The hymn contains stereotypical Psalm language, and contains references to the creation, the covenant with Abraham, the acts of God in Egypt, the wanderings in the desert, Sinai, the conquest, the Judges, and to later periods.
The hymn is noteworthy in not mentioning David and Solomon, two of Judah's glorious rulers, nor is there any mention of the exile and the current restoration, events central to Ezra and Nehemiah. The third period encompasses 12 years from the 20 th year of the reign of Artaxerxes I until his 32nd year , and deals with the work of Nehemiah, who had held an important office termed a "cupbearer" in the royal household of the Persian king Artaxerxes I — The work of Nehemiah described in the form of a first-person memoir includes his rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and his economic and religious reforms.
In particular, this period deals with 1 Nehemiah's response to the news from Jerusalem; 2 Nehemiah's efforts at reconstructing and fortifying Jerusalem; 3 intrigues against Nehemiah; 4 the dedication of the wall; 5 Nehemiah's resolution of economic problems; 6 Nehemiah's religious reforms. In the 20 th year of the Persian king Artaxerxes I , a delegation of Jews arrived from Jerusalem at Susa, the king's winter residence, and informed Nehemiah of the deteriorating conditions back in Judah.
The walls of Jerusalem were in a precarious state and repairs could not be undertaken since they were specifically forbidden by an earlier decree of the same Artaxerxes Ezra The news about Jerusalem upset Nehemiah, and he sought and was granted permission from the king to go to Jerusalem as governor and rebuild the city. This change in Persian policy is thought to have come after the Egyptian revolt of when it was believed that a relatively strong and friendly Judah could better serve Persia's strategic interests Myers.
Nehemiah was also granted much material assistance including supplies of wood for the rebuilding effort. However, unlike Ezra, Nehemiah requested a military escort for safe conduct throughout the provinces of the western satrapies. A short time after his arrival in Jerusalem Nehemiah made a nocturnal inspection tour of the city walls riding on a donkey.
He relates that he could not continue riding, but had to dismount, because of the massive stones left by the overthrow of the city by the Babylonians. After his tour of inspection, Nehemiah disclosed to the local Jewish officials his mission to rebuild the walls. Nehemiah set to the task of rebuilding the wall by dividing the work into some 40 sections. Nearly all social classes priests, Levites, Temple functionaries, and laypeople participated in the building effort.
Sanballat resorted to mockery and ridicule, stating: "that stone wall they are building — if a fox climbed it he would breach it" — To counter the opposition, Nehemiah provided a guard for the workmen, and the masons and their helpers also carried swords.
Because of the magnitude of the project, the workmen were separated from each other by large distances, so a trumpeter was provided ready to sound the alarm, the idea being that should one group be attacked the others would come to their aid. Nehemiah ordered the workers to remain in Jerusalem partly for self-protection and partly to assist in guarding the city. After the wall was rebuilt, Nehemiah appointed Hanani his brother and a similar-named individual, Hananiah, to be in charge of security. He also gave an order that the gates to the city should be closed before the guards went off duty and that they should be opened only when the sun was high at midmorning.
In addition to the security police, there was a citizen patrol whose duty it was to keep watch around their own houses. The central problem was the small population of Jerusalem: the city was extensive and spacious, but the people it in were few, and the houses were not yet built.
Nehemiah decided to bring one of ten people from the surrounding population into Jerusalem —2. One of Nehemiah's enemies, Tobiah, an Ammonite, had intermarried with a prominent family in Judah. He had tried unsuccessfully to subvert Nehemiah's work by enlisting their aid, but without success.
Since Nehemiah's enemies could not prevent the rebuilding and fortification of the city they made desperate attempts to capture him. One plan was to lure him away from Jerusalem to some unspecified place. Four times they attempted to invite him to "meetings," and each time Nehemiah, knowing their harmful intentions, refused their invitation. When these attempts failed, a fifth attempt was made to hurt Nehemiah by framing him before the Persian authorities with a false report that he planned to have himself proclaimed king in Judah.
