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Nehemiah Chapter Nine


Nehemiah 9 Outlines

The People Confess Their Sins

New King James Version (NKJV)


Nehemiah 9:1. Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads.[a]

   YLT And in the twenty and fourth day of this month have the sons of Israel been gathered, with fasting, and with sackcloth, and earth upon them;

Now in the twenty fourth day of this month,....

The seventh month, the month Tisri or September, two days after the feast of tabernacles was ended:

the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them;

which were all outward tokens of mourning and humiliation, see Joel 1:8 which they could not show during the festival; but that being over, they return to it, see Nehemiah 8:9.


Nehemiah 9:2. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

   YLT and the seed of Israel are separated from all sons of a stranger, and stand and confess concerning their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers,

And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers,....

Such as were genuine Israelites, of the seed of Abraham, who had married wives of the Gentiles, strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, either before the reformation by Ezra, not being then discovered, or had fallen into this evil since; but now, on the reading of the law, were convinced of it, and so separated themselves from such wives, which was a proof of the truth of their repentance:

and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers:

particularly their taking of strange wives, which their fathers had also done, and set them a bad example, which they had followed; of standing and confessing, see Luke 18:13.


Nehemiah 9:3. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God.

   YLT and rise up on their station, and read in the book of the law of Jehovah their God a fourth of the day, and a fourth they are confessing and bowing themselves to Jehovah their God.

And they stood up in their place,....

In the outward court of the temple, where men used to stand when they prayed and confessed their sins: and read in the book of the law of the Lord their God; that they might the better know the mind and will of God, and do their duty: this they did

one fourth part of the day;

the space of three hours, from sun rising, or six o'clock in the morning, to the time of the morning sacrifice, which was about nine o'clock:

and another fourth part they confessed;

the goodness of God to them, and the sins they had been guilty of:

and worshipped the Lord their God;

bowed down before him in prayer and supplication, and so spent three hours more, which reached to noon or twelve o'clock; and from thence to three o'clock, about the time of the evening sacrifice, and from thence to sun setting, or six o'clock, and so spent the whole day in the above exercises alternately.


Nehemiah 9:4. Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice to the Lord their God.

   YLT And there stand up on the ascent, of the Levites, Jeshua, and Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, Chenani, and they cry with a loud voice unto Jehovah their God.

Then stood up upon the stairs of the Levites,....

On an ascent; an elevated place where the Levites used to stand when they sang at the time of sacrifice, and where they might be seen and heard by the people:

Jeshua and Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani;

who seem to be all Levites, see Nehemiah 8:7,

and cried with a loud voice unto the Lord their God;

praying with great fervency, and making bitter lamentation for the sins of the people and their own.


Nehemiah 9:5. And the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said: “Stand up and bless the Lord your God Forever and ever! “Blessed be Your glorious name, Which is exalted above all blessing and praise!
And the Levites say, [even] Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, Pethahiah, `Rise, bless Jehovah your God, from the age unto the age, and they bless the name of Thine honour that [is] exalted above all blessing and praise.

Then the Levites, Jeshua,....

Or, then the Levites, even Jeshua:

and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah;

the same as before, with a little variation of their names, and perhaps some of them might have two names:

and said;

to the men that stood and confessed their sins, Nehemiah 9:2

stand up;

for though they are before said to stand, yet, through shame and confusion of face, and awe of the Divine Majesty, might be fallen on their faces to the ground:

and bless the Lord your God for ever and ever;

for all the great and good things he had done for them, notwithstanding their sins; and particularly for his pardoning grace and mercy they had reason to hope for:

and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise:

the glory of which name, nature, and perfections of his, cannot be set forth by the highest praises of men, and the largest ascriptions of blessing and honour to him.


Nehemiah 9:6. You alone are the Lord; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.

   YLT Thou [art] He, O Jehovah, Thyself -- Thou hast made the heavens, the heavens of the heavens, and all their host, the earth and all that [are] on it, the seas and all that [are] in them, and Thou art keeping all of them alive, and the host of the heavens to Thee are bowing themselves.

Thou, even thou art Lord alone,....

