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Nehemiah 1: Who is Nehemiah?

Original Publication Date
April 8, 2017
Updated
Nov 25, 2022 4:43 AM
Tags
Chapter StudyNehemiahJudahPersiaCaptivityJerusalemLeadership
Bible References
Nehemiah 1
Status
Done
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on April 8, 2017 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

The book of Nehemiah is introduced as the words of Nehemiah; this is the closest thing we have to an announcement of authorship. From there, we jump right in to the role of Nehemiah and who he was.

Who is Nehemiah?

Nehemiah is introduced as the son of Hachaliah. Hachaliah isn't mentioned anywhere else in the Bible; he is likely mentioned to help us distinguish Nehemiah from the other Nehemiah's of the Bible (re: Nehemiah 3:16, 7:7 and Ezra 2:2). Apparently Nehemiah was a popular name during that era. Today, Nehemiah ranks in popularity at 365 in the US.[1] It's funny to think of Biblical names the same way we see names like Brittany, Ashley, Michael, and Josh today, but reading the Bible will quickly remind us that some names occurred more frequently than others. Since last names are never given, this makes it hard to follow the text sometimes. The Bible identifies Nehemiah for us by relating him to his father Hachaliah or his brother Hanani.

Nehemiah's Task

While in Persia, Nehemiah receives news about Jerusalem and her inhabitants. The wall and gates of the city were damaged, leaving the people vulnerable to attack. Without a fortified capital to lead Judah, Judah could never be an independent nation; a fortified capital required walls and gates. Upon hearing this news, Nehemiah is grieved and prays to God. He reasons with God that the people are repentant and eager to seek Him. As such, God's covenant stipulated that God would look out for them. Nehemiah is aware that Jerusalem had fallen and they were scattered due to their sins, but is ready to invoke the promise of God to return them once they have repented. Nehemiah prays for strength and courage to approach the king with the request to rebuild the wall. The reason Nehemiah felt it his duty to do such a thing is because he was the cupbearer for the king (Artaxerxes I).

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Two things to notice about Nehemiah 1. He is in a position of power, like Esther and realizes that with that power he should use it to help his people gain their freedom as well as steer them back to God 2. Before Nehemiah acts, he prays.

Position and Power

Nehemiah understood that it was his responsibility to move the reconstruction of Jerusalem forward because of his position. As the cupbearer, Nehemiah had access to the king, which meant he was the only person who could bring up the topic to the one person on earth who had the power to get the ball rolling. Nehemiah prays for strength in carrying out this task because he knows it is up to him. Often, we are God's only representative in an area and it is our duty to stand for God. This can be a daunting taskβ€”I definitely remember times that perhaps I should have been speaking up for God but instead chose to remain silent. It takes maturity in our relationship with God to flourish in these situations. Like Nehemiah, we should be praying for courage and strength to carry out God's will when called upon.

References and Footnotes

  1. Mike Campbell. "Nehemiah".Β Behind the Name; visited April 2017

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