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Nehemiah or Nechemya (English pronunciation: /ˌniː.əˈmaɪ.ə/; נְחֶמְיָה, "Comforted of/is the LORD (YHWH)," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is a major figure in the post-exile history of the Jews as recorded in the Bible, and is believed to be the primary author of the Book of Nehemiah. He was the son of Hachaliah, (Neh. 1:1) and probably of the Tribe of Judah. His ancestors resided in Jerusalem before his service in Persia. (Neh. 2:3).

Contents

Personal history

When Yehud Medinata was the Jewish province in the Persian Empire, (see also History of ancient Israel and Judah)[1] Nehemiah was the royal cup-bearer (Greek: oinochoos) at the palace of Shushan. The king, Artaxerxes I (Artaxerxes Longimanus), appears to have been on good terms with his attendant, as evidenced by the extended leave of absence granted him for the restoration of Jerusalem.[2]

Primarily by means of his brother Hanani, (Nehemiah 1:2; 2:3) Nehemiah heard of the mournful and desolate condition of Jerusalem, and was filled with sadness of heart. For many days he fasted and mourned and prayed for the place of his fathers' sepulchres. At length the king observed his sadness of countenance and asked the reason of it. Nehemiah explained this to the king, and obtained his permission to go up to Jerusalem and there to act as tirshatha, or governor of Judea.[3]

He arrived in Jerusalem in the 20th year of Artaxerxes I, (445/444 BC)[3] with a strong escort supplied by the king, and with letters to all the pashas of the provinces through which he had to pass, as also to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests, directing him to assist Nehemiah.

Although not all scholars are agreed, there is textual and other evidence that Nehemiah was a eunuch. He certainly seems to have been regarded as such in later Judaism - the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, describes him as a eunochos (eunuch), rather than an oinochoos. Further, he served in the presence of both the king and queen, which increases the probability of his having been castrated. According to Jewish law, no one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the Lord. Thus Nehemiah could not enter certain areas of the temple. His enemy Shemaiah attempted to trick him into doing so. Another explanation is that Nehemiah was not a priest and was not authorized to go into those portions of the Temple reserved for the priests.

Without children to remember him for posterity, Nehemiah prayed repeatedly: Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people. Later tradition relaxed the Deutoronomic prohibition and pledged posterity for eunuchs in the divine memory. Nehemiah's service to his people and nation - despite prejudice and social and religious disadvantage - did indeed make a difference to the accommodation, if not yet the affirmation, of a denigrated sexual minority.

On his arrival in Jerusalem, Nehemiah began to survey the city secretly at night, and formed a plan for its restoration; a plan which he carried out with great skill and energy, so that the whole wall was completed over an astounding 52-day span. "So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days" (Nehemiah 6:15).

Rebuilding of Jerusalem

Nehemiah rebuilding Jerusalem

He rebuilt the walls from the Sheep Gate in the North, the Hananel 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 the East. Eilat Mazar an Israeli Archaeologist and Ephraim Stern, professor emeritus of archaeology at Hebrew University and chairman of the state of Israel archaeological council, claim that sections of these walls built have been found. This claim is disputed by Israel Finkelstein, professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University. [4]

Nehemiah remained in Judea for thirteen years as governor, carrying out many reforms, despite the opposition that he encountered (Neh. 13:11). He built up the state on the old lines, "supplementing and completing the work of Ezra," and making all arrangements for the safety and good government of the city. At the close of this important period of his public life, he returned to Persia to the service of his royal master at Shushan or Ecbatana. Very soon after this the old corrupt state of things returned.

Some commentators believe that Malachi now appeared among the people with words of stern reproof and solemn warning;[5] and when Nehemiah again returned from Persia, (after an absence of some two years) he was grieved to see the widespread moral degeneracy that had taken place during his absence. He set himself with vigour to rectify the flagrant abuses that had sprung up, and restored the orderly administration of public worship and the outward observance of the Law of Moses. (Neh. 13:6-31)

Of his subsequent history we know nothing. Probably he remained at his post as governor till his death (about 413 BCE) in a good old age. The place of his death and burial is, however, unknown.

Nehemiah was the last of the governors sent out from the Persian court. Judea was annexed to the satrapy of Coele-Syria after this point, and was governed by the Syrian-appointed high priest.[2]

Book of Nehemiah

The book of Nehemiah puts the historical record of Nehemiah's mission in a theological context. Viewed from a political angle his actions were the result of the Persians' desire for increased security in the Levant and enhancement of Imperial control.[6]

The reality of the 5th century BCE was that the Egyptian revolt[7] continued with an increasing Greek military presence. The security concerns of the Persian Empire required some strategic reforms, namely the refortification of Jerusalem and proper categorisation of people living within the Levant. Hence the rebuilding of the walls and the ban on inter-marriage. (Ezr. 10: 1-3, Neh. 13:23-25)

This however is highly unlikely. As Christian Hauer and William Young noted, "Nehemiah, Ezra, and prophets like Malachi were vexed by Israelite marriages to foreign women. The two reformers obliged citizens of Jerusalem to rid themselves of foreign wives. This policy was not racist. The women who troubled the reformers were those who remained pagan and foreign. Women who converted to Judaism were no longer foreigners.."[8]

Rabbinic literature

Nehemiah is identified in one haggadah with Zerubbabel, the latter name being considered an epithet of Nehemiah and as indicating that he was born at Babylon ("Zera'+ Babel"; Sanh. 38a). With Ezra, he 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). According to B. B. 15a Nehemiah completed the Book of Chronicles, which was written by Ezra.

