Nehemiah 1:1

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,

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah,.... Or his transactions and deeds; for yrbd "dibre" signifies things done, as well as words spoken; who Hachaliah his father was is not known; the Arabic version adds, the high priest, without any foundation; though some have thought that Nehemiah was a priest, from a passage in

"Therefore whereas we are now purposed to keep the purification of the temple upon the five and twentieth day of the month Chisleu, we thought it necessary to certify you thereof, that ye also might keep it, as the feast of the tabernacles, and of the fire, which was given us when Neemias offered sacrifice, after that he had builded the temple and the altar.'' (2 Maccabees 1:18)

and from signing and sealing the covenant at the head of priests,

Nehemiah 10:1, but he rather seems to be of the tribe of Judah, see Nehemiah 2:3, and Nehemiah may be the same that went up with Zerubbabel, and returned again, and then became the king's cupbearer; though some are of another opinion, See Gill on "Ezra 2:2",

And it came to pass in the month Chisleu; the ninth month, as the Arabic version; of which see Ezra 10:9,

in the twentieth year; not of Nehemiah's age, for, if he went up with Zerubbabel, he must be many years older; but in the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, Nehemiah 1:1,

as I was in Shushan the palace; a city in Persia, the royal seat of the kings of it; as Ecbatana was in the summer time, this in the spring, as Cyrus made it, according to Xenophon {b}; but others say {c} it was their seat in winter, and this was the season now when Nehemiah was with the king there; for Chisleu was a winter month, answering to part of November and of December; of Shushan, See Gill on "Daniel 8:2", to which may be added what a traveller of the last century says {d} of it,

"we rested at Valdac, once the great city Susa, but now very ruinous; it was first built by Tythonus, and his son Memnon, but enlarged by Darius the son of Hystaspes; in the building whereof Memnon was so exceeding prodigal, that, as Cassiodorus writeth, he joined the stones together with gold--such was the beauty and delectableness of it for situation, that they called it "Susa", which in the Persian tongue signified a "lily", but now it is called Valdac, because of the poverty of the place;''

and it is generally supposed to have its name from the abundance of lilies about it; but Dr. Hyde {e} gives another signification of its name, he says the Persians called it , "Sus", which signifies "liquorice", but for what reasons he says not. There is a city now called Shustera, and is thought by some travellers to be built at least very near where Shushan formerly stood {f}.

{b} Cyropaedia, l. 8. c. 44.
{c} Athenaeus, l. 12. c. 1.
{d} Cartwright's Preacher's Travels, p. 87, 88.
{e} Hist. Relig. Vet. Pers. c. 35. p. 414.
{f} Tavernier, tom. 1. l. 4. c. 1.