Nehemiah 8:1-9:23

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Nehemiah 8


The wall was finished in just 52 days. The wall was completed on Sept. 21, 444 B.C. Chapter 8 begins less than a week later.


Nehemiah 8:1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street [i.e. in the open square] that was before the water gate [i.e. in front of the water gate]; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring [i.e. to bring out, to put before them] the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.


By this time, Ezra had been in Jerusalem for 14 years.


Nehemiah 8:2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation [i.e. before the assembly] both of men and women, and all [i.e. all (the children)] that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.


8:2 – (RSB) the first day of the seventh month, The time of the Feast of Trumpets, Sept. 27, 444 B.C. . . .


This was just six days after the wall was completed.


Nehemiah 8:3 And he read therein [i.e. he read from it] before the street [i.e. in the open square] that was before the water gate [i.e. in front of the water gate] from the morning until midday [i.e. from daybreak till noon], before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.


Nehemiah 8:4 And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood [i.e. upon a wooden platform], which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.


8:4 – (RSB) This is the first mention of a pulpit, or podium, in the Bible; it was strong enough to support Ezra and 13 others,


Nehemiah 8:5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above [i.e. he was standing above] all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:


8:5-6 – (RSB) The people often stood as a sign of reverence and humility (l Sam. 1: 26; 1 Kings 8:22; Luke 18:11 , 13), lifting up their hands, A symbol of receiving God’s blessing, faces to the ground in worship and adoration.


I Samuel 1:26 And she [i.e. Hannah] said [i.e. to Eli], Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.


I Kings 8:22 And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven.


Luke 18:10-1310 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican [i.e. a tax collector]. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican [i.e. tax collector], standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner [i.e. God be propitiated toward me the sinner].


Standing while praying was common.


Nehemiah 8:6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands [i.e. while lifting up their hands]: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.


Nehemiah 8:7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused [i.e. helped] the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.


Nehemiah 8:8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them [i.e. helped (them)] to understand the reading.


8:7-8 – (RSB) The reading of the law was interspersed with explanation; indeed, the law was also translated from Hebrew into Aramaic, the only language some of the people may have understood (cf. 13:24).


Nehemiah 13:24 And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people.


Nehemiah 8:9 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha [i.e. who was the governor], and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.


8:9 – (RSB) Conviction of sin caused the people to weep, appropriate to the Day of Atonement (on the tenth day of the month) but not to the Feast of Trumpets and the celebration of the completion of the wall.


Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry [i.e. do not sorrow, do not be grieved]; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.


8:10 – (RSB) The people sorrowed because they had not obeyed the law; they rejoiced that they could now understand it and obey it.


Nehemiah 8:11 So the Levites stilled all the people [i.e. calmed all the people, quieted all the people], saying, Hold your peace [i.e. be quiet, be still], for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.


Nehemiah 8:12 And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions [i.e. portions of food], and to make great mirth [i.e. to rejoice greatly], because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.


Nehemiah 8:13 And on the second day [i.e. the second day of the month] were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people [i.e. the heads of all the families], the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law [i.e. in order to understand the words of the law].


Nehemiah 8:14 And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths [i.e. in temporary shelters] in the feast of the seventh month:


Nehemiah 8:15 And that they should publish [i.e. announce] and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount [i.e. unto the mountain], and fetch [i.e. bring] olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees [i.e. of leafy trees], to make booths [i.e. temporary shelters], as it is written.


Nehemiah 8:16 So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths [i.e. temporary shelters], every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts [i.e. in their courtyards], and in the courts [i.e. in the courtyards] of the house of God, and in the street [i.e. in the open square] of the water gate, and in the street [i.e. in the open square] of the gate of Ephraim.


Nehemiah 8:17 And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths [i.e. made temporary shelters], and sat under the booths [i.e. sat under the temporary shelters]: for since the days of Jeshua [i.e. Joshua] the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.


Nehemiah 8:18 Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day [i.e. of the feast of trumpets], he [i.e. Ezra] read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn [i.e. sacred] assembly, according unto the manner [i.e. according to the ordinance, according to the (prescribed) manner].


8:13-18 – (RSB) Further study of the law revealed that during the Feast of Tabernacles . . . everybody was to dwell in booths; as a result, preparations for that time of celebration were ordered. . . .


Ryrie note on Leviticus 23:34-43 – The [feast] . . . of tabernacles (or booths), . . . was seven days in length and concluded with a holy convocation (v. 36). During that week, the people lived in booths or huts made of boughs . . ., commemorating God’s provision for them in bringing them out of Egypt and through the wilderness (v. 43). The sacrifices offered during this time amounted to 189 animals. . . . It also celebrated the autumn harvest of fruits and olives . . ., and, according to Zech. 14:16, it will be celebrated during the Millennium.


The Feast of Tabernacles would not be celebrated until the 15th to the 22nd day of the month. Since the people learned about this on the 2nd of the month, the people would begin in just two weeks; so, they had time to prepare for it.

To summarize the seventh month:

Feast of trumpets - days 1-7

Solemn assembly - day 8

Day of atonement - day 10

Feast of tabernacles - days 15-22

Nehemiah 9


Nehemiah 9:1 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 [i.e. wearing sackcloth, and with dust on their heads].


9:1 – (RSB) Two days after the conclusion of the Feast of Tabernacles, the people began to acknowledge their sins before God.


(RSB) sackclothes. A sign of mourning. . . .


This is 30 days after the completion of the wall.


Nehemiah 9:2 And the seed of Israel [i.e. those of Israelite descent] separated themselves from all strangers [i.e. from all foreigners], and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.


Nehemiah 9:3 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.


9:3 – (RSB) one fourth part of the day. Three daylight hours.


Nehemiah 9:4 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.


9:5-38 – (RSB) Ezra’s prayer began with an acknowledgment of God’s majesty (v. 6) and continued with a recital of the major points of Israel’s history: the Abrahamic covenant (vv. 7-8 . . .), the events of the Exodus from Egypt and the years of wandering in the wilderness (vv. 9-23), and the conquest of Canaan and subsequent backsliding (vv. 24-31.) It concluded with a confession of sin (vv. 32-37) and a commitment to keep God’s laws (v. 38).


Nehemiah 9:5 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 [i.e. may it be exalted] above all blessing and praise.

Ezra’s prayer begins with –

An acknowledgment of God’s majesty (v. 6)


Nehemiah 9:6 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 [i.e. and everything on it], the seas, and all that is therein [i.e. the seas, and all that is in them], and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee [i.e. the host of heaven (i.e. angels) worship You].


Ezra’s prayer continues with a recital of the major points of Israel’s history. There is –

An acknowledgment of the Abrahamic covenant (vv. 7-8)


Nehemiah 9:7 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;


Nehemiah 9:8 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 [i.e. to Abraham’s descendants], and hast performed thy words; for thou art righteous:

Then there is –

An acknowledgment of the events of the Exodus from Egypt and the years of wandering in the wilderness (vv. 9-23)


Nehemiah 9:9 And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea;


Nehemiah 9:10 And shewedst signs and wonders upon Pharaoh [i.e. against Pharaoh], and on all his servants [i.e. against all his servants], and on all the people of his land [i.e. against all the people of his land]: for thou knewest that they [i.e. the Egyptians] dealt proudly [i.e. acted proudly, acted arrogantly] against them [i.e. against the Israelites]. So didst thou get thee a name, as it is this day [i.e. You made a name for Yourself which remains to this day].


Nehemiah 9:11 And thou didst divide the sea [i.e. the Red 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 [i.e. into the depths], as a stone into the mighty waters.


Nehemiah 9:12 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 [i.e. in which they should go].


Nehemiah 9:13 Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them [i.e. spoke with the Israelites] from heaven, and gavest them right judgments [i.e. gave the Israelites just ordinances], and true laws, good statutes and commandments:


Nehemiah 9:14 And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:


Nehemiah 9:15 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 [i.e. told them] that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.


Nehemiah 9:16 But they and our fathers dealt proudly [i.e. acted proudly, acted arrogantly], and hardened their necks [i.e. became stiff-necked (or stubborn)], and hearkened not to thy commandments [i.e. did not heed (or did not obey) Your commandments],


Nehemiah 9:17 And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders [i.e. Your miracles] that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks [i.e. became stiff-necked (or stubborn)], and in their rebellion appointed a captain [i.e. a leader] to return to their bondage [i.e. to their slavery in Egypt]: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness [i.e. abundant in kindness, abounding in kindness], and forsookest them not [i.e. and did not desert (or forsake) them].


Nehemiah 9:18 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 [i.e. and had committed great blasphemies];


Nehemiah 9:19 Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not [i.e. did not forsake them] 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 [i.e. in which] they should go.


Nehemiah 9:20 Thou gavest also thy good spirit [i.e. Your good (Holy) Spirit] to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.


Nehemiah 9:21 Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old [i.e. their clothes did not wear out], and their feet swelled not [i.e. did not swell].


Nehemiah 9:22 Moreover thou gavest them kingdoms and nations, and didst divide them into corners [i.e. into districts]: so they possessed the land of Sihon, and the land of the king of Heshbon [i.e. they possessed the land of Sihon, king of Heshbon], and the land of Og king of Bashan.


Nehemiah 9:23 Their children also multipliedst thou [i.e. You multiplied their children] as the stars of heaven, and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers [i.e. and brought them into the land which You had told their fathers], that they should go in to possess it.


This sermon is the 4th part of the series, Study of Nehemiah. Other sermons in this series are: