Since 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
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
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 no 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.
How to Study Nehemiah
Nehemiah as a continuation of Ezra. In fact,
Ezra and Nehemiah were treated as one book in the earliest Hebrew manuscripts.
As you read Nehemiah chapter by chapter:
Look for the theme of each chapter. Record
this next to the chapter number on the Structure of Nehemiah chart and record it
in you Bible next to the chapter number.
Read each chapter again. This time make a list
of the points you want to remember about the main topic or event within each
For example, in chapter 1 the theme is
Nehemiah's concern for Jerusalem. In the margin opposite the first three verses
you could write "Remnant's Distress." Then underneath it write "walls broken
down, gates burned."
Then next to verses 4 through 11 you could
write "Nehemiah's Prayer" and list the main parts or points of his prayer; for
example, a) weeps, mourns, fasts, b) reminds God of who He is and His covenant,
and c) confesses his and Israel's sins.
As you summarize each chapter, list what you
learn about God.
While there are many key repeated words you
could mark-such as wall, gate, build, repairs, etc.-you may want to observe them
without marking them because of the nature of Nehemiah's writing. Some key words
are used so many times within specific chapters that you may become overwhelmed
by all the marking.
Mark the key words: remember, command
(commandments, ordinances, law), sin (iniquities), covenant, fast, prayer, the
book (book of the law, law of Moses).
When you mark command (commandments,
ordinances, law), note in the margin what you learn.
Note any references to time by drawing a clock
¹ next to the
As you read through Nehemiah, note in the
margin when the wall is started, when it is completed, and when it is
There are valuable lessons to be learned from
observing how Nehemiah handled situations. As you see how Nehemiah related to
God in each situation, how he dealt with the people (including those who opposed
him), and the example he set, you will see principles you can apply to your
life. As you study, record your insights on the chart Lessons From The Life of
When you finish recording the theme of every
chapter on Structure of Nehemiah, look for the main division of the book, where
one emphasis ends and another begins. On the line under "Segment Divisions,"
record this division and the theme or subject of the two segments of the book.
Also fill in the rest of the chart and record the theme of Nehemiah.
Application of Nehemiah
Read Nehemiah chapter 9 again and think about the
character of God and how He dealt with Israel. What can you learn about God and
also about Israel's behavior that you can apply to your life?
Have you thought about what could happen if the
congregation of a church gathered together and publicly confessed their sins and
then the sins of their nation?
What have you learned from Nehemiah's life? How
are you going to apply it to your life in a practical way?
Key Words in the NIV and
|NASB key words
|| NIV related
||NASB key words||KJV related words |
| -neither were mindful, think upon|