II Artaxerxes sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem, with a commission to build the wall, ver. 1-8. He comes thither, to the grief of his enemies, ver. 9-11. He secretly views the ruins of it, ver. 12-16. He informs the rulers of his commission, ver. 17, 18. Answers them that derided him, ver. 19, 20.
Verse 1. Nisan - Four months after he had heard those sad tidings. The reason of this long delay might be either that his turn of attending upon the king did not come 'till that time: or that 'till then he wanted a fit opportunity to move it to him.
Verse 2. Sad - His fasting joined with inward grief had made a sensible change in his countenance. Afraid - It was an unusual and ungrateful thing to come into the king of Persia's presence with any token of sorrow. And he feared a disappointment, because his request was great and invidious, and odious to most of the Persian courtiers.
Verse 3. Why should, &c. - All the grievances of the church, but especially its desolations, ought to be matter of grief to all good people, to all that have a concern for God's honour, and are of a public spirit.
Verse 4. Let, &c. - My sadness comes not from any disaffection to the king, for whom my hearty prayers are that he may live for ever; but from another cause. Sepulchres - Which by all nations are esteemed sacred and inviolable. He saith not a word of the temple as he spake before a Heathen king who cared for none of these things. I prayed - To direct my thoughts and words, and to incline the king's heart to grant my request.
Verse 6. The queen - Which is here noted, as an unusual thing; for commonly the kings of Persia dined alone, and perhaps because the queen expressed some kindness to him, and promoted his request. How long - This question shewed the king's affection to him, and that he was not willing to want his attendance longer than was necessary. A time - He built the walls in fifty two days, chap. vi, 15, and probably not long after returned to the king, by whom he was sent a second time with a more ample commission.
Verse 8. King's forest - Of the forest of Lebanon, famous for choice trees. Palace - Of the king's palace, which was adjoining to the house of God. Enter - That I shall build to dwell in while I am there.
Verse 10. Horonite - So called either, from the place of his birth or rule, which is supposed to be Horonaim, an eminent city of Moab. The servant - So called probably from the condition from which he was advanced to his present power and dignity: which also may be mentioned as one reason why he now carried himself so insolently, it being usual for persons suddenly raised from a low state, so to demean themselves.
Verse 12. Night - Concealing both his intentions as long as he could, knowing that the life of his business lay in secrecy and expedition. Beast - To prevent noise.
Verse 13. I went - The footmen who accompanied him directing and leading him in the way. His design was to go round the city, to observe the compass and condition of the walls and gates, that he might make sufficient provisions for the work.
Verse 14. No place - The way being obstructed with heaps of rubbish.
Verse 16. That did - Or, were to do, whom he intended to employ in it.
Verse 18. Rise up - Let us do it with vigour, and diligence, and resolution, as those that are determined to go through with it. Their hands - Their own and one anothers.
Verse 20. No portion - You have no authority over us, nor interest in our church and state, but are aliens from the common-wealth of Israel. Memorial - No testimony, or monument, either of your relation to us by birth or religion, or of your kindness to us, or to this place.