Nehemiah 2

 

This chapter, written in the first person, also contains many inverting vav prefix exceptions to my theory.  This offers more (questionable) evidence that Ezra was the scribe here.  I will point out each of the exceptions as we go along.

וַיְהִי בְּחֹדֶשׁ נִיסָן שְׁנַת עֶשְׂרִים לְאַרְתַּחְשַׁסְתְּא הַמֶּלֶךְ יַיִן לְפָנָיו וָאֶשָּׂא אֶת־הַיַּיִן וָאֶתְּנָה לַמֶּלֶךְ   2:1

 וְלֹא־הָיִיתִי רַע לְפָנָיו׃

Nehe. 2:1   And in the month of Nisan of the twentieth year for Artaxerxes, the king, wine was before him, and I lifted up the wine and gave it to the king.  Now I had never been sad before him,

In the Jewish calendar (at least in biblical days), the month of Nisan was the first month, and Chislev was the ninth month.  Therefore, bible commentators and scholars have assumed (1) that, if Chislev (Chapter 1) came before Nisan in the twentieth year for Artaxerxes, the Jewish year had already been converted to start with Tishrei (two months before Chislev) by the Jews in exile, or (2) the visit of Nehemiah to Jerusalem recorded below occurred before or during the same period as Ezra’s being there.  As for me, I believe that these two assumptions and the arguments behind them are too constricting.  I can see a third assumption that would seem to be consistent with the early Jewish calendar and the later timing of this and subsequent chapters.  Suppose the Jews clung to their calendar while in exile (an assumption that is very acceptable) and, when reporting years related to foreign kings, would start counting from the beginning of the king’s reign, not from the beginning of the nation’s official calendar (also an acceptable assumption).  So I claim that this chapter and subsequent ones are either contemporary with Ezra’s later days or followed them.  We shall see if this assumption holds up in the remaining chapters.

Now there are also two exceptions to my theory of inverting vavs in this verse.  The fifth word from the end of the top line, translated as and I lifted up, and the second word from the end, translated as and [I] gave it, should be respectively, ytiaf'n" ynIa]w and hn"ytn>T'n" ynIa]w.                                                                         [Return to Nehe. 1:1]

וַיֹּאמֶר לִי הַמֶּלֶךְ מַדּוּעַ פָּנֶיךָ רָעִים וְאַתָּה אֵינְךָ חוֹלֶה אֵין זֶה כִּי־אִם רֹעַ לֵב וָאִירָא הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד׃   2:2

Nehe. 2:2   so the king said to me, “Why is your face so sad, but you have no sickness?  This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”  Then I was very greatly fearful,

The third-from-last word in this verse, translated as then I was ... fearful, is also an exception to my theory.  The Hebrew should be ytiarey" ynIa]w.

וָאֹמַר לַמֶּלֶךְ הַמֶּלֶךְ לְעוֹלָם יִחְיֶה מַדּוּעַ לֹא־יֵרְעוּ פָנַי אֲשֶׁר הָעִיר בֵּית־קִבְרוֹת אֲבֹתַי חֲרֵבָה וּשְׁעָרֶיהָ   2:3

 אֻכְּלוּ בָאֵשׁ׃

Nehe. 2:3   but I said to the king, “May the king live forever!  Why should my face not be sad when the city, the home of the tombs of my fathers, is laid waste, and its gates consumed by fire?”

The first word in this verse, translated as but I said, is another exception to my theory of inverting vavs.  The vav prefixes a first-person imperfect verb and should be, according to me, non-inverting.  I claim that the correct Hebrew should be ytir'm.ai ynIa]w.

וַיֹּאמֶר לִי הַמֶּלֶךְ עַל־מַה־זֶּה אַתָּה מְבַקֵּשׁ וָאֶתְפַּלֵּל אֶל־אֱלֹהֵי הַשָּׁמָיִם׃   2:4

Nehe. 2:4   And the king said to me, ”Is this about what you are making a request?”  Then I prayed to the God of heaven,

The fourth-from-last word in this verse, translated as then I prayed, is another exception.  According to me, the Hebrew should be yTil.L'pi ynIa]w.

וָאֹמַר לַמֶּלֶךְ אִם־עַל־הַמֶּלֶךְ טוֹב וְאִם־יִיטַב עַבְדְּךָ לְפָנֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁלָחֵנִי אֶל־יְהוּדָה אֶל־עִיר קִבְרוֹת   2:5

  אֲבֹתַי וְאֶבְנֶנָּה׃

Nehe. 2:5   and said to the king, “If it is pleasing to the king, your servant then would be glad if you would send me to Judah, to the city of the tombs of my fathers, and I rebuilt it.”

The first word in this verse is the same exception as in v. 2:3.  I claim that the correct Hebrew should be ytir'm.ai ynIa]w.  Then the last word, translated as and I rebuilt it, is also an exception.  The Hebrew there should be hn<b.a, ynIa]w.

וַיֹּאמֶר לִי הַמֶּלֶךְ וְהַשֵּׁגַל יוֹשֶׁבֶת אֶצְלוֹ עַד־מָתַי יִהְיֶה מַהֲלָכֲךָ וּמָתַי תָּשׁוּב וַיִּיטַב לִפְנֵי־הַמֶּלֶךְ וַיִּשְׁלָחֵנִי   2:6

 וָאֶתְּנָה לוֹ זְמָן׃

Nehe. 2:6   And the king said to me, with the queen sitting beside him, “For how long would be your journey, and when would you return?”  So it was good before the king, and he sent me, and I set for him a time.

The first word in the second line of this verse, translated as and I set, is another exception to my theory.  The Hebrew should be yTint;n" ynIa]w.

וָאוֹמַר לַמֶּלֶךְ אִם־עַל־הַמֶּלֶךְ טוֹב אִגְּרוֹת יִתְּנוּ־לִי עַל־פַּחֲווֹת עֵבֶר הַנָּהָר אֲשֶׁר יַעֲבִירוּנִי עַד   2:7

  אֲשֶׁר־אָבוֹא אֶל־יְהוּדָה׃

Nehe. 2:7   Then I said to the king, “If it is pleasing to the king, let letters be given to me for the governors beyond the river, that they should let me pass through up to when I will come to Judah,

The first word in this verse is also the same exception as in v. 2:3.  Again I claim that the correct Hebrew should be ytir'm.ai ynIa]w.

וְאִגֶּרֶת אֶל־אָסָף שֹׁמֵר הַפַּרְדֵּס אֲשֶׁר לַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר יִתֶּן־לִי עֵצִים לְקָרוֹת אֶת־שַׁעֲרֵי הַבִּירָה   2:8

 הַבִּירָה אֲשֶׁר־לַבַּיִת וּלְחוֹמַת הָעִיר וְלַבַּיִת אֲשֶׁר־אָבוֹא אֵלָיו וַיִּתֶּן־לִי הַמֶּלֶךְ כְּיַד־אֱלֹהַי הַטּוֹבָה עָלָי׃

Nehe. 2:8   and a letter to Asaph, keeper of the preserve that belongs to the king, that he should give me trees for beams to build the gates of the palace that is by the house and for the wall of the city and for the house into which I will go.”  And the king gave me, as the good “hand” of my God was upon me.

Take note that Nehemiah planned to rebuild the palace (that Solomon built?).  This fact supports the scholarly thinking that Ezra held sway over religious matters, and Nehemiah led in social matters.  Thus their responsibilities did not conflict or overlap.

וָאָבֹוא אֶל־פַּחֲוֹות עֵבֶר הַנָּהָר וָאֶתְּנָה לָהֶם אֵת אִגְּרֹות הַמֶּלֶךְ וַיִּשְׁלַח עִמִּי הַמֶּלֶךְ שָׂרֵי חַיִל וּפָרָשִׁים׃   2:9

Nehe. 2:9   So I came to the governors beyond the river and gave the letters of the king to them.  Now the king had sent chieftains of the army and horsemen with me.

The first word in this verse, translated as so I came, is also an exception as in v. 2:3.  I claim that the correct Hebrew here should be ytiaBi ynIa]w.  And the sixth word, translated as and [I] gave, is also an exception.  The Hebrew there should be yTint;n" ynIa]w.

