in the list of names. The compiler transcribes: he neither corrects nor explains; and the variation is evidence both of his candour and of the general honesty of subsequent copyists.

Stand up] It may be questioned whether these words should be understood literally. Some commentators suppose that the Levites enjoin the people to exchange the kneeling position of prayer for the standing posture of praise. In Nehemiah 9:2 we are told the people ‘stood and confessed their sins,’ and in Nehemiah 9:3 they ‘confessed and worshipped the Lord.’ Now ‘worshipping’ is not necessarily ‘kneeling.’ Prayer and confession are quite consistent with a ‘standing position,’ cf. Nehemiah 8:5 and note.

If not taken literally, it must be understood in its common metaphorical sense ‘arise,’ ‘up!’ prefacing an appeal to the laity to join in praise with the Levites.

for ever and ever] R.V. from everlasting to everlasting. Cf. Psalm 41:13, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting and to everlasting,’ Psalm 90:2, ‘even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God,’ Psalm 103:17. The words are connected more appropriately with ‘the Lord your God’ than with the verb ‘bless.’ This ascription to the Eternal Jehovah is possibly taken from a familiar doxology in Jewish worship (cf. Psalm 41:13).

blessed be] R.V. marg. ‘Or, let them bless’. The rendering ‘let them bless’ is more literal. The third Pers. Plur. will refer either to the Israelites or, by a more comprehensive thought, to the dwellers of the earth. But the change of person is abrupt and not without awkwardness. It is perhaps due to a quotation from a Doxology; compare a somewhat similar clause introduced in Psalm 106:48.

The LXX. rendering introduces the words ‘and Ezra said’ as a prefix to this clause, as if the whole of the ensuing address were his utterance. No other evidence, however, supports this reading; but it seems to preserve a very probable tradition based on the similarity of this confession to that of Ezra in Ezra 9.

thy glorious name] Literally, ‘the name of thy glory’ (kâbôd) as in Psalm 72:19, ‘blessed be his glorious name for ever.’ The expression differs very slightly from that in 1 Chronicles 29:13, ‘Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name’ (lit. the name of thy glory ‘tiphereth’). The Name is the Being of God made known to man; the glory (kâbôd) of it is its manifestation (Exodus 33:18; Exodus 33:22), of which splendour (tiphereth) is an accompaniment.

exalted above all blessing and praise] i.e. man can add nothing thereto by the highest blessings or by the noblest praises. He dwelleth in the ‘light unapproachable,’ cf. 1 Timothy 6:16. The Hebrew has ‘and (or, even) exalted:’ the LXX. καὶ ὑψώσουσιν ἐπὶ: Vulg. ‘excelso in.’

Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.
6. Thou, even thou, art Lord alone] R.V. Thou art the LORD, even thou alone. The confession opens with a declaration of the unity of the God of Israel. Jehovah alone is: He alone made the worlds and led Israel. Cf. Psalm 83:18, ‘That they may know that thou alone, whose name is Jehovah (marg. thou whose name alone is Jehovah) art the Most High above all the earth,’ Isaiah 44:6.

made] ‘fecisti’ not ‘creasti,’ ‘âsah’ not ‘bara;’ no reference to Genesis 1:1; Genesis 2:1.

heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host] For ‘the heaven’ and ‘the heaven of heavens,’ cf. Deuteronomy 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 2 Chronicles 6:18; Psalm 148:4. It denotes ‘the heavens’ in their plenitude, the clouds, and the wonders of the sky, the stars and the whole sidereal world.

therein] R.V. thereon.

therein] R.V. in them, giving emphasis to the use of the plural.

preservest] literally, ‘givest life to,’ ‘quickenest;’ LXX. ζωοποιεῖς. Vulg. ‘vivificas,’ an allusion to the continuity of Divine operation in relation to the Universe. Cf. Job 33:4; John 5:17.

the host of heaven] Does this refer to the stars and the powers of the sky, or to the angelic beings? The words, being separated from the phrase, ‘all their host’ and following upon the mention of the seas and the earth, most probably mean the created spirits, a distinct group of created things, 1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 103:21.

Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham;
7, 8. The Patriarch Abraham; the choice, the call, the name, and the character of the man, and the covenant made with him

Thou art the Lord the God] R.V. marg. ‘Or, O Lord’, i.e. Thou, O Jahveh (Jehovah), art the God, as in 1 Kings 18:37.

didst choose Abram] The Divine ‘choice’ is only mentioned here in reference to the calling of Abraham. The selection of the ‘chosen people’ was the free act of God’s love. This thought lay at the root of the covenant relation between Him and Israel; cf. Deuteronomy 4:37, ‘and because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them,’ Nehemiah 7:7, Nehemiah 9:4-6.

and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees] Ur of the Chaldees is only mentioned here and Genesis 11:28; Genesis 11:31; Genesis 15:7, and from these passages the present allusion is almost certainly drawn. According to some scholars, ‘Ur of the Chaldees’ is to be found in S. Babylonia, on the right bank of the Euphrates, and to be identified either with Warka (= Erech, Genesis 10:10) or Mugheir = Uru, one of the oldest Babylonian cities. According to others, it was situate in Northern Assyria, with which would agree the descent of Terah from Aram (Genesis 10:23) and the home of Abraham’s kinsfolk being Padan-Aram (Genesis 25:20). The latter view is perhaps most favoured by Israelite tradition, cf. Deuteronomy 26:5; Isaiah 41:9. It was Terah who moved from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran; but Jewish tradition always regarded this as the expression of a Divine call to Abraham. Compare Acts 7:4 with Genesis 11:31. The Vulgate ‘de igne Chaldaeorum’ treats ‘Ur’ as if it were the Hebrew word (spelt with the same consonants) meaning ‘light.’

the name of Abraham] The change of the patriarch’s name from Abram to Abraham is recorded in Genesis 17:5, to which the reference is probably made. That Abram means ‘lofty father’ and Abraham ‘the father of a multitude’ is probably only an instance of popular Israelite etymology. ‘Abu-ra-mu’ is found as the proper name of a man in Assyrian inscriptions; and the change from the shorter to the longer form, is perhaps a return to an older and more venerated form of the name. The precise meaning of the name is of slight moment. The important point to notice is, that the change of name corresponds with the institution of the covenant sign of circumcision. The change of the name was a pledge of the new relation, into which Abraham and his seed passed; cf. ‘Jacob’ and ‘Israel’ (Genesis 35:10).

And foundest his heart faithful before thee, and madest a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Girgashites, to give it, I say, to his seed, and hast performed thy words; for thou art righteous:
8. his heart faithful] The word ‘faithful’ is of the same root as that rendered ‘believed’ in Genesis 15:6, ‘And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness;’ and the phrase here used is derived from that passage, since the same chapter in Genesis also contains a list of the peoples of the land (Nehemiah 9:19-21), that were to be dispossessed by the seed of Abraham according to the Covenant. For the use of this adjective applied to Abraham, cf. Galatians 3:9, ‘they which be of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham.’

the land of the Canaanites] R.V. the land of the Canaanite, … Hittite, &c. The six nations here referred to, are all Palestinian. From the list in Genesis 15:18-21, there are here omitted ‘the Kenite, the Kenizzite, the Kadmonite, and the Rephaim.’ Perhaps only those nations are recorded of which the names were still in use.

to give it, I say, to his seed] R.V. even to give it unto his seed.

hast performed thy words] Cf. Joshua 23:14, ‘Not one thing hath failed of all the good things, which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, not one thing hath failed thereof.’

for thou art righteous] The same epithet in the Hebrew is used in Nehemiah 9:33, ‘thou art just,’ where the Divinely ordered discipline of the Exile is alluded to. The root idea of ‘righteousness’ is ‘straightness,’ that which will not swerve from truth and justice. Jehovah is called ‘righteous,’ because His rule of the world and of His people Israel is in agreement with the most perfect imaginable standard of justice and truth. Cf. Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 85:13; Psalm 145:17; Zephaniah 3:5.

And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea;
9–11. The Deliverance from Egypt

9. didst see] R.V. thou sawest. The words are probably based on Exodus 3:7, ‘And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people.’

heardest their cry by the Red sea] Cf. Exodus 14:10, ‘And, behold, the Egyptians marched after them … and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.’ 15, ‘And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me.’ In both cases the verb ‘cry’ is the same root as the substantive here used.

And shewedst signs and wonders upon Pharaoh, and on all his servants, and on all the people of his land: for thou knewest that they dealt proudly against them. So didst thou get thee a name, as it is this day.
10. and shewedst signs and wonders, &c.] This epitome of the history of the Plagues shows acquaintance with Deuteronomy 6:22, ‘And the Lord shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his house.’ Cf. Psalm 105:27; Psalm 106:7; Psalm 135:9.

dealt proudly] Perhaps an echo of the use of the same verb in Exodus 18:11, ‘yea, in the thing wherein they dealt proudly against them.’

So didst thou get, &c.] R.V. and didst get. Not a recapitulation, but the continuance of the description. The Divine visitation upon Egypt is referred to in similar language, Exodus 9:16, ‘And that my name may be declared throughout all the earth;’ Exodus 14:17-18.

