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Bible Commentaries

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

- Nehemiah

by George Leo Haydock


commonly called THE SECOND BOOK OF ESDRAS.


This Book takes its name from the writer, who was cup-bearer to Artaxerxes, (surnamed Longimanus) king of Persia, and was sent by him with a commission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It is also called the Second Book of Esdras, because it is a continuation of the history begun by Esdras, of the state of the people of God after their return from captivity. (Challoner) --- Genebrard believes that the latter wrote the work. But how long must he thus have lived? and how come the lists to vary so much? (Calmet) --- We may allow that these variations are owing to the mistakes of transcribers, (1 Esdras ii. 1.) for the writer of both works was certainly inspired. Esdras lived a long time along with Nehemias; (chap. xii. 35.) and he may have left memorials, as well as the latter, from which the present work seems to be compiled. (Haydock) --- Some additions have been made since the days of Nehemias, articularly chap. xii. to ver. 26, or at least (Calmet) the five last of these verses. (Capel.) (Chronicles) --- The passage cited from the commentaries of Nehemias, (2 Machabees ii. 13.) is not to be found here; which shews that we have not his entire work, but only an abridgment, in which the author has adopted his words, with some few alterations. The fifth chapter seems to be out of its place, and also the dedication of the walls, chap. xii. 27. Nehemias was a person in great favour at the court of Persia; and of high birth, probably of the royal family, (Eusebius; Isidore; Genebrard in Chron.) as most of the ancients believe that all who governed, till the time of the Asmoneans, were of the tribe of Juda. Hence he styles Hanani his brother, (chap. i. 2.) and declines entering into the temple, chap. vi. 11. His name never occurs among the priests; and though we read [in] 2 Machabees i. 18, 21, jussit sacerdos Nehemias, (Tirinus) the Greek has, "Nehemias order the priests;" Greek: iereis: (Calmet; Huet; Du Hamel) and the title of priest sometimes is given to laymen at the head of affairs. (Haydock) --- In this character Nehemias appeared, by order of Artaxerxes: and notwithstanding the obstructions of the enemies of Juda, rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, and returned after twelve years to court, making a second visit to his own country, a little before the death of the king, whom he probably survived only one year, dying the year of the world 3580, about thirty years after he had been appointed governor. (Calmet) --- In the two first chapters, we behold his solicitude for the welfare of his country, in the ten following his success, and in the last what abuses he corrected. (Worthington) --- He renewed the covenant with God, (chap. ix., and x.) sent for the sacred fire, and established a library at Jerusalem, 2 Machabees i. 19, 34., and ii. 13. (Haydock)

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