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Nehemiah is the central figure of the
Book of Nehemiah The Book of Nehemiah, in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almos ...
, which describes his work in rebuilding Jerusalem during the
Second Temple period The Second Temple period in Jewish history Jewish history is the history of the Jews, and their nation, Judaism, religion and Jewish culture, culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. Although Judaism a ...
. He was governor of
Persian Judea Yehud, also known as Yehud Medinata or Yehud Medinta (), was the Aramaic-language name that was retained and used by the Achaemenid Persian Empire for one of its administrative provinces in the region of Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by P ...
under
Artaxerxes I of Persia Artaxerxes I (, peo, 饜帬饜幖饜帿饜帶饜弫饜弬 , "whose rule (''x拧a莽a'' PlutarchThemistocles, 29/ref> Portrayal in the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah A King Artaxerxes ( he, 讗址专职转址旨讞职砖址讈砖职讉转职旨讗, ) is described in the Bible a ...
(465鈥424 BC). The name is pronounced or in English. It is in Hebrew , ''N蓹岣my膩h'', "
Yah Yah may refer to: * Jah Jah or Yah ( he, , ''Y膩h'') is a short form of (YHWH), the four letters that form the , : , which the ancient used. The conventional Christian English pronunciation of ''Jah'' is , even though the letter here translit ...
comforts". Most scholars believe Nehemiah was a real historical figure and that the Nehemiah Memoir, a name given by scholars to certain portions of the book written in the first person, is historically reliable.For confirmation that many scholars share this view, see For confirmation that most scholars share this view, see For an author who disagrees with the scholarly majority position on the historicity of Nehemiah and Ezra, but acknowledges the existence of that majority, see


Book of Nehemiah narrative

In the 20th year of
Artaxerxes I Artaxerxes I (, peo, 饜帬饜幖饜帿饜帶饜弫饜弬 , "whose rule (''x拧a莽a'' PlutarchThemistocles, 29/ref> Portrayal in the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah A King Artaxerxes ( he, 讗址专职转址旨讞职砖址讈砖职讉转职旨讗, ) is described in the Bible ...
(445 or 444 BC), Nehemiah was cup-bearer to the king. Learning that the remnant of Jews in Judah were in distress and that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, he asked the king for permission to return and rebuild the city, around 20 years after
Ezra Ezra (; he, 注侄讝职专指讗, '; fl. 480鈥440 BCE), also called Ezra the Scribe (, ') and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scripture ...

Ezra
's arrival in Jerusalem in 468 BC. Artaxerxes sent him to Judah as governor of the province with a mission to rebuild, letters explaining his support for the venture, and provision for timber from the king's forest. Once there, Nehemiah defied the opposition of Judah's enemies on all sides鈥
Samaritans Samaritans (; ; he, 砖讜诪专讜谞讬诐, translit=Shomronim; ar, 丕賱爻丕賲乇賷賵賳, translit=as-S膩miriyy奴n) or Samaritan people are members of an originating from the of historical . They are native to the and adhere to , an , and in t ...

Samaritans
,
Ammon Ammon (Ammonite language, Ammonite: 饜饜饜 ''驶Am膩n''; he, 注址诪旨讜止谉 ''驶Amm艒n''; ar, 毓賲賾賵賳, 驶Amm奴n) was an ancient Semitic languages, Semitic-speaking nation occupying the east of the Jordan River, between the torrent ...

Ammon
ites,
Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, 毓賻乇賻亘賽賷賹賾, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technica ...

Arabs
and
Philistines The Philistines were an ancient people who lived on the south coast of Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of th ...
鈥攁nd rebuilt the walls within 52 days, from the Sheep Gate in the North, the Hananeel 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 The Dung Gate ( he, 砖注专 讛讗砖驻讜转 ''Sha'ar Ha'ashpot'') or Silwan Gate, also known as the Mughrabi Gate ( ar, 亘丕亘 丕賱賲睾丕乇亘丞 ''Bab al-Maghariba''), is one of the Gates of the Old City of Jerusalem The article lists the Gates of th ...

