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Nehemiah 9:17

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And in their rebellion appointed a captain - This clause, read according to its order in the Hebrew text, is thus: And appointed a captain to return to their bondage in their rebellion. But it is probable that במרים bemiryam, in their rebellion, is a mistake for במצרים bemitsrayim, in Egypt. This is the reading of seven of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., the Neapolitan edition of the Hagiographa, and the Septuagint. It is also the reading in Numbers 14:4. The clause should undoubtedly be read, They appointed a captain to return to their bondage in Egypt.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

In their rebellion - The Septuagint and several maunscripts have “in Egypt” (the words in the original differing by one letter only), and translate - “And appointed a captain to return to their bondage in Egypt.” Compare the margin reference. The appointment of a leader is regarded here as made, whereas we are only told in the Book of Numbers that it was proposed.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The summary of their prayers we have here upon record. Much more, no doubt, was said. Whatever ability we have to do any thing in the way of duty, we are to serve and glorify God according to the utmost of it. When confessing our sins, it is good to notice the mercies of God, that we may be the more humbled and ashamed. The dealings of the Lord showed his goodness and long-suffering, and the hardness of their hearts. The testimony of the prophets was the testimony of the Spirit in the prophets, and it was the Spirit of Christ in them. They spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and what they said is to be received accordingly. The result was, wonder at the Lord's mercies, and the feeling that sin had brought them to their present state, from which nothing but unmerited love could rescue them. And is not their conduct a specimen of human nature? Let us study the history of our land, and our own history. Let us recollect our advantages from childhood, and ask what were our first returns? Let us frequently do so, that we may be kept humble, thankful, and watchful. Let all remember that pride and obstinacy are sins which ruin the soul. But it is often as hard to persuade the broken-hearted to hope, as formerly it was to bring them to fear. Is this thy case? Behold this sweet promise, A God ready to pardon! Instead of keeping away from God under a sense of unworthiness, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. He is a God ready to pardon.
Ellen G. White
God's Amazing Grace, 139.1

Thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not. Nehemiah 9:17. AG 139.1

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Ellen G. White
Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, 451.3

Then turn your grateful heart, trembling with uncertainty, and lay hold upon the hope set before you. God accepts your broken, contrite heart. He offers you free pardon. He offers to adopt you into His family, with His grace to help your weakness, and the dear Jesus will lead you on step by step if you will only put your hand in His and let Him guide you.—Letter 38, 1887. 2MCP 451.3

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 389

These men, having entered upon a wrong course, stubbornly set themselves against Caleb and Joshua, against Moses, and against God. Every advance step rendered them the more determined. They were resolved to discourage all effort to gain possession of Canaan. They distorted the truth in order to sustain their baleful influence. It “is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof,” they said. This was not only an evil report, but it was also a lying one. It was inconsistent with itself. The spies had declared the country to be fruitful and prosperous, and the people of giant stature, all of which would be impossible if the climate were so unhealthful that the land could be said to “eat up the inhabitants.” But when men yield their hearts to unbelief they place themselves under the control of Satan, and none can tell to what lengths he will lead them. PP 389.1

“And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.” Revolt and open mutiny quickly followed; for Satan had full sway, and the people seemed bereft of reason. They cursed Moses and Aaron, forgetting that God hearkened to their wicked speeches, and that, enshrouded in the cloudy pillar, the Angel of His presence was witnessing their terrible outburst of wrath. In bitterness they cried out, “Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!” Then their feelings rose against God: “Wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.” Thus they accused not only Moses, but God Himself, of deception, in promising them a land which they were not able to possess. And they went so far as to appoint a captain to lead them back to the land of their suffering and bondage, from which they had been delivered by the strong arm of Omnipotence. PP 389.2

In humiliation and distress “Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel,” not knowing what to do to turn them from their rash and passionate purpose. Caleb and Joshua attempted to quiet the tumult. With their garments rent in token of grief and indignation, they rushed in among the people, and their ringing voices were heard above the tempest of lamentation and rebellious grief: “The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.” PP 389.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 150

This was not only an evil report, but a lying one also. It was contradictory; for if the land was unhealthy, and had eaten up the inhabitants, how was it that they had attained to such massive proportions? When men in responsible positions yield their hearts to unbelief, there are no bounds to the advance they will make in evil. Few realize, when they start upon this dangerous course, the length that Satan will lead them. 4T 150.1

The evil report had a terrible effect upon the people. They reproached Moses and Aaron bitterly. Some groaned and wailed, saying: “Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!” Then their feelings rose against the Lord; and they wept and mourned, saying: “Wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.” 4T 150.2

Thus they manifested their disrespect for God and for the leaders He had appointed to conduct them. They did not ask the Lord what they should do, but said: “Let us make a captain.” They took matters into their own hands, feeling themselves competent to manage their affairs without divine aid. They not only accused Moses of deception, but God also, in promising them a land which they were not able to possess. They actually went so far as to appoint one of their number as a captain to lead them back to the land of their suffering and bondage, from which God had delivered them with His strong arm of omnipotence. 4T 150.3

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