See also

References

  1. ^ Ackroyd, Peter R. (1968), Exile And Restoration, p. 141, SCM Press Ltd., Library of Congress Catalog card No. 68-27689
  2. ^ a b Easton's Bible Dictionary, Entry: Nehemiah
  3. ^ a b Blenkinsopp, Joseph (1988), Ezra-Nehemiah, A Commentary, pp. 212-213, 140, The Westminster Press, ISBN 0-664-21294-8
  4. ^ http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,314361,00.html
  5. ^ "The Book of Malachi," Introduction to the Books of the Bible from the NIV Study Bible
  6. ^ Entry: Persia at the Holman Bible Dictionary
  7. ^ The Persians at the International World History Project
  8. ^ Hauer, Christian E., and William A. Young (2008), An Introduction to the Bible: A Journey into Three Worlds 7th ed., p. 201, Pearson/Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-615530-8

This article incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), a publication now in the public domain.

External links


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Nehemiah
disambiguation
Wikipedia logo Wikipedia has more on:
Nehemiah.
This is a disambiguation page. If an article link referred you here, please consider editing it to point directly to the intended page.

Nehemiah is a book in the Bible. The following English translations may be available:


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

'NEHEMIAH (Heb. for "Yah[weh] comforts"), governor of Judaea under Artaxerxes (apparently A. Longimanus, 465424 B.C.). The book of Nehemiah is really part of the same work with the book of Ezra, though it embodies certain memoirs of Nehemiah in which he writes in the first person. Apart from what is related in this book we possess little information about Nehemiah. The hymn of praise by Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus xlix. 13) extols his fame for rebuilding the desolate city of Jerusalem and for raising up fresh homes for the downtrodden people. According to other traditions he restored the templeservice and founded a collection of historical documents (2 Macc. i. 18-36, ii. 13). See further Ezra And Nehemiah (Books), Jews :' History §§ 21 seq.


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Etymology

Hebrew נְחֶמְיָה, "consolation of Yahweh".

Proper noun

Singular
Nehemiah

Plural
-

Nehemiah

  1. (Biblical) A book of the Old Testament of the Bible, and of the Tanakh.
  2. (Biblical) A governor of Judea sent by the Persian king to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
  3. A male given name of biblical origin.

Related terms

Translations


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Meaning: comforted by Jehovah

  1. Ez 2:2; Neh 7:7.
  2. Neh 3:16.
  3. The son of Hachaliah (Neh 1:1), and probably of the tribe of Judah. His family must have belonged to Jerusalem (Neh 2:3). He was one of the "Jews of the dispersion," and in his youth was appointed to the important office of royal cup-bearer at the palace of Shushan. The king, Artaxerxes Longimanus, seems to have been on terms of friendly familiarity with his attendant. Through his brother Hanani, and perhaps from other sources (Neh 1:2; 2:3), he heard of the mournful and desolate condition of the Holy City, and was filled with sadness of heart. For many days he fasted and mourned and prayed for the place of his fathers' sepulchres. At length the king observed his sadness of countenance and asked the reason of it. Nehemiah explained it all to the king, and obtained his permission to go up to Jerusalem and there to act as tirshatha, or governor of Judea. He went up in the spring of B.C. 446 (eleven years after Ezra), with a strong escort supplied by the king, and with letters to all the pashas of the provinces through which he had to pass, as also to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests, directing him to assist Nehemiah. On his arrival he set himself to survey the city, and to form a plan for its restoration; a plan which he carried out with great skill and energy, so that the whole was completed in about six months. He remained in Judea for thirteen years as governor, carrying out many reforms, notwithstanding much opposition that he encountered (Neh 13:11). He built up the state on the old lines, "supplementing and completing the work of Ezra," and making all arrangements for the safety and good government of the city. At the close of this important period of his public life, he returned to Persia to the service of his royal master at Shushan or Ecbatana. Very soon after this the old corrupt state of things returned, showing the worthlessness to a large extent of the professions that had been made at the feast of the dedication of the walls of the city (Neh. 12. See EZRA �T0001294). Malachi now appeared among the people with words of stern reproof and solemn warning; and Nehemiah again returned from Persia (after an absence of some two years), and was grieved to see the widespread moral degeneracy that had taken place during his absence. He set himself with vigour to rectify the flagrant abuses that had sprung up, and restored the orderly administration of public worship and the outward observance of the law of Moses. Of his subsequent history we know nothing. Probably he remained at his post as governor till his death (about B.C. 413) in a good old age. The place of his death and burial is, however, unknown. "He resembled Ezra in his fiery zeal, in his active spirit of enterprise, and in the piety of his life: but he was of a bluffer and a fiercer mood; he had less patience with transgressors; he was a man of action rather than a man of thought, and more inclined to use force than persuasion. His practical sagacity and high courage were very markedly shown in the arrangement with which he carried through the rebuilding of the wall and balked the cunning plans of the 'adversaries.' The piety of his heart, his deeply religious spirit and constant sense of communion with and absolute dependence upon God, are strikingly exhibited, first in the long prayer recorded in ch. 1:5-11, and secondly and most remarkably in what have been called his 'interjectional prayers', those short but moving addresses to Almighty God which occur so frequently in his writings, the instinctive outpouring of a heart deeply moved, but ever resting itself upon God, and looking to God alone for aid in trouble, for the frustration of evil designs, and for final reward and acceptance" (Rawlinson). Nehemiah was the last of the governors sent from the Persian court. Judea after this was annexed to the satrapy of Coele-Syria, and was governed by the high priest under the jurisdiction of the governor of Syria, and the internal government of the country became more and more a hierarchy.
This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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