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Nehemiah 9:16-37

Context

9:16 “But they – our ancestors 1  – behaved presumptuously; they rebelled 2  and did not obey your commandments. 9:17 They refused to obey and did not recall your miracles that you had performed among them. Instead, they rebelled and appointed a leader to return to their bondage in Egypt. 3  But you are a God of forgiveness, merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and unfailing in your loyal love. 4  You did not abandon them, 9:18 even when they made a cast image of a calf for themselves and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up from Egypt,’ or when they committed atrocious 5  blasphemies.

9:19 “Due to your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. The pillar of cloud did not stop guiding them in the path by day, 6  nor did the pillar of fire stop illuminating for them by night the path on which they should travel. 9:20 You imparted your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths; you provided water for their thirst. 9:21 For forty years you sustained them. Even in the desert they never lacked anything. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.

9:22 “You gave them kingdoms and peoples, and you allocated them to every corner of the land. 7  They inherited the land of King Sihon of Heshbon 8  and the land of King Og of Bashan. 9:23 You multiplied their descendants like the stars of the sky. You brought them to the land you had told their ancestors to enter in order to possess. 9:24 Their descendants 9  entered and possessed the land. You subdued before them the Canaanites who were the inhabitants of the land. You delivered them into their hand, together with their kings and the peoples of the land, to deal with as they pleased. 9:25 They captured fortified cities and fertile land. They took possession of houses full of all sorts of good things – wells previously dug, vineyards, olive trees, and fruit trees in abundance. They ate until they were full 10  and grew fat. They enjoyed to the full your great goodness.

9:26 “Nonetheless they grew disobedient and rebelled against you; they disregarded your law. 11  They killed your prophets who had solemnly admonished them in order to cause them to return to you. They committed atrocious blasphemies. 9:27 Therefore you delivered them into the hand of their adversaries, who oppressed them. But in the time of their distress they called to you, and you heard from heaven. In your abundant compassion you provided them with deliverers to rescue them from 12  their adversaries.

9:28 “Then, when they were at rest again, they went back to doing evil before you. Then you abandoned them to 13  their enemies, and they gained dominion over them. When they again cried out to you, in your compassion you heard from heaven and rescued them time and again. 9:29 And you solemnly admonished them in order to return them to your law, but they behaved presumptuously and did not obey your commandments. They sinned against your ordinances – those by which an individual, if he obeys them, 14  will live. They boldly turned from you; 15  they rebelled 16  and did not obey. 9:30 You prolonged your kindness 17  with them for many years, and you solemnly admonished them by your Spirit through your prophets. Still they paid no attention, 18  so you delivered them into the hands of the neighboring peoples. 19  9:31 However, due to your abundant mercy you did not do away with them altogether; you did not abandon them. For you are a merciful and compassionate God.

9:32 “So now, our God – the great, powerful, and awesome God, who keeps covenant fidelity 20  – do not regard as inconsequential 21  all the hardship that has befallen us – our kings, our leaders, our priests, our prophets, our ancestors, and all your people – from the days of the kings of Assyria until this very day! 9:33 You are righteous with regard to all that has happened to us, for you have acted faithfully. 22  It is we who have been in the wrong! 9:34 Our kings, our leaders, our priests, and our ancestors have not kept your law. They have not paid attention to your commandments or your testimonies by which you have solemnly admonished them. 9:35 Even when they were in their kingdom and benefiting from your incredible 23  goodness that you had lavished 24  on them in the spacious and fertile land you had set 25  before them, they did not serve you, nor did they turn from their evil practices.

9:36 “So today we are slaves! In the very land you gave to our ancestors to eat its fruit and to enjoy 26  its good things – we are slaves! 9:37 Its abundant produce goes to the kings you have placed over us due to our sins. They rule over our bodies and our livestock as they see fit, 27  and we are in great distress!

1 tn Heb “and our fathers.” The vav is explicative.

2 tn Heb “they stiffened their neck” (so also in the following verse).

3 tc The present translation follows a few medieval Hebrew MSS and the LXX in reading בְּמִצְרָיִם (bÿmitsrayim, “in Egypt”; so also NAB, NASB, NRSV, TEV, NLT) rather than the MT reading בְּמִרְיָם (bÿmiryam, “in their rebellion”).

4 tc The translation follows the Qere reading חֶסֶד (khesed, “loyal love”) rather than the Kethib reading וְחֶסֶד (vÿkhesed, “and loyal love”) of the MT.

5 tn Heb “great.”

6 tn Heb “did not turn from them by day to guide them in the path.”

7 tn The words “of the land” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity.

8 tc Most Hebrew MSS read “the land of Sihon and the land of the king of Heshbon.” The present translation (along with NAB, NASB, NIV, NCV, NRSV, CEV, NLT) follows the reading of one Hebrew MS, the LXX, and the Vulgate.

9 tn Heb “the sons.”

10 tn Heb “they ate and were sated.” This expression is a hendiadys. The first verb retains its full verbal sense, while the second functions adverbially: “they ate and were filled” = “they ate until they were full.”

11 tn Heb “they cast your law behind their backs.”

12 tn Heb “from the hand of” (so NASB, NIV); NAB “from the power of.”

13 tn Heb “in the hand of” (so KJV, ASV); NAB “to the power of.”

14 tn Heb “if a man keep.” See note on the word “obey” in Neh 1:5.

15 tn Heb “they gave a stubborn shoulder.”

16 tn Heb “they stiffened their neck.”

17 tn The Hebrew expression here is elliptical. The words “your kindness” are not included in the Hebrew text, but have been supplied in the translation for clarity.

18 tn Heb “did not give ear to.”

19 tn Heb “the peoples of the lands.”

20 tn Heb “the covenant and loyal love.” The expression is a hendiadys. The second noun retains its full nominal sense, while the first functions adjectivally: “the covenant and loyalty” = covenant fidelity.

21 tn Heb “do not let it seem small in your sight.”

22 tn Heb “you have done truth.”

23 tn Heb “great.”

24 tn Heb “given them.”

25 tn Heb “given.”

26 tn The expression “to enjoy” is not included in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

27 tn Heb “according to their desire.”



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