The Book of Nehemiah
Nehemiah 1:7-9 - 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, 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. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province [are] in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also [is] broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.
Nehemiah 13:1-3 - On
that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and
therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come
into the congregation of God for ever; Because they met not the children of
Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should
curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing. Now it came to
pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed
The Old Testament - A Brief OverviewSummary of The Book of Nehemiah
In Hebrew tradition Ezra and Nehemiah are regarded as one book. That the books were not one originally, however, is indicated by the presentation of identical material in Ezra 2 and Neh. 7:6-70. How they came to be regarded as one must remain a matter of conjecture. They are treated together here because of their close relation to one another.
Each book bears the name of its principal character. Ezra was a descendant of the priest Hilkiah, who had helped to implement the reforms of Josiah (2 Kin. 22:8). He returned from the Babylonian exile about 457 BC, eighty years after Zerubabbel led the first wave of exiles back to their homeland and thirteen years prior to the return of Nehemiah. He was both a priest and a scribe whose efforts to purify the religion of the Hebrews, based on strict adherence to the Law, immeasurably influenced the course of Judaism for centuries. Ezra is sometimes regarded as the second greatest hero in the history of Israel, ranking just after Moses.
Nehemiah emigrated from Babylon to Jerusalem about 445 BC. He came not as a priest or scribe but as a civil governor with authority granted by the Persian ruler, Artaxerxes, whom he had served as cupbearer (Neh. 2:1), to rebuild the wall and other fortifications of Jerusalem. Despite the opposition of the foreigners who had settled in Judea during the exile, the work on the wall was brought to completion in fifty-two days after it was begun.
The tradition which represents Ezra-Nehemiah as being one book also names Ezra as the author. That he had a hand in the writing is not unlikely, due to the presence of material in Ezra written in the first person. A great portion of Nehemiah, however, is also written in the first person, implying that part or all of it was composed by Nehemiah himself. It has been suggested by some that this is not a proof of author-ship, but may indicate that a third person compiled one or both of the two accounts, with the help of the personal memoirs of Ezra and Nehemiah. Also, it may indicate that the two men wrote a part of the books which bear their name, but that we owe their final form to a later redactor. A third possibility is that Ezra and/or Nehemiah composed an historical narrative out of available sources, adding certain items of their own composition. The two books appear to have been compiled from a variety of materials, including letters, edicts, genealogies, personal memoirs and chronicles. This helps to explain the diversity in style and language which may be seen in them.
Since a date near 400 BC was tentatively as-signed to the books of Chronicles, the closely related books of Ezra and Nehemiah would also receive this date. One objection to this is based on the mention of Jaddua in the list of priests in Neh. 12:11,22. Josephus (Antiquities XI, viii, 4 ) mentions a priest by this name who lived in the time of Alexander the Great ( c. 330 BC ). Several possible explanations have been offered; it has been pointed out that it would have been possible for Jaddua to have served from 400 to 330 BC, although a more likely solution is either that these were two separate individuals or that we are presented with yet another example of Josephus' unreliability as an historical witness.
The purpose of the two books was to show how God fulfilled the words of his prophets concerning the restoration of his exiled people to the land of their inheritance. To implement his purposes, he used the will of the great monarchs of that era: Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes. In addition, he worked through such leaders as Joshua, Zerubbabel, Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra and Nehemiah in order to bring about the rebuilding of the wall and the temple and the re-establishment of the Law as the basis for individual and com-munity conduct. These books furnish almost all of the known history of the Jews between 536 and 430 BC. Ezra is concerned with the period from 536 to 456 BC, while Nehemiah begins about 445 BC and narrates the events of approximately twelve years.
The contents of the two books may be analyzed as follows :
Outline of the Book of Nehemiah
1 ) Nehemiah's journey to Jerusalem, made possible by Artaxerxes, for the
purpose of re-building the wall ( 1-2).
The Story of the Bible
The Old Testament
Summary of the Old Testament Books