The words of our verse are best illustrated by Isaiah 63:12, ‘that divided the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name.’ 14, ‘so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.’

as it is this day] The vivid impression of the deliverance from Egypt is indestructible. The recollection of the nation’s sin is referred to in the same way, Ezra 9:7.

And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors thou threwest into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters.
11. divide … the dry land] The description is based on Exodus 14:21-22; Exodus 15:19. The verbal correspondence is striking.

their persecutors thou threwest into the deeps] R.V. their pursuers thou didst cast into the depths. The poetical language of the latter part of the verse is drawn from Exodus 15:4-5, ‘Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea; … they went down into the depths like a stone.’

as a stone into the mighty waters] Cf. Exodus 15:5, ‘like a stone.’ 10, ‘as lead in the mighty waters.’ For the last words cf. Isaiah 43:16, ‘a path in the mighty waters.’

Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go.
12–21. The Wilderness

12. in the day by a cloudy pillar] R.V. in a pillar of cloud by day.

in the night by a pillar of fire] R.V. in a pillar of fire by night. See for these words Exodus 13:21-22; Numbers 14:14. And compare the poetical description in very similar words of Psalm 78:14; Psalm 105:39.

Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments:
13. The Sinaitic Legislation

13. mount Sinai] It will be observed that Sinai, not Horeb, is referred to. The reference is taken from Exodus 19:18, ‘And mount Sinai … the Lord descended upon it.… 19. Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.’ Deuteronomy 4:36, ‘Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice.’ For other references to Sinai cf. Deuteronomy 33:2; Jdg 5:5.

judgments] R.V. judgements. For ‘judgements,’ ‘laws,’ ‘statutes,’commandments,’ cf. Deuteronomy 4:44-45; Deuteronomy 11:1; Deuteronomy 12:1, and Psalms 119. passim. ‘Right judgements’ or ‘equitable decisions’ (κρίματα εὐθέα, ‘judicia recta’) opposed to the perversions of justice by partiality or bribery; ‘true laws’ or ‘teachings of truth’ (Plur. not as Vulg. ‘legem veritatis’), to erroneous teachings. ‘Good statutes and commandments’ relate, the one to positive enactments upon religious matters, the other to legislation generally.

And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:
14. and madest known … sabbath] Cf. Ezekiel 20:12. Apparently referring to the fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11. Cf. Exodus 31:16). But it is to be noticed that the observance of the Sabbath is prescribed if not presupposed at the giving of the Manna (Exodus 16:23-30) before the arrival at Sinai. The stricter observance of the Sabbath of Jehovah (thy sabbath) was a special feature of religious purity, required by the teaching of Ezra and the Scribes, cf. Nehemiah 13:15 (Isaiah 56:2; Isaiah 58:13). An observance of the Sabbath was perhaps common among Semitic races. It was certainly kept in Assyria. The command to keep the Sabbath holy set the stamp of Divine approval upon the native custom.

precepts, statutes, and laws] R.V. commandments, and statutes, and a law. ‘A law,’ i.e. religious instruction as distinguished from positive rules.

Moses thy servant] Cf. Nehemiah 1:7.

And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.
15. bread from heaven] See Exodus 16:4, ‘I will rain bread from heaven for you.’ Cf. Psalm 78:24, ‘and gave them of the corn of heaven.’ Psalm 105:40, ‘and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.’

water for them out of the rock] Cf. Exodus 17:6. But a closer resemblance is afforded by Numbers 20:8, ‘And thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock.’ See Psalm 105:41, ‘He opened the rock, and waters gushed out.’

promisedst] R.V. commandedst. Heb. ‘didst say.’ Cf. Nehemiah 9:24.

sworn] R.V. lifted up thine hand. Cf. Numbers 14:30, ‘the land, concerning which I lifted up my hand that I would make you dwell therein.’

But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments,
16. But they and our fathers] The ‘and’ here seems not to be necessary. It is found, however, in all the MSS., and is represented in all the Versions, and must clearly be retained in the text. As the following Nehemiah 9:17-22 continue to refer to the Mosaic generation, no distinction of meaning can be drawn between ‘they’ and ‘our fathers.’ It seems best therefore to regard the ‘and’ as an instance of the explanatory or exegetical copula. ‘They and (= that is to say) our fathers.’ Cf. Nehemiah 9:22.

dealt proudly] Cf. Nehemiah 9:10. In this verse and in Nehemiah 9:29 the word is used with reference to the children of Israel, as in Deuteronomy 1:43, ‘ye rebelled … and were presumptuous.’ Deuteronomy 17:13, ‘all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.’

hardened their necks] R.V. neck. Cf. Nehemiah 9:17; Nehemiah 9:29. For the phrase ‘a stiff-necked people’ cf. Exodus 32:9; Exodus 33:3; Exodus 34:9; Deuteronomy 9:6; Deuteronomy 9:13. ‘To stiffen’ or ‘harden the neck’ is found in Deuteronomy 10:16, ‘Be no more stiff-necked,’ 2 Kings 17:14, ‘they would not hear, but hardened their neck, like to the neck of their fathers.’ Cf. Job 9:4.

And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.
17. in their rebellion appointed a captain, &c.] Based on Numbers 14:4, and perhaps representing a tradition that the words ‘And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt’ were partially carried into effect.

The R.V. marg. runs, ‘The Sept. has, And appointed a captain to return to their bondage in Egypt.’ See Numbers 14:4. The Sept. (ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ) read b’mizraim for b’miryam. Another proposed rendering instead of ‘appointed a captain’ is ‘turned their attention,’ or ‘directed their thoughts,’ literally ‘set their head.’

a God ready to pardon] R.V. marg. ‘Heb. a God of forgivenesses’. The word for ‘forgivenesses’ is found only in Daniel 9:9; Psalm 130:4.

merciful] R.V. full of compassion.

and of great kindness] R.V. plenteous in mercy.

For these descriptive epithets of Divine mercy cf. Nehemiah 9:31; Exodus 33:19; Exodus 34:6-7; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 111:4; Psalm 145:8; 2 Chronicles 30:9; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3.

forsookest them not] Cf. Nehemiah 9:31; Ezra 9:9.

Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations;
18–20. The Golden Calf and God’s Mercy

18. molten calf … Egypt.] The language is based on Exodus 32:4, ‘… made it a molten calf, and they said, These be thy gods (marg. This is thy god), O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.’

wrought great provocations] Cf. Nehemiah 9:26. The same word is rendered ‘blasphemies’ in Ezekiel 35:12.

Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go.
19. the pillar of the cloud] R.V. the pillar of cloud. In the original the construction is ‘As for the pillar of cloud, it departed not, &c.’

from them] R.V. from over them. More literally.

and the way] The LXX. and Vulg. omit the ‘and,’ as if the clause stood in apposition to the one preceding; even retaining the copula, that is a possible explanation of the words.

According to the Eng. translation ‘and the way’ is an accusative, having a verb to govern it, supplied by Zeugma from the clause ‘to shew them light.’

Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.
20. thy good spirit] Referring possibly to Numbers 11:17 ‘And I will take of the spirit which is upon thee and will put it upon them,’ 23–29, but mainly to the general Divine teaching of the people, cf. Isaiah 63:11, ‘Where is he that brought them out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he that put his holy spirit in the midst of them?’ For the expression ‘thy good spirit’ cf. Psalm 143:10, Marg. ‘Let thy good spirit lead me.’

to instruct] i.e. to make them understand. For the use of the verb ‘sakal,’ see note on Nehemiah 8:12; cf. Psalm 32:8, ‘I will instruct thee and lead thee in the way which thou shalt go.’

thy manna] The reference here seems to be to Numbers 11:6-9; that in Nehemiah 9:15 had been to Exodus 16:14-36.

Similarly ‘water for their thirst’ refers to the second miraculous gift of water described in Numbers 20:2-8 (not to Exodus 17:3-6).

Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not.
21. The Forty Years in the Wilderness: Preservation

forty years … so that] R.V. forty years … and. The mention of the 40 years and of the fact that ‘they lacked nothing’ shows that the origin of the clause is to be sought in Deuteronomy 2:7 ‘these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.’

their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not] From Deuteronomy 8:4, ‘Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.’ Cf. Deuteronomy 29:5, ‘And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot.’ The language of the Deuteronomist is doubtless hyperbolical. But his words were employed as a proverbial description of Jehovah’s protection of His people in the wanderings.

Moreover thou gavest them kingdoms and nations, and didst divide them into corners: so they possessed the land of Sihon, and the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan.
22–25. The Conquest of Palestine: Victory

22. The Conquest of the Transjordanic territory.

nations] R.V. peoples.

and didst divide them into corners] R.V. which thou didst allot after their portions. Marg. ‘Or, And didst distribute them into every corner’. The difficulty of rendering arises from the word ‘pêah’ = ‘a corner,’ or ‘edge,’ which the LXX. and Vulg. do not attempt to translate. Used of ‘a corner’ in such passages as Leviticus 19:9; Leviticus 19:27; Amos 3:12; it is found with a territorial signification, in Numbers 24:17 ‘the corners of Moab,’ Joshua 15:5; Joshua 18:14-15, ‘the north quarter,’ ‘the west quarter,’ ‘the south quarter,’ Jeremiah 48:45 ‘the corner of Moab.’ It does not seem to occur anywhere in a technical sense for ‘a lot’ or ‘an appointed portion.’ ‘To allot according to corner,’ in the sense of ‘after their portions’ (as the R.V.), may give the meaning of the obscure phrase; but no satisfactory parallel to this use of ‘pêah’ occurs in the O. T. This being the case, it is probable that preference should be given to the R.V. marg. ‘into every corner,’ a translation which renders ‘pêah’ literally, and explains the Hebrew idiom by the insertion of the word ‘every.’

