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Nehemiah 1:11--2:6

Context
1:11 Please, 1  O Lord, listen attentively 2  to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who take pleasure in showing respect 3  to your name. Grant your servant success today and show compassion to me 4  in the presence of this man.”

Now 5  I was cupbearer for the king.

Nehemiah Is Permitted to Go to Jerusalem

2:1 Then in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought to me, 6  I took the wine and gave it to the king. Previously 7  I had not been depressed 8  in the king’s presence. 9  2:2 So the king said to me, “Why do you appear to be depressed when you aren’t sick? What can this be other than sadness of heart?” This made me very fearful.

2:3 I replied to the king, “O king, live forever! Why would I not appear dejected when the city with the graves of my ancestors 10  lies desolate and its gates destroyed 11  by fire?” 2:4 The king responded, 12  “What is it you are seeking?” Then I quickly prayed to the God of heaven 2:5 and said to the king, “If the king is so inclined 13  and if your servant has found favor in your sight, dispatch me to Judah, to the city with the graves of my ancestors, so that I can rebuild it.” 2:6 Then the king, with his consort 14  sitting beside him, replied, “How long would your trip take, and when would you return?” Since the king was amenable to dispatching me, 15  I gave him a time.

1 tn The interjection אָנָּא (’anna’) is an emphatic term of entreaty: “please!” (BDB 58 s.v.; HALOT 69-70 s.v.). This term is normally reserved for pleas for mercy from God in life-and-death situations (2 Kgs 20:3 = Isa 38:3; Pss 116:4; 118:25; Jonah 1:14; 4:2) and for forgiveness of heinous sins that would result or have resulted in severe judgment from God (Exod 32:31; Dan 9:4; Neh 1:5, 11).

2 tn Heb “let your ear be attentive.”

3 tn Heb “fear.”

4 tn Heb “grant compassion.” The words “to me” are supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness and style in English.

5 tn The vav (ו) on וַאֲנִי (vaani, “Now, I”) introduces a disjunctive parenthetical clause that provides background information to the reader.

6 tc The translation reads with the LXX וְיַיִן לְפָנַי (vÿyayin lÿfanay, “and wine before me”) rather than יַיִן לְפָנָיו (yayin lÿfanayv, “wine before him”) of the MT. The initial vav (ו) on original וְיַיִן probably dropped out due to haplograpy or orthographic confusion with the two yods (י) which follow. The final vav on לְפָנָיו in the MT was probably added due to dittography with the vav on the immediately following word.

7 tc The translation reads לְפָנֵים (lÿfanim, “formerly”) rather than לְפָנָיו (lÿfanayv, “to his face”) of the MT. The MT seems to suggest that Nehemiah was not sad before the king, which is contrary to what follows.

8 tn Or “showed him a sullen face.” See HALOT 1251 s.v. רַע, רָע 9.

9 tn This expression is either to be inferred from the context, or perhaps one should read לְפָנָיו (lÿfanayv, “before him”; cf. the MT) in addition to לְפָנִים (lÿfanim, “formerly”). See preceding note on the word “previously.”

10 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 5).

11 tn Heb “devoured” or “eaten” (so also in Neh 2:13).

12 tn Heb “said to me.”

13 tn Heb “If upon the king it is good.” So also in v. 7.

14 tn Or “queen,” so most English versions (cf. HALOT 1415 s.v. שֵׁגַל); TEV “empress.”

15 tn Heb “It was good before the king and he sent me.”



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