Dung Gate
in the South, the East Gate and the gate beneath the Golden Gate in the East. Appearing in the Queen's presence may indicate that he was a
eunuch A eunuch ( ) is a man A man is an adult male Male (鈾) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot ...

eunuch
, and in the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals Roman numerals are a that originated in and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe wel ...
, the Greek translation of the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

Hebrew Bible
, he is described as such: ''eunochos'' (eunuch), rather than ''oinochoos'' (wine-cup-bearer). If so, the attempt by his enemy Shemaiah to trick him into entering the Temple is aimed at making him break Jewish law, rather than simply hide from assassins. He then took measures to repopulate the city and purify the Jewish community, enforcing the cancellation of debt, assisting Ezra to promulgate the law of Moses, and enforcing the divorce of Jewish men from their non-Jewish wives. After 12 years as governor, during which he ruled with justice and righteousness, he returned to the king in
Susa Susa (; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the ...

Susa
. After some time in Susa he returned to Jerusalem, only to find that the people had fallen back into their evil ways. Non-Jews were permitted to conduct business inside Jerusalem on the Sabbath and to keep rooms in the Temple. Greatly angered, he purified the Temple and the priests and Levites and enforced the observance of the law of Moses.


Book of Maccabees

The Second Book of Maccabees says Nehemiah is the one who brought the holy fire for the altar back from the diaspora to Jerusalem and founded a library of the Holy Scriptures just as
Judas Maccabeus Judah Maccabee (or Judas Maccabeus, also spelled Machabeus, or Maccab忙us, Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it i ...

Judas Maccabeus
did. Here, Nehemiah鈥檚 political role sets an example for the Hasmonean dynasty and becomes a role model for pious, national leadership in general. The scene of reading and explaining the Torah in Neh 8 became the model of synagogue worship. Se
2 Maccabees 2:13


Book of Sirach

Ben Sira鈥檚 hymn in praise of the fathers mentions only Nehemiah (not
Ezra Ezra (; he, 注侄讝职专指讗, '; fl. 480鈥440 BCE), also called Ezra the Scribe (, ') and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scripture ...

Ezra
) after
Zerubbabel According to the biblical narrative, Zerubbabel, ''Zorobabel''; la, Zorobabel; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkad没'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Wo ...

Zerubbabel
and
Joshua Joshua () or Yehoshua ( he, 讬职讛讜止砖只讈注址 ''Y蓹h艒拧奴a士'') ''Y膿拧奴士''; syr, 軡塬軜堀 軖塥 堍軜堍 ''Y蓹拧奴士 bar N艒n''; el, 峒肝废兾酷喀蟼, ar , 賷購賵卮賻毓購 俦亘賿賳購 賳購賵賳賺 '' Y奴拧a士 ibn N奴n''; la, Iosue functioned ...

Joshua
and praises him for his building activities (Sir 49:15).


Rabbinic literature

One rabbinic text, or
aggadah Aggadah ( he, 讗址讙指旨讚指讛 or ; Jewish Babylonian Aramaic 讗址讙指旨讚职转指讗; "tales, fairytale, lore") is the non-legalistic pardes (Jewish exegesis), exegesis which appears in the classical rabbinic literature of Judaism, particularly the ...
, identifies Nehemiah as
Zerubbabel According to the biblical narrative, Zerubbabel, ''Zorobabel''; la, Zorobabel; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkad没'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Wo ...

