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Bible Commentaries

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Nehemiah Overview

 

 


Neh
EZRA-NEHEMIAH.


ACCORDING TO THEIR CANONICAL ORDER.

EZRA. THE REBUILDING OF THE TEMPLE.
Ezra 1:1-4. THE PEOPLE. EMANCIPATION.
Ezra 1:5 - Ezra 2:70. THE RETURN UNDER ZERUBBABEL.
Ezra 3:1-6. THE ALTAR. BUILDING AND FEAST.
Ezra 3:7 - Ezra 6:1-22. THE TEMPLE. BUILDING AND FEAST.
Ezra 7:1 - Ezra 8:36. THE RETURN UNDER EZRA.
Ezra 9:1 - Ezra 10:44. THE PEOPLE. DEDICATION. REFORMATION.
> NEHEMIAH. THE REBUILDING OF THE WALLS.
Nehemiah 1:1 - Nehemiah 6:19. THE WALL. REBUILDING. DISORDERS OVERCOME.
Nehemiah 7:1-4. JERUSALEM. CHANGE OVER.
Nehemiah 7:5-73 -. THE RETURN UNDER ZERUBBABEL.
Nehemiah 7:73 - Nehemiah 8:18. FEAST OF THE SEVENTH MONTH (426 B.C.).
Nehemiah 9:1-38; Nehemiah 10:1-39. FEAST OF THE SEVENTH MONTH (404 B.C.).
Nehemiah 11:1-36. JERUSALEM. RESIDENTS IN.
Nehemiah 12:1-26. THE RETURN UNDER EZRA.
Nehemiah 12:27 - Nehemiah 13:31. THE WALL. DEDICATION. DISORDERS OVERCOME.

* In Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible, and the early printed editions of the Hebrew text, these two books are always treated and reckoned as one book:the 685 verses being numbered from the first verse of Ezra to the last verse of Nehemiah; the middle verse of the one book being given by the Massorites as
Nehemiah 3:32; while of the ten Sedarim (or Cycles for public reading), the fourth begins at Ezra 8:35 and ends with Nehemiah 2:10. See note at foot of p. 632. Moreover, the notes which the Masaorites place at the end of each book are placed at the end of Nehemiah, and not at the end of Ezra. Cp. note on the books of SAMUEL, KINGS, and CHRONICLES, p. 366. The Structure of the one book is set forth as above, the two Divisions being given in their CANONICAL ORDER.

EZRA confines himself mainly to the events connected with the TEMPLE.

NEHEMIAH confines himself mainly to the events connected with the WALL and the CITY.

Ezra comes first in the Canonical Order, because the TEMPLE is more important than the WALL, morally and spiritually. Nehemiah follows, because the WALL is of secondary importance.

When the whole of the events are looked at in their CHRONOLOGICAL and HISTORICAL order, a different Structure is necessarily observed:this Structure is determined by certain
fixed points, common to both Orders. These fixed points determine the place of the remaining events recorded in the two parts respectively. See Table of Events and CHRONOLOGICAL Structure on p. 618, and the Harmony of Events in Appdx-58.

CERTAIN FIXED POINTS IN THE TWO DIVISIONS OF THE JOINT BOOKS
May be exhibited as follows, in brief:a complete list of all the events will be found in Appendix 58.

EZRA (E). NEHEMIAH (N).
Nehemiah 1:1 - Nehemiah 6:19. The WALL. Rebuilding. External disorders overcome.
Ezra 1:1-4. The People. Emancipation.
Nehemiah 7:1-4. The condition of the city. (People few. Houses not built.)
Ezra 1:5 - The Return under Zerubbabel
Ezra 2:70 (The Temple still desolate:and for sixteen years later. Haggai 1:1-4.)
Nehemiah 7:5-73 -. The Return under Zerubbabel.
Ezr -Feast of the Seventh Month (426 B.C.).
Nehemiah 7:73 - Feast of the Seventh Month (426 B. a).
Ezra 3:1-13. Temple. Foundation laid.
Nehemiah 8:18.
Ezra 4:1 - Ezra 6:15. The Temple:building.
Ezra 6:16-22. Dedication of the Temple.
Ezra 7:1 - Ezra 8:36. The Return under Ezra.
Ezra 9:1-4. Feast, &c, of the Seventh Month
Nehemiah 9:1-37. -Feast, &c, of the Seventh Month (404 B.C.). (404 B.C.).
Ezra 9:5. Separation of the People,
Nehemiah 9:38. Separation of the People. Ezra""s Prayer. Levites"" Prayer.
Ezra 10:1-44. Strange wives put away, and the
Nehemiah 10:1-39. Strange wives put away, and the Covenant made. Covenant made.
Nehemiah 11:1 - Nehemiah 12:1-26. Residents in Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 12:27-47. Dedication of the wall.
Nehemiah 3:1-31. Reformation of the People. We are now in a position to complete the Chronological Structure of the joint books.


> ACCORDING TO THE HISTORICAL AND CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER OF EVENTS.

Nehemiah 1:1 - Nehemiah 6:19. THE WALL. REBUILDING. EXTERNAL DISORDERS OVERCOME.
Nehemiah 7:1-4. JERUSALEM. CHARGE OVER IT.
Ezra 1:1-4. THE PEOPLE. EMANCIPATION.
Nehemiah 7:5-73 -. Ezra 1:5 Ezra 2:70. THE RETURN UNDER ZERUBBABEL.
Nehemiah 7:73 - Nehemiah 8:18. Ezra 3:1-7. FEAST OF THE SEVENTH MONTH (426 B.C.).
Ezra 3:8-13. THE TEMPLE. FOUNDATION.
Ezra 4:1 - Ezra 6:22. THE TEMPLE BUILDING AND DEDICATION.
Ezra 7:1 Ezra 8:36. THE RETURN UNDER EZRA.
Nehemiah 9:1-3. Ezra 9:1-4. FEAST OF THE SEVENTH MONTH (404 B.C.).
Nehemiah 9:410:39. Ezra 9:510:44. THE PEOPLE. SEPARATION.
Nehemiah 11:1 - Nehemiah 12:26. JERUSALEM. RESIDENTS IN IT.
Nehemiah 12:27 - Nehemiah 13:31. THE WALL. DEDICATION. INTERNAL DISORDERS OVERCOME.


NOTES TO THE CHRONOLOGICAL STRUCTURE (p. 617).

The CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER of EVENTS, and the STRUCTURE based thereon, revolutionizes the traditional view, which treats this one book as two books; places Ezra historically as preceding Kehemiah; and inserts the book of ESTHER between Ezra, chapters 6 and 7, instead of before Ezra-Nehemiah. (See date,
Esther 1:3.)

Those who thus dislocate the two divisions of this book proceed to speak of certain portions as being "misplaced", and "not original", and as having "false connections". These so-called "discrepancies", after having thus been first made by the commentators, are charged home on the inspired writers themselves.

That the "difficulties" exist only in the minds of the critics will be seen if we note the following facts:
1. The fixed points, common to the two parts of the book, determine for US the true position of all the other parts, and result in giving us the Chronological Structure of the whole on page 617.

2. The traditional view places the building of the temple by Ezra as corning many years before Nehemiah 1. But this is inconceivable in view of the report brought by Hanani to Nehemiah concerning the desolations (
Nehemiah 1:3) and repeated to the king (Nehemiah 2:3).

3. Nehemiah would surely have inquired about the welfare of the 42,360 exiles who are supposed to have returned to Jerusalem, and not about "the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity" (
Nehemiah 1:2).

4. When the wall was finished, "the houses were not yet builded" (
Nehemiah 7:1-4).

5. When the Feast of the seventh month was kept (Neh. 8), "the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid" (
Ezra 3:1-6),

6. When the people dwelt in their "cieled houses", the house of the LORD still lay waste (
Haggai 1:1-4). These facts are more certain than all chronology, and are more important and conclusive than all reasoning.

7. The names of some of the kings mentioned have been hitherto regarded as proper names; whereas, according to Sir Henry Rawlinson, Professor Sayce,
The Encyclopedia Britannica, and The Century Encyclopaedia of Names, three at least are appellatives (like Pharaoh, Abimelech, Czar, Shah, Sultan); viz. AHASUERUS, which means "The venerable king", ARTAXERXES, which means "The great king", and DARIUS, which means "The maintainer". See the Genealogy of the Persian kings (Appdx-57). If these appellatives denote separate and different individual kings, no place can be found for them all on the page of history.

8. See the longer notes on special passages at the end of Nehemiah, page 653.


Nehemiah 1:5 - Nehemiah 2:70. THE RETURN UNDER ZERUBBABEL.
Nehemiah 1:5 -. The chief of the fathers.
Nehemiah 1:5. Return to Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 1:6-11. Assistance ( v . Nehemiah 1:6 by Persians, vv . Nehemiah 1:7-11 by the king).
Nehemiah 2:1-67. The sons of the Province.
Nehemiah 2:68-69. Assistance (by Israelites).
Nehemiah 2:70. Residents in the cities.

