Susa was the winter residence of the Persian kings after 521 B.C.E. Nehemiah, the royal cupbearer (
), was an influential court figure.
Kislev: November–December. The twentieth year alludes to the reign of Artaxerxes I (mentioned in
) and would be 445/444 B.C.E. Nisan (March–April) is described as still “in the twentieth year” in
, where we would expect the twenty-first, for the Babylonian year ran from spring to spring. But possibly the years here are
reckoned from Tishri (September–October) and are regnal years, differing from ordinary calendar years.
While brothers can mean friends or colleagues,
suggests that Hanani was a real brother. The families still remaining had continued in Jerusalem when substantial parts of the population went into exile after 587 B.C.E.
Broken down…destroyed: this seems to allude to an obscure disaster after the time of Cyrus (538–529 B.C.E.); Nehemiah has had no prior knowledge of it.
The structure of Nehemiah's prayer is praise, supplication, confession, supplication.
An exact quotation from the Pentateuch is expected but does not appear; perhaps Deut. 30.1–5
is being echoed.
Let your ear be attentive is not a needless repetition of the same phrase in v. 6
, but, rather, climaxes Nehemiah's prayer. This man's heart refers to Artaxerxes I. See 2.1
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