Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Esther's Trap for Haman Esther 5

Esther 5:1 "Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house."

After three days of praying and fasting, Esther stands outside the door to the king's inner court where she will either be accepted by the king or sentenced to death. It must have been a lonely and frightening time for her.

The door opened and she went in and the golden scepter was extended toward her which was the sign that the king would hear her.

v4 "And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him."

The king agreed as he had promised Esther after she gained his favor, that he would give her anything up to half his kingdom.

Haman was excited and called his family and advisers together to make the announcement. He thinks he has found favor with the queen after all. I don't know if he realized the connection between her and Mordecai and I'm sure Haman did not know the queen was Jewish.

v12 "Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and tomorrow am I invited unto her also with the king."

I think there were two gatherings, the first being the one Haman is bragging about and another where Esther drops the hammer on him.

Haman has a problem with his ego and Esther used it as a weapon against him.

v14 Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and tomorrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made."

Reason has left Haman in his excitement. It appears that he has decided that he can get anything he asked for, now that he has won the favor of both the king and queen.

Next chapter, a sleepless night for the king.

Proverbs 4:23 "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee; Let thing eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left; remove thy foot from evil. 24-27

Esther sets a trap for Haman.

Mordecai and Esther communicate about the decree to kill all Jews.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mordecai and Esther Communicate Esther 4

Esther 4:1 "When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and bitter cry; v2 And came even before the king's gate; for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth."

Mordecai has gotten the word of the decree sent out concerning the Jews. Haman had persuaded the king to let the Jews be killed. Haman did this because the Jews would not bow to him, particularly Mordecai.

This chapter is a back and forth between Mordecai and Esther. Mordecai wants Esther to go to the king but she fears for her life if she goes before the king uninvited. Mordecai tells her that she will die anyway because the decree was for all the Jews to be killed.

v14 "For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed; and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

Esther declares a fast and tells Mordecai to get the people to fast for her three days. She answered with these famous words:

v16 "...and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish."

It seems strange, to me, that such a burden would be laid on this young woman. She was but a young Jewish girl who was stolen away to the palace for the king's pleasure. But on her shoulders rest the fate of all the Jews in the king's provinces, over a hundred of them. In the next chapter, we will see how she did.

Here we should stop and note that even though Mordecai and Esther have developed a plan, The people have prayed and fasted for three days. In their captivity, they have turned to God for help. It is a good time to remember II Chronicles 7:12 "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Psalm 42:11 "By this I know that thou favorest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me."

Mordecai and Esther talk back and forth about her visit to the king to save their people.

Mordecai and Haman face off.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Haman and Mordecai Face Off Esther 3

Esther 3:5 "And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath." See also Daniel chapter 3.

Haman is one of the kings men who was promoted to the top spot under the king. The people were required to bow to him when he passed as they would bow for the king. Mordecai refused to do so.

v3 "Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transfressest thou the king's commandment?"

They let this go on for a while but finally reported the disobedience to Haman. Haman took personal offence instead of actually being offended for the king's commandment. Instead of getting mad at Mordecai, Haman got mad at the whole race of Jewish people.

v8 "And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws; therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them."

Haman carried his offense to the king, not for the kings sake (actually) but for his own ego because Mordecai would not bow to him. The king turned the lions lose on the Jewish people and made a decree that they could be killed and their possessions taken for spoil.

v15 "The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed."

Haman seems to have accomplished his purpose. He has convinced the king to allow the Jews to be killed and he is now having a drink with the king.

But we should not forget about Esther. Remember she has not yet revealed that she too is a Jew. Mordecai will ask for her help in the next chapter.

Psalm 34:1 "I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth."

Haman plots to kill the Jews.

Esther and the King.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Esther and the King Esther 2

Esther 2:17 "And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti."

Esther's Hebrew names was Hadassah. Hadassah means myrtle. Esther means star. She was of the tribe of Benjamin, an orphan and adopted by her cousin Mordecai.

