Nehemiah-Superstar Eunuch

gbradepp

 

“LORD, may your ears be attentive to the prayer of your servant and that of all your servants who willingly revere your name. Grant success to your servant this day, and let him find favor with this man”—for I was cupbearer to the king,” (cf. Nehemiah 1:11)

   

The man God used to spearhead the rebuilding of the temple was probably a eunuch.

While the Hebrew word “saris”  many times refers to a  high official or cupbearer (cf. 1 King 2:29; 2 Kings 8:6),  of the 42 uses, most refer to eunuchs (cf. 2 Kings 17-19; I Chronicles 2:8; Jeremiah 34:19).  If you are like me, it’s very difficult to wrap one’s mind around the possibility of Nehemiah and Daniel being eunuch superstars.   (“Eunuch,” not cupbearer, is the reading of the usually more reliable Greek texts corresponding to Neh 1:11 (i.e., Esdras-B 11:11 except Alexandrinus and a Sinaiticus corrector.  North, R. (1992). Nehemiah (Person). In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 4, p. 1069). New York: Doubleday).

Jesus referred to a community of eunuchs in Matthew 19:  “For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others–and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”       In Jesus kingdom’ there are eunuchs like Nehemiah who were destined to greatness.

Jerome speaks of three kinds of eunuchs, of whom two are carnal, and one spiritual. One, those who are so born of their mother’s womb; another, those whom enemies or courtly luxury has made so; a third, those who have made themselves so for the kingdom of heaven, and who might have been men, but become eunuchs for Christ. To them the reward is promised, for to the others whose continence was involuntary, nothing is due. “Thomas Aquinas. (1841). Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels,

Nehemiah was a Superstar Eunuch    

  1.  Nehemiah lived for Others (cf. 1:4 “When I heard this report, I began to weep and continued mourning for several days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”  Nehemiah loved Jerusalem and love its people.  He was willing to sacrifice a high profile position for the sake of his country.

  2.  Nehemiah knew God’s Law ((cf.   “LORD, God of heaven, great and awesome God, you preserve your covenant of mercy with those who love you and keep your commandments… “We have greatly offended you, not keeping the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances you entrusted to your servant Moses but remember the admonition which you addressed to Moses, your servant, when you said: If you prove faithless, I will scatter you among the peoples;9but if you return to me and carefully keep my commandments, even though your outcasts have been driven to the farthest corner of the world, I will gather them from there, and bring them back to the place I have chosen as the dwelling place for my name.” (cf. 1:5-9)

  3.   Nehemiah enjoyed God’s favor.  (cf. “The king granted my requests, for the favoring hand of my God was upon me.”    Archeologists E. M. Yahauchi describes God’s favor on Nehemiah:  First, Nehemiah was trained in court etiquette (cf Dan1:4); handsome. Cf. Dan 14.13.15؛ Josephus, Antiq. XVI. viii. 1, // 230;  Second, he was a wine connoisseur.  A proverb in the Babylonian Talmud (Baba Qamma 92b) states: »the wine belongs to the master but credit for it is due to his cupbearer; Third, he was a convivial companion with a willingness to lend an ear at all times. R. North is reminded of Saki, the companion of Omar Khayyam, who served wine to him and listened to his discourses م3ا;  Fourth, He was a man of great influence as one with the closest access to the king, and one who could well determine who got to see the king. M. Smith suggests that Nehemiah was probably showered with gifts   (cf. “Was Nehemiah the Cupbearer a Eunuch” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, [s. l.], v. 92, n. 1, p. 132–142, 1980)

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