Nehemiah 5:14 - 7:73

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Nehemiah 5



The people were exhausted, but in spite of this the work of rebuilding the wall continued.


In spite of threats to attack and kill the Jewish people, especially the ones working on the wall, the work of rebuilding the wall continued.


In the meanwhile Nehemiah had to deal with problems among the Jews themselves.


The people faced a food shortage. They said they needed to get grain for food to keep themselves and their families alive (5:2). The work on the wall hindered their tending their crops. And this crop failure was called a famine.


Others obtained grain by buying it from others, they had to mortgage their fields, vineyards, and homes to get it (5:3).


Still others borrowed money from their fellow Jews in order to pay property taxes to King Artaxerxes (5:4) and were charged exorbitant interest rates by their fellow Jews. To repay those who loaned them money, they were having to sell their children into slavery (5:5). This left the people very discouraged.


Nehemiah had to deal with all these problems, but none of them took God by surprise. God had placed Nehemiah in charge for a time such as this.

Nehemiah’s service as governor – 5:14-19


(BKC) Presumably sometime while the city wall was being rebuilt, Nehemiah was appointed governor of Judah. This was the highest position of leadership in the nation at that time.


(BKC) Later, as Nehemiah wrote this historical account of his years in Jerusalem, he evidently inserted these observations (vv. 14-19) about his perspective on that leadership position. Apparently he included these verses here in the narrative because of their relationship to the events described in verses 1-13.


(BKC) One of the “fringe benefits” of being governor was a food allowance, granted him by the Persian officials, perhaps for official entertaining of guests. However, Nehemiah did not take advantage of what was rightfully his. In providing food for many Jews and in entertaining dignitaries from other nations (v. 17), he served food and wine out of his personal resources.


Nehemiah 5:14 Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor [i.e. neither have I nor my brothers eaten the foot allotted to the governor].


5:14 – (RSB) During the entire 12 years of his first term as governor, Nehemiah did not take any salary or allowance from the people as former Persian governors had done.


Nehemiah 5:15 But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people [i.e. laid burdens on the people], and had taken of them [i.e. had taken from the people] bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bare rule [i.e. even the governors’ servants bore rule] over the people: but so did not I [i.e. but I did not], because of the fear of God.


5:15 – (RSB) forty shekels = one lb (of silver). . . . On Monday, March 27, the price of silver per ounce was $17.96. This means that a pound of silver would be worth about $287.00 each per year.


Nehemiah 5:16 Yea, also I continued in the work of this wall [i.e. I continued this work on the wall], neither bought we any land: and all my servants were gathered thither unto the work [i.e. all my servants were gathered there for the work].


(BKC) As governor, Nehemiah could have loaned people money to pay their taxes, having them use their land as collateral. And then, when they could not pay back what they had borrowed, he could have applied the world’s standard and taken their land. He, along with other leaders in Judah, could have exploited the poor. But he did not acquire any land in this way, or by outright purchases. He was careful not to abuse his position as governor in any way, thereby jeopardizing the people’s respect for him. In fact he continued working right along with the people in the construction project. He did not hesitate to “get his hands dirty” in this important building program, and was never sidetracked by other interests. His motives were pure, and he never lost sight of God’s calling in his life. He was in Jerusalem to help the people, not exploit them. He was there to exemplify God’s Law, not violate it. He was there to rebuild the wall, not a personal empire.


Nehemiah 5:17 Moreover there were at my table an hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers [i.e. officials], beside those that came unto us from among the heathen that are about us [i.e. from the nations that are around us].


Nehemiah 5:18 Now that which was prepared for me daily was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls [i.e. birds, poultry] were prepared for me, and once in ten days store [i.e. every ten days an abundant supply] of all sorts of wine: yet for all this required not I the bread of the governor [i.e. I did not demand the food allotted to the governor], because the bondage was heavy [i.e. because the demands were heavy] upon this people.


5:18 – (RSB) Nehemiah set an unselfish example for all the people.


Nehemiah 5:19 Think upon me [i.e. remember me], my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people

Nehemiah 6


(BKC) The “wall opponents” again attempted to halt the work. This time they were more subtle; their sole object of attack was Nehemiah himself. By removing him from the scene or by at least destroying his credibility with the Jews, they reasoned that they might be able to defeat the work. Each of their three attacks on him was different, but each was designed to take his life or discredit his effectiveness as a leader.


Nehemiah 6:1 Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein [i.e. there were no breaks left in the wall]; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;)


Nehemiah 6:2 That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief [i.e. they were plotting (or scheming) to do me harm].


6:2 – (RSB) Because progress on the wall had lessened the danger of attack, Nehemiah’s enemies tried to lure him to the plain of Ono, 19 mi . . . N of Jerusalem, where they could more easily assassinate him or attack Jerusalem in his absence.


Nehemiah 6:3 And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease [i.e. stop], whilst I leave it, and come down to you?


Nehemiah 6:4 Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort [i.e. they asked me this four times]; and I answered them after the same manner [i.e. I gave them the same answer].


Nehemiah 6:5 Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner [i.e. in the same manner] the fifth time with an open letter in his hand;


Nehemiah 6:6 Wherein was written, It is reported among the heathen [i.e. among the nations], and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think [i.e. are planning] to rebel: for which cause thou buildest [i.e. therefore, you are rebuilding] the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words [i.e. according to these reports, according to these rumors].


6:5-6 – (RSB) Having failed to draw Nehemiah outside Jerusalem, Sanballat sent an open letter, which was either posted or read publicly, accusing Nehemiah of wanting to be king.


Nehemiah 6:7 And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah [i.e. You have also appointed prophets to proclaim at Jerusalem concerning you, “A king is in Judah”]: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words [i.e. This report will get back to the king (i.e. to Artaxerxes)]. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together [i.e. so, let’s meet together].


6:7 – (RSB) Perhaps Malachi was prophesying at this time, and Sanballat deliberately twisted his message about Messiah the King and applied it to Nehemiah.


Nehemiah 6:8 Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest [i.e. nothing like things you are saying are being done], but thou feignest them out of thine own heart [i.e. but you have invented them out of your own heart].


Nehemiah 6:9 For they all made us afraid [i.e. were trying to make us afraid], saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.


6:10-12 – (RSB) Shemaiah claimed to have a special revelation about a plot against Nehemiah’s life and suggested that the Holy Place in the Temple would be the only safe place for Nehemiah. But the suggestion unmasked Shemaiah’s treachery, for only the priests could enter the Holy Place (Num. 18:7). If Nehemiah had done so, his testimony would have been ruined.


According to Nehemiah 10:8 , Shemaiah was a priest.


The Lord said to Aaron in –

Numbers 18:7 Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s office for every thing of the altar, and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest’s office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.


Nehemiah 6:10 Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up [i.e. who was a shut in, who was confined to his home]; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee [i.e. to kill you]; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee [i.e. indeed, they are coming to kill you at night].


Nehemiah 6:11 And I said, Should such a man as I flee [i.e. should a man like me flee]? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple [i.e. should someone like me go into the temple] to save his life? I will not go in.


Nehemiah 6:12 And, lo, I perceived [i.e. then I realized] that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced [i.e. uttered] this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.


Nehemiah 6:13 Therefore [i.e. for this reason] was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin [i.e. and commit sin by doing this], and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me [i.e. that they might discredit me].


Nehemiah 6:14 My God, think thou upon [i.e. remember] Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works [i.e. because of the things they have done], and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear [i.e. who were trying to intimidate (or frighten) me].


Nehemiah 6:15 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul [i.e. August-September], in fifty and two days.


6:15 – (RSB) To finish in 52 days was a tremendous accomplishment, and one that was recognized as due to the power of God (v. 16). Elul was Aug.-Sept. The wall was completed on Sept. 21, 444 B.C.


Nehemiah 6:16 And it came to pass [i.e. and it happened (or came about)], that when all our enemies heard thereof [i.e. about this], and all the heathen that were about us [i.e. the surrounding nations] saw these things, they were much cast down [i.e. disheartened] in their own eyes [i.e. they lost their self-confidence]: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God [i.e. that this work was done by our God].


Nehemiah 6:17 Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters unto Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them [i.e. many letters were exchanged between the nobles of Judah and Tobiah].


6:17 – (RSB) Both through his wife and his daughter-in-law, Tobiah had links with influential families in Jerusalem (cf. Ezra 2:5 for Arah and Neh. 3:4, 30 for Meshullam). Nehemiah had to face opposition within his own ranks!


Nehemiah 6:18 For there were many in Judah sworn unto him [i.e. bound by an oath to him [i.e. to Tobiah], who were under oath to him], because he [i.e. Tobiah] was the son in law of Shechaniah the son of Arah; and his [i.e. Tobiah’s] son Johanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.


(BKC) Tobiah’s father-in-law was Shechaniah son of Ara . . . and his daughter-in-law was the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah, who worked on two sections of the wall. . . . Many Jews were therefore loyalists to Tobiah, perhaps having trading contracts with him, and they kept telling Nehemiah good things about Tobiah. Yet Tobiah tried to intimidate the governor-builder with threatening letters.


Nehemiah 6:19 Also they reported his good deeds before me [i.e. they kept reporting his good deeds in my presence], and uttered [i.e. reported] my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear [i.e. to frighten me, to intimidate me].

Nehemiah 7


Nehemiah 7:1 Now it came to pass, when the wall was built [i.e. rebuilt], and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed,


7:1 – (RSB) doors. In the gates (cf. 6:1). porters and the singers and the Levites. Appointed to guard the gates (v. 3).


Nehemiah 7:2 That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace [i.e. fortress, citadel], charge over Jerusalem: for he [i.e. Hananiah] was a faithful man, and feared God above many.


7:2 – (RSB) the palace (or fortress), which protected the Temple.


Nehemiah 7:3 And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar them: and appoint watches of [i.e. appoint guards from among] the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch [i.e. one at his watch station], and every one to be over against his house [i.e. and another in front of his own house].


7:4-73 – (RSB) This record, probably stored in the Temple archives, is virtually the same as in Ezra 2 and was likely the basis for Nehemiah’s populating Jerusalem with those of pure ancestry (11:1).


Nehemiah 7:4 Now the city was large and great [i.e. spacious]: but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded [i.e. had not yet been rebuilt].


Nehemiah 7:5 And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein,


Nehemiah 7:6 These are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came again to Jerusalem and to Judah, every one unto his city;


Nehemiah 7:7 Who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number, I say, of the men of the people of Israel was this;


Nehemiah 7:8 The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two.

Nehemiah 7:9 The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two.

Nehemiah 7:10 The children of Arah, six hundred fifty and two.

Nehemiah 7:11 The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand and eight hundred and eighteen.

Nehemiah 7:12 The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.

Nehemiah 7:13 The children of Zattu, eight hundred forty and five.

Nehemiah 7:14 The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore.

Nehemiah 7:15 The children of Binnui, six hundred forty and eight.

Nehemiah 7:16 The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and eight.

Nehemiah 7:17 The children of Azgad, two thousand three hundred twenty and two.

Nehemiah 7:18 The children of Adonikam, six hundred threescore and seven.

Nehemiah 7:19 The children of Bigvai, two thousand threescore and seven.

Nehemiah 7:20 The children of Adin, six hundred fifty and five.

Nehemiah 7:21 The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight.

Nehemiah 7:22 The children of Hashum, three hundred twenty and eight.

Nehemiah 7:23 The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and four.

Nehemiah 7:24 The children of Hariph, an hundred and twelve.

Nehemiah 7:25 The children of Gibeon, ninety and five.

Nehemiah 7:26 The men of Bethlehem and Netophah, an hundred fourscore and eight.

Nehemiah 7:27 The men of Anathoth, an hundred twenty and eight.

