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The Makers and Teachers of Judaism by Charles Foster Kent

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And thick mists its swaddling-bands,
And marked out for it my bound,
And set bars and doors,
And said, Here shalt thou come, but no further;
And here shall thy proud waves stop?

[Sidenote: Job 38:39-41]
Canst thou hunt the prey for the lioness,
Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
When they couch in their dens,
And abide in the covert to lie in wait?
Who provideth at evening his prey,
When his young ones cry to God,
And wander to seek for food?

[Sidenote: Job 40:8,9]
Will the fault-finder contend with the Almighty?
He who argueth with God, let him answer it.
Wilt thou even annul my judgment?
Condemn me, that thou mayest be justified,
Or hast thou an arm like God?
And canst thou thunder with a voice like him?

[Sidenote: Job 42:1, 2, 3, 5, 6]
Then Job answered Jehovah and said:

I know that thou canst do all things,
And that no purpose of thine can be restrained.
Therefore, I have uttered that which I did not understand;
Things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear,
But now mine eye seeth thee,
Therefore I loath [my words],
And repent in dust and ashes.

I. The Structure of the Book of Job. Like most of the books of the Old
Testament, Job is, without reasonable doubt, the work of several different
writers. The prose introduction (1-2), with its corresponding conclusion
(42:7-17), was probably once an independent story. The words of Jehovah in
the epilogue (42:7) clearly implies that, as in 1 and 2, Job had endured
the test and had meekly submitted to the afflictions which Satan, with the
divine approval, had sent upon him, and that on the other hand his
friends, like his wife, had urged him to curse God and die. The language
and phrases of this prose story are radically different from those in the
poem which constitutes the main body of the book. The unique explanation
of why Job was afflicted that is given in the opening chapters is also
completely ignored in the poetic dialogues (3-31). Likewise the problem of
whether or not Job fears God for naught, raised in the prologue, is not
taken up again except in the concluding prose epilogue. In the prose story
Job's piety conforms to the popular standards, while in the poetic
sections he is measured by the loftier ethical principles laid down by the
pre-exilic prophets (cf. chap. 31). In form, therefore, in aim, and in
content, the prose story differs fundamentally from the great dramatic
poem which constitutes the real book of Job. The main body of the book is
found in chapters 3-27, 29-31, 38:1-40:14, and 42:1-6. At a few points the
original order has apparently been disarranged and later hands have
frequently supplemented the older sections, but the literary unity of the
whole is obvious. In three cycles of speeches the problem of innocent
suffering is fully developed and the current solutions presented. In
conclusion the voice of Jehovah comes to Job calling him forth from
himself to the contemplation of the larger universe which manifests the
divine wisdom and rulership.

The Elihu speeches in 32-37 are evidently from a still later author or
authors who wished to rebuke Job's seeming impiety and the failure of his
friends to bring forth a satisfactory explanation of the suffering of the
innocent. Its independence is shown by the presence of many Aramaic words,
by the lack of literary vigor, and by the frequent repetitions, which
distinguish it sharply from the writings of the author of the main body of
the book. Elihu and his contributions are also completely ignored in the
rest of the book and at points where, if they were original, certain
references would be almost inevitable. These speeches, in fact, are simply
a fuller development of the argument of Eliphaz found in the fifth
chapter. They also incorporate many suggestions drawn from the speeches of
Jehovah in chapters 38 and 39.

II. Dates of the Different Parts. The classic Hebrew style and the
absence of Aramaic words indicate that the prose story is the oldest
section of the book. It also reasserts in modified form the dogma current
far down into the Persian period, that if the righteous but patiently
bear affliction they will surely in the end be richly rewarded. It
contains a message well adapted to the needs and beliefs of the Jewish
people during the calamities of the Babylonian period. Its conception
of Satan as the prosecuting attorney of heaven, and of Jehovah as a
transcendental ruler surrounded by a hierarchy of angels, is closely akin
to that which first appears in the second chapter of Zechariah. The
references to Job in Ezekiel 14:14,20, as one of the three heroes of
popular tradition famous for their piety, implies the existence during the
exile of a story closely akin to if not identical with the one found in
the prologue and epilogue of the book of Job. Such a story was probably
current long before the days of Ezekiel, but in its present form it was
not committed to writing until the latter part of the Babylonian or the
beginning of the Persian period.

The first part of this story was evidently used by the author as an
introduction to the great dramatic poem. He thereby deliberately protested
against the solution of the problem of innocent suffering suggested by the
ancient story. The poem itself cannot be dated earlier than the middle of
the Persian period. In it the great ethical and social standards of the
pre-exilic prophets are fully accepted. Its marvelous breadth of vision
also implies an advanced stage in Israel's thinking. The problem of
suffering with which it deals is not merely that of the nation but of the
individual or of a class within the Judean community. It is precisely the
problem that confronted the author of Malachi and to which he refers in
3:13-16. It is the same problem that bulks largely in the psalms of this
period and finds its noblest solution in Isaiah 53. All its affinities,
therefore, confirm the conclusion that it comes from the middle of the
fifth century B.C. and is probably slightly older than Isaiah 49-55,
which presents a more fundamental treatment of the problem of human
suffering. The author still holds the old, prophetic conception of the
universe (38:4-6), and is unaffected by the priestly thought and
tendencies which became especially prominent during the closing years of
the Persian period.

