The book of Nehemiah is
part of the book of Ezra in the Jewish Canon. Most of the book is
thought to be written by Nehemiah. Nehemiah came to Jerusalem in 445 B.C. as the new
governor for the land of Judah. He is the last of the great leaders
of the 0ld Testament, and thus becomes very significant in Jewish
This book does not give complete information of the history
of the time, but rather gives detailed accounts of some of the
important events of the time.
In chapter 1 we are
introduced to Nehemiah, the cupbearer to the
king. The heart of this chapter is the substance of the prayer
that Nehemiah offered to God when he heard that those who had
returned to Judah were in trouble. His prayer is one of strength
and insight, and is a proper introduction to this great leader of
Judah. In the early part of chapter 2 we find his
presentation to King Artaxerxes, and the arrangements that were
made for him to go rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
The latter half of chapter
2 gives the account of the survey of the walls of the city, and
the decision to begin the rebuilding process. Chapter 3 gives
the division of the work among the families and shows a plan that
is working so well that the enemies of Judah are upset at the
In chapter 4 the
opposition to the building of the wall has become so great that
the enemies have committed themselves to a plan to attack the men
of Judah and kill them so that the walls will not be constructed.
The men of Judah become aware of this plan and from this point on
carry their weapons while they work. Part of the force
stands guard while the others work.
The people have not been in
the land very long until they begin to exact usury from their
countrymen and soon get into financial trouble, as recorded in
chapter 5. Nehemiah solves this problem and uses the rest of
the chapter to explain the way that he was provided for as the
governor of the land of Judah. He was well provided for, but he
had never exacted the governors tax.
In the 6 chapter the
walls are completed and the gates are manned as a major step is
completed in the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. The city is
now large and spacious, but there are few people, and the list of
families are listed in chapter 7.
From this point on we read
of the covenant that the people of Judah make with God. In chapter
8 Ezra begins the reading of the law. Following the reading
the people confess their sins and the sins of their fathers. The
book of Ezra, speaking about this time, speaks at length about the
unlawful marriages that the people of Judah had made with the
foreign women of the land. Nehemiah does not mention much of this
problem, yet he speaks of many sins and much confessing that is
involved in this time of renewing the covenant. The statement of
this covenant is recorded and the leaders of the people place
their seals on the document as recorded in chapter 10.
Chapter 11 and part of
chapter 12 give additional listings of those living in Judah.
In the latter part of
chapter 12 a special dedication service is arranged for the
wall that was now complete, and the people of Judah had a great
celebration. In the last chapter of the book (13) we find that the
people have already forgotten parts of the covenant that they had
made with God. Nehemiah finds himself having to correct many
problems in their daily life, from their desecrating the Sabbath,
to the way they were not bringing their tithes to the temple. The
last problem that is addressed in the book is that they had been
marrying with foreigners to the point that half of the children
could not speak the language of Judah. Nehemiah is remembered as
the last of the great leaders of Judah.