Esther did not go to the palace to be crowned queen so far as those who took her were concerned. She was one of many who were kept in a house for the king's pleasure. However, she found great favor with the king and was made queen.

v3 "And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them:"

Mordecai taught Esther well. She was fair and beautiful v7. She found favor with Hege and he gave her 7 maidens and the best place in the house v9.

v10 "Esther had not showed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not show it."

So Ester did not tell them she was Jewish. She waited her turn to be called by the king and no doubt she was very afraid. After all, she was there against her will and in our day would have been considered kidnapped.

The decree to gather the young women was in the kings ( about the) fourth year of his reign and Esther went to him in the seventh year of his reign. v16. There is a greater purpose in all this but Esther did not know it at the time.

v18 "And the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther's feast; and he made a release to the provinces and gave gifts according to the state of the king."

The king had found his queen.

Mordecai stayed around the gate to see if Esther was alright. He irritated the guards but managed to stay anyway. He discovered a conspiracy against the king and told Esther saving the kings life. Mordecai was not rewarded then but the event was recorded and will show up later.

v23 "And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree; and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king."

The stage is set now and a new name will appear in the next chapter. He is a power seeker and has a big ego. His name is Haman. He and Mordecai become foes.

v14 "And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her."

Psalm 147:6 "The LORD lifteth up the meek; he casteth the wicked down to the ground."

Esther becomes queen.

Ester Intro

Monday, March 23, 2009

Esther Intro

Esther 1:1 "Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:) v2 That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace, v3 In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants, the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him: v4 When he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days."

Shushan was known to the greeks as Susa, a chief city of Persia. It was the winter palace of the kings.
Ahasuerus(king): king of Persia 529-521 between Cyrus and Darius. I think this is the same as Artaxerxes (great king) because the events in Jerusalem correspond. i.e. the rebuilding of the temple was interrupted. However CI Scofield says that Artaxerxes was the secular Cambyses of 529-521 and Ahasuerus of Esther's time was Xerxes of secular history 485 BC.

Although the Bible uses the title, the full name would be Ahasuerus Cambyses and Artaxerxes Xerxes according to Scofield. For our purposes and the purposes of the Jews under their rule it is enough to know that they were in charge as far as the world was concerned.

Ahasuerus had a wife named Vashti who was queen with him. The king threw a party and paraded his riches before his guest for a 180 days. Obviously, he had a lot of riches. At the end of this parade of riches, the king wanted to show off his wife, a beautiful women, as if she were one of his treasures. I don't know how the king meant this, I expect it was an honor he wished to bestow on her. Vashti was having a party of her own with the wives that came and did not show up when the king ordered it. She was dethroned as a result. That is where Esther comes into the picture. The king got lonesome.

The king had an advisor named Haman who rises to the kings most trusted advisor.

The Jews had a man who refused to go along with everything Haman insisted on and so incurred the wrath of Haman. Mordecai was the Jews name and he would not bow to Haman.

Mordecai was faithful to the king though and discovered a plot to kill the king and reported it.

So that is how the stage is set for this beautiful book of the Bible. Esther had to take the station of wife of the king and her position in the kingdom was used to save the lives of the Jews, albeit at the risk of her own life. Esther was a young virgin who was taken from the kingdom to be the wife of the king after Vashti was banished.

v10 "On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he comanded...the seven chamberlains ...v11 to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to show the people and the princes her beauty; for she was fair to look on. v12 But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment..."

To get a picture of how the government was set up we can go to Daniel 6:1-3 if Darius was following the example of Ahasuerus: "It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first; that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in hi; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm." So there are some thoughts to add to our study of Esther.

Vashti refuses to obey king Ahasuerus and Esther comes on the scene.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Welcome to the World

I just wanted to mention a few places that I do not see hitting on my Bible Study. Greenland seems like a place that would have computers and the Internet. Brazil has a different language but I'm sure they could translate it to Portuguese(Sorry if I spelled that wrong). Russia surely has folks interested in a Bible study and China is more open minded than they use to be. You see I have a map on the Bible Study that shows where the hits come from and I haven't seen any from these countries. So, here is hoping that you will check out the study and read the scriptures I provide if they are not available where you are or if you just left your Bible at home. Thank you so much.

Summary Nehemiah's Arrival Nehemiah 13

Nehemiah 13:6 "But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king:"

Verses 1-3 refers back to Deuteronomy when the Ammonite and Moabite refused to help the children of Israel as they came out of the wilderness. It was when Balaam was involved with putting a curse on Israel but God turned it to a blessing.

Deuteronomy 23:3 "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD forever; v4 Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee."

So Nehemiah came to Jerusalem and found the Ammonites and Moabites mingled with the Jews and cast the out of the congregation.

Verse 4-9 is about Tobiah who was the servant of the current governor. He had allied himself with Eliashib, a priest who had charge over the chamber of the house of God. The chamber was supposed to be used for offerings but was made into a home for Tobiah. Nehemiah cast his stuff out of the temple.

v8 "And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber."

We are seeing here the fiery character of Nehemiah. He was chosen by the king to be his cupbearer for a reason. He was surely a strong man.

v10-14 deals with the food the Levites were suppose to be getting. They were not getting their portion of food and so had to return to the fields to gather for themselves so they could eat. Nehemiah set that right so they could again do their job.

v11 "Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the House of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place."

Verses 15-22 deals with the sabbath. People were doing stuff on the sabbath they should not do and were making it a day of deal making like a flea market. Nehemiah stopped the activity and again threatens to get physical if they do not comply.

v21 "Then I testified against them; and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? If ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath."

Verses 23-31 concerns the Jews being married to wives of other nations. The children could not even speak the language of the Jews. Nehemiah got pretty rough with them. He expressed his deep concern that the men would be drawn away by the wives as even Solomon was.

He proposed the question: v27 "Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?" In verse 36 he calls them "...nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin."

In verse 28 Nehemiah found out that the high priest was married to the daughter of Sanballat the Horonite and so he "...chased him from me."

So after going through the book of Nehemiah, we find a little about the person Nehemiah. He seems to have come into Judah with the blessings of the king and like a whirlwind wasting no time with diplomacy to fix what he say was wrong. After all, he had given the king a time for when he would return.

That closes the book of Nehemiah for now. Next we go to Esther (pronounced with the 'h').

Malachi 3:16 "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name."

Nehemiah recounts his arrival and deeds.
Dedication of wall.http://oldoldstory.blogspot.com/2009/03/dedication-of-wall-nehemiah-12.html

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dedication of Wall Nehemiah 12

Nehemiah 12:47 "And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron."

We again see a list of names. I think this chapter is retro and is a summary of the people and the events of the time.

The book of Ezra covers about 80 years and Nehemiah covers about 11 years. Nehemiah came up after Ezra (14 years)and set things in order. I do not quite get the time frame of Zerubbabel but it seems he was the strong man of the people who returned.

In reading these books we should do some remembering. Israel was redeemed out of Egypt as slaves. The wondered in the wilderness where they were taught to trust in the one true God and learned the law there. They rose to the greatest nation on earth under David and Solomon. They turned from God and worshipped idols and as a result were taken away into captivity. They were granted permission to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild it. Most of the people choose to stay in Babylon and Assyria because they prospered there. A remnant, with a heart for God, came back and did the rebuilding of Jerusalem. These books are their stories.

v27 "And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgiving and with singing with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps."

It is a flashback to the procedures set up by David to praise the LORD. The people were divided into two groups and they climbed the steps above David's house and joined at the top to dedicate the wall.

v43 "Also that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off."

The chapter places emphasis on the singers set up by David and Solomon, Asaph was chief in the old days. His descendants carry on the talent for the LORD. Looking in the book of Psalms, you will see the name of Asaph on many of the chapters.

v46 "For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God."

So to some degree we see now the shame taken away. The destroyed city of Jerusalem represented the nation Israel and the shame they bore for turning from the LORD. It is a physical sign of their spiritual revival.

