Survey of the Bible - Nehemiah
Text: Nehemiah 6:10-16
I. The book of Nehemiah continues the story of Ezra
A. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah were believed to originally been written as one book that started from II Chronicles 35 to the end of Nehemiah.
1. Over time the division between the books changed.
2. Since Nehemiah’s accounts are clearly written by him, they were separated into a book named after him - Nehemiah 1:1
B. Ezra 2:1-70 and Nehemiah 7:5-73 are similar, showing that both authors were involved in the same events and access to the same records.
1. Ezra dealt with the religious restoration of Israel
2. Nehemiah deals with the restoration of Israel’s government
D. Nehemiah served Artaxerxes I, son of Ahasuerus who married Esther.
1. So these events take place after Esther
2. Nehemiah was Artaxerxes cupbearer. It was his job to taste the king’s drink to make sure the king would not be poisoned. It was also a position of a trusted advisor to the king.
3. Nehemiah served as governor of Jerusalem for about 12 years.
E. Time span
1. Takes place 94 years after the first return
2. It begins in the 20th year of Artaxerxes - Nehemiah 2:1
3. He returns in the 32nd year of Artaxerxes - Nehemiah 13:6
4. Then returns after some days for Jerusalem once again
F. Archeological evidence
1. Documents known as the Elephantine papyri mention:
a. Sanballat - Nehemiah 2:19
b. Jehohanan - Nehemiah 6:18
c. Notes that Bigvai was Nehemiah’s replacement as governor of Jerusalem
d. “The Elephantine Papyri is a collection of ancient Jewish manuscripts dating from the fifth century BC. They come from a Jewish community at Elephantine, the island in the Nile at the border of Nubia. ... Translation Elephantine Papyri: “We have also set forth the whole matter in a letter in our name to Delaiah and Shelemiah, the sons of Sanballat, the governor of Samaria. Furthermore, Arsames (the Persian satrap) knew nothing of all that was perpetrated on us. On the twentieth of Marheshwan, the seventeenth year of Darius the King.”“ [http://www.formerthings.com/sanballat.htm]
2. A section of Nehemiah’s wall has been identified by Dr. Eilat Mazar in 2007 [http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1924514/posts]
G. Contemporary Prophets
1. Malachi - Many of the problems found by Nehemiah are specifically denounced in Malachi
A. Rebuilding of the Walls of Jerusalem - Nehemiah 1-6
1. Nehemiah requests of God permission to rebuild the walls - Nehemiah 1
a. The bad news - Nehemiah 1:1-4
2. Inspection of the walls and preparation for rebuilding - Nehemiah 2
a. The king’s permission - Nehemiah 2:1-8
b. Nehemiah recruits help - Nehemiah 2:16-18
c. Opposition by intimidation - Nehemiah 2:19-20
3. List of the builders - Nehemiah 3
4. Opposition to the building and its completion - Nehemiah 4-6
a. Ridicule - Nehemiah 4:1-6
b. Threats - Nehemiah 4:7-9
c. Discouragement - Nehemiah 4:10-23
d. Extortion - Nehemiah 5:1-13
e. Compromise - Nehemiah 6:1-4
f. Slander - Nehemiah 6:5-9
g. Treachery - Nehemiah 6:10-14
B. Restoration of the People to the Law - Nehemiah 7-13
1. Organization and registration of the remnant - Nehemiah 7
a. City mostly empty - Nehemiah 7:4-6
2. Reading of the Law - Nehemiah 8
a. Everyone listened who could - Nehemiah 8:1-3
b. Reaction - Nehemiah 8:8-12
3. Renewal of the Covenant - Nehemiah 9
a. Confession of wrong - Nehemiah 9:32-38
4. Ratifiers of the Covenant and stipulations - Nehemiah 10
5. Resettlement of Jerusalem - Nehemiah 11
a. By casting lots - Nehemiah 11:1-2
6. List of the Priests and Levites - Nehemiah 12:1-26
7. Dedication of the Wall - Nehemiah 12:27-47
8. Restoration of the people - Nehemiah 13
a. Corruption - Nehemiah 13:4-14
b. Ignoring the Sabbath - Nehemiah 13:15-22
c. Violating the marriage laws - Nehemiah 13:23-31
III. What is interesting is that Nehemiah shows what a layman could do in serving God
A. Nehemiah wasn’t a priest, Levite, or a prophet. He received no orders from God to do what he saw needed to be done, yet he served with courageously with a whole heart.
B. It describes the impact one person can make in the world.
Elephantine Papyri containing the name Sanballat
Portion of Nehemiah’s Wall Identified
Closeup of Nehemiah’s Wall