Whose name alone is Jehovah, the one only true and living God:

thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host;

the airy and starry heavens, and the sun, moon, and stars in them, and the third heaven, the seat of God, angels, and saints:

the earth, and all things that are therein;

men, beasts, trees, metals, minerals, &c.

the seas, and all that is therein;

fishes, sea plants, &c. see Acts 4:24,

and thou preservest them all;

they consist in thee, and are upheld in their being by thee, Hebrews 1:3

and the host of heaven worshipped thee;

not the sun, moon, and stars, only in their way, Psalm 148:2 but the angels chiefly, Hebrews 1:6.


Nehemiah 9:7. “You are the Lord God, Who chose Abram, And brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, And gave him the name Abraham;

   YLT `Thou [art] He, O Jehovah God, who didst fix on Abraham, and didst bring him out from Ur of the Chaldeans, and didst make his name Abraham,

Thou art the Lord the God, who didst choose Abram,....

From among the Chaldeans, and out of his father's family:

and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees;

by calling him from thence, of which see Genesis 11:28, to which may be added what AmamaF24Anti-barbar. Biblic. l. 3. p. 652. on that place observes; that some think that the sacred fire, which the Chaldeans worshipped, was kept in this city, from whence it was called Ur, that being worshipped by them and by the Assyrians under the name of UrF25Fortunati Schaech. Elaeochrism. Myrothec. l. 1. c. 9. col. 44. :

and gavest him the name of Abraham;

which was changed when the covenant of circumcision was given him, Genesis 17:5.


Nehemiah 9:8. You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him To give the land of the Canaanites, The Hittites, the Amorites, The Perizzites, the Jebusites, And the Girgashites—To give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, For You are righteous.

   YLT and didst find his heart stedfast before Thee, so as to make with him the covenant, to give the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Jebusite, and the Girgashite, to give [it] to his seed. `And Thou dost establish Thy words, for Thou [art] righteous,

And foundest his heart faithful before thee,....

A true believer in his word and promises, Genesis 15:6 and closely attached to the fear of him, and observance of his commands, as abundantly appeared in the trial of him, in offering up his son, Genesis 22:1,

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;

not to him personally, but to his posterity, at least including and chiefly designing them; of which covenant see Genesis 15:18,

and hast performed thy words,

for thou art righteous; in all his ways and works, faithful to his promise, a covenant keeping God, and who kept and fulfilled this covenant, assisting Joshua to conquer the land of Canaan, and put Israel into the possession of it.


Nehemiah 9:9. “You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, And heard their cry by the Red Sea.

   YLT and dost see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and their cry hast heard by the sea of Suph,

And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt,....

The hard bondage in which their lives were made bitter; and was not a mere spectator of it, but looked upon them in it with pity and compassion, and sent them a deliverer, Exodus 2:23

and heardest their cry by the Red sea;

which was before them, and the rocks on both sides of them, and the host of Pharaoh behind, pressing upon them, when he heard them, and wrought salvation for them, Exodus 14:10.


Nehemiah 9:10. You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, Against all his servants, And against all the people of his land. For You knew that they acted proudly against them. So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day.

   YLT and dost give signs and wonders on Pharaoh, and on all his servants, and on all the people of his land, for Thou hast known that they have acted proudly against them, and Thou makest to Thee a name as [at] this day.

And shewedst signs and wonders upon Pharaoh, and on all his servants, and on all the people of his land,....

By inflicting the ten plagues upon them:

for thou knowest that they dealt proudly against them;

behaved haughtily to them, and despised them, see Exodus 18:11

so didst thou get thee a name, as it is this day;

displayed his power on Pharaoh, and his goodness to Israel, the fame of which reached all over the world, and continued to that day, see Exodus 9:16.


Nehemiah 9:11. And You divided the sea before them, So that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; And their persecutors You threw into the deep, As a stone into the mighty waters.

   YLT And the sea Thou hast cleaved before them, and they pass over into the midst of the sea on the dry land, and their pursuers Thou hast cast into the depths, as a stone, into the strong waters.

And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land,....

That is, the Israelites, see Exodus 14:21,

and their persecutors thou threwest into the deeps;

with great ease, and with indignation, meaning the Egyptians, that pursued hotly after them, and were thrown into the sea:

as a stone into the mighty waters;

where they sunk and perished, see Exodus 15:4.


Nehemiah 9:12. Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar, And by night with a pillar of fire, To give them light on the road Which they should travel.

   YLT And by a pillar of cloud Thou hast led them by day, and by a pillar of fire by night, to lighten to them the way in which they go.

Moreover, thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar,....

The Israelites, to shelter them from the heat of the sun in a dry and barren wilderness:

and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go;

through a trackless desert, see Exodus 13:21.


Nehemiah 9:13. “You came down also on Mount Sinai, And spoke with them from heaven, And gave them just ordinances and true laws, Good statutes and commandments.

   YLT `And on mount Sinai Thou hast come down, even to speak with them from the heavens, and Thou dost give to them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commands.

Thou camest down also upon Mount Sinai,....

By some visible tokens of his presence, as a cloud, fire, smoke, &c. which must be understood consistent with his omniscience, see Exodus 19:18,

and spakest with them from heaven;

the decalogue or ten commandments, Exodus 20:1,

and gavest them right judgments and true laws, good statutes and commandments;

both judicial and ceremonial, which were of excellent use to them in their civil and ecclesiastical polity; these were not spoken to Israel, but given to Moses on the mount, to be delivered to them.


Nehemiah 9:14. You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, And commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, By the hand of Moses Your servant.

   YLT And Thy holy sabbath Thou hast made known to them, and commands, and statutes, and law, Thou hast commanded for them, by the hand of Moses Thy servant;

And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath,....

Which was not made known to others, and was peculiar to the Jewish nation, and a privilege granted to them, to have rest corporeal and spiritual, typical of the rest in Christ:

and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant;

moral, ceremonial, and judicial, such as other nations had not, Deuteronomy 4:8.


Nehemiah 9:15. You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger, And brought them water out of the rock for their thirst, And told them to go in to possess the land Which You had sworn to give them.

   YLT and bread from the heavens Thou hast given to them for their hunger, and water from a rock hast brought out to them for their thirst, and dost say to them to go in to possess the land that Thou hast lifted up Thy hand to give to them.

And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger,....

To satisfy that, meaning the manna, Exodus 16:3

and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock, for their thirst;

to quench it; this was done both quickly after they came out of the land of Egypt, and a little before their entrance into the land of Canaan, see Exodus 17:6

and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them;

which oath was made to them and to their fathers also, see Numbers 14:30.


Nehemiah 9:16. “But they and our fathers acted proudly, Hardened their necks, And did not heed Your commandments.

   YLT `And they and our fathers have acted proudly, and harden their neck, and have not hearkened unto Thy commands,

But they and our fathers dealt proudly,....

Behaved in a haughty manner towards God, their kind benefactor:

and hardened their necks;

refused to take the yoke of his law, as refractory oxen, that withdraw their necks from the yoke:

and hearkened not to thy commandments;

to do them, though they promised they would, Exodus 24:7.


Nehemiah 9:17. They refused to obey, And they were not mindful of Your wonders That You did among them. But they hardened their necks, And in their rebellion[b] They appointed a leader To return to their bondage. But You are God, Ready to pardon, Gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, Abundant in kindness, And did not forsake them.

  YLT yea, they refuse to hearken, and have not remembered Thy wonders that Thou hast done with them, and harden their neck and appoint a head, to turn back to their service, in their rebellion; and Thou [art] a God of pardons, gracious, and merciful, long-suffering, and abundant in kindness, and hast not forsaken them.

And refused to obey,....

Though exhorted, admonished, and threatened, such was their obstinacy:

neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them;

in delivering them at the Red sea, in raining manna about them, and giving them water out of the rock:

but hardened their necks;

see the preceding verse:

and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage;

they not only proposed it, but determined upon it, which is reckoned the same as if they had done it, see Numbers 14:4,

but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness;

as he had proclaimed his name before Moses, and as the whole of his conduct towards the people of Israel abundantly shewed, see Exodus 34:6

and forsookest them not;

when in the wilderness, where otherwise they must have perished, but still fed and protected them, notwithstanding their provocations.


