Thursday, August 7, 2014

Nehemiah: Nothing to See Here

This is gonna be short.

The Book of Nehemiah is a quick ten-chapter book about, you guessed it, Nehemiah. Like Ezra, it kind of does this weird back-and-forth between third person and first person. Most of it is first person, though, and the third person bits are kind of slipped in subtly here and there almost as if by accident.

Nehemiah is cupbearer to king Ataxerxes. Presumably the second Ataxerxes, not the first, since this book appears to take place around the same time Ezra was in Judah. At least, Ezra gets mentioned as being present at some of the ceremonies at the end of the book.

Anyway, Nehemiah hears about how the Jews who returned to Judah are all despairing because the walls of Jerusalem are broken down. So Nehemiah asks the king for leave to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. The king gives him permission, and letters to the governors to provide materials.

Nehemiah returns and inspects the walls, doing it in secret because the local officials are apparently pissed that he's there to try and help the Jews. Long story short, he gets the wall built, and has the Jewish people in the surrounding areas agree to send one tenth of their population to live in and to guard the city. Even though there's all kinds of rumors that their neighbors intend violence, nothing ever comes of it.

In the end, we get the rededication of the new temple and walls, a new agreement signed by the chief men to follow the Mosaic laws, and a repeat of the bit from Ezra where they forced the Jewish men who's married foreign wives to abandon those women.

A lot of the book is taken up with long lists of names, some of which are redundant with the same lists from Ezra. Many of the events are also redundant with the events of Ezra. But the thing that strikes me most that is similar about the books? Both are the only books of the Bible I've read so far that purport to be first person retelling of events, and neither one of them contains a single supernatural event. Or even something that could be reasonably interpreted as contact with God in any form. Both authors are very quick to credit human actions and emotions to God, but neither one describes anything even vaguely like a manifestation of that being

Just found that interesting.

Anyway, like I said, short. The next book is Esther, another short book, and hopefully I'll get through that one pretty soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment