What is the…
Book of Nehemiah

The author of this book is no doubt Nehemiah himself.

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There are portions of the book written in the first person (Nehemiah 1-7; Neh. 12:27-47; Neh. 13). But there are also portions of it in which Nehemiah is spoken of in the third person (Neh. 8; Neh. 9; Neh. 10). It is supposed that these portions may have been written by Ezra; of this, however, there is no distinct evidence. These portions had their place assigned them in the book, there can be no doubt, by Nehemiah. He was the responsible author of the whole book, with the exception of ch. 12:11, 22, 23.

The date at which the book was written was probably about B.C. 431-430, when Nehemiah had returned the second time to Jerusalem after his visit to Persia.

The book, which may historically be regarded as a continuation of the book of Ezra, consists of 4 parts.

  1. An account of the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, and of the register Nehemiah had found of those who had returned from Babylon (Nehemiah 1:1-7:73).

    • Exiles’ grief
    • Nehemiah’s prayer answered
    • Nehemiah inspects Jerusalem’s walls
    • Builders of the walls
    • Work mocked, but discouragement overcome
    • Usury abolished
    • Enemy plot
    • Jerusalem’s Wall completed
    • Census of the first returned exiles, with totals of people and gifts
  2. An account of the spiritual state of the Jews during this time (Nehemiah 8:1-10:39).

  3. Increase of the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the census of the adult male population, and list of the chiefs, together with lists of priests and Levites (Neh. 11:1-12:1-26).

  4. Dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the arrangement of the temple officers, and the reforms carried out by Nehemiah (Nehemiah 12:27-13:31).

    This section contains a list of procedures for The Second Temple, the exclusion of foreigners (“no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God”), the expulsion of Tobiah, the cleansing of the Temple, the restoration of tithes to support the Levites, restoration of a day of rest on the Sabbath, and forbidding Jews from marrying foreign unbelievers (e.g. Ashdodites, Ammonites, Moabites).

This book closes the history of the Old Testament. Malachi the prophet was contemporary with Nehemiah.

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Article Version: August 10, 2021