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BOOK : Nehemiah

Description : historical book telling of the return after exile and rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem

Author: a scribe, possibly Ezra. Originally written as one book with Nehemiah

Date written : probably about 440 or 430BC

Chapters : 13


Brief Synopsis:


•  Gets its name from the main figure in it.
•  In the city of Susa , Nehemiah hears about the state of Jerusalem
•  The way is made open for him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild it
•  Despite opposition, this he brings about
•  Reforms are brought about


Outline :


Ch.1-12 Nehemiah's First Administration
Ch.1 Nehemiah's Response to the Situation in Jerusalem
Ch.2 Nehemiah's Journey to Jerusalem
Ch.3 List of the Builders of the Wall
Ch.4 Opposition to Rebuilding the Wall
Ch.5 Social and Economic Problems
Ch.6 The Wall Rebuilt Despite Opposition
Ch.7 List of Exiles
Ch.7-10 Ezra's Preaching and the Outbreak of Revival
Ch.11 New Residents of Judah and Jerusalem
Ch.12 Lists of Priests and the Dedication of the Wall

Ch.13 Nehemiah's Second Administration

13:1-5 Abuses during His Absence
13:6-9 Nehemiah's Return
13:10-31 Reorganization and Reforms


Key Verses:


News & Response

1:2-4 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem . They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven

A wise approach

2:5,8 I answered the king, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it." ….. because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests

Initial indications of opposition

2:10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.

Start of rebuilding

2:16-18 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work. Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem , and we will no longer be in disgrace." I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, "Let us start rebuilding." So they began this good work.

Opposition starts

2:19-20 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. "What is this you are doing?" they asked. "Are you rebelling against the king?" I answered them by saying, "The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it."
Initial administration
7:1-3 After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed. I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do. I said to them, "The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut the doors and bar them. Also appoint residents of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some near their own houses."


8:1-3,8 all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel . So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law……
The Levites--Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah--instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.
9:1-3 O n the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and having dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.
10:28,29 The rest of the people--priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand-- all these now join their brothers the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the LORD our Lord.

Repopulating Jerusalem

11:1,2 Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem , and the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to live in Jerusalem , the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. The people commended all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem .

Nehemiah returns and starts correcting wrongs

13:6,7 I was not in Jerusalem , for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Some time later I asked his permission and came back to Jerusalem .



Recommended Passages for Reading & Study


There are a number of phases within this book, or episodes that bear study. We suggest the following:

•  Nehemiah's response to the news of Jerusalem and his handling the king Ch.1,2
•  The stages of opposition and means of overcoming 2:10 / 2:19,20 / 4:1-5 / 4:7-18 / 6:1-14
•  The revival that took place Ch.8-10
•  The dedicating of the walls of Jerusalem 12:27 - 13:3   
•  Correcting wrong administration 13:6-31


Concluding Comments


•  Observing the heart and wise actions of Nehemiah brings lessons to us that are worth learning.
•  The opposition they received and the ways they overcame should similarly remind us of the warfare in which we are engaged and the ways to overcome.
•  Why, the reader might ask, is such attention given to rebuilding the walls of this city? An answer might be because walls delineate boundaries and establish identity and provide protection. All of these were needed for the newly re-established people of God and in the moral and spiritual sphere they are needed for us who are Christians today.


Additional Bible Studies on this site: