Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah - The prophetical books commence generally with a title of this kind (see Jer 1:1); but no other extant historical book begins thus. Nehemiah, while attaching his work to Ezra, perhaps marked in this manner the point at which his own composition commenced. (See the introduction of the Book of Nehemiah.)
Chisleu - The ninth month, corresponding to the end of November and beginning of December.
In the twentieth year - i. e. of Artaxerxes Longimanus (465-425 B.C.). Compare Neh 2:1.
Shushan the palace - Compare Est 1:2, Est 1:5, etc.; Dan 8:2. Shushan, or Susa, was the ordinary residence of the Persian kings. "The palace" or acropolis was a distinct quarter of the city, occupying an artificial eminence.
Hanani seems to have been an actual brother of Nehemiah Neh 7:2.
The attempt to rebuild the wall in the time of the Pseudo-Smerdis Ezr 4:12-24 had been stopped. It still remained in ruins. The Assyrian sculptures show that it was the usual practice to burn the gates.
The God of heaven - This title of the Almighty, which is Persian rather than Jewish (see Ch2 36:23; Ezr 1:2 note; Ezr 6:10; Ezr 7:12, Ezr 7:21), is a favorite one with Nehemiah, who had been born and brought up in Persia.
A Persian king had numerous cup-bearers, each of whom probably discharged the office in his turn.