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by Paul E. Kretzmann
The Book of Nehemiah
Fourteen years after Ezra, the learned doctor of the Law, had instituted his reforms of worship in Jerusalem, another prominent man came to the capital of Judea from the land of the exile, namely, Nehemiah, the son of Hachaliah, the author of this last book of the Old Testament canon. He had held the important office of cupbearer to King Artaxerxes Longimanus when he received information from Judea which caused him to apply for leave of absence, in order to remedy, if possible, the unfortunate conditions then obtaining in the land of his fathers. For fourteen years he held the position of Governor of Judah, during which time he introduced many reforms among the people, abolished usury, revived the knowledge of the Law, restored the strict observance of the Sabbath, enforced the payment of religious dues, and compelled those who had married foreign, idolatrous wives to divorce them.
The Book of Nehemiah is plainly divided into three parts. In chapters 1 to 7 Nehemiah states the occasion for his journey and his work in building the walls and gates of the Holy City. In chapters 8 to 10 he tells of the solemn restoration of divine worship, for which he worked together with Ezra. In chapters 11 to 13 we have lists of various kinds and a few statements concerning the last deeds of Nehemiah, including his reforms of sundry abuses. The book was probably written between 433 and 431, at Jerusalem.
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26