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Monday, September 15 2014

Nehemiah 2: The Arrival Of Nehemiah's Cavalry

"Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me"

Nehemiah was "the king's cupbearer" - a servant's job, but moreover a position of trust and respect. People who were able to serve the king were also able to get close enough to harm or kill him (as happened numerous times to many kings throughout history). The Persian King Artaxerxes obviously held Nehemiah in such very high regard, even beyond his personal security. He expressed concern, as a friend i.e. "Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart."

Nehemiah

"2:1 And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king.

Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.

2:2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart.

Then I was very sore afraid, 2:3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?" (Nehemiah 2:1-3 KJV)

Artaxerxes was made familiar with the situation in Jerusalem (see The Letter From Artaxerxes To Ezra). He then provided Nehemiah with a leave of absence, a royal decree to give Nehemiah a free hand at Jerusalem - and Persian cavalry to enforce it.

"2:4 Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request?

So I prayed to the God of heaven.

2:5 And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it.

2:6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return?

So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

2:7 Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; 2:8 And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into.

And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.

2:9 Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters.

Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.

2:10 When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel." (Nehemiah 2:4-10 KJV)

Assyria, Babylon, Persia

The reports that Nehemiah had received were not exaggerated (see Zerubbabel's Return). The city was indeed still in the state of ruin that the Babylonians had inflicted upon it seven decades before - exactly as the LORD (Who was and is Jesus Christ - see Genesis 1: In The Beginning Was The Word and The Kingdom Of The LORD God) declared (see the Fact Finder question below).

"2:11 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. 2:12 And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon.

2:13 And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire. 2:14 Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king's pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. 2:15 Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned. 2:16 And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.

2:17 Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. 2:18 Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me.

And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.

2:19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?

2:20 Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem." (Nehemiah 2:11-20 KJV)

Fact Finder: What did the prophet Jeremiah know about Judah's return to Jerusalem - seventy years before it happened?
See What Did Jeremiah's Letter To Babylon Say?


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This Day In History, September 15

76 BC: Alexander Jannaeus (Alexander Yannai), the Hasmonean / Maccabean king of Judaea, died (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Hasmonean Judea and Christ's Hanukkah). The Maccabees led the people of Judah to independence after the original "abomination of desolation" was committed in Jerusalem by the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes (see A History Of Jerusalem: Abomination Of Desolation). Alexander Jannaeus succeeded his brother Aristobulus in 103 BC. He was an ally of the Sadducees and persecuted their opponents, the Pharisees (see The Origin Of The Essenes, Sadducees And Pharisees).

668: Eastern Roman Emperor Constans II was assassinated at Syracuse, Italy.

1648: The Larger and the Shorter Catechisms, both produced by the Westminster Assembly the previous year, were approved by the British Parliament. These two documents have been in regular use among various Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Baptists from that time.

1697: Augustus II, elector of Saxony, was crowned king of Poland.

Railway 1776: During the revolution of the New England colonies that had been established by English pioneers over 150 years earlier, British forces under General William Howe captured New York City (named after England's Duke of York).

1821: San Salvador, Costa Rica and Guatemala declared themselves independent of Spain.

1830: Britain's Liverpool and Manchester railway line opened.

1835: The HMS Beagle, with Charles Darwin aboard, arrived at the Galápagos Islands (listen to our Sermon Darwin's Theory of Evolution).

1916: The first deployment of tanks in battle - 49 British "Big Willies" participated in the Battle of The Somme during the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).

1928: Scottish researcher Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic effect of penicillin.

1935: In Germany, the Nazis under the leadership of Adolf Hitler (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion) enacted the Nuremburg Laws, beginning a program of violent religious and racial persecution. All Jews were deprived of their citizenship and the "ghettos" were created. The same day, the Swastika became the national flag of Germany.

1938: British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew to Germany to meet Adolf Hitler at Berchtesgaden, the first of two meetings to try and avoid the crisis over the Sudetenland.

1940: At the height of the Battle of Britain, Royal Air Force Hurricanes and Spitfires shot down 185 Nazi planes. The day has since been celebrated as Battle of Britain day.

1945: A hurricane destroyed over 350 military aircraft at a naval air station in Florida.

1959: Nikita Khrushchev became the first Russian head of state to visit the U.S.

1963: During the struggle for civil rights of black people in the U.S., four black children died when their church in Montgomery, Alabama was destroyed by a bomb.

1968: The unmanned Soviet Zond 5 spaceship was launched. It became the first vehicle to fly around the Moon and then return and re-enter the Earth's atmosphere.

1972: Two former White House aides, Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy, were added to the five men already charged with the break-in at the Watergate building during the Nixon regime.

1982: Despite Israel's protest, Pope John Paul II had a private meeting with "Palestinian" (see Where Is Palestine?) terrorist leader Yasser Arafat in the Vatican (see also A History Of Jerusalem: Constantine and Muhammad).

2008: Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history to date.


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