Summary of Nehemiah

Summary of Nehemiah

Chapter by Chapter:

Nehemiah 1-2: Nehemiah Mourns and Fasts for the Jews/Artaxerxes and Nehemiah
Nehemiah 3-4: Names of those who built walls/Enemies Seek to Destroy the Work
Nehemiah 5-6: Zerubbabel Renews Building of the Temple/The Temple is Finished and Dedicated
Nehemiah 7-8: Genealogy Records/Priesthood/Ezra Records the Law of Moses
Nehemiah 9-10: Jews Fast and Confess Sins/Sabbath Day and Tithes
Nehemiah 11-13: The People of Jerusalem/Priests and Levites/Nehemiah Corrects Apostasy


Nehemiah is the sequel to the book of Ezra and offers a historical, autobiographical account of Nehemiah’s role in rebuilding Jerusalem and calling the Israelites to repentance and reform.

  • The words of Nehemiah: Men from Judah said, “The wall of Jerusalem is broken down.” I prayed, “O Lord, give me favour with the king.”
  •  The king granted my request to go and rebuild Jerusalem. Sanballat was displeased. I inspected the walls and said, “Let us rebuild.”
  • The priests rebuilt the Sheep Gate, the Tekoites made repairs; Jedaiah repaired opposite his house, Meremoth repaired another section.
  • Sanballat ridiculed us and plotted to attack Jerusalem. So we prayed and posted a guard. The builders carried swords as they worked.
  • The people cried out, “We have to borrow to get grain.” I told the nobles, “Let us stop exacting usury.” I did not take my allowance.
  • Sanballat and Tobiah sent for me to do me harm. I replied, “Why should I come?” The wall was finished and our enemies were afraid.
  • I gave Hanani and Hananiah charge over Jerusalem. I registered the nobles, rulers and people by genealogy. The assembly was 42,360.
  •  The people gathered and Ezra read from the law. Nehemiah said, “This day is holy. Do not mourn.” The people held the Feast of Booths.
  •  The Israelites confessed. The Levites said, “Lord, you brought our fathers out of Egypt. They rebelled but you did not forsake them.”
  • The leaders sealed a covenant. The people made an oath: “We will not marry foreigners. We will bring the offerings for the temple.”
  • The leaders and one in ten of the people lived in Jerusalem. There were descendants of Judah and of Benjamin, priests and Levites.
  •  All the Levites and leaders gathered to dedicate the wall. They made offerings and rejoiced. Men were appointed over the storerooms.
  •  I cleared Tobiah out of the temple. I confronted those who profaned the Sabbath and who married foreign women. Remember me, O God.


Nehemiah 5-6

Nehemiah 5-6

Chapter 5: Many Jews are in Bondage

There was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren. For there were those who said that their sons, and their daughters were many; so why not let some of them get grain, so they wouldn’t starve. But there were also some who said, that they have mortgaged their lands, vineyards and houses, so they could buy food during the famine. There were also some who said that they had borrowed money for the king’s tax on their lands and vineyards. Because of this, some families had to offer sons and daughters as servants (slaves) to repay the debt.

And Nehemiah became very angry when he heard their outcry and these words. After serious thought, he rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said told them that each of them is exacting usury (abusing the creditor/debtor relationship with unfair interest rates, etc.) from his brother. So he called a great assembly against them, and told them, that according to their ability they have redeemed their Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. He then goes on to ask; will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us? Because of this, they were silenced and found nothing to say. Then he  told them that what they were doing is not good. He then asks them, should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? Nehemiah begs them to stop the usury! He demands that they restore their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, and a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that they had charged them.

So they said that they would restore to them, as Nehemiah had asked, and would require nothing from them.  Then Nehemiah called the priests, and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.

From the time that Nehemiah was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither he nor his brothers ate the governor’s provisions. Nehemiah just continued his work on the wall.

Nehemiah, received much provisions, (one ox, six choice sheep, fowls and an abundance of wine) yet in spite of this he did not demand the governor’s provisions, because the bondage was heavy on this people, he gave them food to the people… to further the Lord’s work.

Chapter 6: Sanballat and Nehemiah

When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of their enemies heard that Nehmiah had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time Nehmiah had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “…Come, let us meet together… in the plain of Ono…” (Nehmiah 6:2) But they only thought to do him harm. So Nehmiah sent messengers to them, saying, “…I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3) But they sent him this message four times, and he answered them the same every time. Nehemiah knew of the importance of his work, and couldn’t be bothered with someone who wanted to distract him from that work. We need to always remember that Satan will try to pull us away from what we know is the right thing. Because Satan knows good from evil, and because he made poor choices, he wants everyone to suffer with him. So the next time you are doing good and something or someone tries to get in your way or discourage you… don’t come down and entertain it, turn your back and keep working!

Then Sanballat sent his servant to Nehemiah as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. In it was written:  “…It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words. And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together. Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart (make them up out of his own heart). For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done.” (Nehemiah 6:6-9)

Afterward Nehemiah came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and Shemaiah told them to meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and to close the doors, because they were coming to kill Nehemiah. Nehemiah, asked; should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” Then he perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against him because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this reason he was hired, that he should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach him.

So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all their enemies heard of it, and all the nations around them saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by God.

In those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them. For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.

Nehemiah 1-2

Nehemiah 1-2

Chapter 1: Nehemiah Mourns and Fasts for the Jews

1,000 years after the time of Moses and about 400 years before the birth of Jesus, the nation of Israel and the Jewish people were in a desperate state.

These are the words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah; “…And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

…Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

…But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand. O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.” (Nehemiah 1:1-11)

This entire chapter is a prayer to the Lord from Nehemiah regarding the Jews in Jerusalem.

Chapter 2: Artaxerxes and Nehemiah

In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of the reign of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, Nehemiah (the cupbearer) took the wine and gave it to the king. (He would have tasted the wine to ensure that the king would not be poisoned). The king spoke to Nehemiah and said; “…Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart…” (Nehemiah 2:2). Because of this, Nehemiah was afraid.

So Nehemiah responds by saying:  “…why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?” (Nehemiah 2:3)

The king responded; “…For what dost thou make request?” (Nehemiah 2:4)

Nehemiah turned and prayed to the Lord for an answer;  “…If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.” (Nehemiah 2:5)

The King responded to his request with a question;  ”… how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return?” (Nehemiah 2:6)

The king was happy to send Nehemiah, but Nehemiah asked for letters to be given to him so that the governors beyond the river would permit him to come into Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, so that he would give timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel for the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that Nehemiah would live in. The king granted this request, and sent him on his way.

Nehemiah went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters, accompanying him were captains of the army and horsemen that the king had sent with him. When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.

So Nehemiah went to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then he arose in the night, and took a few men; and went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire. After seeing this, he went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool.

Then he said to them, “…Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.” (Nehemiah 2:17). He told them of not only God’s words, but also that of the king’s words, and the people responded “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to good work.