Nehemiah 9:18. “Even when they made a molded calf for themselves, And said, ‘This is your god That brought you up out of Egypt,’ And worked great provocations,

   YLT `Also, when they have made to themselves a molten calf, and say, this [is] thy god that brought thee up out of Egypt, and do great despisings,

Yea, when they had made them a molten calf,....

In imitation of the Apis, or ox of the Egyptians:

and said, this is thy god that brought thee out of Egypt;

or the image of thy god, as the Arabic version, see Exodus 32:4,

and had wrought great provocations;

of all which nothing was greater than idolatry.


Nehemiah 9:19. Yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, To lead them on the road; Nor the pillar of fire by night, To show them light, And the way they should go.

   YLT and Thou, in Thine abundant mercies, hast not forsaken them in the wilderness -- the pillar of the cloud hath not turned aside from off them by day, to lead them in the way, and the pillar of the fire by night, to give light to them and the way in which they go.

Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness,....

Where no supply could be had, if he had cast them off, see Nehemiah 9:17,

the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way;

which, if it had, they would have been scorched by the heat of the sun:

neither the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way wherein they should go;

or otherwise they would have lost their way, and not have known which way to have gone.


Nehemiah 9:20. You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, And did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, And gave them water for their thirst.

   YLT `And Thy good Spirit Thou hast given, to cause them to act wisely; and Thy manna Thou hast not withheld from their mouth, and water Thou hast given to them for their thirst,

Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them,....

In the knowledge of the laws delivered to them; the spirit of prophecy, according to Ben Melech, and which Aben Ezra interprets of the spirit put upon the seventy elders, Numbers 11:17,

and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth;

all the while they were in the wilderness, until they came to Canaan's land; called the Lord's manna, because prepared by him, and given by him to them; a part or portion and gift from the Lord, as Ben Melech, from whence it had its name, see Exodus 16:15

and gavest them water for their thirst;

which seems to have respect to the last rock stricken for them, after their many provocations in the wilderness, Numbers 20:11.


Nehemiah 9:21. Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; They lacked nothing; Their clothes did not wear out[c] And their feet did not swell.

   YLT and forty years Thou hast nourished them in a wilderness; they have not lacked; their garments have not worn out, and their feet have not swelled.

Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing,....

As not for food, so neither for raiment, as follows:

their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not;

of which see Deuteronomy 8:4.


Nehemiah 9:22. “Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations, And divided them into districts.[d] So they took possession of the land of Sihon, The land of[e] the king of Heshbon, And the land of Og king of Bashan.

   YLT `And Thou givest to them kingdoms, and peoples, and dost apportion them to the corner, and they possess the land of Sihon, and the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan.

Moreover, thou gavest them kingdoms and nations,....

The two kingdoms of Sihon and Og, and the seven nations of Canaan:

and didst divide them into corners;

or "corner"; into every corner of the land of Canaan, so that they possessed the whole of it, a few cities excepted; Jarchi interprets it of one corner, that they might not be mixed with the people of the land, but be all together in one place; but Aben Ezra understands it of the Canaanites, of their being divided and scattered into corners, when they fled from the Israelites; but the former sense seems best:

so they possessed the land of Sihon, and the land of the king of Heshbon;

or "eren", or "namely"F26So Piscator, Patrick, Rambachius. , "the land of the king of Heshbon"; for Sihon was king of Heshbon, and so the land the same:

and the land of Og king of Bashan;

those lands both lay on the other side Jordan, and were possessed by the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh.


Nehemiah 9:23. You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, And brought them into the land Which You had told their fathers To go in and possess.

   YLT And their sons Thou hast multiplied as the stars of the heavens, and bringest them in unto the land that Thou hast said to their fathers to go in to possess.

Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven,....

Fulfilling the promise made to Abraham, Genesis 15:5 their number when they came out of Egypt, and just before they entered into the land of Canaan, being upwards of 600,000 men, besides women and children, Exodus 12:37

and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess it;

the land of Canaan, promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their seed, into which the Lord brought them by Joshua; he was the instrument, but the thing was of God.


Nehemiah 9:24. So the people went in And possessed the land; You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, The Canaanites, And gave them into their hands, With their kings And the people of the land, That they might do with them as they wished.

   YLT `And the sons come in, and possess the land, and Thou humblest before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and givest them into their hand, and their kings, and the peoples of the land, to do with them according to their pleasure.

So the children went in and possessed the land,....

Not the fathers of the Israelites that came out of Egypt, they died in the wilderness, all excepting two, but their children, which seems to be the reason of this manner of expression, see Numbers 14:30

and thou subduedst before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites;

by means of Joshua, the general of the armies of Israel; there is an elegant paronomania in the word for "subdue", and the Canaanites, which cannot be expressed in our language:

and gavest them into their hands, with their kings, and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they would;

no less than thirty one kings, see Joshua 12:9.


Nehemiah 9:25. And they took strong cities and a rich land, And possessed houses full of all goods, Cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves, And fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and grew fat, And delighted themselves in Your great goodness.

   YLT And they capture fenced cities, and fat ground, and possess houses full of all good, digged-wells, vineyards, and olive-yards, and fruit-trees in abundance, and they eat, and are satisfied, and become fat, and delight themselves in Thy great goodness.

And they took strong cities,....

Such as, in an hyperbolical way, are said to be walled up to heaven, Deuteronomy 1:28

and a fat land;

of a good and fruitful soil, abounding with all good things, Deuteronomy 8:7

and possessed houses full of all goods;

ready built and furnished for them, both with good provisions and good furniture:

wells digged;

to supply them with water:

vineyards, and olive yards, and fruit trees in abundance;

which they planted not:

and they did eat, and were filled, and became fat;

in body, though in mind became wanton and wicked; they made their hearts fat, or stupid, as Aben Ezra interprets it, see Deuteronomy 32:15

and delighted themselves in thy great goodness;

not in praising the Lord for it, and using it to his honour and glory, but indulged themselves to luxury and intemperance; though it may be understood of a lawful pleasure in the enjoyment of the great affluence they were brought into, which last agrees with what follows.


Nehemiah 9:26. “Nevertheless they were disobedient And rebelled against You, Cast Your law behind their backs And killed Your prophets, who testified against them To turn them to Yourself; And they worked great provocations.

   YLT `And they are disobedient, and rebel against Thee, and cast Thy law behind their back, and Thy prophets they have slain, who testified against them, to bring them back unto Thee, and they do great despisings,

Nevertheless, they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee,....

Notwithstanding all these favours and mercies bestowed upon them, which was great ingratitude:

and cast thy law behind their backs;

as of no account, and unworthy of their regard; that which they should have had continually before their eyes, as the rule and guide of their actions, they cast behind them, not caring to look into it, and read it:

and slew thy prophets, which testified against them to turn them to thee;

the prophets that bore a testimony against their sins, admonished them of them, called heaven and earth to record against them should they continue in them, and all to turn them from them by repentance to the Lord; those they were so wroth with on this account as to slay them, see Matthew 23:37,

and they wrought great provocations;

serving Baalim and Ashtaroth, and other gods of the nations, than which nothing was more provoking to the Lord.


Nehemiah 9:27. Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, Who oppressed them; And in the time of their trouble, When they cried to You, You heard from heaven; And according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them From the hand of their enemies.

   YLT and Thou givest them into the hand of their adversaries, and they distress them, and in the time of their distress they cry unto Thee, and Thou, from the heavens, dost hear, and, according to Thine abundant mercies, dost give to them saviours, and they save them out of the hand of their adversaries.

Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hand of their enemies, who vexed them,....

As the kings of Mesopotamia, Moab, Canaan, and others:

and in the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee;

as they usually did, Judges 3:9,

thou heardest them from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hands of their enemies;

such were judges, Othniel, Ehud, Barak, Gideon, &c. and this was, done for them, not on account of their merits, but the abundant unmerited mercy of the Lord towards them.


Nehemiah 9:28. “But after they had rest, They again did evil before You. Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies, So that they had dominion over them; Yet when they returned and cried out to You, You heard from heaven; And many times You delivered them according to Your mercies,

   YLT `And when they have rest, they turn back to do evil before Thee, and Thou dost leave them in the hand of their enemies, and they rule over them; and they turn back, and call Thee, and Thou from the heavens dost hear, and dost deliver them, according to Thy mercies, many times,

But after they had rest,....

