Lesson 17 The Book of Nehemiah
A. The Period of time between the books of Ezra and Nehemiah is
about twelve years.
Nehemiah was in a position of great responsibility.
Skilled in the diplomacy and trickery of the Oriental
courts, a cupbearer of the king in the Persian palace,
leads the third and last return to Jerusalem after the
B. Clearly, much of this book came from Nehemiah's personal memoirs.
Some scholars think that Ezra wrote Chapter 7:6-26 & 12:44-
13-3 and that he compiled the rest making use of Nehemiah's
diary. Others think that Nehemiah composed those portions
and compiled the rest.
C. Malachi lives and ministers during Nehemiah's time, and a
comparison of the books shows that many of the evils
encountered by Nehemiah are specifically denounced by
Malachi. The cold hearted indifference toward God described
in both books remains a problem in Israel during the four
hundred years before Christ, during which there is no
revelation from God.
D. The Key Word: Jerusalem Walls
While Ezra deals with the religious restoration of Judah,
Nehemiah is primarily concerned with Judah's political and
SURVEY OF NEHEMIAH
Its two divisions are:
THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE WALL 1-7
THE RESTORATION OF THE PEOPLE 8-13
The Reconstruction of the Wall
Chapter 1 & 2
Nehemiah was of the tribe of Judah (2:3).
He was raised in exile and became prominent in the Persian court.
He was the royal cupbearer(1:11), a position of high honor and great influence.
His brother told him of the condition of Jerusalem and
Judea. The walls were in ruins and the gates were as they
were left by the Babylonians when Judea was taken captive.
Walls and gates were the only way to protect a city.
Nehemiah gave himself to fasting and prayer (1:4-11) and
he was convicted to undertake the task. For 4 months
(Compare 1:1 with 2:1) he knew this grief and burden and
his appearance changed to the point that the king asked
what was wrong (2:2). He responded (2:5) and the king
granted the request and he is commissioned to do what God
led him to undertake.
Nehemiah reaches Jerusalem and makes a secret survey of the
ruins and then he encourages the people to build.
His plan was to section off the wall (Chapter 3) into
different groups, all working at the same time. It was so
successful, that in spite of opposition, the wall was
rebuilt in just over seven weeks (6:15) after which the
gates were finished (7:1). All work is completed within
six months of the mandate from the King of Persia. Here we
see the blending of practical organization and spirit led
leadership. In 4:9 we see this. "We made our prayers unto
God and set a watch against them day and night." We too,
should blend the practical with the Spiritual.
NOTE: The setbacks were many and Nehemiah had to over come
them. There were three forms of opposition from without:
SCORN - 4:1-6
FORCE - 4:7-23
CRAFT - 6:1-19 (pretense v. 1-4; bluff 5-9
and treachery 10-14)
Also note the hindrances from within:
DEBRIS - 4:10
FEAR - 4:11-14
GREED - 5:1-13
THE RESTORATION OF THE PEOPLE 8-13
The people themselves asked for the scriptures to be expounded to them.
Ezra explained afresh the law, translating from Hebrew into
Aramaic so that they could understand.
They responded with weeping, confession, obedience and
rejoicing. The covenant is then renewed with God as the
people commit themselves to separate from the Gentiles in
marriage and to obey God's commandments.
CHAPTERS 11 & 12
Lots are drawn to determine who will remain in Jerusalem
and who will return to the cities of their inheritance. One
tenth are required to stay in Jerusalem and the rest of the
land is re-settled by the people and priests. The Walls of
Jerusalem are dedicated to the Lord in a joyful ceremony
accompanied by instrumental and vocal music.
Unfortunately, Ezra's revival is short lived and Nehemiah
returns from Persia to reform the people who had
Nehemiah cleanses the Temple, enforces the Sabbath and
requires the people to put away all foreign wives.
1. What was Nehemiah's objective in going to Jerusalem?
2. What stands out in your mind about Nehemiah?
3. Name the two parts in the Book.
4. What motivated the people to obedience?
5. What prophet did God use during this time?
FOR NEXT TIME:
Read the Book of Esther