Archive | Nehemiah

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Household furniture

Tobiah was not a priest, so moving his household furniture into the temple desecrated the area (13:5, 7). His presence in the temple also meant that one of Nehemiah’s fierce opponents had been given a luxurious home in the temple.

Seals

Seals in the ancient Near East (e.g., 10:1) were stamps pressed into soft wax on documents that demonstrated ownership or authorship.

Word pictures for worship and teaching

Word pictures for worship and teaching. Religious images were strictly forbidden under the Mosaic law, but Israel’s leaders often used vivid imagery in their story-telling to teach the people and to help them worship. Chapter 9 gives an example of this, as the Levites publicly recite the nation’s history, from creation to the present.

The Feast of Booths

The Feast of Booths (8:2) marked the end of the agricultural year. It was a time to celebrate God’s provision and to ask his blessing for the next year’s crops. Once every seven years, the Book of the Law of Moses was to be read during the festival. This was done to instruct the children […]

Open letter

An open letter (6:5) was one that was read to the entire public, not just the individual to whom it was addressed. By publicly claiming that Artaxerxes would be angry about the rebuilding of the walls, Sanballat was hoping to frighten the laborers into ceasing their work.

Mortgage their property

The returned exiles would sometimes mortgage their property (5:3) to raise money for the heavy taxes imposed on them. This mortgaging would have involved temporarily forfeiting the use of one’s property and any fruit it produced to wealthier people who could afford to pay the taxes. The Mosaic law forbade such practices, and Nehemiah was […]

Why did so many local people oppose Nehemiah?

Why did so many local people oppose Nehemiah? After the exile, people who had been living in Judah for over a hundred years saw it as belonging to them and not to the returning Jews. Nehemiah had the blessing of King Artaxerxes to rebuild the walls, but the king was in Persia, more than 1,100 […]