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Author: Tradition has been that Ezra the priest wrote both Ezra-Nehemiah as one book, and wrote Nehemiah from Nehemiah’s firsthand account. But because Nehemiah is written as a firsthand account, more scholars today believe Nehemiah was the author, telling his own story of going from cupbearer to king Artaxerxes of Babylon to being sent by the king to rebuild Jerusalem and serve as its governor.

Date: Probably sometime after 433 B.C. (Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in 458 B.C. and Nehemiah in 445 B.C.)

Audience/Purpose: Written to show the Jewish people how God used Nehemiah to rally the people to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and to lead in bringing moral, ethical and spiritual renewal to Israel.


Chapters 1-7 - REBUILDING

  • 1:1-11 - Nehemiah mourns, fasts, prays for days at news of sad conditions of Jerusalem and people

  • 1:11b-2:10 - God answered Nehemiah’s prayer for king Artaxerxes to grant his safe return to Jerusalem

  • 2:11-20 - Nehemiah quietly examined the city and inspired Jewish leaders to start work of rebuilding

  • 3:1-32 - List of the various sections of the walls and gates rebuilt and those who did the work

  • 4:1-23 - Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite, and associates opposed the Jews’ work, but Nehemiah encouraged people to pray and not be afraid, work diligently, and prepare to guard and fight

  • 5:1-19 - Nehemiah rebuked Jewish leaders for exacting usury from people and they repent, he explained how he denied himself governor’s allotment out of respect for demands on the people

  • 6:1-7:3 - Nehemiah’s faith and leadership overcame schemes/intimidation of opponents to complete wall

  • 7:4-73a - List of exiles who returned to Jerusalem and those who made contributions for the work

Chapters 8-13 - REVIVAL & REFORM

  • 7:73b-8:18 - All Israel gathered and listened to Ezra, Nehemiah, priests read and explain the Law for half a day, celebrated greatly what they heard, reinstituted Festival of Booths, did this for seven days

  • 9:1-5a - Ten days later, Israel regathered to hear Word read again for quarter of day, then fasted, confessed sins, and worshiped God for another quarter of day

  • 9:5b-37 - Levites’ prayer recounting God’s past faithfulness i spite of forefathers’ rebellion, appealing to His gracious mercy to help them in their current distress

  • 9:38-10:39 - List of Jews who entered written agreement to obey God and not neglect His house, not marry foreigners, not buy or sell on Sabbath, but faithfully bring tithes, offerings, contributions (“We will not neglect the house of our God”)

  • 11:1-36 - List of the leaders of the people, descendents of Judah and Benjamin, and the Levites, priests, gatekeepers who settled in Jerusalem, along with others who settled in surrounding towns and areas

  • 12:1-26 - Priests and Levites who returned with first wave of Jews with Zerubbabel and Jeshua

  • 12:27-43 - Dedication of the wall, Ezra led choir procession to one side, Nehemiah led the other, both took places opposite each other in the house of God, and they along with the people sang with great joy

  • 12:44-47 - The contributions brought and stored for the Levites, priests, singers, gatekeepers

  • 13:1-31 - According to Law and in effort to purify Temple and its worship, Nehemiah led for removal of foreigners from house of God, reestablished provisions for Levites that had been neglected, stopped improper buying/selling on Sabbath, and spoke out to stop priests and people from intermarrying pagans