Nehemiah 7:28 The men of Bethazmaveth, forty and two.

Nehemiah 7:29 The men of Kirjathjearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred forty and three.

Nehemiah 7:30 The men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred twenty and one.

Nehemiah 7:31 The men of Michmas, an hundred and twenty and two.

Nehemiah 7:32 The men of Bethel and Ai, an hundred twenty and three.

Nehemiah 7:33 The men of the other Nebo, fifty and two.

Nehemiah 7:34 The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.

Nehemiah 7:35 The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty.

Nehemiah 7:36 The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five.

Nehemiah 7:37 The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and one.

Nehemiah 7:38 The children of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and thirty.

Nehemiah 7:39 The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three.

Nehemiah 7:40 The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two.

Nehemiah 7:41 The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven.

Nehemiah 7:42 The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen.


Nehemiah 7:43 The Levites: the children of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, and of the children of Hodevah, seventy and four.


Nehemiah 7:44 The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred forty and eight.


Nehemiah 7:45 The porters [i.e. gatekeepers]: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, an hundred thirty and eight.


Nehemiah 7:46 The Nethinims [i.e. temple servants – some were Levites; others were descendants of the Gibeonites]: the children of Ziha, the children of Hashupha, the children of Tabbaoth,


Nehemiah 7:47 The children of Keros, the children of Sia, the children of Padon,

Nehemiah 7:48 The children of Lebana, the children of Hagaba, the children of Shalmai,

Nehemiah 7:49 The children of Hanan, the children of Giddel, the children of Gahar,

Nehemiah 7:50 The children of Reaiah, the children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda,

Nehemiah 7:51 The children of Gazzam, the children of Uzza, the children of Phaseah,

Nehemiah 7:52 The children of Besai, the children of Meunim, the children of Nephishesim,

Nehemiah 7:53 The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur,

Nehemiah 7:54 The children of Bazlith, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha,

Nehemiah 7:55 The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Tamah,

Nehemiah 7:56 The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha.

Nehemiah 7:57 The children of Solomon’s servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Perida,

Nehemiah 7:58 The children of Jaala, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel,

Nehemiah 7:59 The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Amon.

Nehemiah 7:60 All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon’s servants, were three hundred ninety and two.


Nehemiah 7:61 And these were they which went up also from Telmelah, Telharesha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer: but they could not shew their father’s house, nor their seed, whether they were of Israel.


Nehemiah 7:62 The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred forty and two.


Nehemiah 7:63 And of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai, which took one of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite to wife, and was called after their name.


Nehemiah 7:64 These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.


Nehemiah 7:65 And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim.


Nehemiah 7:66 The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore,

Nehemiah 7:67 Beside their manservants and their maidservants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women.

Nehemiah 7:68 Their horses, seven hundred thirty and six: their mules, two hundred forty and five:

Nehemiah 7:69 Their camels, four hundred thirty and five: six thousand seven hundred and twenty asses.

Nehemiah 7:70 And some of the chief of the fathers gave unto the work. The Tirshatha gave to the treasure a thousand drams of gold, fifty basons, five hundred and thirty priests’ garments.

7:70 – (RSB) a thousand drams of gold = 19 lb

Nehemiah 7:71 And some of the chief of the fathers gave to the treasure of the work twenty thousand drams of gold, and two thousand and two hundred pound of silver.

7:7l – (RSB) 20,000 drams of gold = 375 lb . . ., 2,000 pound of silver = 2,750 lb. . . .

Nehemiah 7:72 And that which the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand drams of gold, and two thousand pound of silver, and threescore and seven priests’ garments.

7:72 – (RSB) 2,000 pound of silver = 2,500 lb (1.25 tons . . .).

Nehemiah 7:73 So the priests, and the Levites, and the porters, and the singers, and some of the people, and the Nethinims, and all Israel, dwelt in their cities; and when the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities.


This sermon is the 3rd part of the series, Study of Nehemiah. Other sermons in this series are: