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  • ADAM CLARKE'S BIBLE COMMENTARY -
    NEHEMIAH 1

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    THE BOOK OF NEHEMIAH

    Chronological Notes relative to this Book Year from the Creation, according to Archbishop Usher, whose system of chronology is the most generally received, 3558.
    - Year before the birth of Christ, 442.
    - Year before the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 446.
    - Year of the Julian period, 4268.
    - Year since the flood of Noah, according to the English Bible, 1902.
    - Year of the Cali Yuga, or Indian era of the Deluge, 2656.
    - Year from the vocation of Abram, 1476.
    - Year from the destruction of Troy, 739.
    - This we collect from three passages in Dionysius of Halicarnassus, (who flourished in the Augustan age,) which state that an interval of four hundred and thirty-two years elapsed from the destruction of Troy to the building of Rome. - Year from the foundation of Solomon's temple, 565.
    - Year since the division of Solomon's monarchy into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, 529.
    - Year of the era of Iphitus, king of Elis, who reestablished the Olympic games, three hundred and thirty-eight years after their institution by Hercules, or about eight hundred and eighty-four years before the commencement of the Christian era, 439.
    - This epoch is famous in chronological history, as every thing previous to it seems involved in fabulous obscurity. - Year since Coroebus won the prize at Olympia, a town of Elis in Peloponnesus, (being the twenty-eighth Olympiad after their re-establishment by Iphitus,) 331.
    - Third year of the eighty-third Olympiad. - The epoch of the Olympiads commenced according to the accurate and learned computations of some of the moderns, exactly seven hundred and seventy-six years before the Christian era, in the year of the Julian period 3938, and twenty-three years before the building of Rome. N. B. The Olympic games were celebrated at the time of the full moon which immediately followed the day of the summer solstice; therefore the Olympiads were not of equal length, because the time of the full moon differs about eleven days every year; and for that reason the Olympiads sometimes began the next day after the solstice, and at other times four weeks after. - Year of the Varronian or generally received era of the building of Rome, 308. This computation was used by the Rom. in the celebration of their secular games. - Year from the building of Rome, according to Cato and the Fasti Consulares, 307. Dionysius of Halicarnassus follows this account in his Roman Antiquities. - Year from the building of Rome, according to Polybius the historian, (a native of Megalopolis in Peloponnesus, and son of Lycortas,) 306.
    - Year from the building of Rome, according to Fabius Pictor, (the first Roman who wrote a history of his own country, from the age of Romulus to the year of Rome 536,) 302.- Year of the era of Nabonassar, a king of Babylon after the division of the Assyrian monarchy, 302.
    - Year since the destruction of the kingdom of Israel by Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria, 276.
    - Year from the destruction of Solomon's temple by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, 143.
    - Year since the publication of the famous edict of Cyrus, king of Persia, empowering the Jews to rebuild their temple, 90. The commencement of this epoch was synchronical with the termination of the seventy years during which the Jews were under the dominion of the Babylonians. - Year since the expulsion of the Tarquins from Rome, which put an end to the regal government of the Romans, 63. The consular government immediately followed the expulsion of the Tarquins. - Year before the celebrated Peloponnesian war, 16. This war began on the seventh of May, four hundred and thirty-one years before the Christian era; and continued twenty-seven years between the Athenians and the inhabitants of Peloponnesus, with their allies. - Year before the commencement of the era of the Seleucidae, 134. This era was named after Seleucus, one of the captains of Alexander the Great, surnamed Nicator, or The Conqueror. The year in which he conquered Babylon (viz. 312 B. C.) is called the first year of this era. - Year before the formation of the famous Achaean league, 165.
    - Year before the commencement of the first Punic war, 182. The Arundelian marbles are said to have been composed in the first year of this war. - Year before the fall of the Macedonian empire, 278.
    - Year before the extinction of the reign of the Seleucidae in Syria, on the conquest of that country by Pompey, 381.
    - Year before the commencement of the era of the Roman emperors, 415. The year in which the famous battle of Actium was fought is the first year of this era. - Year of Archidamus, king of Lacedaemon, and of the family of the Proclidae or Eurypontidae, 24.
    - Year of Plistoanax, king of Lacedaemon, and of the family of the Eurystheuidae or Agidae, 21. This king was general of the Lacedaemonian armies in the Peloponnesian war. N. B. The kings of the Lacedaemonians of the families of the Proclidae and the Eurysthenidae sat on the throne together for several hundred years; viz., from 1102 B. C. to about 200 B. C. - Year of Perdiccas II. the eleventh king of Macedon, 9.- Year of Artaxerxes, surnamed Macrochir (makroceir) or Longimanus because his arms were so long that when standing erect, his hands reached down to his knees, 20.
    - Roman Consuls, T. Quintius Capitolinus the fourth time, and Agrippa Furius. During this consulship the AEqui and Volsci came near to the gates of Rome, and were defeated. Eminent men who were contemporary with Nehemiah; upon the supposition that his birth happened about 500 B. C., and his death about 420 B. C. Acron, a physician of Agrigentum; flourished 459 B. C. - AEschylus, the tragic poet of Athens; born, 525 B. C., died 456 B. C., at the age of 69.
    - Alcidamus the philosopher; flourished 424 B. C. - Anaxagoras, a Clazomenian philosopher; born B. C. 500., died 428 B. C., at the age of 72.
    - Aristarchus the tragic poet of Tegea in Areadia; flourished about 454 B.C. - Aristides, the Athenian; flourished about 480 B. C. - Aristophanes, the comic poet; said to have flourished about 434 B. C. - L. Furius Camillus, celebrated Roman; born 445 B. C., and died 365 B. C., aged 80, after he had been five times dictator, once censor, three times interrex, twice a military tribune, and obtained four triumphs. - Charandas, who gave laws to the people of Thurium; died 446 B. C. - Charon, a historian of Lampsacus; flourished about 479 B. C. - L. Q. Cincinnatus, a celebrated Roman; flourished about 460 B. C. - Cossus, a Roman who killed Volumnius, king of Veii, and obtained the Spolia Opima, A. U. C. 317, B. C. 437.
    - Cratinus, the comic writer; born 528 B. C., died 431 B.C., at the age of 97.
    - Democritus, the philosopher; born 470 B. C., died 361 B. C., at the advanced age of 109.
    - Empedocles, a philosopher, poet, and historian, of Agrigentum in Sicily; flourished about 444 B. C. - Epicharmus, a poet and Pythagorean philosopher of Sicily, who, according to Aristotle and Pliny, added the two letters c and q to the Greek alphabet; flourished 440 B. C., and died in the 90th year of his age. - Euctemon, the astronomer; flourished about 431 B. C. - Eupolis, a comic poet of Athens; flourished about 435 B. C. - Euripides, the tragic poet, born at Salamis the day on which the army of Xerxes was defeated by the Greeks; torn to pieces by dogs, 407 B. C., in the 73d year of his age. - Georgias, a celebrated sophist and orator; born 508 B. C., died 400 B. C., at the advanced age of 108.
    - Hellanicus, the Greek historian; born at Mitylene, 496 B. C., died 411 B. C., in the 85th year of his age. - Herodicus, a physician surnamed Gymnastic; flourished 443 B. C. - Herodotus, a celebrated historian of Halicarnassus; born 484 B. C., read his history to the council of Athens, and received public honours, in the 39th year of his age, 445 B. C. - Hippocrates, a celebrated physician of Cos; born 460 B.C., died 361 B. C., nearly 100 years of age. - Isoarates, the orator; born 437 B. C., died about 338 B. C., aged 99.
    - Leocrates, an Athenian general; flourished about 460 B. C. - Lysias, the orator; born 459 B. C., died 378 B. C. - Melissus, the Samian philosopher; flourished about 440 B. C. - Meton, the astrologer and mathematician; flourished about 432 B.C. - Peticles, the celebrated minister of Athens; born 499 B. C., died of the plague about 429 B. C. - Phidias, a celebrated statuary of Athens; died 432 B. C. - Pindar, a celebrated lyric poet of Thebes; born 521 B.C., died 435 B. C., at the age of 86.
    - Plato, the Greek poet, called the prince of the middle comedy; flourished about 454 B. C. - Protagoras, a Greek philosopher; died at a very advanced age, about 400 B. C. - Socrates, one of the most celebrated philosophers of all antiquity; born 470 B. C., died 400 B. C., aged 70.
    - Sophocles, a celebrated tragic poet of Athens, educated in the school of AEschylus; born 497 B. C., died 406 B. C., at the age of 91.
    - Thucydides, a celebrated Greek historian; born at Athens 471 B. C., died 391 B. C., in his 80th year. - Xenophon, the celebrated general, historian, and philosopher; born 449 B. C., died 359 B.C., aged 90.
    - Zeuxis, a celebrated painter; flourished about 468 B. C.

    CHAPTER I

    Account of Nehemiah, 1. His inquiry about the Jews that had returned from their captivity, and concerning the state of Jerusalem, of which he receives the most discouraging information, 2, 3. He is greatly affected; fasts and prays, 4. His prayer and confession to God, 5-11.

    NOTES ON CHAP. I

    Verse 1. "The words of Nehemiah" - That this book was compiled out of the journal or memoranda made by Nehemiah himself, there can be no doubt: but that he was not the compiler is evident from several passages in the work it. self. As it is written consecutively as one book with Ezra, many have supposed that this latter was the author: but whoever compares the style of each, in the Hebrew, will soon be convinced that this is not correct; the style is so very different, that they could not possibly be the work of the same person.

    It is doubtful even whether the Nehemiah who is mentioned Ezra ii. 2, who came to Jerusalem with ZerubbHebel, be the same with him who is the reputed author of this book. By the computation of the best chronologists, ZerubbHebel came to Jerusalem in A. M. 3468; and Nehemiah, who is here mentioned, did not come before the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, which falls in with A. M. 3558, ninety years after: and as his account here is carried down to A. M. 3570, nearly twenty years later, he must at his death have been about a hundred and thirty, allowing him to have been only twenty years old at the time that ZerubbHebel went up to Jerusalem. This is by no means likely, as this would make him the king's cupbearer when he was upwards of a hundred years of age! It seems, therefore, evident that the Nehemiah of Ezra cannot be the same with the reputed author of this book, and the cup-bearer of the Persian king.

    "Son of Hachaliah" - Of what tribe or lineage he was, we cannot tell: this is all we know of his parentage. Some suppose he was a priest, and of the house of Aaron, on the authority of 2 Mac. i. 18, 21; but this is but slender evidence. It is likely he was of a very eminent family, if not of the blood royal of Judah, as only persons of eminence could be placed in the office which he sustained in the Persian court.

    "The month Chisleu" - Answering to a part of our November and December.

    "Twentieth year" - That is, of Artaxerxes, A. M. 3558, B. C. 446.

    "Shushan the palace" - The ancient city of Susa; called in Persian Shuster: the winter residence of the Persian kings.

    Verse 2. "I asked them concerning the Jews" - Josephus gives a probable account of this business: "Nehemiah, being somewhere out of Susa, seeing some strangers, and hearing them converse in the Hebrew tongue, he went near; and finding they were Jews from Jerusalem, he asked them how matters went with their brethren in that city, and what was their state?" And the answer they gave him is, in substance, that recorded in the text; though with several aggravations in Josephus. - Joseph. Ant. lib. xi., c. 5.

    Verse 3. "The wall of Jerusalem also is broken down" - This must refer to the walls, which had been rebuilt after the people returned from their captivity: for it could not refer to the walls which were broken down and levelled with the dust by Nebuchadnezzar; for to hear of this could be no news to Nehemiah.

    Verse 4. "And mourned certain days" - From the month Chisleu to the month Nisan; about four months from the time he received the above information, till the time that Artaxerxes noticed his grief, chap. ii. 1. All this time he probably spent in supplication to God; waiting for a favourable opening in the Divine providence. Every good work is not to be undertaken hastily; prayer and watchfulness are necessary to its completion. Many good works have been ruined by making haste.

    Verse 5. "Lord God of heaven" - What was, before the captivity, Jehovah, God of hosts or armies.

    "Great" - Able to do mighty things. Terrible-able to inflict the heaviest judgments.

    Verse 6. "Let thine ear" - Hear what we say and confess. Thine eyes open-see what we suffer.

    Verse 7. "Have not kept thy commandments" - The moral precepts by which our lives should be regulated.

    "Statutes" - What refers to the rites and ceremonies of thy religion.

    "Judgments" - The precepts of justice relative to our conduct to each other.

    Verse 8. "Thy servant Moses" - See the parallel places in the margin, and the notes there. Though in an enemy's country, and far from the ordinances of God, Nehemiah did not forget the law: he read his Bible well, and quotes correctly.

    Verse 11. "Mercy in the sight of this man." - Favour before the king, Ahasuerus. He seems then to have been giving him the cup.

    "For I was the king's cup-bearer." - The king's butler, (the Persians call him saky,) which gave him the opportunity of being frequently with the king; and to be in such a place of trust, he must be in the king's confidence. No Eastern potentate would have a cup-bearer with whom he could not trust his life, poison being frequently administered in this way. This verse seems to have been a mental prayer, which Nehemiah now put up as he was delivering the cup into the king's hand.

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