November 24, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Nehemiah 1-4
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Author: Uncertain, perhaps Ezra, copying journals from Nehemiah
Date: Approximately 15 years after the events in the book of Ezra
Context: We are able to determine that this book takes place approximately 80 years after the Israelites had returned to Jerusalem. The temple had been rebuilt, but the city was still struggling to survive. The book of Nehemiah begins with him expressing his concern for the remnant in Israel through prayer. We are then informed of how Nehemiah came to reside in Jerusalem. Nehemiah determined the Jerusalem needed to rebuild her walls and gates, but not without opposition. Nehemiah faith in the Lord motivates the people in their work. Each group of people were given a section of the wall to repair. They could take pride in their work and see the results of their labor. Opponents laughed as the Israelites continued to build. When the laughter did not discourage the workers, opponents tried another tactic, intimidation through physical force. Nehemiah once again encouraged the people to have faith in the Lord. He also took half the workers and armed them against attack. Faith in the Lord does not mean that we should not act to protect ourselves.
World History: In the Hebrew Bible, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are one book. They have the same author. Unlike Ezra, who was a priest, Nehemiah was an official within the Persian Empire. He was sent by king to be governor of his Judah, his homeland.