The Old Testament | The Books of History


Things to know
Where does the book begin?

Several years after the people have returned from Persia to the promised land.

Where does the book end?

The book ends when the wall surrounding the city was finished.

People to know


Places to go

Nehemiah prayed to God.

Nehemiah 1:4-11
Nehemiah asked to go home.

Nehemiah 2:1-8
The people built the wall.

Nehemiah 3
Ezra read the law.

Nehemiah 8:1-8
The people completed the wall.

Nehemiah 12:27-43

The Story of Nehemiah

Nehemiah is the story of a man named Nehemiah. He lived during the time of Ezra. The book begins as he got news from his home.[1] It was sad news. The wall in Jerusalem was broken. The gates were torn down. The people there could not defend the city. This was bad news for Nehemiah. He was a Jew*. The city of Jerusalem was his city. It was the city where the temple* was. The temple* was the place where the Jews went to worship* God. So he decided to pray and ask God for help.

Nehemiah lived in Persia. He loved God and he cared about his people. God had blessed* Nehemiah with a very important job. He was a helper of the King of Persia. This important job allowed him to talk to the king. One day, the king noticed that Nehemiah was sad. So he asked him why he was sad. He told the king about the wall in Jerusalem. He told him about how poor and sad the people were. He asked the king to allow him to return to the land. Nehemiah wanted to help build the wall again. The king said yes. The king even gave him men to protect him. He also gave him supplies to help him build.

When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he saw the broken wall. So he gathered the people and they started to build. But this was hard work. The people who were not Jews did not help. They laughed at the builders and tried to stop them. But the builders did not stop. Sometimes, they had to carry a sword with their tools. Each time Nehemiah had a problem, he trusted God. He obeyed God’s words. The book tells how God blessed* Nehemiah and the people. In 52 days, they finished building the wall.

The people had not listened to God for many years. They were doing things that did not please God. They needed to change the way they lived. They needed to remember the Sabbath*. They needed to stop marrying wives that were not from Judah.

When the wall was finished, the people came together again. They asked Ezra the priest to read the book of Moses to them. So Ezra stood on a high wooden platform. He read aloud from the ‘Book of the Law’.[2] He wanted all the people to hear him. After they heard the law, the leaders set aside a holy day for the people. And, later, they came together for a special meal. It was just like the meal that their fathers ate long ago.

Then, Nehemiah called the people together again. This time, the priests told them what to do. Honour God. Confess* the wrong things that they had done. Then, return to follow the promised covenant* that God had made with their fathers. And so they did. They made the promise. The leaders signed the promise. Then the people agreed. They promised to do all of the things that God commanded them to do.

God used Nehemiah to do many good things. He was a strong leader and a man who pleased God. But some of the people still did not listen to God. Nehemiah knew this. But he still had hope*. He believed that God would be faithful* to his people. He believed that God would remember the promises that he had made.

The book tells us many things about God. It also tells us many things about prayer. There are two important prayers in the book. One is in chapter one. The other is in chapter 9. Both prayers tell us many things about God. The first teaches us how God’s leaders ought to pray. Nehemiah confessed his sin*. He confessed the sin* of the people. He asked God to have mercy* on them. God judged the people when they did not obey. Then, Nehemiah asked God to keep his promise to bless* them. And he believed that God would keep the promises that he had made.

Why did he pray this way? He prayed this way because he remembered the words of Moses.

‘You and your children will return to the Lord your God. You will obey him with all your heart and with all your soul*. You will do everything I am commanding you today.  When all that happens, the Lord your God will bless* you with great success again. He will be very kind to you. He will bring you back from all the nations where he scattered you.’[3]

Nehemiah knew God’s words. He believed those words. He even used those words in his prayer. Because of these things, he believed that God would answer his prayer.

  • [1] Nehemiah 1:1-3
  • [2] Nehemiah 8:1-8
  • [3] Deuteronomy 30:1-3

The Old Testament | The Books of History