13 Chapters, 406 verses, 10,483 words.


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 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.




How to Study Nehemiah

  1. Nehemiah as a continuation of Ezra. In fact, Ezra and Nehemiah were treated as one book in the earliest Hebrew manuscripts.

  2. As you read Nehemiah chapter by chapter:

    1. 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.

    2. Read each chapter again. This time make a list of the points you want to remember about the main topic or event within each chapter.

      1. 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."

      2. 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.

      3. As you summarize each chapter, list what you learn about God.

    3.  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 keywords are used so many times within specific chapters that you may become overwhelmed by all the marking.

      1. Mark the key words: remember, command (commandments, ordinances, law), sin (iniquities), covenant, fast, prayer, the book (book of the law, law of Moses).

      2. When you mark command (commandments, ordinances, law), note in the margin what you learn.

    4. Note any references to time by drawing a clock ¹ next to the verse.

    5. As you read through Nehemiah, note in the margin when the wall is started, when it is completed, and when it is dedicated.

  3. 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 Nehemiah.

  4. 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. 



Key Words in the NIV and KJV


NASB key words  NIV related words NASB key wordsKJV related words 
 -neither were mindful, think upon




Work Sheets

 Structure of Nehemiah Lessons From The Life of Nehemiah