Biblical Hebrew

Nehemiah

נְחֶמְיָה
  
"God comforts"

The verb root  נחם  has the meaning, "to console, comfort."
יָה is a common name for the God of Israel. 
It is believed to be the short form of  יהוה "Yahweh."


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Introduction
The Book of Nehemiah, in the Hebrew Bible, largely takes the form of a 
first-person memoir concerning the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile by Nehemiah, a Jew who is a high official at the Persian court, and the dedication of the city and its people to God's laws (Torah). 

Since the 16th century it has generally been treated as a separate book within the Bible. Before that date, it had been included in the Book of Ezra; 
but in Latin Christian bibles from the 13th century onwards, 
the Latin Vulgate Book of Ezra was divided into two texts, 
called respectively the First and Second books of Ezra; a separation which became canonized with the first printed bibles in Hebrew and Latin. 

Mid 16th century Reformed Protestant bible translations produced 
in Geneva were the first to introduce the name 'Book of Nehemiah' for the text formerly called the "Second Book of Ezra."

Date
The events take place in the second half of the 5th century BC. 
Listed together with the Book of Ezra as Ezra–Nehemiah, 
it represents the final chapter in the historical narrative of the Hebrew Bible.
The original core of the book, the first-person memoir, may have been combined with the core of the Book of Ezra around 400 BC. Further editing probably continued into the Hellenistic era.

Contents
1. Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem (1-2)
2. Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (3-7:3)
3. Serubbabel (7:4-72)
4. Ezra reads the law-book of Moses (7:73-8:13)
5. Feast of Booths (8:14-9:37)
6. The Covenant (9:38-10:39).
7. A list of priests and Levites (11-12:26)
8. Dedication of the walls and the rebuilt city (12:27-47)
9. Nehemiah's reforms (13)



The rest of this comprehensive Wikipedia article on the book can be read here.
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Nehemiah 2:4
(An extract from BHFA Volume 5.)


                    וָאֶתְפַּלֵּל      אֶל־     אֱלֹהֵי        הַשָּׁמָיִם׃
                           the heavens     the God of      to       and I prayed


KJB      So I prayed to the God of heaven.
NASB   So I prayed to the God of heaven.
ESV      So I prayed to the God of heaven.
NLT      With a prayer to the God of heaven,
NIV      Then I prayed to the God of heaven,


The verb consists of a waw conversive + hithpa'el impf. 1cs of the verb
פּלל  meaning, "to intervene, interpose, intercede," 
and in the hithpa'el, "to pray." 

The Hithpa'el paradigm is used to express an intensive type of action with a reflexive ( or sometimes passive ) voice.

Afrikaans has two major Bible translations. 
The first was published in 1933 and revised in 1953. 
This was, for the most part, a literal translation of the Leningrad Codex. 
It was deliberately translated in old-fashioned language that resembled the old Dutch Statenvertaling (1637), to prevent it from being rejected by Christians who were used to using the Dutch translation. 

In order to mark the 50th anniversary of the original 1933 translation and provide much needed revision, a more dynamic equivalence translation was published in 1983, which, in addition to the MT, also took additional sources, like the LXX and the Qumran scrolls for example, into account. To this day, this translation is being rejected by the more conservative Afrikaans-speaking public and academics.

Here in Neh 2:4 for example, the 1933 translation follows the MT literally (as does the KJB and most English translations) and translates the verb simply as, 
"I prayed." 

However, in the 1983 translation it uses the Afrikaans word "skietgebed" 
(lit. "shoot prayer"), which describes a spontaneous prayer, made out of desperation in an emergency. The prayer is most often not spoken out loud, 
and the hithpa'el form of the verb might have contributed to the view that this was more of a prayer to oneself. In English, the New English Translation (NET) (2005) is notable as it uses "I quickly prayed."
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