The Elihu speeches and the supplemental poem in description of wisdom in
28, and of the behemoth and leviathan in 40:15-41:34, probably come from
the Greek period.

III. The Prose Story. In the prose story Job is pictured as a man of
superlative piety and prosperity. According to the popular standards of
the earlier day he lived a blameless life. His afflictions came simply as
a means of demonstrating the unselfish character of his piety. In rapid
succession he is stripped of all his possessions and afflicted by the
vilest of all diseases, apparently the loathsome tubercular leprosy. Even
his wife tempts him to curse God and die, but he fully meets the test,
and, according to the testimony of the concluding epilogue, receives
Jehovah's approval and is restored to the joys of family, reputation, and
riches. It is obvious that, as in the stories found in the opening
chapters of Genesis, this is a popular narrative freely adjusted to the
ends which the story-teller wished to attain. The incidents recorded are
not in keeping with the ordinary experiences of life, but belong rather to
the realm of popular fancy. As a reference in Ezekiel implies, it was
probably, like the similar stories regarding Noah and Daniel, a heritage
from the common Semitic lore. In fact, a recently discovered Babylonian
tablet tells of a famous king of Nippur, Tabi-utul-Bel by name, whose
experiences and spirit corresponds closely to those of the hero of this
prose story.

The message of the prose story of Job, as it was sent out to the Jewish
race, was that it was not always possible to understand the reason why
the righteous were afflicted, but that if they faithfully met the test
restoration to Jehovah's approval, with the honor and reputation that
necessarily follow, were assured. To the nation such a message was not
without its practical application and value, but it failed completely to
meet the individual problems that became pathetically insistent during the
middle of the fifth century B.C.

IV. The Poem of Job. In the later poetic version of the story (which
begins with the third chapter) Job himself is the embodiment of the
problem of innocent suffering. His friends' suppositions and condemnations
add still another burden to his weight of woe. More intolerable, however,
than loss of possessions, health, and reputation is his sense of being
forsaken and condemned by Jehovah. Job cannot shake himself entirely free
from the belief, which had been inculcated in his mind from earliest
infancy, that calamity was a sign of divine displeasure, and therefore of
sin on the part of the victim. In the series of monologues and dialogues
between Job and his friends he voices every phase of the great problem and
makes it concrete and objective. With marvellous psychological truth and
insight the author has presented the different phases of feeling through
which an innocent sufferer in Job's position naturally passes. At times
Job is intemperate in his speech and at other times he yields to
despondency; again his faith overleaps all obstacles and he holds for the
moment a clear belief in the ultimate vindication not only of himself but
of Jehovah's justice.

His friends, on the other hand, formulate at length the current
Explanation of suffering. Job in his sharp retorts makes clear the
Inapplicability of the arguments and the limitations of the dogmas which
they constantly reassert. In the concluding speeches of Jehovah the author
with masterly skill takes Job out of his little circle into the larger
world of nature, and brings him face to face with the evidences of
Jehovah's might, wisdom, and gracious rulership of the great universe and
of the complex life of those who inhabit it. Above all, Job learns to know
God, not through the testimony of others, but by direct personal
experience, and this knowledge begets humility and trust.

V. Progress in Job's Thought. The thought of the book of Job is
characteristically Oriental. Instead of moving straight on from premises
to conclusion it constantly reverts to the same themes yet advances
along independent, parallel lines. Its progress is not objective, as is
usually the case in a drama, but almost entirely subjective. These
parallel lines of progress are: (1) the conviction gradually crystallizing
into certainty that the current explanations of suffering are in certain
cases inadequate and false. While viewed from one point of view this
conclusion is merely negative, it nevertheless opened the eyes of Job
and his generation to a larger conception of Jehovah and a far broader
interpretation of the universe and of the laws which regulate it. The
second is that he is guilty of no crime commensurate with the calamity
which had overtaken him. Overwhelmed by misfortune and the reiterated
charges of his friends, only through a superhuman struggle did Job
ultimately attain the unshaken conviction that he was indeed innocent in
the sight of God and man. The third line of progress is that, if not in
the present life, in that beyond the grave his reputation would not only
be vindicated but he himself would be fully conscious of that vindication.

As is illustrated by the third chapter, Job in common with his race still
shared the belief that for the ordinary individual life beyond the grave
was a shadowy existence, far removed from Jehovah's presence. This
conception of the life after death was inherited by the Israelites from
their Semitic ancestors, and was held in common by most ancient peoples,
both of the East and of the West. The Babylonians believed, however, that
certain favored mortals, as, for example, the hero of the flood, were
transported to the abode of the gods, there to enjoy blessed individual
immortality. The same belief is the foundation of the Hebrew stories
regarding Enoch and Elijah. This belief was apparently the germ which in
time developed, as in the twelfth chapter of Daniel, into the widespread
conviction that the grave would not hold those who had been loyal to
Jehovah, but that he would surely raise them again to a glorious life. In
the book of Job it is possible to trace the birth-pangs of this broader
hope. Conscious of his innocence and confronted by the grave, Job
repeatedly voices the deep conviction that God, because he is just, will
raise his afflicted servant from the grave and accord to him that justice
which seems excluded from his present life. This solution of the problem
of innocent suffering is not given the central place by the author of the
book of Job. It is safe, however, to conjecture that if the appearance of
Jehovah had not furnished to the author's mind a more satisfactory
conclusion, the vindication after death would have been the solution
offered. At several points Job approaches very close to the belief in
individual immortality which became a commonly accepted tenet in the
trying days of the Maccabean struggle.

