Seeing the Person and Work of Jesus Christ in Nehemiah


Broken walls new

Introduction

The focus of this study of Nehemiah is to show how God has inserted, in Chapter 2, a short but amazing historical vignette that typifies Jesus’s three days and three nights of the Atonement  within a larger contextual account, in the rest of the book, that typifies and highlights Jesus Christ (together with His eternal Church) in His ongoing battle with the devil and the devil’s minions in the course of building His Church. Similar typological accounts can very clearly be seen in the Book of Esther and Judges 4&5.

Nehemiah (meaning “Jehovah comforts“), as the governor (note that the root word in Nehemiah is like Nahum, meaning Comfort), along with Ezra (meaning “Help“) the priest and the scribe (according to Nehemiah 8:9), was part of the Jewish captivity living in Persia as part of the Persian King’s court that was sent back to Jerusalem by the King of Persia (possibly Ahasuerus (Artaxerxes) from the book of Esther) to restore the destroyed walled city of Jerusalem and rebuild the desecrated Temple of God. Moreover, we read in Nehemiah 1:11 that Nehemiah was the King of Persia’s “cupbearer” (butler).

SIDE NOTE: The name Nehemiah has the same Hebrew root word for “comfort”, נָחַם (nāḥam) H5162, that we find with the name of the Prophet Nahum.  Please see more on God’s Comforting His saints here: Nahum (remembering also that Jesus said that The Father would send (in Jesus’s Name) the “Comforter”, Who Is God, the Holy Ghost (John 14:26), Who is also the “Spirit of Truth”, Who would lead God’s elect into “all Truth”, and He (the Holy Ghost/Spirit) would speak of Jesus (John 15:26, and John 16:7-13.)

Chapter 1, Nehemiah Learned of Jerusalem’s Destitution and Petitioned God for Help

Nehemiah is immediately introduced to us in Nehemiah 1:1, where we read, “The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and [certain] men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.” Nehemiah is the son of HachaliahH2446 , which means “whom Jehovah enlightens“. Nehemiah 10:1 informs us that Nehemiah is known in Jerusalem as the Tirshatha (“the Governor“) H8660.

We also see the words “and it came to pass“.  From these words we know that God is telling us that something very significant is going to be provided.  It occurs in the 9th month of the Jewish calendar, or about November/December and it begins in the palace, Shushan, of the Persian king.  Hanani (“Gracious”), a brother of Nehemiah, along with some other men of Judah, was queried by Nehemiah about the status of the Jews remaining in Judah and of the holy city of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah was immediately informed, “And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province [are] in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also [is] broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.” (see 2 Kings 25:8 )

Nehemiah’s Prayer and Petition to God

Nehemiah’s reaction was swift and sorrowful as we read in Nehemiah 1:4-11, “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned [certain] days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heavenAnd said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.”  

Nehemiah recognized that God had justly punished Israel for its sins in not keeping God’s Laws, as were provided by God to Moses. But he also knew that God is merciful to repentant sinners, as we subsequently see in Nehemiah 1:8-11, “Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, [If] ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations (see Leviticus 26:33, Deuteronomy 4:25-27, Deuteronomy 28:64)But [if] ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, [yet] will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now these [are] thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand. O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Nehemiah was very close to the king of Persia, because Nehemiah was the king’s “cupbearer” or butler.  Nehemiah prayed to God for mercy and to soften the heart of the king towards Nehemiah and his petition to the king on behalf of God’s people.

Note: There are many corollaries between Nehemiah and the Lord Jesus Christ that we will see unfold in this study, and being the king’s “cupbearer” is just one of them. This is because Jesus was, in effect, God’s cupbearer when we read how Jesus had to drink the cup of God’s wrath for the sins of the elect?  In John 18:11 we read when Jesus was rebuking Peter for trying to defend Jesus, “Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall not drink it?”

Nehemiah Chapter 2: Nehemiah’s Mission to Jerusalem

God also begins Nehemiah Chapter 2 in Nehemiah  2:1 with the words, “And it came to pass“.  We will learn something of great importance. The events that follow begin in the first month of the year (Nissan) in the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, the king of Persia.  It occurs in Shushan the palace (the same palace we read about in Esther).

