Nehemiah

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Nehemiah was an exiled Jew working as a courtier and administrator in Persia, who was allowed to return to Jerusalem twice, firstly to survey its state, and having reported back to Babylon, to organize repairs. He was probably the first to return, preceding Ezra by some years.

The book covers the rebuilding of Jerusalem (chapters 1–6) and orgainising its inhabitants (chapters 7–13). Ezra and Nehemiah are combined into one book titled "2 Esdras" in the Greek Bible[1].

Commentary

2:6

The queen at King Artaxerxes' (= Xerxes?) side may have been Esther (Esther 2:17).

7

In what way is this list of people supposed to edify us? The context is that the Promised Land is being populated by those eligible to live there. Eligibility depends on ancestry, so those who want to claim God's promise scrutinise genealogies for evidence that supports their claims. Similarly we must be clear about whether our names are in the "Lamb's book of life" — see Hebrews 12:23. Some church-goers try to sit on the fence, without succeeding. Notice that Revelation 21:8 lists the "cowardly" among the list of the damned. Each of us is either within or outside God's kingdom; there is no middle position.

7:65

See also Ezra 2:63. The Breast-piece was a square, a hand-span across made of metal folded double (Exodus 28:16) making it like an envelope. As the Urim and Thummim for making decisions were objects to be stored in it (Exodus 28:30), they must have been thin and small. It seems that by the time the Jews were longing for a priest "with Urim and Thummim" to arise, they had been physically lost, so that decisions could not be made any longer by this method.

8:9

Why should it be wrong to weep on hearing the Law? Should we see God's mercy in it? Surely the reason is that we weep when things go wrong, when things seem evil, but evil and God cannot co-exist.

9:19

cf. Exodus 13:21, Psalm 119:105.

9:37

cf. Deuteronomy 17:14, 1 Samuel 8:17.

10:32

Shekel: see Appendix 2 Money.

References:

  1. Holy Bible New Revised Standard Version Anglicized Edition, 1998 Oxford: OUP, 1989 & 1995

© David Billin 2002–2019