The fourth line of progress is that Jehovah, after all, must be just and
that he will right the seeming wrongs of life. In his opening speeches Job
gives free vent to the anguish and impatience that fills his tortured
mind. With a boldness strangely foreign to Hebrew thought, he charges
Jehovah with injustice and speaks of him as a cruel monster that watches
man, his helpless prey, and takes cruel pleasure in the pain which he
inflicts. As the discussion progresses Job's mind becomes calmer, and
the conviction that God, after all, is just comes more clearly to
expression. His strong utterances gradually yield to this quieter mood.
Even before he hears the voice of Jehovah, Job has attained an attitude of
trust, though he is still groping in darkness. Thus with marvelous
fidelity to human nature and experience the author of the book of Job
would have made a great contribution to the problem with which he was
dealing even had he not added the concluding speeches of Jehovah.

VI. Significance of the Speeches of Jehovah. To many Western readers the
concluding speeches of Jehovah are unsatisfying. They lack the emphasis on
Jehovah's love and that divine tenderness in addressing the heroic
sufferer which to us would seem to have been a satisfactory conclusion to
the great drama. This element is furnished in characteristically concrete
form by the epilogue of the book, in which Job's prosperity is restored in
double measure and he is personally assured of Jehovah's favor. The severe
and realistic author of the great poem, however, knew that in ordinary
life such solutions are rare. In the speeches of Jehovah he does not
introduce an altogether new element, but emphasizes motifs already
developed in the earlier dialogues. The effect of these speeches upon Job
are threefold: (1) They rebuke his over-accentuated individualism.
(2) They reveal the fundamental contrast between the infinite God and
finite man. In the light of this revelation Job plainly recognizes his
presumption and folly in attempting, with his limited outlook, to
comprehend, much less to criticise, the mighty ruler of all the universe.
(3) After Job had thus been led out of himself into personal companionship
with God he was content to trust his all-wise guide, even though he
recognized his own inability to fathom the mysteries of the universe or to
solve the problem of innocent suffering. Thus the great contributions of
the book of Job to the problem of suffering are: (1) A clear and
scientific presentation of the problem; (2) a bold sweeping aside of
the insufficient current theological explanations; (3) a vastly enlarged
conception of Jehovah's character and rule; and (4) that attitude of
faith which comes from a personal experience of God and which trusts
unreservedly, even though it cannot see or divine the reason why, and in
that trust finds peace and joy.

Although the thought of the book of Job is profound, and it deals in a
masterly manner with a fundamental human problem, it is more than a mere
philosophical discussion. Its primary aim is to set forth the vital truth
that God is not to be found through current theological dogmas or
intellectual discussions, but through personal experience. This is the
dominant note throughout the book. The greatest calamity that overtakes
Job in his hour of deepest distress is the sense of being shut away from
God's presence.

Oh! that I knew where I might find him,
That I might come even to his throne!

As he looks back fondly to the happy days of old the fact that stands
forth above all others is that

The Almighty was yet with me.

Looking forward to a possible vindication after death his hope centres
in the belief that

Thou wouldst call and I myself would answer thee;
Thou wouldst long for the work of thy hands.

When at last Jehovah answered Job out of the storm, it was not so much
the thought expressed as the fact that God had spoken directly to him
that brought penitence and peace:

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear,
But now mine eye seeth thee.
Therefore I loath my words,
And repent in dust and ashes.


[Sidenote: Isa. 49:1-3]
Hearken to me, ye coastlands,
And listen, ye distant peoples:
He hath called me from the womb,
From my mother's lap made mention of my name.
He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword,
In the shadow of his hand he hid me,
He made me a polished arrow,
In his quiver he concealed me,
And he said to me, Thou art my servant,
Israel, in whom I will glorify myself.

[Sidenote: Isa. 49:4]
But I said, I have labored in vain,
I spent my strength for nothing and vanity,
Nevertheless my right is with Jehovah,
And my recompense with my God.

[Sidenote: Isa. 49:5, 6]
And now, thus saith Jehovah,
(He who formed from birth to be his servant,
To bring Jacob back to him,
And that Israel might be gathered to him;
For I was honored in the sight of Jehovah,
And my God became my strength):
It is too little a thing to be my servant,
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the survivors of Israel;
Therefore I will make thee the light of the nations,
That thy salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

[Sidenote: Isa. 49:7]
Thus saith Jehovah,
The Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One,
To him who is heartily despised,
To the one abhorred of the people, a servant of rulers:
Kings shall see and arise,
Princes and they shall do homage,
Because of Jehovah who is faithful,
The Holy One of Israel who hath chosen thee.

[Sidenote: Isa. 49:3-9b]
Thus saith Jehovah,
In a time of favor I answer thee,
And in a day of deliverance I help thee,
And I make thee a pledge to the people,
To raise up the [ruined] land,
To reapportion the desolate heritages,
Saying to those who are bound, 'Go forth,'
To those in darkness, 'Show yourselves!'

[Sidenote: Isa. 49:9c-11]
They shall pasture along all ways,
Even oh all the bare hills shall they graze.
They shall not be hungry nor thirsty,
Neither shall the glowing heat nor the sun smite them,
For he who hath pity on them shall lead them,
And to gushing fountains will he guide them.
And I will make all mountains a road,
And highways shall be built up.

[Sidenote: Isa. 49:12,18]
Behold, these come from afar,
And these from the north and west,
And these from the land of the Syenites!
Shout with joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth!
Let the mountains break forth into shouts of joy!
For Jehovah hath had pity on his people,
And will show mercy to his afflicted ones.

[Sidenote: Isa. 50:4-6]
The Lord Jehovah hath given me the tongue of a trained disciple?
To give to the fainting a word of help, he waketh me early,
Early he waketh me, that I may listen as a disciple.
The Lord Jehovah hath opened mine ear,
And I have not been wilful nor turned back rebelliously.

[Sidenote: Isa. 50:6, 7]
My back I gave to smiters and my cheek to those who plucked the beard,
My face I hid not from insult and spitting,
For my Lord Jehovah is my helper; so that I am not confounded.
Therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be
put to shame.

[Sidenote: Isa. 50:5, 9]
He is near who justifieth me, who will contend with me? let us stand up
Who is the adversary to oppose my cause? let him draw near to me!
Behold the Lord Jehovah is my helper; who is he that can harm me?
Lo, they shall all fall to pieces like a garment, the moth shall consume

[Sidenote: Isa. 50:10]
Who among you feareth Jehovah, let him hearken to the voice of his
Who walked in darkness, having no light,
Let him trust in the name of Jehovah and rely on his God?

[Sidenote: Isa. 52:13-18]
Behold, my servant shall prosper,
He shall be raised up and highly exalted.
Even as many were appalled at him,
So shall many nations tremble,
Kings will close their mouths before him,
When what has not been told them they see,
And what they have not heard they perceive.

[Sidenote: Isa. 53:1-2b]
Who believed what has been reported to us,
And to whom was Jehovah's might revealed?
For he grew up before us as a young shoot,
And as a root out of dry ground.

[Sidenote: Isa. 53:2c-f]
He had no form that we should regard him,
Nor appearance that we should delight in him.
His appearance was more disfigured than any man's
And his form than any human being's.

[Sidenote: Isa. 53:3]
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of suffering and acquainted with sickness;
Like one for whom men hide their face,
He was despised so that we esteemed him not.

[Sidenote: Isa. 53:4]
Surely our sickness he himself bore,
And our sufferings--he carried them,
Yet we ourselves esteemed him stricken,
Smitten of God and afflicted.

[Sidenote: Isa. 53:5]
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
Crushed because of our iniquities;
The chastisement for our well-being was upon him,
And through his stripes healing came to us.

[Sidenote: Isa. 53:6]
All of us, like sheep, had gone astray,
We had turned each to his own way;
While Jehovah made to light upon him
The guilt of us all.

[Sidenote: Isa. 53:7]
Yet when afflicted he opened not his mouth;
Like a lamb led to the slaughter,
And like a sheep dumb before her shearers,
So he opened not his mouth.

[Sidenote: Isa. 53:8]
By an oppressive judgment was he taken away,
Yet who of his generation considered
That he had been cut off from the land of the living;
For our transgressions had been stricken to death?

[Sidenote: Isa. 53:9]
And his grave was made with the wicked,
And among evil-doers his burial mound,
Although he had done no violence,
Neither was deceit in his mouth.

[Sidenote: Isa. 53:10-11b]
Yet Jehovah was pleased to crush him;
Through giving himself as an offering for guilt,
He shall see posterity and length of days,
And the pleasure of Jehovah will be realized in his hands;
Out of his own suffering he shall see light,
He shall be satisfied with his knowledge.

[Sidenote: Isa. 53:11c-12]
My righteous servant shall make many righteous,
And himself will bear the burden of their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
And with the strong shall he divide spoil,
Because he poured out his life-blood,
And was numbered with transgressors,
And himself bore the sins of many,
And interposed for transgressors.

I. The Different Portraits of Jehovah's Servant. Isaiah 49-54 contains
three distinct portraits of the ideal servant of Jehovah. Each in turn
develops characteristics suggested in the preceding. These descriptions
are interspersed with exhortations addressed to Jehovah's servant Israel
and assurances that God will fully restore Jerusalem and bring back her
scattered children. These three portraits of the type of servant that
Jehovah required to realize his purpose in human history, together with
the earlier portrait in 42:1-7, supplement each other. In the first of
these four (42:1-7) the prophetic qualities of the servant are especially
emphasized. Like the earlier prophets, he will not fail nor be discouraged
until he has established justice in the earth. His task is to open blind
eyes and to deliver prisoners from the darkness of ignorance and sin in
which they were sitting. In the second picture (49:1-9a) the world-wide
mission of the servant is emphasized. He is called not only to gather the
outcasts of Israel, but also as an apostle to bring light to all the
nations of the earth. In this passage for the first time appears that note
of suffering and ignominy which is the lot of the true servant of Jehovah.
In the third portrait (50:4-10) the servant is pictured as a disciple,
attentively listening to the divine teachings, learning the lessons which
will fit him in turn to become a teacher of men. The last and fullest
picture (52:13-53:12) describes at length his suffering. A strong contrast
is drawn between his present shame and ignominy and the future glory and
victory which he will achieve through his voluntary and complete
self-sacrifice. These pictures embody the prophet's ideal, and they can be
fully understood only in the light of their historical background.

II. The Prophet's Purpose. In his earlier poems this great unknown
prophet dealt largely with the interpretation of Israel's past history
and the proclamation of the coming deliverance (40-48). His chief aims in
chapters 49-55 may be briefly epitomized as follows: (1) to interpret the
inner meaning of the period of adversity through which the Jewish race was
then passing; (2) to make absolutely clear the character and quality of
the service that Jehovah required of his chosen people, if they were to
realize his purpose in human history; (3) to inspire them all to make the
needed sacrifices and thus to prove themselves true servants of Jehovah;
(4) especially to make plain to the innocent and faithful sufferers in the
Judean community the real meaning and value of their present shame and
suffering, if bravely and voluntarily borne.

III, Character and Condition of Those to Whom the Prophet Appealed. From
the allusions in the prophecies themselves it is possible to determine the
classes that the prophet had in mind. In 49:2 his address is to the coast
lands and the distant peoples who lived at the extremities of Israel's
horizon. It is not probable, however, that he anticipated that his message
in its present form would go out as it has to all races and nations;
rather his attention was fixed on the scattered members of his own race,
those who lived in the north and the west and in the distant city of
Syene, far up the Nile (49:12). In 49:3 he clearly identifies the nation
Israel as Jehovah's servant, whom he makes declare:

Jehovah said to me, Thou art my servant,
Israel, in whom I will glorify myself.

It is evident, however, that the prophet has especially in mind the Judean
community amidst which he lived and for which he worked. In 54, as
elsewhere, he calls upon this group of discouraged Jews to enlarge their
tent, for their period of punishment is over and their foundation and
walls are about to be rebuilt. At last they shall cease to tremble at the
fury of the oppressor. In 51:18-20 he addresses Jerusalem directly and
gives a vivid picture of its condition before the appearance of Nehemiah:

Rouse thee! Rouse thee! stand up, O Jerusalem,
Who hast drunk at Jehovah's hand the cup of his wrath!
The bowl of reeling thou hast drunken, hast drained!
There is none to guide thee of all the sons whom thou hast borne,
And none to take thee by the hand of all the sons whom thou hast reared.
These two things have befallen thee--who can condole with thee?
Desolation and destruction, famine and the sword--who can comfort thee?

IV. The Task and Training of Jehovah's Servant. The term servant means
literally slave, not in the Western sense, but in that of the ancient
East, where a slave was often a privileged member of society. In many a
Hebrew household the slaves, next to the children, enjoyed the protection
and consideration of the master of the household. He was under obligation
to guard their welfare and interests. On the other hand, slaves, like
Eleazar in the story of Abraham (Gen. 26) faithfully cared for the
interests of their master and spared no effort to carry out his commands.
Semitic usage had also given the term slave a significant meaning. The
faithful officials of all Oriental kings called themselves his servants
or slaves. It was the common term expressing, on the one hand, confidence
and protection, and on the other, devotion, loyalty, and service. Most of
Israel's patriarchs, kings, and prophets are spoken of as the servants or
slaves of Jehovah. Haggai, in his address to Zerubbabel, called him
Jehovah's servant. In Deuteronomy 32:36 the people of Israel are called
the servants of Jehovah, and, as has been noted, in the prophecies of the
II Isaiah they are frequently referred to as the servant of Jehovah.
The term, therefore, was well chosen to express that complete devotion
And loyalty to Jehovah which the prophet aimed to evoke from his
fellow-countrymen. It was also free from the kingly associations and
material interpretation that were connected with the word Messiah.

The prophet's aim was to present so vividly the task and methods of the
true servant of Jehovah that all would recognize a personal call to duty.
He emphasizes three distinct yet related elements in the mission of the
servant. They were: (1) To free the prisoners from their captivity,
whether imprisoned by walls of stone or brick or under the tyranny of
fears and false ideas. (2) To restore the scattered tribes of Israel and
thus to lay the foundations for a renewed national life that would furnish
concrete evidence to all the world of Jehovah's power to deliver. (3) To
go beyond the narrow bounds of their race and to bring to the nations that
were groping in the darkness of heathenism the knowledge and truth that
had been imparted to Israel. Thus the unknown prophet laid the foundations
for that Kingdom of God, that dominion of God in nature and in the minds
of men that was the guide and inspiration of all later prophets and the
goal for whose realization the Great Teacher and Prophet of Nazareth
labored and died.

The prophet places great emphasis upon the training of Jehovah's servant.
He declares that from birth Jehovah formed him to be his servant. In
[50:4-7] he is spoken of as a trained disciple attentively listening to
the words of his divine teacher, never rebelling at the bitterness of the
needful discipline, but ever seeking to prepare himself to give to the
fainting a word of help. The steadfastness with which he endures shame and
bitter wrongs is the evidence of his ability as a disciple and an
essential part in his preparation for his exalted mission.