A sixth attempt to damage Nehemiah was to pay a false prophet, Shemaiah, to lure Nehemiah into the Temple, but Nehemiah, realizing that this was a plot, refused to go. Despite these threats, Nehemiah reports that the wall was completed in just 52 days, which seems to be an incredibly short time for such a monumental task. According to Josephus, the project took two years and four months. A large gathering of priests, Levites, musicians, and notables assembled from all over Judah for the dedication of the wall in Jerusalem.
Nehemiah divided the participants into two processions each commencing from the same point; one procession marched south towards the Dung Gate and then around the right side of the wall, the other marched north along the top of the left side, and both groups joined up together at the Temple square. Each procession was led by a choir, and musicians with trumpets, cymbals, harps, and lyres brought up the rear. Ezra is said to have marched in one procession though his presence in the text is probably an editorial addition , and Nehemiah in the other.
The two joyful processions met up in the Temple square where the dedication was concluded with many sacrifices.
During the period of the rebuilding, the people complained about the scarcity of food and the burden of high taxes. To meet their basic needs, the poor were required to pledge their possessions, even to sell sons and daughters into slavery. Nehemiah reacted angrily against the creditors accusing them of violating the covenant of brotherhood.
When his appeal to the creditors voluntarily to take remedial action failed, Nehemiah forced them to take an oath, reinforced by a symbolic act of shaking out his garment, to restore property taken in pledge, as well as to forgive claims for loans.
Nehemiah himself alleviated the people's tax burden by refusing to accept the very liberal household allowance for his official retinue which amounted to some 40 shekels of silver a day. Nehemiah's religious reforms are found a in the so-called Code of Nehemiah; and b in the regulations he enacted upon embarking on his second term as governor in the 32 nd year of Artaxerxes I The Code of Nehemiah represents pledges made by the community to observe the Torah, its commandments and regulations.
It is preceded by a list of signers including Nehemiah, his officials, the priests, Levites, and prominent family members 1— In the Code, the community promised to do seven things: 1 to avoid mixed marriages with the peoples of the land; 2 not to buy from foreigners on Sabbaths and holy days; 3 to observe the sabbatical year; 4 to pay a new annual third shekel temple tax; 5 to supply offerings for the services and wood for the Temple altar; 6 to supply the first fruits, firstlings, tithes, and other contributions to the Temple; 7 to bring the tithes due to the priests and Levites to local storehouses.
Expulsion of Foreigners —9. When Nehemiah returned from an official visit to the Persian court in the 32 nd year of Artaxerxes he discovered that the high priest Eliashib had given living quarters in a former storage room of the Temple to one of his old enemies Tobiah, the Ammonite see above. When Nehemiah returned he evicted Tobiah, discarded all his belongings, and had the chambers purified and restored to their original use.
Another consequence of Nehemiah's absence at the Persian court was that the people had stopped giving tithes to the Levites forcing them to return to their villages. Nehemiah took steps to bring back the Levites to Jerusalem by ensuring that outstanding payments, which had not been collected during his absence, would be paid and that future tithes would be regularly given. Nehemiah reports that in his day the Sabbath had been utterly commercialized. People were working in vineyards and on the farms, and Phoenician traders set up shops in Jerusalem on the Sabbath.
Nehemiah attempted to put a stop to this Sabbath activity by ordering the gates of the city closed during the Sabbath.
Despite his orders, the Phoenician traders camped outside the walls hoping to entice customers to come outside. As in Ezra's day, Nehemiah had to deal with problems arising from marriages with foreign women. A major concern of his was the fact that the children of these marriages could no longer speak the language of Judah.
Nehemiah ordered an end to further intermarriage, but he did not go as far as Ezra who demanded divorce from foreign wives. Ezra and Nehemiah's actions and decrees may be seen as the beginning of an ongoing reinterpretation of tradition in its application to changing circumstances Talmon. Ezra's reading of the Torah inaugurated a new element in Jewish life whereby the Torah was read and explicated on regular occasions in public.
This public reading also led to the democratization of knowledge of the Torah among Jews, since prior to this event most parts of the Torah were under the exclusive provenance and control of the priests Knohl. The differences between the formulation of regulations in the Book of Nehemiah and their counterparts in the Torah illustrate the process of legal elaboration necessary to meet contemporary exigencies Clines, These differences can be seen in at least three areas: contributions to the Temple, regulations regarding Sabbath observance, and new intermarriage prohibitions.
Some examples of modifications to Pentateuchal laws introduced in the Code of Nehemiah involve upkeep of the Temple. In Exodus —16, mention is made of a one-time half-shekel tax. The Code of Nehemiah, however, establishes an annual Temple tax, that of one-third of a shekel. In Leviticus —6, it is stated that fire should burn continuously on the altar but it does not prescribe the mechanism by which this ought to be done.
The Code of Nehemiahdoes this by stipulating how the wood for the altar is to be obtained. In Deuteronomy —26, it is enjoined that tithes for the Levites are to be brought to the Temple. The Code of Nehemiah modifies this regulation by permitting an alternate collection system in provincial depots. All these stipulations for the Temple maintenance represent an innovation in ancient Israel, since now the upkeep of the Temple is made the responsibility of the entire community, not just of the king or the governor Eskenazi.
In the Pentateuch, the Sabbath law enjoins rest from work e.
According to Amos , pre-exilic Israelites did not trade on the Sabbath, but the new conditions in Nehemiah's time of foreign merchants coming into Jerusalem on the Sabbath led to this new interpretation of the law. The stipulations against intermarriage in Exodus —16 and Deuteronomy —4 prohibit intermarriage with Canaanites Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Both Ezra and Nehemiah redefine these old Canaanites who had long disappeared as the new Canaanites, the current Ashdodites, Ammonites, and Moabites.
It is often thought that Ezra's action insisting on the divorce of foreign wives and their children, together with Nehemiah's concern that the children of these foreign women could not speak the language of Judah, represented a shift in Israelite matrimonial law. Previously offspring of intermarriage was judged patrilineally; now it was to be on the matrilineal principle for a different view, see Cohen.
Myers, Ezra, Nehemiah ; S. Talmon, "Ezra, Nehemiah," in: L.
Crim ed. Supplementary Volume , —28; F. Fensham, "Neh. Naveh and J. Davies and L. Finkelstein eds. Clines, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther ; M. Clutching at Catchlines," in: BR , 3 , 56—59; J. Blenkinsopp, Ezra-Nehemiah ; T. Norton and S. Pisano eds.
Klein, "Ezra-Nehemiah, Books of," in: D. Freedman ed. Ulrich et al.
Psychological Science, 20 3 , — Macro-level institutional or structural aspects of ageism are then examined, as reflected in health care reimbursement structures, participation of older adults in clinical trials, institutional policies governing care, and the lack of emphasis on geriatric-specific training for health care professionals. Boswell, S. Lancet, , — McLaughlin, T.
Grabbe, Ezra-Nehemiah ; D. Lubetski et al. Gordon , —10; M. Cogan, "Cyrus Cylinder 2. Hallo ed. Watts ed. Falling to his knees and stretching out his hands before God, Ezra pours out his heart. I fear that too often, when we respond to the sins of our people, our prayers contain only one element — condemnation. I am also shamed by it. I can not remember ever praying in such a manner for my own people. We should feel solidarity for those people around us because it was purely by the grace of God that we were saved! We should confess not only our own sins but the sins of our culture.
We should express a readiness to change and to share our faith with those people who desperately need Jesus Christ as their Savior. And we should express our confidence in the faithfulness of the God who restored His people from exile and sent His Son to die on a cross for us though we were sinners. Perhaps, we should take a break from looking down our noses at the people around us and take the time to genuinely pour our hearts out to God on their behalf. There is no reason our prayers can not birth a change in ours.
You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Search Search for:. His reaction is a lesson for all of us. Share this: Twitter Facebook Tumblr.