Reading 0,56 - 13 Chapters - 406 verses - 10,483 words


Vital Statistics

 Purpose: Nehemiah is the last of the Old Testament historical book. It records the history of the third return to Jerusalem after captivity, telling how the walls were rebuilt and the people were renewed in their faith.    
 Author:  Much of the book is written in the first person suggesting Nehemiah as the author. Nehemiah probably wrote the book with Ezra serving as editor  
 Original audience: The exiles who returned from captivity 
 Date written:  Approximately 445-432 B.C.
 Setting:  Zerubbabel led the first return to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. In 458, Ezra led the second return. Finally, in 445, Nehemiah returned with the third group of exiles to rebuild the city walls  
 Key verses:  The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. Then the people of Israel—the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles—celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy.  (6:15, 16)
 Key People:  Nehemiah, Ezra, Sanballat, Tobiah
 Key Place:  Jerusalem 
 Special Features:  The book shows the fulfilment of the prophecies of Zechariah and Daniel concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls

ince the third millennium B.C., the cities of the Middle East had been surrounded by walls made of stones while guarded gates acted as sentinels. From the tops of these walls, watchmen could survey the landscape for great distances, seeing everyone who approached the city as either visitors or invaders.

     The city fathers would gather at the city gates to carry out their business transactions and pass their judgments on civic affairs. The condition of the walls of the city was a matter of either pride or reproach.

     Jerusalem's walls had been destroyed during the Babylonian invasion. The walls and their many gates stood in ruins, a rebuke to the newly returned exiles and a cause of mourning to Nehemiah, although he was over 600 miles away serving as cupbearer to Artaxerxes. Nehemiah had not forgotten his beloved city or her people.       

     While Ezra gives the account of the rebuilding of the temple under Zerubbabel, Nehemiah  (Ezra's contemporary) gives the account of the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls. His account begins in 445 B.C. in Susa, the Persian capital.

See Introduction to Ezra


Nehemiah Interpretive Challenges

First, since much of Nehemiah is explained in relationship to Jerusalem’s gates (cf. Ne 2, 3, 8, 12), one needs to see the map “Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s Day” for an orientation. Second. The reader must recognize that the timeline of chapter 1-12 encompassed about one year (445 B.C.), followed by a long gap of time (over 20 years) after Ne 12 and before Ne 13. Finally, it must be recognized that Nehemiah actually served two governorships in Jerusalem, the first from 445 to 433 B.C. (cf. Ne 5:14; 13:6) and the second beginning possibly in 424 B.C. and extending to no longer than 410 B.C.   


A. Nehemiah’s Response to the Situation in Jerusalem (ch. 1)

1. News of the plight of Jerusalem (1:1-4)

2. Nehemiah’s prayer (1:5-11)

B. Nehemiah’s Journey to Jerusalem (2:1-10)

1. The king’s permission (2:1-8)

2. The journey itself (2:9-10)


Nehemiah’s First Actions upon Arrival


1. HIs nocturnal inspection of the walls (2:11-16)

2. His exhortation to rebuild (2:17-18)

3. His response to opposition (2:19-20)


Nehemiah’s First Administration

(chs. 1-12)


List of the Builders of the Wall


1. The northern section (3:1-7)

2. The western section (3:8-13)

3. The southern section (3:14)

4. The eastern section (3:15-32)


Opposition to Rebuilding the Wall (ch.4)

1. The derision of Sanballat and Tobiah (4:1-5)

2. The threat of attack (4:6-15)

3. Rebuilding the wall (4:16-23)


Social and Economic Problems (ch. 5)

1. The complaints of the poor (5:1-5)

2. The cancellation of debts (5:6-13)

3. Nehemiah’s unselfish example (5:14-19)


The Wall REbuilt Despite Opposition (ch. 6)

1. Attempts to snare Nehemiah (6:1-9)

2. The hiring of false prophets (6: 10-14)

3. The completion of the wall (6:15-19)


List of Exiles


1. Provision for the protection of Jerusalem (7:1-3)

2. Nehemiah’s discovery of the list of returnees (7:4-5)

3. The returnees delineated (7:6-72)

4. Settlement of the exiles (7:73a)


Ezra’s Preaching and the Outbreak of Revival (7:73b-10:39)

1. The public exposition of the Scriptures (7:73b-8:12)

2. The Feast of Tabernacles (8:13-18)

3. A day of fasting, confession and prayer (9:1-5a)

4. A recital of God’s dealings with Israel (9:5b-31)

5. Confession of sins (9:31-37)

6. A binding agreement (9:38)

7. A list of those who sealed it (10:1-29)

8. Provisions of the agreement (10:30-39)


New Residents of Judah

(ch. 11)

1. New residents for Jerusalem (11:1-24)

a. Introductory remarks (11:1-4a)

b. Residents from Judah (11:4b-6

c. From Benjamin (11:7-9)

d. From the priests (11:10-14)

e. from the Levites (11:15-18)

f. From the temple staff (11:19-24)

2. New residents for Judah (11:25-36)

a. Places settled by those from Judah (11:25-30)

b. Places settled by those from Benjamin (11:31-35)

c. Transfer of Levites from Judah to Benjamin (11:36)


Lists of Priests and the Dedication of the Wall

(ch. 12)

1. Priests and Levites from the first return (12:1-9)

2. High priests and Levites since Joakim (12:10-26)

3. Dedication of the wall of Jerusalem (12:27-43)

4. Regulation of the temple offerings and services (12:44-47)



Abuses during His Absence (13:1-5)

1. Mixed marriages (13:1-3)

2. Tobiah’s occupation of the temple quarters (13:4-5)

Nehemiah’s Second Administration


Nehemiah’s Return (13:6-9)

1. His arrival (13:6-7)

2. His expulsion of Tobiah (13:8-9)

(ch. 13)


Reorganization and Reforms


1. Offerings for the temple staff (13:10-14)

2. Abuse of the Sabbath (13:15-22)

3.Mixed marriages (13:23-29)

4. Provisions of wood and first fruits (13:30-31)

Nehemiah Horizontal

1:1 - Walls of Jerusalem in disrepair  

3:1 - The building of walls

Rebuilding of

4:1 - Opposition to the work


6:1 - Completion of walls

7:1 - Census of returning exiles

9:1 - Renewed Covenant

Rebuilding of

11:1 - Population of city increased

The People

12:1 - Dedication of walls

(Renewing the Govt)

12:27- Dedication of city walls

13:1 - Nehemiah’s final reforms

God's character in Nehemiah

  1. God is glorious - 9:5
  2. God is good - 1:10; 2:8, 18; 9:35
  3. God is kind - 9:17
  4. God is long-suffering - 9:30
  5. God is merciful - 9:17, 27
  6. God is powerful - 1:10
  7. God is provident - 9:6
  8. God is righteous - 9:8
  9. God is unified - 9:6
  10. God is wise - 9:10

Christ in Nehemiah

The book of Nehemiah display the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and the revival of the people. However, Israel still awaited the coming of a king. Christ the Messiah completes this restoration of Israel as the long awaited King of the Jews (Matt 27:11).