Sihon … Og] The victory over these kings at the battles of Jahaz and Edrei is described in Numbers 21:21-35. It made the children of Israel masters of the E. bank of the Jordan. Reference to the conquest of these two kings is frequent, e.g. Numbers 32:33; Deuteronomy 1:4; Deuteronomy 3:1, &c.; Joshua 2:10; Psalm 135:11; Psalm 136:19-20. The territory of the two Amorite kings stretched from the river Jabbok in the S. to the Hauran Mts. in the N., and included the district of Argob. In later days it was divided into Iturea, Gaulanitis, Batanea, Trachonitis and Auranitis.

and the land of the king of Heshbon] R.V. even the land, &c. The ‘copula’ is used to define the previous words, cf. Nehemiah 9:16 ‘they and our fathers.’ Nehemiah 8:7. The LXX. omit ‘and the land’ (Σηὼν βασιλέως Ἐσεβών).

Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven, and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess it.
23. multipliedst] See Deuteronomy 1:10; Deuteronomy 7:3.

as the stars of heaven] The use of this simile may very probably be a reminiscence of the promise in Genesis 15:5; Genesis 22:17. Cf. Jeremiah 33:22.

hadst promised] R.V. didst say.

So the children went in and possessed the land, and thou subduedst before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gavest them into their hands, with their kings, and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they would.
24, 25. Possession and Prosperity

24. people] R.V. peoples. i.e. the heathen nations (cf. Nehemiah 9:8).

with their kings] Compare the list of ‘the kings of the land whom Joshua and the children of Israel smote beyond Jordan westward’ (Joshua 12:7-24).

And they took strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled, and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness.
25. strong cities] R.V. fenced cities. Cf. Deuteronomy 9:1; Joshua 14:12, e.g. Jericho, Ai, and Hebron, but it was a long time before all the cities were reduced. Thus Jerusalem held out until David’s reign. (Cf. Jdg 1:8; Jdg 1:21.)

a fat land] i.e. fat soil, ‘adamah.’ In Numbers 13:20 the country (‘erec̣’) is spoken of as ‘fat’ or ‘lean.’ Cf. Deuteronomy 8:7-9 for a fuller description of the land’s fatness.

full of all goods] R.V. full of all good things.

wells digged] R.V. cisterns hewn out.

The description is almost literally borrowed from Deuteronomy 6:10-11, ‘great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, and houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and cisterns hewn out, which thou hewedst not, vineyards and olive-yards, which thou plantedst not, and thou shalt eat and be full; then beware lest thou forget the Lord.’ A poetical description of the material blessings, into the inheritance of which the Israelites passed, is given in Deuteronomy 32:13-14.

became fat] Cf. Deuteronomy 32:15, ‘Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked,’ of the ill effects of luxury and prosperity.

delighted themselves] The Hebrew word occurs only here in the O. T. = ‘they luxuriated.’ It is from the same root as ‘Eden.’ LXX. ἐνετρύφησαν.

Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations.
26. Israel’s Disobedience

26. cast thy law behind their backs] R.V. back. ‘Thy law,’ cf. Nehemiah 9:14. For this phrase cf. 1 Kings 14:9; Ezekiel 23:35, ‘Cast me behind thy back,’ where the Lord is the speaker. The ‘law’ of God, which Israel rejected, is not here the ceremonial or even the written law, but the moral and spiritual ‘teaching’ of Jehovah, of which ‘the prophets’ were the Apostles from Moses to Malachi.

slew thy prophets] ‘Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord,’ 1 Kings 18:4. Not many instances are recorded. But cf. Zechariah (2 Chronicles 24; 2 Chronicles 20-22), Uriah the son of Shemaiah (Jeremiah 26:20-23). The martyrdoms of Isaiah and Jeremiah belong to Jewish tradition. The deaths of the prophets who laid down their lives for their testimony are referred to in the New Test., cf. Matthew 5:12; Matthew 23:29; Acts 7:52 (1 Thessalonians 2:15); Hebrews 11:32 ff.

to turn them to thee] R.V. to turn them again unto thee, i.e. to turn them back from following after other gods, and to lead them in ‘the way wherein they should go’ (Nehemiah 9:19). Not as Vulg. ‘ut reverterentur ad te,’ (LXX. ἐπιστρέψαι αὐτοὺς πρός σε). The rebellion of Israel was ‘a turning back’ from Jehovah. Cf. Psalm 78:57.

wrought great provocations] Cf. Nehemiah 9:18.

Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hand of their enemies, who vexed them: and in the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies.
27. enemies … vexed] R.V. adversaries … distressed. The English version cannot reproduce the alliteration of the Hebrew, where ‘adversaries,’ ‘distressed’ and ‘trouble’ have a common root.

thou heardest them] R.V. omit them. So in Nehemiah 9:28. Cf. ‘Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place,’ 1 Kings 8:30.

saviours] LXX. σωτηρίας. Vulg. ‘salvatores.’ By this title the judges are spoken of in Jdg 2:16; Jdg 3:9; Jdg 3:15. Cf. 2 Kings 13:5, ‘And the Lord gave Israel a saviour.’

27, 28. The Period of the Judges

This is narrated without any attempt at detailed treatment.

But after they had rest, they did evil again before thee: therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them: yet when they returned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies;
28. after they had rest] Cf. ‘the land had rest,’ Jdg 3:11; Jdg 3:30; Jdg 5:31; Jdg 8:28.

many times] A probable reference to the numerous deliverances effected by the judges as described in the Book of Judges. The LXX. fails to reproduce the thought accurately by ἐν οἰκτιρμοῖς σου πολλοῖς.

And testifiedst against them, that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear.
29. The Stubbornness of Israel

29. testifiedst] Cf. 2 Kings 17:13, ‘Yet the Lord testified unto Israel and unto Judah, by the hand of every prophet, and of every seer.’

dealt proudly] Cf. Nehemiah 9:16.

which if a man do, he shall live in them] Quoted from Leviticus 18:5, as also in Ezekiel 20:11. Cf. Luke 10:28, ‘This do and thou shalt live.’

withdrew the shoulder] R.V. marg. ‘Heb. they gave a stubborn shoulder’. The metaphor of an ox refusing to submit to the yoke, as applied to Israel, who rejected the service of Jehovah, is familiar to us from Hosea 4:16; Zechariah 7:11.

hardened their neck] Cf. Nehemiah 9:17.

Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands.
30, 31. The long-suffering of Jehovah

30. forbear them] R.V. bear with them. The ‘many years’ here spoken of contain the brief reference to the earlier monarchic period. ‘Bear with;’ literally ‘protract,’ ‘extend’ (LXX. ἥλκυσας. Vulg. ‘protraxisti’), as perhaps Jeremiah 31:3, marg. ‘Have I continued loving-kindness unto thee.’

by thy spirit in thy prophets] Cf. Zechariah 7:12, ‘The words which the Lord of hosts had sent by his spirit by the hand of the former prophets.’ The words do not affirm the Personality of the Divine Spirit, but the Divine revelation to the mind of man, which was spiritual. The Spirit is the agent, the prophets are the channels of Divine communication. Cf. 1 Kings 22:24; 1 Peter 1:10-11; 2 Peter 1:21.

the people of the lands] R.V. the peoples of the lands. i.e. the heathen, Ezra 9:1.

Nevertheless for thy great mercies' sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.
31. for thy great mercies’ sake] R.V. in thy manifold mercies. The emphasis on the variety of the mercy even more than on its magnitude. Cf. Lamentations 3:22-23, ‘It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning.’

thou didst not utterly consume them] R.V. thou didst not make a full end of them (LXX. οὐκ ἐποίησας αὐτούς συντέλειαν. Vulg. ‘non fecisti eos in consumptionem.’ For the phrase see Jeremiah 4:17; Jeremiah 5:10; Jeremiah 5:18; Jeremiah 46:28; Ezekiel 20:17. The promise that though grievously humbled, Israel should not be utterly consumed, ever animated the courage of the prophets, cf. Leviticus 26:44, ‘And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them;’ Isaiah 6:13, ‘As a terebinth, and as an oak, whose stock remaineth, when they are felled.’

gracious and merciful] The same words in Heb. as Nehemiah 9:17 ‘gracious and full of compassion.’

Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before thee, that hath come upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria unto this day.
32–35. Israel’s sufferings in the past a just punishment from God

32. our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God] Cf. note on Nehemiah 1:5. See Deuteronomy 10:17, ‘the great God, the mighty and the terrible.’ Daniel 9:4.

who keepest covenant and mercy] Cf. Nehemiah 1:5.

trouble] R.V. travail. The Hebrew word (t’lâah) here used is only found in the O. T., Exodus 18:8; Numbers 20:14; Lamentations 3:5; Malachi 1:13 (= ‘weariness’).

seem little before thee] A humble way of entreating for gracious consideration. The construction is like that of Nehemiah 9:19 (see note), ‘As for all the travail, let it not seem little, &c.’

upon us, on our kings, &c.] The nation is here described under a threefold division, (1) the aristocracy, the king and the nobles, (2) the religious castes, the priestly officials and the prophetic schools, (3) the laity generally, the heads of the houses or fathers and the mass of the nation.

since the time of the kings of Assyria] i.e. since the kings of Assyria first made Israel tributary. When this took place is not known. The first recorded instance in Scripture is that of Menahem and Pekah (2 Kings 15:19; 2 Kings 15:24), who submitted to Pul or Tiglath-Pileser II. (745–727 b.c.). But it is evident from the famous ‘Black obelisk’ that Jehu was among the vassal kings who brought tribute to Shalmaneser II. (842 b.c.). The kings of Babylon, of Egypt and of Persia had exercised the same dominion. Assyria was the typical oppressor; Assyria first carried away Israel into captivity (2 Kings 15:19; 2 Kings 17:23).

Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly:
33. just] The same epithet as that rendered ‘righteous’ (c̣addîq) in Nehemiah 9:8. See also Ezra 9:15.

brought] R.V. come.

done right] R.V. dealt truly. Literally ‘truth’ (LXX. ἀλήθειαν. Vulg. ‘veritatem’), i.e. Thou hast fulfilled thy word both in blessing and punishment: but we have been unfaithful to the covenant. Cf. Daniel 9:14, ‘For the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth, and we have not obeyed his voice.’ The pronoun ‘we’ is emphatic; the speakers pass from reference to their forefathers, in order to accept for themselves the responsibility of association with the nation’s guilt.

Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them.
34. neither have our kings] The construction is the same as in Nehemiah 9:19; Nehemiah 9:32, ‘As for our kings, … they have not.’

kept thy law] Literally ‘done thy law,’ i.e. carried into practice the Divine teaching. Cf. Nehemiah 9:14; Nehemiah 9:29.

nor hearkened] Cf. Zechariah 1:4, ‘But they (your fathers) did not hear nor hearken unto me, saith the Lord.’

didst testify against them] Probably with special reference to Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28-30.

For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works.
35. they] emphatic, i.e. the kings and princes; as distinguished from ‘thou’ and ‘we,’ used emphatically in Nehemiah 9:33.

in their kingdom] Perhaps with a slight touch of irony, since ‘their kingdom’ was itself God’s gift to Israel. The use of the word shows that the ‘kings’ and ‘princes’ of Nehemiah 9:34 are especially referred to.

goodness] Material blessings generally as in Nehemiah 9:25.

fat land] Cf. Nehemiah 9:25.

wicked works] The word so translated is used with especial reference to idolatry. Cf. Jeremiah 35:15, ‘Amend your doings,’ Zechariah 1:6, ‘According to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.’

Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land that thou gavest unto our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we are servants in it:
36, 37. Israel’s present humiliation: her children slaves, her land subject to foreign kings, who oppress it

36. servants] i.e. subject to Persian supremacy. Cf. Ezra’s very similar words in his confession, Ezra 9:9.

for the land] R.V. as for the land.

behold, we are servants] Repeated for emphasis. Israel who should have been mistress of the promised land is a bondservant in it.

And it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins: also they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress.
37. yieldeth much increase] Literally ‘its produce it maketh in abundance.’ The allusion is to the pressure of the tribute exacted for the Persian revenue. Cf. Nehemiah 5:4. See Rawlinson’s Ancient Monarchies, vol. III., pp. 421–423.

‘Besides money payments ‘a payment … had to be made in kind, each province being required to furnish that commodity, or those commodities, for which it was most celebrated.… While the claims of the crown upon its subjects were definite and could not be exceeded, the satrap was at liberty to make any exactions that he pleased beyond them.… Like a Roman proconsul, he was to pay himself out of the pockets of his subjects; and, like that class of persons, he took care to pay himself highly.’

dominion] R.V. authority. Cf. Deuteronomy 28:33, ‘The fruit of thy ground, and all thy labours shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up.’ Isaiah 26:13, ‘O Lord our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us.’

we are in great distress] We must remember that this language of complaint at the severity of the foreign rule and exactions is not the utterance of Nehemiah the king’s minister. This portion of the book is not Nehemiah’s writing. The words are spoken not by Nehemiah but by Ezra, or by the Levites. The contents of chap. 5 show that the effects of the foreign taxation upon the condition of the middle and lower classes were felt very acutely.

And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it.
38. Chap. Nehemiah 10:1 in Heb.; so Luther. The A.V. and R.V. follow the division of the Vulg. and LXX.

And because of all this] R.V. And yet for all this. R.V. marg. ‘Or, because of’. The relation of this sentence to the preceding confession is not certain. This uncertainty has given rise to the doubt whether chap. 9 should not have closed at Nehemiah 9:37. The English translation treats the verse as the concluding sentence of the Confession. The A.V. rendering ‘And because of all this’ refers back to the whole summary of Israelite history (7–37), i.e. ‘because of Jehovah’s mercy in spite of our disobedience.’ The R.V. rendering ‘And yet for all this’ refers especially to the concluding words, describing the sorrows and afflictions which had come upon the people, i.e. ‘And yet in spite of all this oppression our faith in God’s mercy is unshaken, and in proof thereof we sign the covenant.’ This explanation, which is preferable, seems to derive support from other passages where the same prep. and pron. occur. Cf. Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 9:12, ‘For all this his anger is not turned away.’ Job 1:22, ‘In all this Job sinned not.’

The view that the verse resumes the narrative of Nehemiah 9:1-5 is very improbable on account of the use of the 1st pers. plur., which has not been employed in this section (chaps. 8 and 9).

The Massoretic division into chapters, which begins chap. 10 with this verse, severs the connexion with the previous verses. It was perhaps considered that a more considerable break should be introduced between the conclusion of the Confession and the signing of the Covenant. The Massoretes regarded the present verse as Nehemiah’s preface to the new section.

sure] R.V. marg. ‘Or, faithful’. The words ‘a sure covenant’ render the Hebrew ‘’emanah,’ which elsewhere in the O. T. is only found in Nehemiah 11:23, ‘a settled provision’ (marg. ‘a sure ordinance’). The regular phrase for ‘making’ (lit. ‘cutting’) a covenant (cf. Nehemiah 9:8) occurs; and there can be no doubt of its meaning here. LXX. διατιθέμεθα πίστιν. Vulg. ‘percutimus foedus.’ The Covenant is not between Ezra and the people, but between the people and Jehovah.

our princes, Levites, and priests] R.V. our princes, our Levites, and our priests. The position of the Levites between the ‘princes’ and the ‘priests’ deserves notice, as it illustrates the prominence of the Levites in the movement.

seal unto it] R.V. marg. ‘Or, are at the sealing’. The A.V. rendering suggests the idea of a seal being affixed by each of the chief representatives. But the meaning is rather that the document having been prepared and rendered official by the addition of the seal, the leaders of the people were ‘upon’ the sealed writing, viz. they either appended signatures as witnesses, or made marks to endorse the document and to testify to their approval. In many of the Assyrian tablets, recording business transactions, the marks of the thumb-nails of the witnesses still attest the fact of their presence and approbation.

The National confession (Nehemiah 9:5-38) is thus brought to a conclusion in Nehemiah 9:38 as abruptly as it was begun in Nehemiah 9:5. It consists of four portions, (1) Nehemiah 9:5, the opening ascription; (2) 6–31, the summary of Israel’s religious history; (3) 32–37, the prayer of deprecation and submission; (4) 38, the announcement of the national covenant. This strikingly practical termination of the Confession is very characteristic of the movement headed by Ezra and Nehemiah. Repentance is to take shape in immediate action.

The summary of past history should be compared with that in Psalms 105, 106, 135, 136. It is expressed for the most part in general terms. The only individuals of the chosen people mentioned by name are Abram (Nehemiah 9:7), and Moses (Nehemiah 9:14); but the events recorded in the Pentateuch which are here alluded to are numerous—(1) the call of Abram from Ur; (2) the change of name to Abraham; (3) the covenant with Abraham; (4) the overthrow of Pharaoh and the crossing of the Red Sea; (5) the pillar of cloud and fire; (6) the giving of the law on Mt Sinai; (7) manna; (8) water from the rock; (9) the golden calf; (10) the defeat of Sihon and Og. The possession of the land (Nehemiah 9:24-25) and the sending of the judges (Nehemiah 9:27) are mentioned, but with much less definiteness.

It is strange that we have no mention of Joshua, Samuel, David or Solomon. But very probably the reason of the omission is that the contents of the Pentateuch in the age of Nehemiah were alone regarded as sacred Scripture. Reference to subsequent events and later names would not carry the same weight. These would not be so familiar to the people, and would not carry with them the authority of Divine teaching which already belonged to the ‘Law.’

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