Nehemiah 2:1-67. THE SONS OF THE PROVINCE.
Nehemiah 2:1-2. In sum. The number.
Nehemiah 2:3-58. Names found.
Nehemiah 2:59-63. Names not found.
Nehemiah 2:64-67. In sum.

Nehemiah 3:1-13. THE TEMPLE. FOUNDATION AND FEAST.
Nehemiah 3:1-6. The setting up of the altar.
Nehemiah 3:7-13. The foundation of the house.

Nehemiah 3:1-7. SETTING UP THE ALTAR.
Nehemiah 3:1. Time. Seventh month.
Nehemiah 3:2-3. Altar and offerings.
Nehemiah 3:4. Feast of Tabernacles.
Nehemiah 3:5 -. Other Feasts.
-
, Nehemiah 3:5. Altar and offerings.
Nehemiah 3:6 -. Time. Seventh month.

Nehemiah 3:7-13. THE FOUNDATION OF THE HOUSE.
Nehemiah 3:7-8. The work set forward.
Nehemiah 3:9. The priests. Stationed.
Nehemiah 3:10 -. The work. Foundation laid.
-
, Nehemiah 3:10-11. The priests. Praise.
Nehemiah 3:12 -. The work. Contrasted.
-
, Nehemiah 3:12-13. The priests. Emotion.

Nehemiah 4:1 - Nehemiah 6:22. THE TEMPLE BUILDING AND DEDICATION.
Nehemiah 4:1 - Nehemiah 6:15. The building.
Nehemiah 6:16-22. The dedication.

Nehemiah 4:1 - Nehemiah 6:15. THE BUILDING.
Nehemiah 4:1-2. Adversaries. Temptation.
Nehemiah 4:3. Obedience to God""s word.
Nehemiah 4:4-16. Opposition. Letter to Cyrus.
Nehemiah 4:17-22. King""s answer. Success of plot.
Nehemiah 4:23-24 -. Work. Cassation.
-
, Nehemiah 4:24. Duration of cessation.
Nehemiah 5:1. Helpers. (Prophets.) Exhortation.
Nehemiah 5:2. Obedience to God""s word.
Nehemiah 5:3-17. Opposition. Letter to Darius.
Nehemiah 6:1-12. King""s answer. Defeat of plot.
Nehemiah 6:13-14. Work. Recommencement.
Nehemiah 6:15. Date of completion.

Nehemiah 4:4-16. OPPOSITION. LETTER TO CYRUS.
Nehemiah 4:4-5 -. Opponents. Counsellors.
-
, Nehemiah 4:5. Action. To frustrate.
Nehemiah 4:6-11. Opponents. Writers.
Nehemiah 4:12-16. Action. Writing.

Nehemiah 4:12-16. ACTION. WRITING.
Nehemiah 4:17-22. KING""S ANSWER. SUCCESS OF PLOT.
Nehemiah 4:17. Mission.
Nehemiah 4:18. Reception.
Nehemiah 4:19-20. Verification.
Nehemiah 4:21-22. Prohibition.

Nehemiah 5:3-17. OPPOSITION LETTER TO DARIUS.
Nehemiah 5:3-4. Governor. "Who commanded?"
Nehemiah 5:5 -. Non-cessation. Fact. Verbal.
-
, Nehemiah 5:5. Appeal to Darius.
Nehemiah 5:6-10. Governor. "Who commanded?"
Nehemiah 5:11-16. Non-cessation. Reason. Letter.
Nehemiah 5:17. Appeal to Darius.

Nehemiah 5:11-16. CESSATION. REASON.
Nehemiah 5:11 -. Answer of builders.
-
, Nehemiah 5:11. The building.
Nehemiah 5:12 -. People. Provocation.
-
, Nehemiah 5:12. People. Captivity.
Nehemiah 5:13-15. Answer of Cyrus.
Nehemiah 5:16. The building.

Nehemiah 6:1-12. KING""S ANSWER. DEFEAT OF PLOT.
Nehemiah 6:1. Darius. Search made.
Nehemiah 6:2-5. Decree found (Cyrus).
Nehemiah 6:6-7. Darius. Forbearance ordered.
Nehemiah 6:8-12. Decree made (Darius).