Then we read in Nehemiah 2:2-5,  where Nehemiah’s sad countenance, “the sorrow of the heart” is noted by the King.  Nehemiah makes clear that “Then I was very sore afraid,” but Nehemiah explained to the King, why should he not be sorrowful given that Jerusalem was desolate, “the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, [lieth] waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?”  The king essentially asked what might be done? In advance of making his petition to the King, Nehemiah “prayed to the God of heaven.” Then Nehemiah softly enquired if it could be the King’s will to send him to Judah to Jerusalem to “build it.” In Nehemiah  2:6-9we read that the King asked Nehemiah how long would it take, and the time was set, which was evidently twelve years according to Nehemiah 5:14. Nehemiah also asked for letters of conveyance for the various governors in the area beyond the river (likely the Jordan River, but also the Euphrates?) and decrees to allow him to get the necessary construction materials for the building, gates, and the wall of the city, which the King granted, along with a detachment of the King’s “captains of the army and horsemen”.

The Amazing Vignette: The Spiritual Significance of Nehemiah’s Three Days Sojourn at Jerusalem 

The following review/lesson is one among many of the amazing “hidden treasures” spoken of.

The account of Nehemiah’s three day sojourn at Jerusalem is found in Nehemiah 2:11-16 where we read the following:

11.So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days

12. And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I [any] man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither [was there any] beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon. 

13. And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.

14. Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king’s pool: but [there was] no place for the beast [that was] under me to pass. 

15. Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and [so] returned. 

16. And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told [it] to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.

When we read this account in Nehemiah, Chapter 2, there are some interesting parallels between the activities of Nehemiah during his “three day” (and hence three night) sojourn at Jerusalem with those associated with the last days of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry and which distinguish His Atoning Sacrifice. Let us take a look at these seven specific parallels (of which even more can be discerned):

  1. Who else, like Nehemiah, went to Jerusalem for three days and three nights?
  2. Who else, like Nehemiah, arose in the night, with some few men with him? 
  3. Who else, like Nehemiah, did not confide what was in his heart to do at Jerusalem?
  4. Who else, like Nehemiah, “viewed” (“purchased”) the wall at night?
  5. Who else, like Nehemiah, went out by night before the spiritual “dragon well” and by a spiritual “dung port”?
  6. Who else, like Nehemiah went by the brook Kidron (Cedron in the New Testament)?
  7. Who else, like Nehemiah had kept back from the Jews, the priests, the nobles, and the rulers where he went or what he did?

The answer in each case can only be…the Lord Jesus Christ in the course of His Atoning Sacrifice!

So let’s see how these can be shown from the Bible:

1. Nehemiah’s sojourn at Jerusalem was three days; Jesus’s Atonement at Jerusalem spanned three days and three nights

Jesus’s Atoning Sacrifice at Jerusalem can be shown to have spanned three earthly days (and nights) as described for Nehemiah. It would begin after sundown Thursday night (night one) and following the Last Supper (the Passover meal with His Disciples). It would then continue through to His “physical” death on the cross, and subsequent burial that same Friday (day one).Then His body would lie in the tomb all of the Sabbath day (night two and day two). Then it remained in the tomb for another night, Saturday night (night three) and Jesus would arise from the dead on Sunday morning (the third day).  Note that it is also consistent with what we read in Matthew 12:40, where Jesus compared His Atonement period to the three days and three nights that Jonah was in the whale’s belly.

We know that the Atonement began Thursday night, because we learn that after the Thursday evening Passover meal (the feast of unleavened bread) that it was in the night. And it is interesting that, typically, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives at night, as we read in Luke 21:37 that Jesus would teach in the day time in the temple; “and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is call [the mount] of Olives.” However, the very last time Jesus went to the Mount of Olives on that Passover night, He stopped at the Garden of Gethsemane (which .  According to Luke 22:39, “And he (Jesus) came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.” 