From their enemies, enjoyed their liberty, and were in prosperity:

they did evil again before thee;

relapsed into idolatry:

therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them;

as the Philistines had for the space of forty years, Judges 13:1,

yet when they returned and cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven, and many times didst thou deliver them, according to thy mercies;

this was their case frequently in the times of the judges; they sinned and fell into the hands of their enemies, then they repented, and cried to God for help, and he had compassion upon them, and saved them.


Nehemiah 9:29. And testified against them, That You might bring them back to Your law. Yet they acted proudly, And did not heed Your commandments, But sinned against Your judgments, ‘Which if a man does, he shall live by them.’[f] And they shrugged their shoulders, Stiffened their necks, And would not hear.

   YLT and dost testify against them, to bring them back unto Thy law; and they -- they have acted proudly, and have not hearkened to Thy commands, and against Thy judgments have sinned, -- which man doth and hath lived in them -- and they give a refractory shoulder, and their neck have hardened, and have not hearkened.

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.


Nehemiah 9:30. Yet for many years You had patience with them, And testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.

   YLT `And Thou drawest over them many years, and testifiest against them by Thy Spirit, by the hand of Thy prophets, and they have not given ear, and Thou dost give them into the hand of peoples of the lands,

Yet many years didst thou forbear them,....

Throughout the reigns of several kings, such was God's longsuffering towards them: or, "thou didst draw upon them"; that is, his mercy, as Jarchi interprets it; he drew it out of his heart, and prolonged it towards them:

and testifiedst against them by thy Spirit in thy prophets;

who reproved and admonished them, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit of God in them, who spoke in his name, and what he suggested to them:

yet they would not give ear; to what the prophets said, and the Spirit of God in them:

therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands:

people that were lords of many countries, as the Assyrians and Chaldeans.


Nehemiah 9:31. Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; For You are God, gracious and merciful.

   YLT and in Thine abundant mercies Thou hast not made them a consumption, nor hast forsaken them; for a God, gracious and merciful, [art] Thou.

Nevertheless, for thy great mercies' sake,

For the displaying of that, and the glorifying of it, which is so large and exceeding abundant:

thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them;

some were left in the land, and those that were carried captive found favour in the eyes of those that carried them away, and were suffered to live, and many of them now had returned to their own land:

for thou art a gracious and merciful God;

of which they had abundant proof and evidence.


Nehemiah 9:32. “Now therefore, our God, The great, the mighty, and awesome God, Who keeps covenant and mercy: Do not let all the trouble seem small before You That has come upon us, Our kings and our princes, Our priests and our prophets, Our fathers and on all Your people, From the days of the kings of Assyria until this day.

   YLT `And now, O our God -- God, the great, the mighty, and the fearful, keeping the covenant and the kindness -- let not all the travail that hath found us be little before Thee, for our kings, for our heads, and for our priests, and for our prophets, and for our fathers, and for all Thy people, from the days of the kings of Asshur unto this day;

Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy,....

The same titles Nehemiah gives to the Lord, Nehemiah 1:5 and it may be reasonably thought the whole prayer is his composure, which was delivered by him to the Levites:

let not all the trouble seem little before thee;

as if it was not enough; let it be judged sufficient, and no more be added, but mercy shown; Aben Ezra thinks the word "little" is not to be connected with "trouble", but with the nearest antecedent "mercy", and so GussetiusF26Ebr. Comment. p. 937. ; as if the sense was, let not thy mercy be small with thee, but let it be largely extended along with all the trouble, or at the time when trouble of every kind

comes upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the times of the kings of Assyria unto this day;

but this sense is not clear, and makes it have respect to times to come; whereas it relates to time past, and to all the trouble and affliction they had met with from the Assyrian kings, from the time they invaded their land, and carried them captive, until this very time.


Nehemiah 9:33. However You are just in all that has befallen us; For You have dealt faithfully, But we have done wickedly.

   YLT and Thou [art] righteous concerning all that hath come upon us, for truth Thou hast done, and we have done wickedly;

Howbeit, thou art just in all that is brought upon us,....

They own the justice of God, could not complain of any wrong done them; and had he shown them no mercy at all, it was but what they deserved:

for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly;

he had done according to the truth of his word of promise, he had faithfully kept it, but they had transgressed his righteous law.


