DATE 445-425 B.C.
As cupbearer to King Artaxerxes I, Nehemiah’s position was one of great honor and responsibility. Significant duties included certifying that none of the wine the king drank was poisoned and serving as a trusted servant and close advisor. As a result, Nehemiah had great influence over King Artaxerxes.
When knowledge came to Nehemiah about the condition of the city of Jerusalem, he mourned. Observing his countenance, King Artaxerxes inquired about his sadness and in learning of the cause granted permission for Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem to deal with the situation. Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem and being led by God he surveyed the situation. With information and God’s direction Nehemiah demonstrated unmatched skills in leadership and organization and he put the people to work building the walls of the city and completing the jos in only 12. As governor of Judah, Nehemiah exhibited humility, integrity, patriotism, energy, piety, and unselfishness. After 12 years as governor, he returned briefly to Artaxerxes’s court (1:1; 13:6) and then returned again to Judah, where he called the people to repentance.
Much of what is recorded in the book of Nehemiah is thought to have comes from personal writings of Nehemiah. The words and messages are frank, specific, and motivating. For the connection between this book and Ezra, see Ezra Overview and Outline.
Originally part of a larger book that included Ezra and Chronicles, in our Bibles each stands alone with Nehemiah following Chronicles and Ezra. Refer to the Introduction to Ezra (Ezra 1:1 book note). The historicity of the book of Nehemiah was confirmed with the 1903 discovery of The Elephantine Papyri that mentions Sanballat (2:19) and Johanan (6:18; 12:23), and reveals that Nehemiah ceased to be governor of Judah before 408 B.C.
The book of Nehemiah completes the history of the restoration that begun under Ezra’s leadership. It also marks the beginning of Daniel’s “seventy weeks” ( see Dan. 9), and provides historical background for the book of Malachi.
Nehemiah Starts at 4:58
OUTLINE OF NEHEMIAH
I. Rebuilding the Walls (Under Nehemiah), 1:1-7:73
A. The Return to Jerusalem, 1:1-2:20
1. The condition of Jerusalem, 1:1-7
2. The petition of Nehemiah, 1:8-11
3. The commission of Artaxerxes, 2:1-10
4. The inspection of the walls, 2:11-20
B. The Rebuilding of the Walls, 3:1-7:4
1. The work assigned, 3:1-32
2. The work attacked, 4:1-6:14
a. By mockery, 4:1-6
b. By conspiracy, 4:7-23
c. By extortion, 5:1-19
d. By compromise, 6:1-4
e. By slander, 6:5-9
f. By treachery, 6:10-14
3. The work accomplished, 6:15-7:3
C. The Register of People, 7:4-73
II. Renewing the Covenant (Under Ezra), 8:1-10:39
A. The Reading of the Law, 8:1-8
B. The Response of the People, 8:9-18
C. The Repentance of the People, 9:1-38
D. The Ratification of the Covenant, 10:1-27
E. The Responsibilities of the Covenant, 10:28-39
III. Reforming the Nation, 11:1-13:31
A. Repopulating the Cities, 11:1-12:26
1. Jerusalem, 11:1-24
2. Other cities, 11:25-36
3. Priests and Levites, 12:1-26
B. Rededicating the Wall, 12:27-47
C. Reviving the People, 13:1-31
1. Reforms in relation to non-Jews, 13:1-3
2. Reforms in relation to the priesthood, 13:4-14
3. Reforms in relation to the Sabbath, 13:15-22
4. Reforms in relation to marriage, 13:23-31
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