Nehemiah is a sequel to Ezra. Two main actions occur: the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem and the recommitment of the returned exiles to fulfill their covenant obligations. There is something for virtually everyone—a general’s diary, a governor’s report, a civil record, a management handbook, and a memoir—all in one short book. The events covered span approximately 13 years. Part of the liveliness of the book stems from the striking character of Nehemiah, who emerges from the pages as a godly and decisive leader.
The book of Nehemiah displays the same mixture of narrative and documentary material (lists, inventories, genealogies) as Ezra, but it possesses a stronger narrative flair. The rebuilding of the city wall becomes a full-fledged conflict story, replete with suspense and heroism. The covenant-renewal ceremony (chs. 8–9) is one of the grand dramas in the Bible. The title character, Nehemiah, is such a commanding figure that the overall story is also a hero story. But documentary material continually interrupts the flow of the narrative, showing the historical impulse of the author. Since much of the book is cast in first-person narrative, the book also has the flavor of a memoir.
Taken from the ESV® Study Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright ©2008 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For more information on how to cite this material, see permissions information here.