Nehemiah 9:34. Neither our kings nor our princes, Our priests nor our fathers, Have kept Your law, Nor heeded Your commandments and Your testimonies, With which You testified against them.

   YLT and our kings, our heads, our priests, and our fathers, have not done Thy law, nor attended unto Thy commands, and to Thy testimonies, that Thou hast testified against them;

Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law,....

All ranks of men, from the highest to the lowest, had shown no regard, nor yielded obedience to the holy law of God:

nor hearkened unto thy commandments, and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them;

moral and ceremonial, which were a testification of the will of God to them, and a testimony against them if they observed them not.


Nehemiah 9:35. For they have not served You in their kingdom, Or in the many good things that You gave them, Or in the large and rich land which You set before them; Nor did they turn from their wicked works.

   YLT and they, in their kingdom, and in Thine abundant goodness, that Thou hast given to them, and in the land, the large and the fat, that Thou hast set before them, have not served Thee, nor turned back from their evil doings.

For they have not served thee in their kingdom,....

When in it, whether of Israel or of Judah, and when in the most flourishing circumstances:

and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them;

amidst all the prosperity and affluence of good things they enjoyed, which was an obligation upon them to serve the Lord:

and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them;

the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk, which lay open for them, their enemies being driven out before them, see Nehemiah 9:25,

neither turned they from their wicked works;

their idolatries more especially.


Nehemiah 9:36. “Here we are, servants today! And the land that You gave to our fathers, To eat its fruit and its bounty, Here we are, servants in it!

   YLT `Lo, we -- to-day -- [are] servants, and the land that Thou hast given to our fathers, to eat its fruit and its good -- lo, we [are] servants on it,

Behold, we are servants this day,....

For though they had leave to return to their land, and rebuild their city and temple, yet they were still in subjection to the kings of Persia:

and for the land thou gavest unto our fathers, to eat the fruit thereof, and the good thereof, behold, we are servants in it;

though the rightful owners and proprietors of it by the gift of God to their ancestors, to hold it and enjoy the good of it, and yet were obliged to pay tribute for it to the kings of Persia, all excepting priests and Levites; see Ezra 6:8.


Nehemiah 9:37. And it yields much increase to the kings You have set over us, Because of our sins; Also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle At their pleasure; And we are in great distress.

   YLT and its increase it is multiplying to the kings whom Thou hast set over us in our sins; and over our bodies they are ruling, and over our cattle, according to their pleasure, and we [are] in great distress.

And it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us, because of our sins,....

Though a very fruitful land, and brought forth much, yet not for them, but for foreign kings, that had the sovereignty over them, and enacted much toll, tribute, and custom from them, which greatly lessened the profit of the earth to them:

also they have dominion over our bodies;

and could oblige them to work for them, and do any service they should command:

and over our cattle, at their pleasure;

to carry burdens for them, or ride post with them:

and we are in great distress;

being servants and tributaries to a foreign power.


Nehemiah 9:38. “And because of all this, We make a sure covenant and write it; Our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it.

   YLT And for all this we are making a stedfast covenant, and are writing, and over him who is sealed [are] our heads, our Levites, our priests.'

And because of all this,....

Of all this distress, and that it might be removed, and be clear of it; or "in all this distress and evil", as Jarchi and Aben Ezra, in the midst of it all:

we make a sure covenant;

or faithfully promise to observe the law of God, and particularly put away strange wives, and not intermarry with the people of the land:

and write it;

that it may remain and be a testimony against them should they break it, being their own handwriting:

and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it;

as witnesses of it, and thereby binding themselves to observe the same things; their names that sealed are given in the next chapter.


──John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible


New King James Version (NKJV)


a.    Nehemiah 9:1 Literally earth on them

b.    Nehemiah 9:17 Following Masoretic Text and Vulgate; Septuagint reads in Egypt.

c.Nehemiah 9:21 Compare Deuteronomy 29:5

d.    Nehemiah 9:22 Literally corners

e.    Nehemiah 9:22 Following Masoretic Text and Vulgate; Septuagint omits The land of.

f. Nehemiah 9:29 Leviticus 18:5