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Neh, overview

Author: Nehemiah.

Time: 445 – 432 BC.

Summary: The book begins with Nehemiah returning from Babylon as Governor of Jerusalem. He plans and oversees the rebuilding of the city wall despite discouraging opposition and disunity within the Jewish population. The wall is completed and more exiles are returned and registered as Jewish citizens. Nehemiah's dedication to God drives him to make several religious reforms including a public reading of the Law and arrangements for worship.

Time of writing: The mention of Darius the Persian (Neh 12:22) probably refers to Darius II, the successor of Artaxerxes I (Longimanus). Darius ruled from 423-404 BC. Therefore Nehemiah must have written the book sometime after that reign began. Since there are no references to Nehemiah's age in the text, it is hard to estimate how long he may have lived. When the book opens, he was second in command under King Artaxerxes. If he was 40 years old then and 41 when he reached Jerusalem in 444 BC, he would have been 62 years old in 423 BC when Darius replaced Artaxerxes. Consequently he probably wrote the book not long after 423 BC, most likely before 400 BC.

Key verse: "So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart" (Neh 4:6).

Outline

1.
Nehemiah's arrival in Jerusalem: Neh 1:1 – 2:20

a)
Tragic news from Jerusalem, and Nehemiah's prayer: Neh 1:1–11

b)
The granting of Nehemiah's request: Neh 2:1–8

c)
Nehemiah's survey of the walls, and his report: Neh 2:9–20



2.
The building of the wall: Neh 3:1 – 7:4

a)
The workmen and their tasks: Neh 3:1–32

b)
The opposition of enemies: Neh 4:1–23

c)
Reforms of Nehemiah as governor: Neh 5:1–19

d)
The wall finished despite opposition: Neh 6:1–7:3



3.
List of exiles: Neh 7:4–73a



4.
Ezra's preaching and reforms: Neh 7:73b –- 10:39

a)
The reading and observance of God's Law: Neh 7:73b – 8:18

b)
A public confession and covenant: Neh 9:1–10:39



5.
Lists of inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem: Neh 11:1–12:26

a)
New residents of Jerusalem: Neh 11:1–24

b)
New residents of Judah: Neh 11:25–36

c)
List of priests and Levites: Neh 12:1–26



6.
Dedication of walls and organization of temple services: Neh 12:27–47



7.
Nehemiah's second administration: Neh 13:1–31

a)
Abuses during his absence: Neh 13:1–5

b)
Nehemiah's return to Jerusalem: Neh 13:6–9

c)
Reorganization and reforms: Neh 13:10–31
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