Bible Book Summary
by Jay Smith
The book of Nehemiah is Narrative History. Nehemiah authored it at about 430 B.C.
Key personalities include Nehemiah, Ezra, Sanballat, and Tobiah. Nehemiah wrote it to records the events of returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding the walls in 445 B.C.
Jerusalem had a temple but there was no protection for the city from further attack. Nehemiah travels to Jerusalem and uses his leadership skill to rally a citywide construction crew. Within a few weeks, the walls around Jerusalem were built and standing tall and their enemies lost their confidence.
• In chapters 1-7, Nehemiah recounts the events of his temporary return to Jerusalem from Persia as governor. Nehemiah leads and directs the project; each family built the section of the wall directly in front of their houses, and with hard work, the wall was astonishingly completed within 52 days. This method allowed the remnant to feel an identity and uniqueness in their part of repairing the walls of Jerusalem. “So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (6:15-16).
• From Chapters, 8-13 is a time of Israel finding and reestablishing themselves again as a nation, after the long period of the exile in Babylon. Ezra leads all the Jews in a renewal ceremony. This incorporated a public teaching of the Law, in which it was read and explained. For example, the recognition of the Sabbath Day was reinstated. “And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel” (8:1). They understood that if they were to survive they must remember and obey God’s Laws. Nehemiah establishes polices and address the issue of mixed marriages then condemns it. One of the main concerns was that the mixed marriage families were not teaching their children the Hebrew language, “the language of Judah” (13:24).