Nehemiah: Introduction



  Historical Context (under construction)

  Nehemiah is set in the 5th century B.C.
  1. Time frame - 5th century B.C.
    1. Jewish Historical Context
      1. Judah sent into exile by Babylon (597-586 B.C.)
      2. Israel in ruins - non-Jewish settlers
      3. Release from Babylonian captivity by Cyrus, Persian King
        1. First group to return only partially successful - Zerubbabel (538 B.C.)
        2. Book of Esther takes place (483-473 B.C.)
        3. Local reaction against Ezra's attempts to rebuild (458 B.C.)
        4. Nehemiah's coming (445 B.C.)
    2. General Historical Context
      1. Greece - on the rise. Repelled the Persian invasion Gaining ground in Lydia (area we know as Turkey)
      2. Persia - On the decline. Centered in present day Iran but ruled from India to central Lydia to Egypt.
        1. Squandered resources on war
        2. Humiliating defeats in Greece
        3. Allows relative local autonomy of subject peoples
        4. Encourages local deities, just to be sure and to mollify local population
      3. Judea - Strong local non-Jewish governors
        1. Rebellion against Persia in 454 B.C.
        2. Jewish loyalty to Persia held them in good stead
        3. Location of primary events - Near East (See map)
  2. Food for thought
    1. Why is it important to study the Old Testament in its historical context?
    2. What was it like living in Jerusalem in 445 B.C.?
    3. How can events that happened almost 2500 years ago have any bearing on how I live my life today?
    4. What does your answer to question 3 say about the Word of God and its relevance in and to your life?