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Nehemiah 9:6: An Often Overlooked Unitarian Passage

Updated: Nov 21, 2022







"You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, the highest heavens, and all their host, the earth and everything upon it, the seas and everything in them. You keep them all alive, and the host of heaven prostrate themselves before You.”



Intro: These words by Nehemiah (Son of Hacaliah) highlights the events of creation and who was responsible for its inception. God’s greatness is also seen in the fact that He is God alone and the fact that "HE" created the universe. The Hebrew here is very explicit. Nehemiah was a faithful servant to YHWH who used rhythmic poetic prose to communicate to his audience. However, Jehovah God is the main subject of this chapter—who he is what He does for His people, and what His people must do for Him. This prayer reviews the history of Israel and reveals both the majesty of God and the depravity of man.


Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe Insightfuly notes in his exposition on Nehemiah that "Whenever God wanted to encourage His people, He would point to creation around them and remind them that He had made it all (Isa. 40). He used the same approach to remind them of the foolishness of worshipping idols (Isa. 41). To know that our Father in heaven is the Creator of all things is a great source of strength and peace” [ "Be Determined (Nehemiah): Standing Firm in the Face of Opposition" pg. 120]


Did you catch that? Not even assuming Unitarianism we see the Dr. presenting us with an appositional proposition. That our Father in heaven is the Creator of all things and the Creator of all things is our Father in heaven. This completely exhaust the title of creator. This begs the question. How could one at first glance not justify a Uni-personal God here?


Exposition and Exegesis:


The Hebrew phrase אַתָּה־ suggest that the second person masculine singular points directly to a distinguished individual. If we are to concede a multi-personal creator then certainly the author could have stuck with a seemingly consistent (inconsistent?) theme according to Trinitarianism that the use of a plural verb or pronoun such as אתם would most certainly clear things up.


However, this is not what Nehemiah conveys, the use of the singular pronoun tells us that one individual person is being addressed as the lone creator. Speaking of verbs in the plural, Nehemiah even deviates from using a plural verb for “create” and remained faithful to a singular construction עָשִׂ֡יתָ (asita). Quite different from such alluded to passages such as Ecclesiastes 12:1, Isaiah 54:5, Psalm 149: etc which was addressed earlier in the presentation.



The worshipping conundrum:


This passage also projects the one true God as the only object of worship at the time. The text literally says “and the host of heaven prostrate themselves before “You”. The reflexive hithpael verb מִשְׁתַּחֲוִֽים (mistahawim) suggest that this was a past ongoing action, done by the heavenly beings themselves and is most certainly in contradiction to the future prostration that the Son will receive from angelic beings in Hebrews 1:6.

Furthermore, it ironically uses the imperative mode for worship (let them worship) (προσκυνησάτωσαν) to express an absolute command to allow worship. The request desire expression of the imperative is ruled out because there is no indication of subordinate prayer detected in the passage.


Conclusion:


We now arrive at the conclusion that God is to be praised as the highest and greatest being in the universe (cf. Luke 10:21, Matt. 11:25, 1 Pet.1:3-12) . He is acclaimed as the Maker of all—heaven and earth, along with everything in them. And He is already praised and worshipped by all the heavenly beings.


Even in the midst of confessing their sins, the author speaks emphatically about the one true God in such language that is not applied to the Son in the NT. The author employs νόμου κυρίου θεοῦ; κύριον τὸν θεὸν αὐτῶν; (Lord their God), τὸν κύριον θεὸν ὑμῶν (Lord your God); to emphasize the one covenant God of Israel personal possession.








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