Next we have the last chapter of Nehemiah.

Malachi 1:5 "And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel."

Dedication of the wall of Jerusalem.

Who will live in Jerusalem?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Who will Live where Nehemiah 11

Nehemiah 11:1 "And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities v2 And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem."

The thousands of people, the children of Israel, are back in Judah and the wall is built. Now, they decide who will live where and make arrangements that Jerusalem be occupied. The rulers stay in Jerusalem which would make it the capitol.

I'm sure most of the people were ready to claim their possessions and get to work on the fields and vineyards but as verse 2 says some stayed in Jerusalem.

v3 "Now these are the chief of the province that dwelt in Jerusalem, but in the cities of Judah dwelt everyone in his possession in their cities, to wit, Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants. See I Chronicles 9:1-3.

Nethinim: a class of persons who were employed as servants to the Levites in their ministrations in the tabernacle and in the Temple. See I Chronicles 9:2

The Zechariah in verse 4 is not the author of the Bible book by that name. His father is different. The same with Joel in v8. I expect the names are passed down and around. They are good names, I don't blame the parents for using them.

We are given the numbers of those staying in Jerusalem and what their jobs were. In verse 22-23 we find the descendants of Asaph, the singer and song writer's descendants in the number and still singing.

v23 "For it was the king's commandment concerning them, that a certain portion should be for the singers, due for every day." This I believe, if I remember correctly, was David's orders that the singers do this.

v20 "And the residue of Israel, of the priests, and the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, everyone in his inheritance."

Here we can see the importance of the scribes who kept records of the genealogy. When the remnant came back, they all knew exactly where their home was and who owned what. In many cases these were the children of those taken away into captivity, so the records were of utmost importance.

Joel 3:20-21 "But Judah shall dwell forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion."

The people are in their possessions except those designated to live in Jerusalem.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Promise Nehemiah 10

Nehemiah 10:39 "For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God."

The first 27 verses of this chapter are those who signed/sealed the promises made. Nehemiah is at the top of the list. There are other well known names, Daniel for one. I do not know if it is the same Daniel we all know. Maybe we will learn that later. The Levite Jeshua is there, we have seen his name before.

The balance of the chapter tells of the various promises made. I find that they are those included in the law and that in the past the children of Israel said they would do. Nevertheless, it is not bad to renew vows so long as they are kept. Here are some highlights:

v32 "...to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God"

v34 "...cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering..."

v35 "...bring the firstfruits..."

v36 "Also the firstborn of our sons, and of our cattle..."

v37 "And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough..."

v38 "...Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes..."

Then we go back to the verse at the first where they promise to never forsake the house of God.

We can see in our day and read about them in the New Testament how priests and ministers have worked up rules and regulations outside the Bible attempting to explain what is already written and sometimes changing the instructions. With all the writing, I think, sometimes the original meaning is totally changed. We should always go back to the source document.

Psalm 122:1 "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD."

The promise to do right by the house of the LORD.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Levites Recount Israel's Rebellion Nehemiah 9

Nehemiah 9:1 "Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them."

They have now heard the law read and explained to them. The children of Israel faced their own sin head on. They humbled themselves before the Lord.

They separated themselves from the strangers of the land v2 "And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers."

Then some stood up to recount some of the history of the people. It was a sad story of the sin of the people and the wonderful mercy of God.

v13 "Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments:"

Here they confirm that what God told them to do and the guidelines he set down were the right way for them to go. It is quite different in our time where, it seems, every thing that God told us to do is questioned. Why did God tell us to do this or that? Why does God let this or that happen? It is hard for people to accept the truth when it condemns the way they live. It is also difficult for man to admit that there is a power higher and more honorable than they.

v16 "But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments,"

Even while the rebellion was going on, the LORD sustained the people and multiplied them as the stars.

v21 "Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing, their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not. v23 Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven, and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess it."

