Saturday, September 28, 2013

Nehemiah 1:1-3:32


To begin, a little Sunday School humor...

Who is the shortest man in the Bible?


When you get done slapping your thigh over that astounding witticism, I will mention one man even shorter...


Bildad the Shoe-height.

Now that I have that out of my system, let's start with Nehemiah. 

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah seem clearly to be composed from a variety of sources. The presence of Aramaic passages, different first-person narratives, etc. bear this out. Nevertheless, Ezra and Nehemiah were originally treated as a single book. If I have it right, early Christians like Origen and Eusebius divided the books. The Jews followed suit in the 15th century. 

Nehemiah is a faithful Jew who serves as cup-bearer to king Artaxerxes of Assyria. When he learns that the walls of Jerusalem are in disrepair, he says a general prayer of repentance for his own sins and those of his people. Then, with Artaxerxes' permission he travels to Jerusalem. He is also granted the building materials he will need for his project. 

At night Nehemiah scouts the perimeter of the city. When his way becomes impassible, he returns by the way he came. 

In spite of opposition from neighbors, Nehemiah organizes the people of Judah (or is it Judea now?) to repair the walls of Jerusalem. Chapter 3 details who built what. 

Throughout the account, Nehemiah credits YHWH for his successes. 

Next: Nehemiah 4-6

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