V. Methods of Jehovah's Servant. In accomplishing his task the servant
is to use definite instruction, but his teaching is to be illustrated by
his own character and attitude. By the voluntary, uncomplaining endurance
of ignominy and suffering he is to do Jehovah's work and win the grateful
recognition, not only of his divine Master, but of all succeeding
generations. Through a keen analysis of life the prophet had attained to a
clear appreciation of the inestimable value of voluntary self-sacrifice.
He saw that it was the most effective means of uplifting the race and
leading mankind to accept God's mastery over their minds and lives. The
truth here presented is illustrated in human experience as clearly to-day
as in the past. The self-denying service of parents is absolutely
essential if their children are to attain to the noblest manhood and
womanhood. Only through the self-sacrificing labors of those who love
their fellow-men can social evils be removed and society attain its
highest development. The low standards in the business and professional
world can be raised only as certain men, with the spirit and courage of
the ancient prophets, make their own personal interests and popularity
subservient to the rigorous demands of justice. It is the law of life that
he who would elevate the standards of his associates and thus lead men to
the fullest realization of the divine ideals must ordinarily do it in the
face of opposition, ignominy, and seeming failure. It is this quiet,
heroic self-sacrifice--the heroism of the commonplace--that the great
prophet proclaims is the absolutely essential characteristic of Jehovah's
servant. Despised by his contemporaries, the victim of persecution and
calamity, he must do his task, leaving the reward and the appreciation to
Jehovah and to the enlightened sense of later generations.

VI. Realization of the Ideal of Service. The portrait is so concrete
that the question naturally arises, Who was the servant of whom the
prophet was speaking? Undoubtedly the tragic experiences of such prophets
as Jeremiah suggested many elements in the picture. For half a century
that faithful servant of Jehovah suffered, often shrinkingly, yet
voluntarily, a constant martyrdom. Upon him fell the persecutions of his
countrymen. Yet in the life of later Judaism those principles for which he
lived and died gained acceptance and application. Of him it may be truly

He was numbered with trangressors,
And himself bore the sins of many,
And interposed for transgressors.

The unknown author of these immortal poems spoke out of the depth of his
own painful experience and doubtless in a large degree realized the
ideals of service which he thus effectively set forth. Those of his
contemporaries who, amidst persecution and insults, in their lives
embodied the ideals of the earlier prophets were crushed like Jeremiah
because of the iniquities of others; but by thus pouring out their
life-blood they brought healing to their race. Nehemiah, in responding to
the call of service and in turning his back upon the allurements of the
Persian court in order to rebuild the city of his fathers, proved himself
a faithful servant of Jehovah. With true insight the Christian Church
has always recognized that in the character and life of Jesus is found
the only complete realization of this ancient ideal of service. With the
immortal chapters of the II Isaiah he was clearly familiar, and from
them he doubtless received many suggestions regarding his divine mission
and the methods by which it was to be accomplished. Their author was
clearly speaking to his contemporaries; but in portraying the way in
which Jehovah's purpose in human history could alone be realized he
presented an ideal which has a permanent significance in the thought of
the human race, Paul rightly recognized that the same responsibility to
make this ideal a reality rested upon him, and all who would serve God,
when he quoted the words of 49:6 (cf. Acts 13:47):

"I have set thee for a light of the Gentiles
That thou shouldst be for salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth."


[Sidenote: Neh. 1:1-3]
Now in the month of Chislev [November-December, 446 B.C.], I was in
Shushan the royal palace, when Hanani, one of my kinsmen came, together
with certain men from Judah, and I asked them concerning the Jews who had
escaped, who were left from the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And
they said to me, The survivors who are left from the captivity there in
the provinces are in great misfortune and reproach, and the wall of
Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been destroyed by fire.

[Sidenote: Neh. 1:4-11b]
Now when I heard these statements I sat down and wept, and mourned certain
days; and I fasted and made supplication before the God of heaven, and I
said, 'I beseech thee, O Jehovah, the God of heaven, the great and
terrible God, who keepeth the covenant and showeth kindness to them who
love and keep his commands; let thine ears now be attentive and thine eyes
open, to hear the supplication of thy servant, which I am now making
before thee, day and night, for the Israelites thy servants, while I
confess the sins of the Israelites, which we have sinned against thee, as
I also and my father's house have sinned. We have dealt very wickedly
against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor
the ordinances, which thou didst command thy servant Moses. Remember, I
beseech thee, the word which thou didst command thy servant Moses, saying,
"If ye trespass I will scatter you abroad among the peoples; but if ye
return to me, and keep my commands and do them, then, though your outcasts
were at the ends of the earth, yet will I gather them thence and will
bring them to the place that I have chosen, there to cause my name to
dwell." 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
thine ear be attentive to the supplication of thy servant, and to the
supplications of thy servants, who delight to fear thy name; and give
success to thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this

[Sidenote: Neh. 1:11c-2:8]
Now I was cupbearer to the king. And it came to pass in the month of
Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, when I had charge of
the wine, that I took up the wine and gave it to the king, and I had not
beforetime been sad. And the king said to me, 'Why is your countenance
sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart.'
Then I was greatly afraid, and I said to the king, 'Let the king live
forever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of
my fathers' sepulchres, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed
by fire?' And then the king said to me, 'For what do you make request? So
I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, 'If it please the
king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you would
send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may
rebuild it.' And the king said to me (and the queen was also sitting by
him), 'For how long will your journey be? And when will you return?' Then
it pleased the king to send me; for I set him a time. Moreover I said to
the king, 'If it please the king, let official letters be given me to the
governors of the province beyond the River, that they may let me pass
through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the
king's park, that he may give me the timber to make beams for the gates of
the castle, which belongs to the temple, and for the wall of the city, and
for the house that I shall enter. And the king granted me this, according
to the hand of my God which kindly cared for me.