We should all be aware that the Garden of Gethsemane is just east of Jerusalem at the base of the Mount of Olives by the uppermost part of the valley of the Brook Kidron and where Jesus’s Atonement began on Passover evening/night as we read in John 18:1,”When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron (Kidron in Greek), where was a garden (Gethsemane), into the which he entered, and his disciples.” The account of Jesus suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane can be also be found in three other places in the Bible, in Matthew 26:36–46, Mark 14:32–42, Luke 22:39–46.  From those three descriptions, we learn that Jesus was in the Garden with the disciples, then Jesus told them to remain, while He went further with Peter, James, and John, and then, alone, a bit farther.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, after Jesus had separated Himself from His disciples about a stone’s castas we read in Luke 22:41) and prayed three times (e.g., Luke 22:42), “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” The “cup” was the cup of God’s wrath that Jesus had to take in penalty for the sins of God’s elect. Remember also shortly afterward where Jesus reprimanded Peter for trying to protect Him in John 18:11, “Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall not drink it? Moreover we know that the Garden was where the agony of the Atonement had begun because we read in Luke 22:44, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” 

A Stone’s Cast?

The significance of Luke 22:41 should not be missed by the reader. “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,” The language of a stone’s cast is important because the casting of stones has great significance in the Bible.  It is used to condemn someone to death in the Bible.  Jesus was condemned to death on the behalf of all those who would believe on Him as their Lord God and Savior.  Any sin is sufficient to justify death by stoning, not just blasphemy against God or murder. Remember that in Numbers 15:32-36, we read of a man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath was subsequently taken outside of the camp and stoned to death by God’s command to Moses.

More significantly, there is another case that we should all be aware of regarding “stoning”.  In Deuteronomy 21:18 we read, “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and [that], when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; [he is] a glutton, and a drunkardAnd all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.¶ And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged [is] accursed of God😉 that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance.    We should all remember that Jesus was accused, falsely, of being a glutton and a drunkard in Luke 7:34, “The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!”  And following Jesus’s Passion in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was spiritually deemed to have been worthy of stoning on behalf of the elect, Jesus hung on the cross on that same Passover day, and that cross, being hewn of wood, served as a “tree” as we read in Galatians 3:13 , “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree:” And Jesus’s body was buried before sun down that day in the Tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea as recorded in Matthew 27:57-60.

The mention of “a stone’s cast” was placed there by God to show that Jesus had at that point come under judgment for the sins of God’s elect. 2 Corinthians 5:21 makes clear that, “For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus was subsequently tormented in every way until His death on the cross, that occurred just outside the walls of Jerusalem on Friday afternoon (the ninth hour, or 3:00 p.m.).  Then Jesus’s body was buried in the tomb and remained there, Friday night (the second night) through Saturday (the sabbath day and the second day), through Saturday night until the resurrection early Sunday morning, which marked the third day.

Another Note: The beast that Nehemiah rode upon could be likened to the colt of an ass that Jesus rode upon when entering Jerusalem. In Luke 19:28 &29, we read that Jesus, on his last earthly sojourn at Jerusalem to fulfill His work of the Atonement, Jesus ascended up to Jerusalem via the Mount of Olives on the colt of an ass on Palm Sunday as described in Luke 19:35.

2. Nehemiah was accompanied part way with “some few men” just as Jesus was with His disciples on his way to the Garden of Gethsemane

This was discussed above but note that in the Matthew account in Matthew 26:36-46, we read, “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonderAnd he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye hear, and watch with me¶ And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou [wilt]….

3. Nehemiah did not confide “what was in his heart to do at Jerusalem” just as Jesus did not make plain His Mission at the time

From an earthly perspective it makes sense that Nehemiah wanted to keep his three day mission of reconnaissance of the wall at Jerusalem a secret, given the opposition (see below), but from a spiritual perspective we know that Jesus never made clear that he was going to suffer and die for the sins of the elect in fulfillment of the Law of Sacrifice.  And even when he openly told them of His death and resurrection, it was nonetheless “hid from them” as if He had not informed them “what was in his heart to do at Jerusalem.Luke 9:44&45 tells us that Jesus told His disciples, “Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.” Moreover, in Luke 18:31-34 we read again that Jesus told the disciples in detail what was going to happen to Him, “Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge [him], and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”  Jesus supernaturally “hid” the purpose of His Mission from His disciples! That is why we later (after the resurrection) are provided the account of the Road to Emmaus.

4. Nehemiah “VIEWED” the wall; Jesus “PURCHASED” the wall

As faithful readers of the Bible, we should all be aware that the word “viewed” was placed there by the Hebrew translators, because it would make complete sense in the historical temporal context, but it was, nonetheless, not in the original texts. The translators therefore “assumed” that there was an inexplicable “error” in the transcription…despite the fact that it was entered that precise way twice in the original manuscripts!

The Hebrew word for “viewed” שָׂבַר sâbar, saw-bar’ was put there by the translator because they assumed that the word in the original text was written “erroneously” as שָׁבַר shâbar in both Nehemiah 2:13 and Nehemiah 2:15).  While שָׂבַר sâbar is a primitive root; meaning “to scrutinize”; by implication (of watching) to expect (with hope and patience):—hope, tarry, “view”, wait; alternatively שָׁבַר shâbar is interpreted as “purchase” as in buying wheat.  The fact is that the jot (dot) was on the top of the right arm rather than the left arm of the Hebrew letter in the original manuscripts was NOT an error or accident!  This is because God made sure that it was repeated twice for confirmation!

So then, while it would seem perfectly correct and logical from a temporal, earthly, historical perspective that Nehemiah would have “viewed/examined” the wall; nonetheless, from a the spiritual perspective, we know that Jesus (who is clearly being presaged by Nehemiah in this particular Biblical account), would not only viewed the walls from an eternal perspective, but because of His Atoning sacrifice (that started on Passover night the Garden of Gethsemane after crossing the Brook Kidron/Cedron), also “purchased” the wall!

We know this to be true when we remember that all believers are purchased by the shed blood of Jesus as we read in 1 Corinthians 6:20, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Also in 1 Corinthians 7:23, “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.”  

And, moreover, all the believers, the elect and chosen people of God, are the “lively stones” that are built into the wall of the  spiritual temple of God of the spiritual New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2) of which Jesus Christ is the “Chief Cornerstone.”  See 1 Peter 2:5-8, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in scripture, (Found in Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22) behold I lay in Si-on a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.  Unto you therefore which believe he (The Lord Jesus Christ) is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (See also Isaiah 8:14-16, Matthew 21:42, Mar 12:10&11, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, and Romans 9:33)

See also Ephesians 2:19-22, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstoneIn whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”  

The believers are also not only the “lively stones” in the wall, but are also “co-builders” of that wall with Jesus Christ, as we are informed in 1 Corinthians 3:9-11. “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, [ye are] God’s buildingAccording to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.Note how this is also consistent with the last words of Nehemiah 2:16…as “the rest that did the work” is historically referring to those co-laborers with Nehemiah in building the earthly wall of the physical Jerusalem, who spiritually represent the believers with Jesus Christ in building the eternal church encompassing the New Jerusalem.

The New Jerusalem

To see that the new Jerusalem is a spiritual representation of the kingdom of God that is made up of the body of believers, we just have to turn to Revelation 3:12, where we read, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall no more go out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches.”  This truth is also evident in Galatians 4:25&26, which contrasts the earthly Jerusalem and her children (the Jews of national Israel), described as being in bondage (to the works of the law), with the heavenly spiritual “Jerusalem which is above is free (through the grace of God), which is the mother of us all (all true believing Christians).”

5.  Jesus, like Nehemiah, went out by night by the gate of the valley before the spiritual “dragon well” and by a spiritual “dung port”.

In Hebrews 13:11&12 we read  “For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.” Jesus as the Sacrifice for sin, like the earthly blood sacrifices, had to be taken outside the camp/city and burned and the Kidron Valley is where that was done outside the gates of Jerusalem.

The reference to the dragon well is interesting.  It is not clear why there would be such a well in the city and it is the only reference to it in the whole Bible. When we look at the original Hebrew word translated as “dragon” we find that it is תַּנִּין (tannîn) H8577 , which is most often (26x) translated as “dragon”, but it can also be interpreted as whale (3x), serpent (3x) or sea monster (1x). Moreover, the original Hebrew word translated as “well” is עַיִן (ʿayin) H5869  is most often (495x) translated as “eye”, but “well” is only 11x?  Could it be that the “dragon well” is the “whale’s eye”?  Whereupon Jonah’s “three day and three night” trial comes to mind. In any case, one thing we do know is that a “dragon/serpent” is a “type” for the devil who was allowed reign over this earth, but was defeated by Jesus at the cross. Revelation 12:9 tells us, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

It should also be noted that the Dung Port/Dung Gate (where, given that there was no sanitation utilities in those days, all the human excrement of Jerusalem would be carried out of the city) is located on the southern side of Jerusalem where the Kidron valley wraps around the southeast corner of the city.  We also know later in Nehemiah 3:13&14 that the “dung gate” was repaired, and the gate was sealed with “the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.”  The spiritual implication is that there is nothing that will ever need to be removed again from the New Jerusalem to the Kidron valley (Hell).

Note also that, at the time, “the gates thereof were consumed with fire”.   This is because had it not been for the Divine intervention of God the eternal city of God would remained destroyed and consumed by fire of God’s wrath for eternity, no one would be saved, as everyone who is descended from Adam would have remained under the curse of God and be consigned to the fires of Hell.

6.  Jesus, like Nehemiah went by (over) the brook Kidron (Cedron in the New Testament).

As was mentioned earlier, in John 18:1, we read, “When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron (Kidron in Greek), where was a garden (Gethsemane), into the which he entered, and his disciples.”

Spiritually, the Brook Kidron strongly suggests the eternal fires of Hell, as the Brook Kidron is where all the refuse was dumped and continually burned from the ancient city of Jerusalem. It is mentioned explicitly in eleven verses in the Bible (ten in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament), and every time, in some form or another, it relates to Hell.  This is because the brook Kidron was where all the false idols were broken, stamped to powder, and then burned (e.g. 1Kings 15:13, 2 Kings 23:62 Kings 23:12 and 2 Chronicles 15:16), and also where the priests, the Levites, carried out all of the uncleannesses out of the Temple (2 Chronicles  29:16). The Kidron valley is also associated with “dead bodies” and “ashes”, as we read in Jeremiah 31:40 where God declared, “And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, [shall be] holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.”

Consistent with that, Kidron also means “Very Black, Full of Darkness”.  Jesus describes Hell three times as “outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:12, Mat 22:13, Matthew 25:30). Finally, there is the account of king David fleeing from Absalom, leaving Jerusalem also crossed over the brook Kidron as we read in 2 Samuel 15:23, “And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness.”  

The bottom line is that the Kidron valley, the valley of the brook Kidron, is an allegorical picture of Hell.  Jesus had to endure God’s wrath in Hell for the equivalent of an eternity during His three days and three nights outside the gates of Jerusalem. But the Good News is that we know that Jesus also arose from the dead, and that His resurrection proved that the full payment for the sins of His elect had been paid, and therefore Jesus, like Nehemiah, “returned“!   Hallelujah!

*Note: There is another reference to the brook Kidron. Shimei (or Shimhi or Shimi or Shimea) is the name of a man who we read about in II Samuel 16:5, “And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name [was] Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came.”  Later in II Samuel 19:16-20, Shimei repented of his sin against David and begged for mercy and David granted it in as we read in II Samuel 19:23, “Therefore the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him.”  However, in the case of that Shimei, we later read 1Kings 2:36-46 that because he did not obey King Solomon’s commandment to not cross the brook Kidron (he turned again to folly), King Solomon had that Shimei put to death. (For more background how this was pre-determined by David immediately before his own death in his last words of instruction to his son Solomon, please see also 1Kings 2:8&9)

7. Jesus, like Nehemiah, did not inform the rulers where He went or what He did; Neither had He told the Jews, nor the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.”

If we stop to think about this, in light of all of the above commentary (derived from the Bible alone), we will soon come to realize that Jesus did not tell anyone that He was the Atoning Sacrificial Lamb of God or that He was also the High Priest (after the order of Melchizedek) that offered Himself as the Sacrifice sufficient to pay for the sins of God’s elect, His Church and Bride. Jesus would purchase the stones for the wall with His shed blood.  That Jesus had to pay the equivalent of an eternity in Hell by going to Hell for the payment of the sins of the elect. How this can be the case is explained further in the study of the book of Jonah.

Luke 19:41&42…Jesus wept over Jerusalem where we read, “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things [which belong] unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

John 8:43…Jesus speaking to the Pharisees said, “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

John 12:16…Note that it was not until after Jesus’s ascension that the disciples understood that Jesus was the fulfillment of all the Old Testament scripture and prophecies, “These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and [that] they had done these things unto him.”

The Bigger Picture: The Opposition to Nehemiah, Seeking to Thwart His Work 

Let’s take a closer look at some other interesting analogies that address the enemies of Nehemiah (It has already been shown above that Nehemiah is typological representative of the Lord Jesus Christ in both Jesus’s Atonement and in the building of His Church. The enemies of Nehemiah, who included a Moabite and an Ammonite, are representative of the devil and his co-horts arrayed in opposition to Jesus and His Holy Sacrificial Work of building His eternal church in saving/redeeming the eternal Israel.

In Nehemiah 2:10, we read, “When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard [of it], it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.” Sanballat (whose name reportedly means variously “bramble-bush”; “enemy in secret”; “strength”) was a Moabite of the hill town in Moab known as Horonaim (“a town of two caves”), and Tobiah (whose name “Jehovah is good”), an Ammonite, who was the servant of Sanballat were both vehemently opposed to Nehemiah

It is quite notable that these two named men, a Moabite and an Ammonite (along with representatives from many nearby nations in the world at that time, see Nehemiah 4:7 below) made many attempts to thwart and hinder the work of Nehemiah, which he had set out to accomplish…that of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and thereby seeking “the welfare of the children of Israel.”

It is no coincidence that these men were both descended from the two sons of Lot (via Lot’s daughters as we read in Genesis 19:37-38) who were named Moab and Ammon, and were therefore opposed to Nehemiah (who is a “Type” of the Lord Jesus Christ) who was coming to “seek the welfare of the children of Israel” (who represent the “elect of God”). This is because they were cursed of God as is recorded in God’s edict against them that we read in Deuteronomy 23:3, “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD forever:

In Nehemiah 2:19&20, we read, “But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard [it], they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What [is] this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

Who might those two men represent?

IF the analogy presented above equating the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem by Nehemiah following his solo journey to view (“purchase”) the walls during three days and nights with that laying the ground work for the building of the walls of the eternal Jerusalem, the Church, by Jesus Christ (Himself being the Chief Corner Stone), then those two persons ought to have counterparts in the New Testament who sought to defeat the efforts of Jesus in that work. Hmmmm?

And the Bible also tells us that Sanballat was a “Horonite”  As was mentioned above, A Horonite is someone who is from the town as Horonaim (“a town of two caves”) so it is reasonable that someone might live in a cave there, and one academic reference declares such a person to be a “trogolodite” (a caveman). (see A Dictionary of Scriptural Proper Names, by J.B. Jackson)  At a minimum, we have already been given some insight that Sanballat is a wicked person.  So once again, who might Sanballat represent? Who sought to defeat Jesus at the cross of Calvary to keep Jesus from completing His mission? And who was filled with hatred of Jesus and those who followed Jesus and are considered his kinsman (the True Jews) and for whom Jesus sought their welfare?

It is therefore no coincidence that Sanballat means variously “bramble-bush”; “enemy in secret”; and “strength”

These three names can all be shown to be negative in a number of ways:

  1. A “bramble bush” is like a thorn and a thistle, which we know from Genesis 3:17&18, that they are part of the curse upon man due to the Fall of Adam because of the devil’s lies, And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
  2. We should all know that the devil is the “enemy“, as we read in Matthew 13:39, “The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
  3. The devil has “strength” as he is also likened to a “strong man” as we read in Matthew 12:29, (and Mark 3:27) “Or else how can one enter into a strong man‘s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.” The strong man that Jesus was referring to is the devil. The devil was bound at the cross by Jesus, and Jesus said in Matthew 16:18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

When Nehemiah and his escort arrived in Jerusalem, their return aroused the enmity of Sanballat and his allies. Nehemiah 2:10 tells us that “When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard [of it], it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.”  When Nehemiah actually disclosed his intention of building the walls of Jerusalem they laughed him to scorn,”But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard [it], they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What [is] this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.Nehemiah’s denouncement of Sanballat and Tobia indicated that, as enemies of God, they would have no possibility of salvation in God’s kingdom.

