New Defender's Study Bible Notes
1:1 twentieth year. That is, the twentieth year of Artaxerxes’ reign (Nehemiah 2:1). This would be thirteen years after this same king sent Ezra to Jerusalem (Ezra 7:7).
1:1 Shushan. Shushan is the same as Susa, the winter capital of the great Persian empire, about 250 miles east of Babylon, well identified and confirmed archaeologically.
1:2 Hanani. Hanani was evidently Nehemiah’s brother (Nehemiah 7:2) and so would naturally report back to Nehemiah after making the thousand-mile, four-month (Ezra 7:9) journey from Jerusalem to Shushan. He arrived in the month Chisleu (Nehemiah 1:1), corresponding to our November-December.
1:3 broken down. The wall of Jerusalem had apparently been at least partially built by Zerubbabel (Ezra 4:12; 5:3,8). Many years had passed, however, and the returning exiles had encountered continuing serious opposition from the people of the land, so their wall had fallen into decay by Nehemiah’s time. Therefore, Nehemiah sought and obtained approval to rebuild and finish the wall (Nehemiah 2:8).