Nehemiah – Chapter 1

"Oh, Yeah, By the Way, I Forgot to Mention That I Know the King..."

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

This Book occurs in the 20th year of the reign of Darius, 14 years after the second Temple was completed. It was the month of Kislev and Nehemiah (Nechemya in Hebrew) was in the capital city of Shushan. A man named Chanani arrived from Jerusalem with troubling news: the Jews were suffering attacks because the walls had never been repaired after they were breached and burned by Nebuchadnezzar a century earlier. (The Jews had been given permission by Darius to rebuild the Temple, but not to fortify the city.)

When he heard of the attacks on his brethren, Nehemiah wept, fasted and prayed for several days. He confessed his sins and the sins of the nation in not adhering to the Torah, which G-d commanded through Moses. The Torah says that if the Jews abandon G-d, they will be dispersed, but that He will return them from the ends of the Earth because they are His people. Therefore, Nehemiah prayed, may it please G-d to hear his prayer and may He encourage the king to show compassion to the Jews.

At this point, Nehemiah mentions almost parenthetically that his job was butler to the king, so he had access to him.

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