“Title”: Nehemiah (“Yahweh has comforted”), is a famous cupbearer, who never appears in Scripture outside of this book. At his own request Nehemiah is sent to Jerusalem as governor of Yehud, the official Persian name for Judah. Just as God put His laws onto stone tablets to emphasize their permanence, so Nehemiah led the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem to pledge their faithfulness to God and His laws with their own signatures (9:38 – 10:39). As with the books of Ezra and Esther, named after his contemporaries, the book recounts selected events of his leadership and was titled after him. Before that date, it had been included in the Book of Ezra; but in Latin Christian bibles from the 13th century onwards, the Vulgate Book of Ezra was divided into two texts, called respectively the First and Second books of Ezra; a separation which became canonised with the first printed bibles in Hebrew and Latin. Jerome himself rejected the duplication in his Vulgate translation of the Bible into Latin from the Hebrew; and consequently all early Vulgate manuscripts present Ezra-Nehemiah as a single book, as too does the 8th century commentary of Bede, and the 9th century bibles of Alcuin and Theodulf of Orleans. God worked through the obedience of Nehemiah; however, He also worked through the wrongly-motivated, wicked hearts of His enemies. Chapter 13). ), and chronicles the reestablishment of Judah’s national calendar of feasts and sacrifices. 1:46). During this endeavor he faced determined opposition: mockery (2:19; 4:1-3); armed raids (4:7-12); a ruse to draw him outside the city, without doubt to murder him (6:1-4); blackmail (6:5-9); and finally a prophet hired to foretell his death. However, sporadically from the 9th century onwards, Latin bibles are found that separate the Ezra and Nehemiah sections of Ezra-Nehemiah as two distinct books, then called the first and second books of Ezra; and this becomes standard in the Paris Bibles of the 13th century. The Nehemiah Memorial, chapters 1–7 and 11–13, may have circulated as an independent work before being combined with the Ezra material to form Ezra–Nehemiah. 445 B.C.). (, The Wall Rebuilt Despite Opposition (ch. Benjamin (, Lists of Priests and the Dedication of the
Only a close confidant of the king himself could be trusted for such an operation. These sources also tell us that Nehemiah ceased to be governor of Judah before (408 B.C. After the reading, Ezra and some of the priests carefully explained its meaning to the people in attendance (8:8). (, Places settled by those from Benjamin
So deep was their concern to abide by God’s revealed will that they took “a curse and an oath to walk in God’s law” (10:29). “What it means to you”: Nehemiah could have heard the news about Jerusalem at the breakfast table and said, “That is too bad!” Instead, the terrible dilemma of his people in a faraway place gripped his heart. The first edition of the combined Ezra–Nehemiah may date from the early 4th century BC; further editing continued well into the following centuries. Zerubbabel and Joshua led the first return (Ezra chapters 1-6), and rebuilt the temple. ), when Haman attempted to eliminate the Jewish race. A second major theme, the obedience of Nehemiah, is explicitly referred to throughout the book due to the fact that the book is based on the memoirs or first person accounts of Nehemiah. While the wall around Jerusalem was being built, Nehemiah prayed for protection, but also set watchmen on the wall and required all laborers to carry swords strapped to their sides as they worked (4:9, 18).  Determining the composition of the Memorial depends on the dates of Nehemiah's mission: It is commonly accepted that "Artaxerxes" was Artaxerxes I (there were two later kings of the same name), and that Nehemiah's first period in Jerusalem was therefore 445–433 BC; allowing for his return to Susa and second journey to Jerusalem, the end of the 5th century BC is therefore the earliest possible date for the Memorial. Each section can be accessed by the simple menu found at the bottom of the file. Summary of the Book of Nehemiah. The Davidic throne was unoccupied (compare 2 Sam. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and [certain] men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. “Authorship”: Though much of this book was clearly drawn from Nehemiah’s personal diaries and written from his first person perspective (1:1 – 7:5; 12:27-43; 13:4-31). (, Transfer of Levites from Judah to
Much of the book is a first-person account of the circumstances surrounding Nehemiah’s return to Jerusalem (chapters 1-7; 12:31 – 13:31).
God chastened His people with 70 years of captivity in Babylon (Jer. The spiritual revival came in response to Ezra’s reading of “the book of the law of Moses” (8:1). Possibly his great-grandparents were taken into captivity when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians. The sacrificial system was carried on with careful attention to perform it “as it is written in the Law” (10:34, 36). 9:24-26). 10:9), and putting them in writing are just two ways to establish spiritual accountability.