As soon as Sanballat and his associates heard that Nehemiah and the Jews were actually building the walls, they were angry; and Sanballat addressed the army of Samaria with a contemptuous reference to “these feeble Jews.”Nehemiah 4:1-3 tells us, ““But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? Now Tobiah the Ammonite [was] by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.” Sanballat and Tobia jointedly mocked the work undertaken by Nehemiah and the Jews with him to build the walls of Jerusalem.  Nehemiah and his builders, the Jews, vigorously hurried the work, while Sanballat and his associates organized their forces to fight against Jerusalem.  Nehemiah 4:7&8 “But it came to pass, [that] when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, [and] that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come [and] to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.

Nehemiah prepared to meet the opposition and continued the work on the walls. We later read in Nehemiah  6:1 &2 Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and [that] there was no breachleft therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying,Come, let us meet together in [some one of] the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I [am] doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” Then in verses 6:4-7 we learn that five different times Sanballat and his confederates challenged Nehemiah and the Jews to negotiate in the plain of Ono. They even threatened to accuse them to the king of Persia of a conspiracy of rebellion against the king to create fear in them to goad them to come to such a meeting or simply weaken them in their resolve and to cease their work. Nehemiah, albeit concerned, denounced them for their lies and prayed, “[O God], strengthen my hands.

Then Sanballat, with some of the “noble” Jews in Jerusalem, who were his hirelings, sought to entrap Nehemiah in the Temple by fearful false prophesies; but that scheme failed as well. Nehemiah 6:10-13. Nehemiah remained undeterred and completed the wall in 52 days as we are told in Nehemiah 6:15 Moreover in the next verse Nehemiah 6:16 we see, “And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard [thereof], and all the heathen that [were] about us saw [these things], they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.

Nonetheless we next read in Nehemiah  6:17 that some of Sanballat’s Jewish allies, that included “nobels of Judah” who swore allegiance to Sanballat due to intermarriages of their families, kept Sanballat and Tobiah informed as to the progress of the work in Jerusalem and conspired to discourage Nehemiah with false reporting regarding Sanballat.  With the hand of the Lord upon Nehemiah along with Nehemiah’s far-sighted policy and his shrewdness, he was kept out of the hands of these neighbor-foes. 

In Nehemiah 13:1-3, we read how it became evident to all Israel in Nehemiah and Ezra’s time, through the opening of the Book of the Law beginning in chapter 8, that Israel was to have nothing to do with the Moabite or the Ammonite (such as Sanballat and Tobiah), “On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever; Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing. Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.

In his reforms, so effectively carried out, Nehemiah discovered that one of the grandsons of the current high priest, Eliashib, had married a daughter of this Sanballat, and was thus son-in-law of the chief enemy of the Jews. Nehemiah also found that Eliashib had leased the storerooms of the temple to Tobiah, thus depriving the Levites of their share of the offerings in Nehemiah’s absence. The high priest (and/or possibly his son Jehoida and the unnamed grandson) was driven out of Jerusalem on the ground that he had defiled the priesthood as we see in Nehemiah 13:28 “And [one] of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, [was] son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me.”

We can also see from the above verse that the high priest was in league with Sanballat in seeking to defeat Nehemiah’s efforts. Isn’t that interesting? In the New Testament, do we see a high priest who in effect was also in league with someone who was seeking to stop Jesus by having Jesus put to death at the cross? Yes we do, and his name was Caiaphas. Hmmm?

And what about Tobiah? Tobiah in Hebrew means “goodness of God” which is a good thing, but Tobiah was also an Ammonite, which is NOT “good” from a Biblical perspective as described earlier. Could it be that Tobiah represents those who give the impression that they are servants of God, but in truth are in league with the devil.  Remember that in Matthew 7:22 Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

The bottom line is that Sanballat is a “Type” of the devil and Tobias is a “Type” of the Tribulation church under the Anti-Christ who want to defeat Jesus and prevent Him from building His Holy Church, the Elect of God, His Bride, the New Jerusalem.

There is still more to do regarding this Bible study concerning Nehemiah, Chapter 2.

I will try to get back to this study myself in the future…the Lord willing.

What other analogies can be found?  Please search for yourselves.

This is a work in progress…but it is posted now as a means to stimulate thought and further discussion. Please feel free to comment  on this or any of the other studies found in this Bible Study blog.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible Studies

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