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Nehemiah

The King James Version

Old Testament

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The old testament book of Nehemiah (pronounced Neh-'hehm-yah or Neh-'hehm-yah ) tells the story of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem after the Jews returned from Babylonian exile. It is a continuation of the Book of Ezra. Like the rebuilding of the temple in the book of Ezra, the rebuilding of the walls excites the opposition of various non-Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem and the land.
Book of Nehemiah:  Reading the book of law.

Nehemiah was cupbearer to Artaxerxes (I or II) King of Persia. Hearing of troubles in Jerusalem, he obtained  an appointment from the king as governor (Tirshatha, Pehah) of Judah, and went to live there either about 445 (Artaxerxes I) or about 384 (Artaxerxes II) for 12 years, then apparently returning for a second visit.. One verse hints however that Nehemiah did not live in Judah all of the time, but only visited briefly.

The book can be divided into four parts:

Chapters 1-7: Rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, and the register of those who had returned from Babylon, identical to that in Ezra.

Chapters 8-10: Religious backsliding and reform. Celebration of Sukkoth (Tabernacles).

Chapters 11-12: A census roll

Chapters 12-13: Dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the arrangement of the temple officers, and the reforms carried out by Nehemiah, and dealing with the problem of foreign wives again. (12:27-ch. 13).

 

The description in Chapter 4, of rebuilding the walls while keeping guard against marauders became a moral model for Zionist defense in the rebuilding of modern Israel.

Nehemiah also carried out land reforms that favored the poor and bought him the enmity of wealthy residents, and a reform of the aristocracy, which earned him the enmity of others. He repopulated Jerusalem by casting lots among all the inhabitants of Judah to determine which families should relocate in Jerusalem. A part of the book at least, was probably written by Nehemiah, and is devoted to praising his own work and denouncing his enemies.

Because of the uncertainty surrounding the question of which Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah his commission, and which Artaxerxes was the king mentioned in the Book of Ezra, it is difficult to date the events accurately, nor can it be certain that the mention of foreign wives in chapter 13 is a different incident or the same one as is described in the book of Ezra.

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the Book of Chronicles, must be viewed in part as nation-building efforts on the part of their authors. The Jews returning to Judea could not have national sovereignty, as Judea remained a satrapy of the Persian empire. National life was therefore reconstituted around the temple worship. It is not unlikely that the earlier books of the old testament were redacted in the light of the new reality as well.

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Preface to the First Edition of the King James Bible

The bible and Zionism

The Bible, the Old Testament, has become a mainstay of human culture, but it is first and foremost a historical document of the Jewish people and our culture. It tells the story of our ancient kingdoms and civilization in the Land of Israel, and therefore it kept alive the tie of the people of Israel to the land of Israel for 2000 years. It forms the moral and cultural basis of Zionist ideology and aspirations.

The Bible, the Old Testament, is accepted by the three major Western faiths. It is a major work of Western civilization. The Bible documents the historic connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, even for those who do not believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, and even for those who do not believe in God at all. It is the historic epic of the Jewish people in our land.  

Additional Background

Map - Canaan Before the Hebrews

Map - Canaan and the Early Israelite Kingdom

Map - The kingdoms of Israel and Judea; Judea and Samaria in the time of Jesus

Samaria  Judea

Map of Palestine 1845 - Showing biblical and contemporary sites

Jews, Jewish Religion, anti-Semitism the Talmud and Zionism

Map of Canaan (Israel) in the time of Joshua (Black and White)
Map of ancient Canaan (Palestine) after the Conquest by the Israelites
Palestine (Israel, Canaan) in the Time of the Judges
Map of Ancient Israel (Canaan) in the reigns of Kings David and Solomon (Black and White)
Map of Judah (Judea) in the Divided Kingdom
Map of Judah (Judea) in the Maccabean Kingdom of Alexander Janeus (Yannai)
Map of the Roman Province of Judea

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Book of Nehemiah