Nehemiah 9:29
And testified against them, that you might bring them again to your law: yet they dealt proudly, and listened not to your commandments, but sinned against your judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear.
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9:4-38 The summary of their prayers we have here upon record. Much more, no doubt, was said. Whatever ability we have to do any thing in the way of duty, we are to serve and glorify God according to the utmost of it. When confessing our sins, it is good to notice the mercies of God, that we may be the more humbled and ashamed. The dealings of the Lord showed his goodness and long-suffering, and the hardness of their hearts. The testimony of the prophets was the testimony of the Spirit in the prophets, and it was the Spirit of Christ in them. They spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and what they said is to be received accordingly. The result was, wonder at the Lord's mercies, and the feeling that sin had brought them to their present state, from which nothing but unmerited love could rescue them. And is not their conduct a specimen of human nature? Let us study the history of our land, and our own history. Let us recollect our advantages from childhood, and ask what were our first returns? Let us frequently do so, that we may be kept humble, thankful, and watchful. Let all remember that pride and obstinacy are sins which ruin the soul. But it is often as hard to persuade the broken-hearted to hope, as formerly it was to bring them to fear. Is this thy case? Behold this sweet promise, A God ready to pardon! Instead of keeping away from God under a sense of unworthiness, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. He is a God ready to pardon.Thou gavest them saviours - See Judges 3:15 etc. 22. Moreover thou gavest them kingdoms and nations—that is, put them in possession of a rich country, of an extensive territory, which had been once occupied by a variety of princes and people.

and didst divide them into corners—that is, into tribes. The propriety of the expression arose from the various districts touching at points or angles on each other.

the land of Sihon, and the land of the king of Heshbon—Heshbon being the capital city, the passage should run thus: "the land of Sihon or the land of the king of Heshbon."

Which if a man do, he shall live in them; of which see on Leviticus 18:5 Ezekiel 20:11 Romans 10:5 Galatians 3:12.

Withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, i.e. would not submit to thy yoke, like stubborn oxen. And testifiedst against them,.... By sending prophets to them, to admonish them of their sins, and remind them of their duty:

that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law; to regard it, and walk according it:

yet they dealt proudly; with an haughty air rejected the counsel of God:

and hearkened not unto thy commandments; yielded not obedience to them:

but sinned against thy judgments; transgressed his laws, which were so just, righteous, reasonable, and equitable:

which if a man do, he shall live in them; or by them, in the land of Canaan, see Leviticus 18:5,

and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear; like oxen, that wriggle and struggle, and draw back, and will not admit the yoke upon them.

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 {g} withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not {h} hear.

(g) Which is a sign taken from oxen that shrink at the yoke or burden in Zec 7:11.

(h) When you admonished them by your prophets.

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.Verse 29. - Withdrew the shoulder. Compare Hosea 4:16 ("Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer") and Zechariah 7:11. The metaphor is taken from the action of a beast of burthen which, when required to draw, shrinks from the yoke and starts back. The Lord also fulfilled His promise of giving the land of Canaan to the Israelites notwithstanding their rebelliousness. Nehemiah 9:22 "And Thou gavest them kingdoms and nations, and didst divide them by boundaries; and they took possession of the land of Sihon, both the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan. Nehemiah 9:23 And Thou didst multiply their children as the stars of heaven, and bring them into the land which Thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess. Nehemiah 9:24 And 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, both their kings and the people of the land, to do with them according to their pleasure. Nehemiah 9:25 And they took fortified cities, and a fat land, and took possession of houses filled with all kinds of goods, wells digged, vineyards and olive gardens, and fruit trees in abundance; and they ate and became fat, and delighted themselves in Thy great goodness." לפאה ותּחלקם is variously explained. Aben Ezra and others refer the suffix to the Canaanites, whom God scattered in multos angulos or varias mundi partes. Others refer it to the Israelites. According to this view, Ramb. says: fecisti eos per omnes terrae Cananaeae angulos habitare; and Gusset.: distribuisti eis terram usque ad angulum h. l. nulla vel minima regionum particula excepta. But חלק, Piel, generally means the dividing of things; and when used of persons, as in Genesis 49:7; Lamentations 4:16, to divide, to scatter, sensu malo, which is here inapplicable to the Israelites. חלק signifies to divide, especially by lot, and is used chiefly concerning the partition of the land of Canaan, in Kal, Joshua 14:5; Joshua 18:2, and in Piel, Joshua 13:7; Joshua 18:10; Joshua 19:51. The word פּאה also frequently occurs in Joshua, in the sense of a corner or side lying towards a certain quarter of the heavens, and of a boundary; comp. Joshua 15:5; Joshua 18:12, Joshua 18:14-15, Joshua 18:20. According to this, Bertheau rightly takes the words to say: Thou didst divide them (the kingdoms and nations, i.e., the land of these nations) according to sides or boundaries, i.e., according to certain definite limits. Sihon is the king of Heshbon (Deuteronomy 1:4), and the ו before ח את־ארץ מ is not to be expunged as a gloss, but regarded as explicative: and, indeed, both the land of the king of Heshbon and the land of Og. The conquest of these two kingdoms is named first, because it preceded the possession of Canaan (Numbers 21:21-35). The increase of the children of the Israelites is next mentioned, Nehemiah 9:23; the fathers having fallen in the wilderness, and only their children coming into the land of Canaan. The numbering of the people in the plains of Moab (Numbers 26) is here alluded to, when the new generation was found to be twice as numerous as that which marched out of Egypt; while the words לרשׁת לבוא, here and in Nehemiah 9:15, are similar to Deuteronomy 1:10. The taking possession of Canaan is spoken of in Nehemiah 9:24. ותּכנע recalls Deuteronomy 9:3. כּרצונם, according to their pleasure, comp. Daniel 8:4. Fortified cities, as Jericho and Ai.
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