About this book
Twelve years after the last events of the book of Ezra, a Jew named Nehemiah received bad news about Jerusalem: the walls of the city were still broken down, and the burnt gates had never been replaced.
Nehemiah lived in the Persian city of Susa and was a personal servant to King Artaxerxes. So Nehemiah prayed and asked God to make Artaxerxes send him to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. Artaxerxes did send Nehemiah, and he even provided the materials for the repairs.
After Nehemiah had arrived in Jerusalem and the repair work had begun, the officials from neighbouring areas insulted the Jews and accused them of wanting to rebel against Persia. These enemies even planned attacks against Jerusalem and tried to have Nehemiah killed. Finally, the walls and gates were finished and dedicated to God, and they became a sign that God had blessed his people.
But Nehemiah realized that God would continue to bless his people only if they obeyed him. As Nehemiah said in one of his prayers:
LORD God of heaven, you are great and fearsome. And you faithfully keep your promises to everyone who loves you and obeys your commands.
A quick look at this book
1. King Artaxerxes sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem (1.1—2.10)
2. Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (2.11—4.23)
3. Nehemiah's concern for the poor (5.1–19)
4. The wall is finished, in spite of enemy plots (6.1—7.3)
5. Exiles who returned (7.4–73)
6. Ezra reads God's Law to the people, and they celebrate the Festival of Shelters (8.1–18)
7. The people confess their sins (9.1–37)
8. The people sign an agreement to obey the Lord (9.38—10.39)
9. The people who settled in Jerusalem and Judah (11.1–36)
10. Priests and Levites who returned from exile (12.1–26)
11. Nehemiah dedicates the city wall (12.27–47)
12. Changes Nehemiah made (13.1–31)