Nehemiah 6:16-22. THE DEDICATION.
Nehemiah 6:16. Feast of Dedication. "Kept with joy."
Nehemiah 6:17. The People. Their offerings.
Nehemiah 6:18. The priests. Set.
Nehemiah 6:19. The Passover kept.
Nehemiah 6:20. The priests. Purified.
Nehemiah 6:21. The People. Their purification.
Nehemiah 6:22. Feast of Passover. "Kept with joy."

Nehemiah 7:1 - Nehemiah 8:36. THE RETURN UNDER EZRA.
Nehemiah 7:1 -. Artaxerxes. Time.
Nehemiah 7:1-6. Ezra. Journey. Hand of God.
Nehemiah 7:7 -. His companions.
Nehemiah 7:7. Artaxerxes. Date.
Nehemiah 7:8-9. Ezra. Journey. Hand of God.
Nehemiah 7:10. His purpose.
Nehemiah 7:11-26. Artaxerxes. Decree.
Nehemiah 7:27-28. His companions. "Chief men."
Nehemiah 8:1. Artaxerxes. Time.
Nehemiah 8:2-14. Companions of Ezra.
Nehemiah 8:15-36. Ezra. Journey. Hand of God.

Nehemiah 7:11-26. ARTAXERXES. DECREE.
Nehemiah 7:11-12. Introduction.
Nehemiah 7:13-25. The decree for Ezra.
Nehemiah 7:26. Conclusion.

Nehemiah 7:13-25. THE DECREE FOR EZRA.
Nehemiah 7:13. To companions.
Nehemiah 7:14-20. To Ezra. Supplies.
Nehemiah 7:21-24. To treasurers.
Nehemiah 7:25. To Ezra. Magistracy.

Nehemiah 7:14-20. TO EZRA. SUPPLIES.
Nehemiah 7:14-16. The king""s money.
Nehemiah 7:17-18. For service. Offerings.
Nehemiah 7:19. For service. Vessels.
Nehemiah 7:20. The king""s treasury.

Nehemiah 8:15-36. EZRA. JOURNEY.
Nehemiah 8:15-20. Mission. Commenced.
Nehemiah 8:21-23. Difficulty. Encountered.
Nehemiah 8:24-30. Charge.
Nehemiah 8:31-32. Difficulty. Overcome.
Nehemiah 8:33-35. Charge.
Nehemiah 8:36. Mission. Completed.

Nehemiah 9:1 - Nehemiah 10:44. THE PEOPLE. DEDICATION. REFORMATION.
Nehemiah 9:1 - Nehemiah 10:17. The evil-doing. Confessed.
Nehemiah 10:18-44. The evil-doers. Reformed.

Nehemiah 9:1 - Nehemiah 10:17. THE EVIL-DOING.
Nehemiah 9:1-2. The evil reported to Ezra.
Nehemiah 9:3. Ezra. Grief.
Nehemiah 9:4 -. Assembly. Trembling.
Nehemiah 9:4 - Nehemiah 10:1 -. Ezra. Prayer.
Nehemiah 10:1-4. Assembly. Weeping.
Nehemiah 10:5-8. Ezra. Grief.
Nehemiah 10:9. Assembly. Trembling.
Nehemiah 10:10-11. Ezra. Charge.
Nehemiah 10:12-14. Assembly. Obedience.
Nehemiah 10:15-17. The evil removed by Ezra.

[N.B. This division of the book Ezra-Nehemiah, in the later printed Hebrew Bibles, is quite modern. It breaks up the
fourth of the ten Sedarim (or cycles for public reading) which begins at Ezra 8:35 and ends with Nehemiah 2:10. See note on p. 617, and cp. note on p. 366.]

THE TEN SEDARIM are as follows:
(1) Ezra 1:1 - Ezra 3:12. (6) Nehemiah 3:38 Nehemiah 6:14.
(2)
Nehemiah 3:13 - Nehemiah 6:17. (7) Nehemiah 6:15 - Nehemiah 8:9.
(3)
Nehemiah 6:18 - Nehemiah 8:34. (8) Nehemiah 8:10 - Nehemiah 10:1 (Hebrews 9:37).
(4)
Nehemiah 8:35 - Nehemiah 2:10. (9) Nehemiah 10:1 (Heb. 2) Nehemiah 12:25.
(5)
Nehemiah 2:11 - Nehemiah 3:37. (10) Nehemiah 12:26 - Nehemiah 13:31.

 


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Bibliography Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Nehemiah:4 Overview". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/nehemiah-0.html. 1909-1922.

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