[Sidenote: Neh. 2:9-16]
Then I came to the governors of the province beyond the River, and gave
them the king's official letters. Now the king had sent with me military
officers and horsemen. And when Sanballat, the Horonite, and Tobiah, the
Ammonite slave, heard of it, it troubled them exceedingly, that one had
come to seek the welfare of the Israelites. So I came to Jerusalem and was
there three days. And I arose in the night, together with a few of my
followers, and I told no man what my God had put into my heart to do for
Jerusalem, neither was there any beast with me, except the beast upon
which I rode. And I went out by night through the Valley Gate, toward the
Dragon's Well and to the Dung Gate, and investigated carefully the walls
of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and where its gates had been
destroyed by fire. Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King's
Pool, but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. Then
I went up in the night by the Brook Kidron and investigated carefully the
wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned.
And the rulers did not know where I went or what I did, neither had I as
yet told it to the Jews nor to the priests nor to the nobles nor to the
rulers nor to the rest who did the work.

[Sidenote: Neh. 2:17-20]
Then I said to them, 'You see the bad condition in which we are, how
Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates are destroyed by fire. Come and let
us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more an object of
reproach.' And I told them of the hand of my God, which had kindly cared
for me, as also of the king's words that he had spoken to me. And they
said, 'Let us rise up and build.' So they strengthened their hands for the
good work. But when Sanballat, the Horonite, and Tobiah, the Ammonite
slave, and Geshem the Arabian heard it, they jeered at us and despised us,
and said, 'What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against
the king?' Then I answered and said to them, 'The God of heaven, he will
give us success, for we his servants will proceed to build; but you shall
have no portion nor right nor memorial in Jerusalem.'

[Sidenote: Neh. 3:1, 2]
Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his kinsmen the priests and
built the Sheep Gate; they laid its beams and set up the doors, even to
the Tower of the Hundred, and to the Tower of Hananel. And next to him the
men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.

[Sidenote: Neh. 3:3-5]
And the Fish Gate the sons of Hassenaah built; they laid its beams, and
set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And next to them Meremoth and
Meshullam and Zadok and the Tekoites repaired the wall; but their nobles
did not bend their necks in the service of their lord.

[Sidenote: Neh. 3:6-12]
And the Old Gate Joida repaired; they laid its beams, and set up its
doors, its bolts, and its bars. And next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite
and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, which belongs
to the jurisdiction of the governor of the province beyond the River,
repaired. Next to him Uzziel, one of the goldsmiths, repaired. And next to
him Hananiah, one of those who prepare sweet ointments, repaired. And they
fortified Jerusalem even to the broad wall. And next to them Rephaiah,
the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired. And next to them
Jedaiah repaired opposite his house. And next to him Hattush and Malchijah
and Hasshub repaired another section, even to the Tower of the Furnaces.
And next to him Shallum, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem,
together with its dependencies, repaired.

[Sidenote: Neh. 3:13, 14]
The Valley Gate Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired; they built
it, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and also built a
thousand cubits of the wall to the Dung Gate. And the Dung Gate Malchijah,
the ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem, together with his sons,

[Sidenote: Neh. 3:15-27]
And the Fountain Gate Shallun, the ruler of the district of Mizpah,
repaired; and he built it, and covered it, and set up its doors, its
bolts, and its bars, and he also built the wall of the Pool of Siloam by
the King's Garden, even to the stairs that go down from the city of David.
After him Nehemiah, the ruler of half the district of Bethzur, repaired to
the place opposite the Sepulchres of David, even to the pool that was made
and to the House of the Warriors. After him Rehum the son of Bani
repaired. Next to him Hashabiah, the ruler of half the district of Keilah,
repaired for his district. After him their kinsmen Bennui, the ruler of
half the district of Keilah, repaired. And next to him Ezer, the ruler of
Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at the
bend in the wall. After him Baruch repaired from the bend in the wall to
the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. After him Meremoth
repaired another section, from the entrance to the house of Eliashib even
to the end of the house of Eliashib. And after him the priests, the men of
the Plain of the Jordan, repaired. After them Benjamin and Hasshub
repaired opposite their house. After them Azariah repaired beside his own
house. After him Binnui repaired another section, from the house of
Azariah to the bend in the wall and to the corner. After him Palal
repaired opposite the bend and the upper tower that stands out from the
royal palace of the king, which is toward the court of the guard. After
him Pedaiah repaired, to the place opposite the Water Gate toward the east
and the tower that stands out. After him the Tekoites repaired another
section, opposite the great tower that stands out and to the wall of
Ophel. And the temple servants dwelt in Ophel.

