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Dr. J. Vernon McGee :: Notes for Nehemiah

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NEHEMIAH

(Ezra and Nehemiah are one book in the Hebrew canon.)

WRITER: Perhaps Ezra
Nehemiah was a layman; Ezra was a priest. In the Book of Ezra, the emphasis is upon the rebuilding of the temple; in the Book of Nehemiah, the emphasis is upon the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. In Ezra, we have the religious aspect of the return; in Nehemiah, we have the political aspect of the return. Ezra is a fine representative of the priest and scribe; Nehemiah is a noble representative of the businessman. Nehemiah had an important office at the court of the powerful Persian king, Artaxerxes, but his heart was with God’s people and God’s program in Jerusalem. The personal note is the main characteristic of the book.

DATE: Chronologically, this is the last of the historical books. We have come to the end of the line as far as time is concerned. The Old Testament goes no further. The Book of Ezra picks up the thread of the story about 70 years after 2 Chronicles. The 70-year captivity is over and a remnant returns to the land of Israel. The return under Ezra takes place about 50 years after Zerubbabel. Nehemiah returns about 15 years after Ezra. These figures are approximate and are given to show the stages in the history of Israel after the captivity. This enables one to see how the “70 weeks” of Daniel fit into the picture in a normal and reasonable way. The “70 weeks” of Daniel begin with the Book of Nehemiah (not with Ezra) “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks….” The background of the events of Nehemiah is “…the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times” (Daniel 9:25).
Note: The following dates, suggested by Sir Robert Anderson, seem to be a satisfactory solution to the problem of the “70 weeks” of Daniel:

Decree of Cyrus, 536 B.C. — Ezra 1:1-4
Decree of Artaxerxes, 445 B.C. (20th year of his reign) — Nehemiah 2:1-8

The “70 weeks” begin.
The first “7 weeks” end, 397 B.C. — Malachi.
(For details see Sir Robert Anderson’s The Coming Prince.)

KEY WORD: “So” occurs 32 times. It denotes a man of action and few words. Mark this word in your Bible and notice how this ordinarily unimportant word stands out in this book.

KEY VERSES:

And it came to pass when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:4)

And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease, while I leave it, and come down to you? (Nehemiah 6:3)

Outline for Ezra ← Prior Section
Outline for Nehemiah Next Section →
Post-Captivity Books ← Prior Book
Notes for Esther Next Book →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.