Preparation Prior to the study session, participants should read:
Nehemiah 2: 1-10 Nehemiah is moved to visit Jerusalem and the wall
Nehemiah 2: 11-20 Nehemiah's inspection trip
Nehemiah 3: 1-12 The rebuilding begins
Nehemiah 8: 1-9: Ezra reads the Law
Orientation Nehemiah is book #16 of 39 in the Old Testament. It is considered a book of History. For more information see the Bible Overview page.
Synopsis Nehemiah is a servant (wine taster) in the palace of the Persian king, Artaxerxes. The king sends Nehemiah to inspect the walls of Jerusalem and report (2:11). Nehemiah finds the walls and gates in ruins. The king authorizes their repair. Sanballat gets wind of this early on (2:19) and organizes opposition. Despite this, Nehemiah organizes the workers (including women - 3:12) and completes the rebuilding in only 52 days.
Upon completion, many of the Jewish exiles feel safe to return to Jerusalem (7:6). Ezra reads God's law to the people (8) , and leads them in confessing their sins (9) and renewing the allegiance to God. Then the new wall is dedicated (12:27) with great rejoicing.
Major Characters Nehemiah, wine taster who manages a vast wall building project
Artaxerxes, Persian king who permits Nehemian to rebuild the wall
Sanballat, leader of the opposition (governor of Samaria?)
Ezra, priest who reads God's law to the people
Major Events Nehemiah takes a leave of absence from his palace duties to inspect the walls (2: 11-20).
Various gates and wall sections rebuilt (3 - 6)
The Jewish exiles return (7: 4-73)
Ezra reads the Law (8)
The people renew their agreement with God (10)
Activities List the gates of Jerusalem documented in Nehemiah.* You can sketch out their likely locations by using the article The Gates of Jerusalem by Rabbi Joseph Schwarz at www.jewish-history.com/palestine/jerusalem.html
Relevance This book serves as a prime example of project management, and is an inpiration to many who are faced with organizing a large project to the glory of God, including strategies for dealing with opposition. Connections Solomon originally built the wall with slave labor in 1 Kings 9:15. The wall's demise begins to be documented in 2 Kings 14:13.
For source citations see the home page. Revised April 9 2014
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* MENTIONED IN NEHEMIAH: Sheep gate 3:2 Fish Gate 3:3 Jeshanah Gate 3:6 Valley Gate 3:13 Rubbish / Dung / Gate of the Moors 3:13 Fountain Gate 3:15 Water Gate 3:26 Horse Gate 3:28 OTHER, MORE MODERN GATES: New Gate Damascus / Shechem Gate / Gate of the Column Herod's Gate Lion's Gate / St. Stephen's Gate Golden Gate / Mercy Gate (sealed) Zion Gate / Gate of the Prophet David Jaffa Gate POSSIBLE LOCATIONS FROM LINKED ARTICLE: (Many gates have been lost, renamed, etc. so this is only an approximation) Draw a box, labelling sides N,E,W,S with N at top. Starting at NE Corner and going clockwise: EAST Sheep Gate Middle Gate (aka Old, Upper, East) Water Gate Fish Gate Horse Gate SOUTH Fountain Gate Dung/Rubbish Gate WEST Valley Gate Corner Gate NORTH Gate of Ephraim/Benjamin Prison Gate