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by John Dummelow
1. Character and Contents. The book of Nehemiah, as has been already noted (See Book Comments for Ezra), probably forms part of a single work embracing Ezra, Nehemiah , , 1, 2 Chronicles, and its date, therefore, is that of the larger whole (perhaps about 330-320 b.c.). Its contents are separated from those of Ezra by an interval of thirteen years, so that the rule which the writer has previously observed of confining his history to an account of a few critical periods is again followed here. The record comprises Nehemiah’s visit to Jerusalem in 445, his repair of the city walls, and the measures taken by him to secure obedience to the Law. The latest date in his life mentioned in the narrative is the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes, 433 b.c.(Nehemiah 5:14).
2. Sources. The chief sources referred to, or implied, in the book are (a) the memoirs of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:1 to Nehemiah 7:5; Nehemiah 12:27-43; Nehemiah 13:4-31); (b) genealogies and registers, partly incorporated in the memoirs just described, and partly reproduced by the compiler (3, Nehemiah 7:6-73; Nehemiah 10:1-27; Nehemiah 12:1-26).
3. Value. The book of Nehemiah carries the history of the Jewish people down to a later date than any other of the avowedly historical works in the canon of the OT. Its interest is manifold, since it describes not only the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, but the reconstruction of the Jewish ecclesiastical organisation; and as an authority for the events it relates, is first-rate, since it is largely based upon contemporary materials. And its value is augmented by its vivid portrayal of the noble character of Nehemiah himself. His career presents an exceptional combination of strong self-reliance with humble trust in God, of penetrating shrewdness with perfect simplicity of purpose, of persistent prayerfulness with the most energetic activity; and for religious faith and practical sagacity he stands conspicuous among the illustrious personages of the Bible.
the Fourth Week after Epiphany