Neh. 1-3 Working Cooperatively

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WORKING COOPERATIVELY
Nehemiah 1:1-3:32        December 31 2006

Nehemiah served as a cup-bearer to the Persian King
Artaxerxes.
When Nehemiah Arrived in Jerusalem, he encouraged
the Jews to begin rebuilding the city wall. Opponents
mocked them, but Nehemiah knew god would help them.
Chapter I identifies the many types of people who
helped to rebuild Jerusalem’s city wall and gates.
Cooperation was absolutely necessary to make the
project a success.

1. Begin With Prayer (Neh. 1:1-4,11

Neh. 1:1   The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In
the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I
was in the citadel of Susa, 1:2   Hanani, one of my
brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and
I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that
survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 1:3
They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and
are back in the province are in great trouble and
disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and
its gates have been burned with fire.” 1:4   When I
heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days
I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
1:11   O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of
this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who
delight in revering your name. Give your servant success
today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
I was cupbearer to the king.

The Words of. Originally an introduction to the title
of a separate composition (Jer 1:1; Am 1:1), though
the books of Ezra and Nehemiah appear as a single work
from earliest times (see Introduction to Ezra: Ezra and
Nehemiah). Nehemiah. Means “The LORD comforts.”
Hacakiah. Perhaps means “Wait for the LORD,” though
an imperative in a Hebrew name is quite unusual. The
name occurs only here and in 10:1. Kislev. . . Twentieth
Year. November-December, 446 B.C. See chart on
“Chronology: Ezra-nehemiah,” Ezra 1:1. Susa.
See Ezr 4:9.
Province.  Ezr 2:1. Wall Of Jeruselem Is Broken Down.
The lack of a city wall meant that the people were d
efenseless against their enemies. Thucydides describes
the comparable condition of Athens after its devastation
by the Persians in 480-479 B.C. Excavations at Jerusalem
during 1961-67 revealed that the lack of a wall on the
eastern slopes also meant the disintegration of the terraces
there. When Nebuchadnezzar assaulted Jerusalem, he
battered and broke down the walls around it (2Ki 25:10).
Most, however, do not believe that Nehemiah’s distress was
caused by Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction in 586 but by the
episode of Ezr 4:7-23. The Jews had attempted to rebuild
the walls earlier in the reign of Artaxerxes I; but after the
protest of Rehum and Shimshai, the king ordered the Jews
to desist. See Ezr 4:21-23.
Give Your Servant Success Today. Ge 24:12. Cup-bearer. Lit.
“one who gives (someone) something to drink.” The Hebrew
for this word occurs 11 other times in the OT in the sense
of “cup-bearer” (Ge 40:1-2,5,9,13,20-21,23; 41:9; 1Ki 10:5;
2Ch 9:4). According to the Greek historian Xenophon , one of
the cup-bearer’s duties was to choose and taste the king’s
wine to make certain that it was not poisoned (see 2:1).
Thus Nehemiah had to be a man who enjoyed the unreserved
confidence of the king. The need for trustworthy court
attendants is underscored by the intrigues that
characterized the Achaemenid court of Persia. Xerxes, the
father of Artaxerxes I, was killed in his own bedchamber
by a courtier.

2. Take Steps Of Faith (Neh. 2:4-5,8b

Neh. 2:4   The king said to me, “What is it you want?”
Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 2:5   and I answered
the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has
found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in
Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild
it.” 2:8b  And because the gracious hand of my God was
upon me, the king granted my requests.

Forest. The Hebrew for this word is Pardes, a
loanword from Old Persian meaning “enclosure,” a
pleasant retreat or park. The word occurs elsewhere in
the OT only in Ecc 2:5 (“parks”) and (“orchard”). In the
Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT) the Greek
transliteration Paradeisos is used here. In the period
between the OT and the NT, the word acquired the sense
of the abode of the blessed dead, i.e., “paradise.” It
appears three times in the NT (Lk 23:43; 2Co 12:4;
Rev 2:7). As to the location of the “king’s forest,”
some believe that it was in Lebanon, which was famed
for its forests of cedars and other coniferous trees
(see Jdg 9:15; Ezr 3:7). But a more plausible suggestion
is that it should be identified with Solomon’s gardens at
Etham, about six miles south of Jerusalem . For city gates,
costly imported cedars from Lebanon would not be used
but rather indigenous oak, poplar or terebinth (Hos 4:13).
Citadel. Probably refers to the fortress north of the temple,
the forerunner of the Antonia fortress built by Herod the
Great ( see Ac 21:34,37; 22:24).

3. Encourage Believers To Work Together (Neh. 2:17-18;
3:1-2)

Neh. 2:17   Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are
in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned
with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and
we will no longer be in disgrace.” 2:18   I also told them
about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king
had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So
they began this good work. 3:1   Eliashib the high priest and
his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate.
They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far
as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as
far as the Tower of Hananel. 3:2   The men of Jericho built
the adjoining section, and Zaccur son of Imri built next to
them.

Ruins. The condition of the walls and gates of the city
since their destruction by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.,
in spite of abortive attempts to rebuild them. The leaders
and people had evidently become reconciled to this sad
state of affairs. It took an outsider to assess the
situation and to rally them to renewed efforts.
My God. . . And. . . The King. Nehemiah could personally
attest that God was alive and active in his behalf and
that he (Nehemiah) had come with royal sanction and
authority.
In (3:1-32) One of the most important chapters in the OT
for determining the topography of Jerusalem . The
narrative begins at the Sheep Gate and proceeds in a
counterclockwise direction around the wall. About 40 key
men are named as participants in the reconstruction of
about 45 sections. The towns listed as the homes of the
builders may have represented the administrative centers
of the province of Judah. Ten gates are named: (1) Sheep
Gate (v. 1), (2) Fish Gate (v. 3), (3) Jeshanah Gate (v. 6),
(4) Valley Gate (v. 13), (5) Dung Gate (v. 14), (6) Fountain
Gate (v. 15), (7) Water Gate (v. 26), (8) Horse Gate (v. 28),
(9) East Gate (v. 29), (10) Inspection Gate (v. 31). The
account suggests that most of the rebuilding was
concerned with the gates, where the enemy’s assaults
were always concentrated. Not all the sections of the walls
or buildings in Jerusalem were in the same state of
disrepair. A selective policy of destruction seems to be
indicated by 2Ki 25:9. (3:1) Eliashib The High Priest. It
was fitting that the high priest should set the example.
Among the ancient Sumerians the king himself would carry
bricks for the building of a temple. Sheep Gate. See v. 32;
12:39. It was known in NT times (Jn 5:2) as located near
the Bethesda Pool (in the northeast corner of Jerusalem).
Even today a sheep market is held periodically near this area.
The Sheep Gate may have replaced the earlier Benjamin Gate
(Jer 37:13; 38:7; Zec 14:10). Tower Of The Hundred. See 12:39.
“Hundred” may refer to (1) its height (100 cubits), (2) the
number of its steps or (3) a military unit ( Dt 1:15). Tower
Of Hananel. The towers were associated with the “citadel
by the temple” (2:8) in protecting the vulnerable northern
approaches to the city.

Summary:
This weeks lesson focuses on the need for God’s
people to cooperatively to fulfill God’s purposes. Christians
can have honest disagreement on some issuers; but too often
misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and other minor issues
divide God’s people. God has gifted us in different ways,
and most projects require several Christians using their gifts
together to compete the plan.