In this recount of the events concerning Israel, we can see that God kept his promises and did not falter in his care for his chosen people. It was Israel that sinned and brought the captivity upon themselves. God was faithful even though they were not.

v31 "Nevertheless for thy great mercies' sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God."

v33 "Howbeit thou are just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly;"

So they now make a covenant with God and put their signatures to the document. The next chapter continues the subject.

In Acts chapter 7 of the New Testament, Stephen recounts a brief history of Israel when he was before the council before he was stoned. It is a good read and goes along with this prayer in Nehemiah. Stephen continues the rebellious acts to the death of Jesus Christ.

Acts 7:51-52 "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart, and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted; and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:"

As generations come and go, Israel has rebelled, but in our study the remnant are as one coming to terms with their sin and the rightness of the law for them.

Isaiah 33:5 "The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness."

Accepting the law as right and confessing sin in Jerusalem.

Law read and explained

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Law Read and Explained Nehemiah 8

Nehemiah 8:10 "Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

On a certain day the people have gathered together as one in the street near the water gate. They have asked Ezra to read the law. Understand, these people have been in a foreign land and many have never seen Jerusalem or heard the law. The day is a sad day for them and a joyous day. They have learned that they have not been following the law and that God has shown great grace to them by not completely destroying them. Their fathers promised to follow the law and now they find out it did not happen.

v5 "And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people (for he was above all the people:) and when he opened it, all the people stood up;"

They have erected a wooden pulpit for Ezra to stand on, so he was physically above them so all could see. It does not mean that he was better, just physically above them.

v8 "So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading."

I think this is where we get our pulpits in our churches and in some cases the people sitting behind the preacher. Here it gives a list of those who stood with Ezra.

v9 "And Nehemiah which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep, For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law."

So the people went away comforted and came back the next day.

v14 "And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month;"

So the people willing to obey went out and stripped off branches from trees and made booths for themselves. Word was spread throughout the area.

v17 "And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel do so. An there was very great gladness."

The feast went on for seven days while they read in the book of the law.

Not only are the people returned physically to Jerusalem but they are returning spiritually to the LORD by obeying his law. It is truly a great day.

Jeshua is Joshua.

II Chronicles 7:14 "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Revival in Jerusalem.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Genelogy and Donations Nehemiah 7

Nehemiah 7:3 "And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar them; and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, everyone in his watch, and everyone to be over against his house."

In the book of Revelation chapter 21-22 there is a description of the New Jerusalem. It tells of a time when there will be no enemy lurking outside and when the LORD himself will be the light and the temple.

Revelation 21:23-25 "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day; for there shall be no night there."

But in this day of the return from captivity, enemies were out there and they had to be vigilant.

The middle of the chapter tells of those who were numbered who came back to Jerusalem.

v66 "The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore. (42,370)

It also tells of their positions in servants and the animals. Thousands of servants were with them. Many hundreds of horses and mules and thousands of asses. They were quite a wealthy congregation. Then it tells of the offerings given to the work.

v71 "And some of the chief of the fathers gave to the treasure of the work twenty thousand drams of gold, and two thousand and two hundred pound of silver."

v70 "...The tirshatha gave to the treasure a thousand drams of gold, fifty basins, five hundred and thirty priests' garments."

And so forth.

Dram of gold: A dram of gold was a Persian coin worth about $5.00 each($4.97). 20,000 times 5 is $100,000. I've no idea how much that would be today. I expect many times more.

Tirshatha: a title of the governor of Judah appointed by the king of Persia. I believe Nehemiah held that title and was the donor of the amount in verse 70.

At this point, the people have settled down from the work and are in their cities. In the next chapter, we will start to deal with their spiritual state, now that the physical work is done.

Isaiah 30:1 "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin;"

Genealogy of those who returned from captivity and the treasure they gave.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Enemies Trickery Nehemiah 6

Nehemiah 6:2 "That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me saying Come let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief."

In the first verse it tells of the frustration of the enemy with the fact that the wall was finished to the point that there were no breaches in it. You remember that at first, the enemy just laughed and said it could not be done, then they tried to attack to stop the work. Both attempts failed and now they want to get Nehemiah out of the city so they can possibly kill him. Nehemiah did not fall for it.

v3 "And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?"

So then a letter writing campaign started between the enemy and the princes. The enemy accused the Jews of planning a rebellion which Nehemiah denied. Then one of the enemy wanted Nehemiah to hid from the danger in the house of God by shutting him up inside.

v10 "Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up and he said Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee."

It was all about trying to put fear into Nehemiah so that he would hid instead of doing the work. Shemaiah was already shut up in his own house and he wanted Nehemiah to do the same in the Lord's house.

v11 "And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in."

Verse twelve tells us that the man was hired by Sanballat. Verse 15 tells us that the wall was finally finished. The enemy is downcast.

v16 "And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God."

Nehemiah kept his focus on the task he was about. He did not stop because of ridicule, deception or threats on his own life. In the end, the finished wall was a witness to the power of God. I expect many memories of the great nation Israel was before the captivity, are now coming back to those who have abused the remnant.

Isaiah 30:19 "For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more; he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry, when he shall hear it, he will answer thee."

The enemy tries to trick Nehemiah into endangering himself.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Trouble Within-Usury Nehemiah 5

Nehemiah 5:8 "And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer."

From what I can remember, it was not lawful for the children of Israel to charge usury to each other although they could charge other nations.

Now Nehemiah has found out from the people that those who are working and trying to care for their families are being taken advantage of by others who are seizing the opportunity to get mortgages on land and loan money. They are even putting the children in bondage.

v1 "And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews.

v2"...we are many; therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live.

v3 "...We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.

v4" ...We have borrowed money for the king's tribute..."

v5 "...we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters..."

Nehemiah got mad. I think he was more angry now that when Sanballat made fun of them and even attacked them.

v6 "And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words." I like the next phrase "v7 "Then I consulted with myself,..."

Nehemiah made a very strong speech to those who were charging the people all this interest. He got them to give it back...the land and a part of the money. In a vivid demonstration typical of the culture he let them know he would not put up with a breach of their promise and hoped God would agree.

v13 "Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. And all the congregation said, Amen, and praised the LORD. And the people did according to this promise."

Nehemiah goes on to say that even though he was governor that he did not do as the other governors and demand stuff from the people as the other governor. He took a minimum, plus he continued to work on the walls. He even fed over a hundred people at his table on what he did get.

v17 "Moreover there were at my table an hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers, beside those that came unto us from among the heathen that are about us."

To use my words, I think he said: 'I'm not taking advantage and neither will you get away with it.'

Jeremiah 18:6 "O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel."

Nehemiah stops the charging of usury among the Jews and other stuff.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sanballat's Indignation Nehemiah 4

Nehemiah 4:14 "And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people. Be not ye afraid of them, remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses."

Nehemiah certainly gave them good reasons for fighting the enemy.

We start off with Sanballat escalating things. At first, he and his puppet servant just laughed at the children of Israel for building the wall. Now, however, the wall is coming together and they are filling the breaches so that the city is actually protected from attack. Sanballat has the soldiers of Samaria so he is feeling pretty brave.

v8 "And conspired all of them togather to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. v9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to God, and set a watch against them day and night."

Word came that the men of Sanballat were planning an attack and were laying in wait for those who went to and fro doing the work. So Nehemiah armed the workers and alternated the men as fighters, watchers and workers. They strapped on their swords and continued to build.

v18 "For the builders, everyone had his sword girded by his side and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me."

Nehemiah kept watch to see if an attack was coming. If one was discovered, the trumpet was blown and everyone came to the area being attacked.

Nehemiah also had everyone move into Jerusalem for protection. The kept watch all the time. In fact he says in the last verse that they kept their clothes on all the time except to wash.

v23 "So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that everyone put them off for washing."

Now the wall is becoming a reality. At first the enemy just made fun but now they are worried.

Isaiah 30:18 "And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him."

Nehemiah fights off the enemy while building the wall of Jerusalem.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Building the Wall of Jerusalem Nehemiah 3

Nehemiah 3:1 "Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel."

