The walls and gates of Jerusalem are completed in just fifty-two days. Enemies of the Jews, the enemies of the returned exiles, now called the survivors, their enemies are amazed and recognize the hand of God at work. Though they now have natural protection in addition to God’s protection, Nehemiah commands them to set guards. And not just at the gates, also across from their homes. Now they need to reclaim their culture, their heritage, their nation. And as it says in Psalm 1 “delight in the law of the Lord.
With The Help of Our God
Reading through Nehemiah feels like a long time span but in Nehemiah 6:15 “the wall was finished … in fifty two days”. In fact, the work went so quickly that , in Nehemiah 6:16 “our enemies … were afraid and lost confidence … this work had been done with the help of our God”.
This however, did not stop the pressure from Tobiah, in Nehemiah 6:17-19. The root of this is uncertain, but “If this Tobiah is a descendant of the earlier Tobiah of Ezra 2:60 (see #2 above), the uncertain status of his ancestors could explain both his appointment over Ammon and the ensuing conflict with Nehemiah”.1
We do however, “know from 13:4 that Tobiah had family ties with the priestly or high-priestly house of Eliashib, probably by marriage. While such links and loyalties were embarrassing enough in themselves, we now learn how busily they were exploited by intrigues, persuasive talk, leaks of information and threatening letters. All this, in addition to the outside pressures already described, brought Nehemiah under attack from almost every quarter”.2
It is good for the wail to be in place, and the gates of the city now also in place, but they must be manned. In Nehemiah 7:1-3 they are commanded to keep the gate closed “until the sun is hot” making sure that the occupants of the city were awake and alert first. They were also commanded to appoint guards, “one at his post and another opposite his house”. Meaning they had guards at the gates, the places most likely an entry point for an attack, but also “The further precaution of enrolling civilian guards (which) was realistic in its posting of them to defend what mattered to them most”.3
The Exiles That Returned
Aside from the short introduction about the city in Nehemiah 7:4, this is a repeat of the genealogies list in Ezra 1:5-2:20.
All the Assembly Together
Nehemiah 7:26-44 lists the number of people and the towns they returned to. Then there are some that claimed priestly heritage but had no proof. Then their total numbers in Nehemiah 7:66 were 42,396, about 34 thousand in Jerusalem. This is also a repeat of the list in Ezra 2:21-70.
The Law of Yahweh
Psalm 1 begins, “Blessed is the man”, but not every man is blessed. There is a way to walk in blessing and that is when “the law of Yahweh is his delight and on his law he meditates day and night”. This doesn’t make it clear to us though.
What does it mean that the law is his delight? The definition of delight, here is “the good pleasure, will, purpose”4 So to delight in the law of the Lord is to take good pleasure in it, to seek the will and purpose of God’s law in your life.
What does it mean to meditate? Some would say it means to quiet your mind, to sit still, and chant or mutter softly. One definition says, “to think and so decide a course of action”.5
Meditating day and night means thinking about the actions you are taking, are they consistent with God’s way? Are the things you are planning to do in line with God’s plans and purposes? The way Jesus said this was,
John 8:26–29 (LEB) 26 I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but the one who sent me is true, and the things which I heard from him, these things I say to the world.” 27 (They did not know that he was speaking to them about the Father.) 28 Then Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will recognize that I am he, and I do nothing from myself, but just as the Father taught me, I say these things. 29 And the one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”
But there are two ways of life described in Psalm 1. And the other in Psalm 1:4 “are like the chaff that the wind scatters”. These are mockers, sinners, wicked.
Give thanks to Yahweh, for He is Good
Psalm 107 1:43
- Nehemiah 6:15–19 With The Help of Our God
- Nehemiah 7:1–3 Appoint Guards
- Psalm 1:1–6 The Law of Yahweh
- Nehemiah 6:15-19
- Nehemiah 7:1-73
- Psalm 1:1–6
- Psalm 107:1–43
is helping Jewish people return to their homeland. You might fund one that desires to go home. http://operationexodususa.org/Overview
Return to Israel – Ezra
We often read one book of the Bible at a time and that is easier for everyone to follow. The order of our readings, beginning with Ezra, are from the Tyndale One Year Chronological Bible because the return from Babylonian exile includes Haggai, Zechariah, Nehemiah, Esther, a few Psalms, and other connections. Covering these events chronologically as they happened, gives a much better context and helps us understand the move of God as He is reestablishing His people. Review the whole series beginning with Go Up To Jerusalem.
- 1. Eskenazi, T. C. (1992). Tobiah (Person). In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 6, p. 584). New York: Doubleday.
- 2. Kidner, D. (1979). Ezra and Nehemiah: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 12, p. 111). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- 3. Kidner, D. (1979). Ezra and Nehemiah: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 12, p. 112). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- 4. Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- 5. Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.