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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Nehemiah, the Book of

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The book is not an appendix to Ezra as its distinct title proves, "the words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah," nor would the same author give two lists of those returned from Babylon (Ezra 2; Nehemiah 7), and yet leave seeming discrepancies in details. In Nehemiah 8; Nehemiah 9; and Nehemiah 10, the prominence of Ezra is probably the cause why Nehemiah uses the third person of himself, instead of the first which he uses elsewhere. The "we" and "our" in Nehemiah 9 and Nehemiah 10, as to sealing the covenant, identifies the writer as an eye witness, yet not singled out for notice from the rest. The prayer in Nehemiah 9 is in style such as Ezra "the ready scribe in the law of Moses" would compose. The close fellowship of Nehemiah and him would naturally in these passages produce the similarity of phraseology (Ezra 4:18; Ezra 6:22, with Nehemiah 8:8; Nehemiah 8:17). Nehemiah 12:10-11-22-23 mentions Jaddua and Darius the Persian; it is probably the addition of those who closed the Old Testament canon, testifying the continuance to their time of the ordinances and word of God.

It is even possible that Nehemiah lived long enough to record there being an heir presumptive to the high priesthood, Jaddua, then an infant. The register of Levites in "the book of Chronicles" reached only down to "Johanan son of Eliashib," Nehemiah 12:23. The two "and's" in Nehemiah 12:22 show "and Jaddua" is a later addition. Nehemiah was governor for 12 years (Nehemiah 12:14), then in Artaxerxes' 32nd year returned to his post as "cupbearer"; he "at the end of days" (margin, so 1 Samuel 27:7 "a full year," margin "a year of days") after a full year obtained leave to return; "all this time," namely, a year, Nehemiah was not at Jerusalem, and Eliashib introduced the abuses (Nehemiah 13:1; Nehemiah 13:4-6 ff). How long Nehemiah stayed this second time is not recorded. "On that day" does not refer to the dedication, but to Nehemiah's return: Nehemiah 13:6-7. It is a general expression, not strictly chronological. Nehemiah's description of Artaxerxes' character as amiable (Nehemiah 2:1-8) accords with Plutarch (Vit. Artax., namely, Longimanus), "the first of the Persian monarchs for mildness and magnanimity."

Diodorus Siculus (Nehemiah 11:71, section 2) says the Persians celebrated the equity and moderation of his government. The mention of the building of the city "walls" in the adversaries' letter to Artaxerxes Pseudo Smerdis does not justify Smith's Bible Dictionary in the conjecture that this letter (Ezra 4:12, etc.) was written under Nehemiah's government, and is in its wrong place in Ezra, for it is an exaggeration of the adversaries, the truth being that only the temple walls, which might be regarded as a city wall on that side of the city, and the walls of private houses, were then being built. In style the book of Nehemiah resembles Chronicles and Ezra, proving that it is of the age it purports to be. The word metsiltaim , "cymbals," occurs in the three and nowhere else. So igartha , "a letter," in the three and Esther. Birah said of the palace or temple in the four and Daniel.

"The God of the heavens," in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel. Peculiar to Nehemiah are certain words and meanings: sabar , "to view" (Nehemiah 2:13; Nehemiah 2:15); meah , "the hundredth part" interest (Nehemiah 5:11); guwph (hiphil ), "shut" (Nehemiah 7:3); moal , "lifting up" (Nehemiah 8:6); miqerah , "read" (Nehemiah 8:8); huyedot , "psalms of thanksgiving" (Nehemiah 12:8); tahalukaah , "procession" (Nehemiah 12:31); otsrah (Nehemiah 13:13), "treasurers." Aramaisms also agree with the age when Nehemiah wrote. (See CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.)

Nehemiah and Malachi, under Ezra, the arranger and finisher of the canon, added their inspired writings as a seal to complete the whole. The Book of Nehemiah bears on it the impress of the author's earnest piety and intense patriotism. And though the opening words, "Dibhree Νehemiah ", could mean "the affairs of Nehemiah," yet the fact that the first person is used in Nehemiah 1 - 7:5 and mostly Nehemiah 11:1 - 12:47 and Nehemiah 13 renders it more likely that the heading is "the words of Nehemiah." Probably, as compiler as well as author of the whole, he inserted from public documents Nehemiah 8:1-10:39, for here the third person is used; also Nehemiah 12:26-27. But that as a whole the work is that of Nehemiah is almost a moral certainty.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Nehemiah, the Book of'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/fbd/n/nehemiah-the-book-of.html. 1949.

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