The Book of Nehemiah is a book of the Hebrew Bible, historically
regarded as a continuation of the Book of Ezra, and is sometimes called the
second book of Ezra.
Traditionally, the author of this book is believed to be Nehemiah himself,
although some dispute this. There are portions of the book
written in the first person (ch. 1-7; 12:27-47, and 13). But there are also
portions of it in which Nehemiah is spoken of in the third person (ch. 8; 9;
10). Some, following the traditional attribution to Nehemiah, suppose that these
portions may have been written by Ezra (of this, however, there is no distinct
evidence), and had their place assigned them in the book probably by Nehemiah,
as the responsible author of the whole book, with the exception of ch. 12:11,
22, 23. Other authors think that the historical order of events in both Ezra and
Nehemiah has become jumbled, from which they conclude that at least the final
arrangement and revision of their text must have occurred at a later period.
If Nehemiah was the author, the date at which the book was written was probably
about 431 - 430 BC, when Nehemiah had returned the second time to Jerusalem
after his visit to Persia.
The book consists of four parts:
An account of the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, and of the register
Nehemiah had found of those who had returned from Babylon. Details describe how
Nehemiah became governor of Judah; various forms of opposition generated by
Sanballat and others; describes earlier return under Zerubbabel (ch. 1-7).
An account of the state of religion among the Jews during this time (8-10).
Increase of the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the census of the adult male
population, and names of the chiefs, together with lists of priests and Levites
Dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the arrangement of the temple officers, and
the reforms carried out by Nehemiah (12:27-ch. 13).
A work ascribed to Nehemiah, but bearing in some canons the title Esdras II. or
Esdras III., having been attributed to Ezra on the ground that Nehemiah's
self-assertion deserved some punishment (Sanh. 93b), or because, having
ordinarily been written on the same scroll with the Book of Ezra, it came to be
regarded as an appendix to it. The book consists ostensibly (i. 1) of the
memoirs of Nehemiah, compiled, or at any rate completed, toward the close of his
life, since he alludes to a second visit to Jerusalem "at the end of days"
(xiii. 6, A. V. margin), which must mean a long time after the first. In xiii.
28 he speaks of a grandson (comp. xii. 10, 11) of the high priest Eliashib as
being of mature years; whence it appears that the latest event mentioned in the
book, the high-priesthood of Jaddua, contemporary of Alexander the Great (xii.
11, 22), may have fallen within Nehemiah's time. The redaction of his memoirs
occurred probably later than 360 B.C., but how much later can not easily be
determined. The first person is employed in ch. i.-vii. 5, xii. 31-42, xiii. 6
et seq. Sometimes, however, Nehemiah prefers to speak in the name of the
community (ii. 19, iii. 33-38, x.), and in some places he himself is spoken of
in the third person, either with the title "tirshatha" (viii. 9, x. 2) or "pe?ah"
(xii. 26, claimed by him in v. 14; A. V. "governor"), or without title (xii.
47). The style of these last passages implies somewhat that Nehemiah is not the
writer, especially that of the third and fourth: "in the days of Nehemiah the
governor, and of Ezra"; "in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of
Nehemiah." The portions of the book in which the first person is used are marked
by repeated prayers for recognition of the author's services, and imprecations
on his enemies (iii. 36, 67; v. 19; vi. 13; xiii. 14, 22, 29, 31), which may be
taken as characteristic of an individual's style; and indeed the identity of the
traits of character which are manifested by the writer of the opening and
closing chapters can not escape notice. Moreover, the author's enemies,
Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite, figure in both parts.
View the Chapters Of Nehemiah: