The book of Nehemiah was originally in the Hebrew scriptures as one book with the book of Ezra; both Ezra and Nehemiah were written by the priest Ezra. Because of the very similar writing style, many scholars also believe that Ezra was the author of I and II Chronicles, and that the four books all belonged together.
|Modern-day walls of Jerusalem|
Although Nehemiah was born and raised in Babylon, he was brought up with strict devotion to Jewish tradition and laws. Nehemiah was the cup-bearer to the king of Persia - a job of responsibility and trust. The cupbearer tasted and served wine to the king. Ancient kings had to be extremely cautious about what they ate and drank. They used trusted servants such as Nehemiah to taste everything before they did; if the servant did not get sick, then the king and queen ate and drank. Nehemiah held this highly trusted position under King Artaxerxes. While serving the Persian king, Nehemiah learned that Jerusalem remained in ruins after nearly a century and a half. The temple had been rebuilt after seventy years, but the remainder of the city was in ruins; thus, the temple overlooked broken walls and destroyed buildings. Nehemiah was so distressed when he learned of the condition of the holy city that he went to the king and asked for funding to rebuild the city walls. Nehemiah must have been in good graces with the king and/or very persuasive, because the king immediately agreed to help!
During the rebuilding process, the people of Jerusalem endured ridicule and raids from nearby Samaritans. But they persisted and the city became a proud city once again. Miraculously, the wall was rebuilt in only fifty-two DAYS!!! Nehemiah was a courageous and prayerful leader! He remained in Jerusalem as Persian governor of the area for the next twelve years, teaching and leading the people in several important religious festivals which they had forgotten or abandoned over the years.
The Bible describes Nehemiah as small of stature. He may have been a small man, but he had a big idea and a big influence on the people of God.
Isn't it interesting how God can take one little person and make a big difference? Y'know, that one little person could be you...