Talk about setting the example. These priests jobs were to minister in the house of the LORD but here they are with rocks and tools rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.

Have you ever started trying to do something for the LORD and around you were people saying that will never work or outright laughing at you for your efforts. It happened here.

Go back a few verses: chapter 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? v20 "Then answered I them, and said unto the, 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 was not working the local political scene. He was on a mission to build the wall. He could have mentioned that he had authority from the king but he choose to refer them to the God of heaven, instead.

This chapter goes on to tell about all the people working and the portion they were working on. Some repaired gates and some worked on walls, some around their own chambers. It must have been a sight to see. Sanballat asked later in chapter 4:2 "...will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an and ina day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?"

So I believe we now have Ezra and his crew working on the temple and Nehemiah and his crew working on the wall. If I have my picture right.

Here are the gates I found mentioned in this chapter: Sheep, fish, old, valley gate, fountain, water, horse and Miphkad. It tells who repaired these gates and who repaired the walls between the gates. You can actually follow the work around the city as it is described.

Some phrases I found: v3 describes a gate "...also laid the beams...set up the doors...the locks...and the bars..." v7 "...unto the throne of the governor on this side the river." v8 ..."not the broad wall." v9 "..unto repaired Rephaiah the son of Hur, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem." v11 "the tower of the furnace." v12 "...he and his daughters." v15 "...unto the stairs that go down from the city of David." v16 "...unto the house of the might." v19 "...another piece over against going up to the armory at the turning of the wall." v21 "...another piece..." v24 "...from the house of Azariah unto the turning of the wall, even unto the corner." v29 "...keeper of the east gate," v32 "...goldsmiths and the merchants."

You see everyone did a piece of the wall, they worked out of their usual trade to get the job done.

Isaiah 31:5 "As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem, defending also he will deliver it, and passing over he will preserve it."

The wall of Jerusalem is being rebuilt.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Nehemiah with King, His Journey Nehemiah 2

Nehemiah 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 sent him a time."

Nehemiah after receiving a report that the remnant in Judah were having a hard time of it, came before the king in sadness. The king asked him what was the matter and Nehemiah told him of his homeland and asked permission to go and repair the city Jerusalem.

v9 "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."

Two people opposed to Nehemiah's purpose come into the picture here: Sanballat and Tobiah. They were grieved when they got the news. I expect they knew it was going to dip into their revenue intake.

v13 "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, v14 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."

We need to remember that 70 years have passed. I do not know how old Nehemiah is but it is possible that he has never seen Jerusalem. He has, however, been taught about the majestic city that David and Solomon built and where the LORD promised to put his name. He has probably also been taught that they should pray toward the place where the temple was located.

I Kings 8:28-29 "Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my god, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee today: That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place. v20 And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive."

That was Solomon's prayer when he finished the temple. Compare that to Nehemiah's prayer in the first chapter and we can see that he was surely taught the history and law of Israel.

v6 "Let thine ear now be attentive and thine eyes open...v8 Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying If ye trespass, I will scatter you abroad among the nations; v9 But if ye turn unto me...yet will I gather them from thence...v10 Now these are thy servants and thy people...

And so on he prays as if reminding the LORD of what all he said concerning His people.

Now Nehemiah is wandering about the city of Jerusalem and witnessing, first hand, the destruction that took place. The physical destruction of Jerusalem is indicative of the spiritual state of the children of Israel. Their gates are torn down and they are exposed to the enemy, naked before them and ashamed.

v20 "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."

Sanballat and Tobiah had confronted Nehemiah about helping build the walls but I suspect there was some deceit there. Nehemiah turned down their help as this was a job for the chosen people, not the governors set up by kings.

Nehemiah told his people:
v17 Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, now 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."

From slavery a great nation arose, now from the ashes they rise again.

Isaiah 48:9-11 "For my name's sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off. Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it; for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another."

Nehemiah surveys the damage at Jerusalem. (Bible Study: Old Old Story)