וַיִּשְׁמַע סַנְבַלַּט הַחֹרֹנִי וְטוֹבִיָּה הָעֶבֶד הָעַמֹּנִי וַיֵּרַע לָהֶם רָעָה גְדֹלָה אֲשֶׁר־בָּא אָדָם לְבַקֵּשׁ טוֹבָה   2:10

Nehe. 2:10   When Sanballat, the Horonite, heard, and Tobiah, the Ammonite servant, then it was greatly exceedingly displeasing to them that someone had come demanding good for the children of Israel.                                                                                                   [Return to Nehe. 13:8]

וָאָבוֹא אֶל־יְרוּשָׁלִָם וָאֱהִי־שָׁם יָמִים שְׁלֹשָׁה׃   2:11

Nehe. 2:11   When I came to Jerusalem, then I was there three days,

The first word in this verse, translated as when I came, is also an exception as in v. 2:3.  I claim that the correct Hebrew here should be ytiaBi ynIa]w.  Then the fourth word, translated as I was, is also an exception.  The Hebrew there should be the whole phrase I was there, which would be ~v'-ynIa]w.

וָאָקוּם לַיְלָה אֲנִי וַאֲנָשִׁים מְעַט עִמִּי וְלֹא־הִגַּדְתִּי לְאָדָם מָה אֱלֹהַי נֹתֵן אֶל־לִבִּי לַעֲשׂוֹת לִירוּשָׁלִָם   2:12

 וּבְהֵמָה אֵין עִמִּי כִּי אִם־הַבְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי רֹכֵב בָּהּ׃

Nehe. 2:12   and I arose at night, I and a few men with me, and I had not made known to any man what my God had given to my heart to do for Jerusalem, and there was no animal with me except the animal that I was riding on.

The first word in this verse, translated as and I arose, is also an exception as in v. 2:3.  I claim that the correct Hebrew here should be yTim.q ynIa]w.

וָאֵצְאָה בְשַׁעַר־הַגַּיא לַיְלָה וְאֶל־פְּנֵי עֵין הַתַּנִּין וְאֶל־שַׁעַר הָאַשְׁפֹּת וָאֱהִי שֹׂבֵר בְּחֹומֹת יְרוּשָׁלִַם   2:13

אֲשֶׁר־(הַמְפֹרוָצִים) [הֵם פְּרוּצִים] וּשְׁעָרֶיהָ אֻכְּלוּ בָאֵשׁ׃

Nehe. 2:13   And I went out by the valley gate at night and to the front of the fountain of the dragon and to the dunghill gate, as I was looking at the walls of Jerusalem, which of them were broken down, and its gates had been consumed by fire.

The word in the parentheses, translated as them were broken down, should be two words as in the brackets.  In addition, the first word, translated as and I went out, is also an exception as in v. 2:3.  I claim that the correct Hebrew here should be ytiac'y ynIa]w.

וָאֶעֱבֹר אֶל־שַׁעַר הָעַיִן וְאֶל־בְּרֵכַת הַמֶּלֶךְ וְאֵין־מָקוֹם לַבְּהֵמָה לַעֲבֹר תַּחְתָּי׃   2:14

Nehe. 2:14   Then I went beyond to the gate fountain and to the pool of the king.  Then there was no place for the animal to pass beneath me.

The first word in this verse, translated as then I went beyond, is also an exception as in v. 2:3.  I claim that the correct Hebrew here should be yTir>b;[ ynIa]w.

וָאֱהִי עֹלֶה בַנַּחַל לַיְלָה וָאֱהִי שֹׂבֵר בַּחוֹמָה וָאָשׁוּב וָאָבוֹא בְּשַׁעַר הַגַּיְא וָאָשׁוּב׃   2:15

Nehe. 2:15   So I was climbing in the valley at night and examining the wall.  Then I turned back and reentered by the valley gate and returned.

The first word in this verse, translated as so I was, is also an exception as in v. 2:11.  As before, I claim that the correct Hebrew here should be __ ynIa]w, where the double underscore, which would not appear in the text, symbolizes the implicit to be verb, was, as in so I was.  Thus the phrase so I was climbing would appear as hl,[ ynIa]w.  Then the fifth and fourth word from the end of the verse and the last word are also exceptions.  For the fifth word, translated as then I turned back, the Hebrew should be yTib.ve ynIa]w.  For the fourth word, translated as and [I] reentered, the Hebrew should be ytiaB ynIa]w.  For the last word, translated as and [I] returned, the Hebrew should be yTib.ve ynIa]w.

