Nehemiah is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which
describes his work in rebuilding Jerusalem during the Second Temple
period. He was governor of Persian Judea under Artaxerxes I of
Persia (c. 5th century BC). The name is pronounced
/ˌniːəˈmaɪə/ or /ˌniːhəˈmaɪə/ in English. It is in Hebrew:
נְחֶמְיָה, Modern Nəḥemya,
Tiberian Neẖemeyā, "Yahweh comforts", a long version of the
name "Nahum" which also means comforter.
According to most scholars,
Nehemiah was a real historical figure and
Nehemiah Memoir, a name given by scholars to certain portions of
the book written in the first person, is historically
1 Book of Nehemiah
2 Rabbinic literature
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
Book of Nehemiah
In the 20th year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, (445/444 BC), Nehemiah
was cup-bearer to the king. Learning that the remnant of Jews in
Judah were in distress and that the walls of Jerusalem were broken
down, he asked the king for permission to return and rebuild the
city. Artaxerxes sent him to Judah as governor of the province with
a mission to rebuild, letters explaining his support for the venture,
and provision for timber from the king's forest. Once there,
Nehemiah defied the opposition of Judah's enemies on all
Arabs and Philistines—and rebuilt the
walls within 52 days, from the Sheep Gate in the North, the Hananeel
Tower at the North West corner, the Fish Gate in the West, the
Furnaces Tower at the Temple Mount's South West corner, the Dung Gate
in the South, the East Gate and the gate beneath the Golden Gate in
Appearing in the Queen's presence may indicate his being a
eunuch, and in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew
Bible, he is described as such: eunochos (eunuch), rather than
oinochoos (wine-cup-bearer). If so the attempt by his enemy Shemaiah
to trick him into entering the Temple is aimed at making him break
Jewish law, rather than simply hide from assassins.
He then took measures to repopulate the city and purify the Jewish
community, enforcing the cancellation of debt, assisting
promulgate the law of Moses, and enforcing the divorce of Jewish men
from their non-Jewish wives.
Nehemiah Views the Ruins of Jerusalem's Walls, 1866.
After 12 years as governor, during which he ruled with justice and
righteousness, he returned to the king in Susa. After some time in
Susa he returned to Jerusalem, only to find that the people had fallen
back into their evil ways. Non-Jews were permitted to conduct business
inside Jerusalem on the Sabbath and to keep rooms in the Temple.
Greatly angered, he purified the Temple and the priests and Levites
and enforced the observance of the law of Moses.
Nehemiah is identified in one aggadah with Zerubbabel, the latter name
being considered an epithet of
Nehemiah and as indicating that he was
born at Babylon. However, rabbi Isaiah di Trani, in his commentary
to the book of Nehemiah, writes as factual that
Nehemiah was a
Nehemiah marks the spring-time in the national history of
Judaism (Cant. R. ii. 12). A certain mishnah is declared by the Rabbis
to have originated in the school of
Nehemiah (Shab. 123b). Still,
Nehemiah is blamed by the Rabbis for his seemingly boastful
expression, "Think upon me, my God, for good" (Neh. v. 19, xiii. 31),
and for his disparagement of his predecessors (ib. v. 15), among whom
was Daniel. The Rabbis think that these two faults were the reason
that this book is not mentioned under its own name, but forms part of
the Book of
Ezra (Sanh. 93b). [Although it seems this was true at the
time the Talmud was compiled, it is not the case in modern Hebrew
Bibles, in which
Nehemiah each has his own book.] According
to Baba Bathra 15a
Nehemiah completed the Book of Chronicles, which
was written by Ezra.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge commented on the dearth of any classical
paintings featuring Nehemiah.
Governors of Yehud Medinata
Sanballat the Horonite
^ a b Gesenius, Friedrich Wilhelm (1846). Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee
Lexicon. Baker Book House; 7th edition, 1979. p. 544.
^ For confirmation that many scholars share this view, see Anne
Fitzpatrick (2009). Zuleika Rodgers; Margaret Daly-Denton; Anne
Fitzpatrick Mckinley, eds. "What did
Nehemiah do for Judaism," in A
Wandering Galilean: Essays in Honour of Seán Freyne. BRILL.
pp. 93–. ISBN 90-04-17355-2.
^ For confirmation that most scholars share this view, see Jack Pastor
(2010). Menahem Mor; Friedrick V. Reiterer, eds. "The Contribution of
the Samaria Papyri from Wadi Daliyeh to the Study of Economics in the
Persian Period," in Samaritans: Past and Present: Current Studies.
Walter de Gruyter. pp. 52–. ISBN 978-3-11-019497-5.
^ For an author who disagrees with the scholarly majority position on
the historicity of
Nehemiah and Ezra, but acknowledges the existence
of that majority, see Philip R. Davies (3 September 2014). Rethinking
Biblical Scholarship: Changing Perspectives 4. Taylor & Francis.
p. 108. ISBN 978-1-317-54443-2. The essential historicity of
the events described [in
Ezra and Nehemiah] has rarely been
^ On the date, see Ezra-Nehemiah: A Commentary. Westminster John Knox
Press. 1 January 1988. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-664-22186-7.
^ Neh 2:6
^ R. J. Coggins. The books of
Nehemiah (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1976), 73; also F. Charles Fensham, The Books of
Nehemiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982), 140
^ John Barton, The Oxford Bible commentary, Oxford University Press,
^ "Zera'+ Babel"; from the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 38a. See the
Soncino translation .
^ Published by R. Mass, Jerusalem 5738 HC
^ "Babylonian Talmud: Baba Bathra 15". halakhah.com. Retrieved 2 April
^ Paley, Morton D. (10 July 2008). "Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the
Fine Arts". OUP Oxford. Retrieved 2 April 2018 – via Google
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain: Easton, Matthew George (1897). "Nehemiah".
Easton's Bible Dictionary
Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and
Barr, James. 'History of Israel' in History and Ideology in the Old
Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 87
Holman Bible Dictionary, Persia
Lester Grabbe. Ezra, in Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible (ed. James D.
G. Dunn, John William Rogerson, Eerdmans, 2003) p. 320-1
Pakkala, Juha. "
Ezra the scribe: the development of
Ezra 7-10 and
Nehemiah 8" (Walter de Gruyter, 2004) pp. 225–7
Schulte, Lucas L. My Shepherd, though You Do not Know Me: The Persian
Royal Propaganda Model in the
Nehemiah Memoir (Leuven: Peeters, 2016),
Williamson, H. G. M.
Nehemiah (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic
Press, 1987), 17
Wright, Jacob. "Rebuilding identity: the Nehemiah-memoir and its
earliest readers" (Walter de Gruyter, 2004) p. 340
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nehemiah.
Jewish Encyclopedia: Nehemiah
The Wall that
Nehemiah Built Biblical Archaeology Review
Israel Finkelstein Jerusalem in the Persian (and Early Hellenistic)
Period and the Wall of Nehemiah
Israel Finkelstein. Archaeology and the List of Returnees in the Books