Zerubbabel
, with the latter being considered an
epithet An epithet (, ) is a byname, or a descriptive term (word or phrase), accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, ...
and indicating that he was born in Babylon. Another oral tradition, or
mishnah The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, 诪执砖职讈谞指讛, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Torah. ...
, records that Nehemiah was blamed for seeming to boast (Neh. v. 19 & xiii. 31), and disparage his predecessors (Neh. v. 15). This tradition asserts that his book was appended to the
Book of Ezra The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible; which formerly included the Book of Nehemiah in a single book, commonly distinguished in scholarship as Ezra鈥揘ehemiah. The two became separated with the first printed Mikraot Gedolot, rabbinic bi ...
, as a consequence, rather than being a separate book in its own right, as is the case in the Christian Old Testament. Another Talmudic text, or
Baba Bathra Bava Batra (also Baba Batra; Talmudic Aramaic: 讘指旨讘指讗 讘址旨转职专指讗 "The Last Gate") is the third of the three Talmudic tractates in the Talmud in the order Nezikin; it deals with a person's responsibilities and rights as the owner of pr ...
, records that Nehemiah completed the
Book of Chronicles The Book of Chronicles ( he, 讚执旨讘职专值讬志讛址讬指旨诪执讬诐 ) is a Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is ...
, which was said to have been written by
Ezra Ezra (; he, 注侄讝职专指讗, '; fl. 480鈥440 BCE), also called Ezra the Scribe (, ') and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scripture ...

Ezra
.


Art

Samuel Taylor Coleridge Samuel Taylor Coleridge (; 21 October 177225 July 1834) was an , , and who, with his friend , was a founder of the in England and a member of the . He also shared volumes and collaborated with , , and . He wrote the poems ' and ', as well ...

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
commented on the dearth of a classical painting featuring Nehemiah.


See also

* Governors of Yehud Medinata *
Sanballat the Horonite Sanballat the Horonite ( he, 住谞讘诇讟) 鈥 or Sanballat I 鈥 was a Samaritan Samaritans (; ; he, 砖讜诪专讜谞讬诐, translit=Shomronim; ar, 丕賱爻丕賲乇賷賵賳, translit=as-S膩miriyy奴n) or Samaritan people are members of an ethnoreligious ...
*
Tobiah (Ammonite) According to the Book of Nehemiah The Book of Nehemiah, in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah. These texts are ...


References

*


Further reading

*Barr, James. "History of Israel" in ''History and Ideology in the Old Testament'' (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 87 *''Holman Bible Dictionary''
"Persia"
*Cataldo, Jeremiah. "Memory Trauma in Ezra-Nehemiah" in David Chalcraft, ed., ''Methods, Theories and Imagination: Social Scientific Approaches in Biblical Studies'', Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014, pp. 147鈥57. *Lester Grabbe. ''Ezra'', i
Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible (ed. James D. G. Dunn, John William Rogerson, Eerdmans, 2003)
pp. 320鈥1 *Pakkala, Juha
"Ezra the scribe: the development of Ezra 7鈥10 and Nehemiah 8"
(Walter de Gruyter, 2004). pp. 225鈥7 *Schulte, Lucas L. ''My Shepherd, Though You Do Not Know Me: The Persian Royal Propaganda Model in the Nehemiah Memoir'' (Leuven: Peeters, 2016), 197鈥204. *Williamson, H. G. M. ''Ezra and Nehemiah'' (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1987), 17 *Wright, Jacob
"Rebuilding identity: the Nehemiah-memoir and its earliest readers"
(Walter de Gruyter, 2004). p. 340.


External links


"Nehemiah"
in ''
The Jewish Encyclopedia ''The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day'' is an English-language encyclopedia containing over 15,000 articles on the ...
''
"The Wall that Nehemiah Built"
''Biblical Archaeology Review'' * Israel Finkelstein

* Israel Finkelstein. ttp://biblicalauthorship.blogspot.com/2011/08/archaeology-and-list-of-returnees-in.html "Archaeology and the List of Returnees in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah" {{Authority control
Hebrew Bible peoplePeople depicted in the Hebrew Bible. {{CatAutoTOC Hebrew Bible content, People Old Testament people ...
Biblical figures in rabbinic literature Ezra鈥揘ehemiah 5th-century BCE Jews Satraps of the Achaemenid Empire Cup-bearers