וְהַסְּגָנִים לֹא יָדְעוּ אָנָה הָלַכְתִּי וּמָה אֲנִי עֹשֶׂה וְלַיְּהוּדִים וְלַכֹּהֲנִים וְלַחֹרִים וְלַסְּגָנִים וּלְיֶתֶר עֹשֵׂה   2:16

 הַמְּלָאכָה עַד־כֵּן לֹא הִגַּדְתִּי׃

Nehe. 2:16   And none of the officials knew where I had gone or what I had been doing.  Until then I had not declared to the Jews, or to the priests, or to the nobles, or to the officials, or to any other doing the work.

וָאוֹמַר אֲלֵהֶם אַתֶּם רֹאִים הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר אֲנַחְנוּ בָהּ אֲשֶׁר יְרוּשָׁלִַם חֲרֵבָה וּשְׁעָרֶיהָ נִצְּתוּ בָאֵשׁ לְכוּ   2:17

וְנִבְנֶה אֶת־חוֹמַת יְרוּשָׁלִַם וְלֹא־נִהְיֶה עוֹד חֶרְפָּה׃

Nehe. 2:17   Then I said to them, “You are observers of the distressing situation that we are in, that Jerusalem is laid waste, and its gates are burned to ashes.  Come and let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and we will not be a reproach anymore.”

The first word in this verse is also the same exception as in v. 2:3.  Again I claim that the correct Hebrew should be ytir'm.ai ynIa]w.  And the first word in the second line is another exception.  Translated as and let us rebuild, the word should be replaced by two words as hn<b.nI Wnx.n:a]w:.

וָאַגִּיד לָהֶם אֶת־יַד אֱלֹהַי אֲשֶׁר־הִיא טוֹבָה עָלַי וְאַף־דִּבְרֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר אָמַר־לִי וַיֹּאמְרוּ נָקוּם וּבָנִינוּ   2:18

 וַיְחַזְּקוּ יְדֵיהֶם לַטּוֹבָה׃

Nehe. 2:18   And I made known to them the “hand” of my God, that it was good on me, and also the words of the king that he had spoken to me.  And they said, “We will rise up and rebuild.” And they strengthened their hands for the good thing.

The first word in this verse, translated as and I made known, is also an exception as in v. 2:3.  I claim that the correct Hebrew should be ytiD'g>n< ynIa]w.

וַיִּשְׁמַע סַנְבַלַּט הַחֹרֹנִי וְטֹבִיָּה הָעֶבֶד הָעַמּוֹנִי וְגֶשֶׁם הָעַרְבִי וַיַּלְעִגוּ לָנוּ וַיִּבְזוּ עָלֵינוּ וַיֹּאמְרוּ   2:19

מָה־הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם עֹשִׂים הַעַל הַמֶּלֶךְ אַתֶּם מֹרְדִים׃

Nehe. 2:19   When Sanballat, the Horonite, heard, with Tobiah, the Ammonite servant, and Geshem, the Arabian, then they had ridicule for us and were despicable to us as they said, “What is this thing that you are doing?  Are you rebelling against the king?”

וָאָשִׁיב אוֹתָם דָּבָר וָאוֹמַר לָהֶם אֱלֹהֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם הוּא יַצְלִיחַ לָנוּ וַאֲנַחְנוּ עֲבָדָיו נָקוּם וּבָנִינוּ וְלָכֶם   2:20

 אֵין־חֵלֶק וּצְדָקָה וְזִכָּרוֹן בִּירוּשָׁלִָם׃

Nehe. 2:20   But I gave them back a speech, and I said to them, “The God of heaven, He will give success to us, and we, His servants, will rise up and rebuild, but for you there is no share or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”

The first word in this verse, translated as but I gave back, is also an exception as in v. 2:3.  I claim that the correct Hebrew should be ytib;yvi ynIa]w.  Also the fourth word is the same exception as in v. 2:3.  The correct Hebrew should be ytir'm.ai ynIa]w.

 

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