Nehemiah, meaning comforted by Jehovah, was the son of Hachaliah of Judah. He was among the Jews of the exile to Babylon. After the Babylonian empire (see Ancient Empires - Babylon) fell to the Persians (see Ancient Empires - Persia), Nehemiah found himself as the royal cup-bearer in the palace of the Persian king Artaxerxes. That trusted and responsible position made possible Nehemiah's role in Bible History - being made the civil governor of Jerusalem, along with Ezra the priest, at the time of the return.

The News Arrives

While serving at the palace in Susa, Nehemiah became greatly distressed when he got word that Jerusalem remained in ruins:

Nehemiah's sadness did not go unnoticed before the king:

Nehemiah In Jerusalem

The king's permission was granted, and accompanied by Persian cavalry (Nehemiah 2:9), Nehemiah traveled to Jerusalem where he would serve as the governor. This occurred approximately 446 B.C., about 11 years after Ezra (see Ezra) got there.

When Nehemiah arrived, he quickly made a survey of the fallen city, and organized the people to make the restoration (Nehemiah 2:11-20). Despite opposition from people such as Tobiah the Ammonite, Sanballat the Horonite and Geshem the Arab (Nehemiah 2:19), the wall was rebuilt in 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15), with the rest of the work completed in about 6 months. Nehemiah worked closely with Ezra (Nehemiah 8:1) in restoring not only the city, but the people's obedience to God.

After much of his mission was completed, Nehemiah went back to Persia (Nehemiah 13:6), but returned to Jerusalem later to again enforce the Law of God after the people reverted to their disobedient ways, including defiling the Sabbath (Nehemiah 13:15-22), and involvement with idolatrous people (Nehemiah 13:23-29) - the very same reasons that caused the destruction of the city in the first place (see Why Babylon?). It was during this period that the prophet Malachi (see Malachi) was also active in the city.

Nehemiah's final days are not recorded, however he was a courageous and obedient servant of God who almost certainly remained so for the remainder of his life. The book of Nehemiah is named after him.

Fact Finder: Is doing physical labor, or buying and selling on the Sabbath, very wrong in God's sight?
Nehemiah 13:15-22

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