This book takes its name from the writer, who was the cupbearer to the king of Persia and was sent by him with a commission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It is also called the "Second book of Ezra," because it is a continuation of the history, begun by Ezra, of the state of the people of God after their return from captivity. The achievements of Ezra and Nehemiah, in the crucial years following the return of their decimated nation from exile, are notable. Without their teaching and leadership it is doubtful whether a distinctive Jewish religion could have survived.


384 BC

1. Nehemiah’s brother, Hanani, brings news that the building work of the temple has stopped (see 1 Ezra 4:23.) Nehemiah 1:1-3.
2. Nehemiah prays and fasts. Nememiah 1:4-11.
3. Nehemiah puts his life at stake by showing his sorrow to king Artaxerses as it was by the king’s decree that the rebuilding had stopped. Nehemiah’s concern for his people persuades the king to allow Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. He is given letters to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, and other letters to those who will supply materials for the rebuilding. Nehemiah 2:1-10.
4. Nehemiah makes a personal inspection of the walls and then encourages their restoration. Nehemiah 2:11-20.
5. Names of the builders. Nehemiah 3:1-32.
6. There is opposition to the rebuilding and even threat of attack. Nehemiah prays and the threat passes. Nehemiah 4:1-23. B.C.
7. The rich were exacting interest from their fellow countrymen and selling them as slaves to foreigners, whilst Nehemiah gave exemplary conduct by buying back slaves and loaning money and food to the poor. Nehemia takes firm action to set this right. Nehemiah 5:1-19.
8. Nehemiah’s enemies realise that their only chance of stopping the work is to get rid of Nehemiah. They try and persuade him to leave Jerusalem for talks; they try blackmail and intimidation. Nehemiah is not to be deflected from the work. Nehemiah 6:1-14.
9. The wall is finished in under two months. Even his enemies have to agree that Nehemiah must have had God’s help for the work to have been completed so quickly. Nehemiah 6:15-19.
10. List of those who returned from exile. Nehemiah 7:1-67.
11. List of animals and treasure which were brought back. Nehemiah 7:68-73.
12. The people ask Ezra to read to them the book of the law of Moses. They celebrate the feast of Tabernacles. Nehemiah 8:1-18.
13. The people repent and pray one of the most beautiful prayers outside the Psalms. It reviews God’s grace and power from creation through to the present times – recalling God’s loving and faithful dealings with His rebellious people from the time of Abraham. Nehemiah 9:1-37.
14. The covenant is renewed. List of names of those subscribing to the covenant. Nehemiah 9:38 & 10:1-39.
15. Inhabitants of Jerusalem and other cities. Nehemiah 11:1-36 & 12:1-26.
16. Dedication of the wall. Nehemiah 12:27-47.

433 BC

17. Many abuses are reformed. Nehemiah returns to king Artaxerxes as he had promised. Later he once again gets permission to visit Jerusalem. Nehemiah 13:1-6.
18. On this visit he finds that all is not as it should be. The high priest had given quarters attached to the temple to one who is not even an Israelite. The Levites were not being given their income and, yet again, the Israelites were marrying foreign women. They were also buying and selling on the Sabbath. Nehemiah adopts strong measures to deal with the abuses. Nehemiah 13:7-31. B.C.