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Nehemiah 2:1-10

Context
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, 1  I took the wine and gave it to the king. Previously 2  I had not been depressed 3  in the king’s presence. 4  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 5  lies desolate and its gates destroyed 6  by fire?” 2:4 The king responded, 7  “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 8  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 9  sitting beside him, replied, “How long would your trip take, and when would you return?” Since the king was amenable to dispatching me, 10  I gave him a time. 2:7 I said to the king, “If the king is so inclined, let him give me letters for the governors of Trans-Euphrates 11  that will enable me to travel safely until I reach Judah, 2:8 and a letter for Asaph the keeper of the king’s nature preserve, 12  so that he will give me timber for beams for the gates of the fortress adjacent to the temple and for the city wall 13  and for the house to which I go.” So the king granted me these requests, 14  for the good hand of my God was on me. 2:9 Then I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, and I presented to them the letters from the king. The king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 2:10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official 15  heard all this, they were very displeased that someone had come to seek benefit for the Israelites.

1 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.

2 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.

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

4 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.”

5 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 5).

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

7 tn Heb “said to me.”

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

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

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

11 tn Heb “across the river,” here and often elsewhere in the Book of Nehemiah.

12 tn Or “forest.” So HALOT 963 s.v. פַּרְדֵּס 2.

13 tc One medieval Hebrew MS, the Syriac Peshitta, Vulgate, and the Arabic read here the plural וּלְחוֹמוֹת (ulÿkhomot, “walls”) against the singular וּלְחוֹמַת (ulÿkhomat) in the MT. The plural holem vav (וֹ) might have dropped out due to dittography or the plural form might have been written defectively.

14 tn The Hebrew text does not include the expression “these requests,” but it is implied.

15 tn Heb “servant” (so KJV, ASV; NAB “slave”; NCV “officer.” This phrase also occurs in v. 19.



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