[Sidenote: Neh. 3:28-32]

Above the Horse Gate the priests repaired, each one opposite his own
house. After them Zadok the son of Immer repaired opposite his own house.
After him Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the East Gate,
repaired. After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah and Hanum the sixth son
of Zalaph repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of
Berschiah repaired opposite his chamber. After him Malchijah, one of the
goldsmiths, repaired as far as the house of the temple servants and of the
merchants, opposite the Gate of the Watch Tower and to the ascent of the
corner. And between the ascent of the corner and the Sheep Gate the
goldsmiths and the merchants repaired.

[Sidenote: Neh. 4:1-5]
Now when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, his anger was
aroused and he was very indignant, and mocked the Jews. And he spoke
before his kinsmen and the army of Samaria and said, 'What are these
feeble Jews doing? Will they leave it to God? Will they sacrifice?
Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the
heaps of rubbish, although they are burned? Now Tobiah the Ammonite was
with him, and he said, 'Even that which they are building, if a fox should
go up on it, he would break down their stone wall!' Hear, O our God--for
we are despised--and turn back their reproach upon their own head and give
them up as an object of spoil in a land of captivity, and cover not their
iniquity and let not their sin be blotted out from thy sight, for they
have provoked thee to anger before the builders.

[Sidenote: Neh. 4:6-8]
So we built the wall; and all the wall was joined together to half its
height, for the people were eager to work. But when Sanballat and Tobiah
and the Arabians and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites, heard that the
restoration of the walls of Jerusalem was progressing, so that the
breaches began to be stopped, they were very angry. And they all conspired
together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to produce a panic

[Sidenote: Neh. 4:9-14]
But we made supplication to our God, and set a watch as a protection
against them day and night. Then the Judean community said, 'The strength
of the burden-bearers is broken, for there is much rubbish; so that we
shall not be able to rebuild the wall. And our adversaries have said,
"They shall neither know nor see, until we come into their midst and slay
them and bring the work to a standstill."' And it came to pass that when
the Jews who dwelt by them came, they said to us ten times, 'From all the
places where they dwell they will come up against us.' Therefore I
stationed in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in the
protected places, I set there the people by their families with their
swords, their spears, and their bows. And when I saw their fear, I rose up
and said to the nobles and to the rulers and to the rest of the people,
'Be not afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and terrible, and
fight for your kinsmen, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your

[Sidenote: Neh. 4:15-23]
And when our enemies heard that their plan was known to us and God had
brought it to nought, we all of us returned to the wall, each to his own
work. And from that time on, while half of my servants were engaged in the
work, half of them held the lances, the shields, the bows, and the coats
of mail; and the rulers stood behind all the house of Judah. Those who
built the wall and those who bore burdens were also armed, each with one
of his hands engaged in the work, and with the other was ready to grasp
his spear; and each of the builders had his sword girded by his side, and
so builded. And he who sounded the trumpet was by me. And I said to the
nobles and to the rulers and to the rest of the people, 'The work is great
and extensive, and we are separated upon the wall far from each other. In
whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, gather there to us; our
God will fight for us.' So we were active in the work, while half of them
held the lances from the gray of morning until the stars came out. Also I
said at that time to the people, Let each man with his servant lodge in
Jerusalem, that they may be a guard to us by night and may labor by day.
So neither I, nor my kinsmen, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard
who accompanied me, not one of us took off our clothes, each had his spear
in his hand.

[Sidenote: Neh. 6:1-9]
Now when it was reported to Sanballat and to Tobiah and to Geshem the
Arabian and to the rest of our enemies, that I had rebuilt the wall and
that there was no breach was left in it--though even to that time I had
not set up the doors in the gates--Sanballat and Geshem sent to me,
saying, 'Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of
Ono.' But they planned to do me injury. So I sent messengers to them,
saying, 'I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down; why should
the work cease, while I leave it and come down to you?' And they sent to
me in this way four times, and I gave them the same answer. Then Sanballat
sent his servant to me in the same way the fifth time with an open letter
in his hand, in which was written, 'It is reported among the nations, and
Gashmu confirms it, that you and the Jews plan to rebel, and that this is
the reason you are building the wall, and that you would be their king,
and that you also have appointed prophets to preach of you at Jerusalem,
saying, "There is a king in Judah." And now it will be reported to the
king to this effect. Come now, therefore, and let us take counsel
together.' Then I sent to him, saying, 'No such things have been done as
you say, but you have devised them in your own mind.' For they all would
have made us afraid, thinking, 'Their hands shall be weakened from the
work, that it may not be done.' But now, O God, strengthen thou my hands.

[Sidenote: Neh. 6:10-14]
And when I went to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of
Mehetabel, who was shut up at home, he said, 'Let us meet together in the
house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple:
for they are coming to slay you in the night; yes, in the night they are
coming to slay you!' And I said, 'Should such a man as I flee? And how
could anyone like me [a layman] enter the chief room of the temple and
still live? I will not enter.' Then I perceived and it was clear that God
had not sent him; but he pronounced this prophecy against me, because
Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him, that I should be alarmed and act
accordingly and sin; and it would have given them occasion for an evil
report, that they might reproach me. Remember, O my God, Tobiah and
Sanballat according to these their acts, and also the prophetess Noadiah
and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.

[Sidenote: Neh. 6:15, 16]
So the wall was finished in the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in
fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard, all the surrounding
nations feared and fell in their own esteem, for they perceived that this
work had been done by our God.

[Sidenote: Neh. 6:17-19]
Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah,
and those of Tobiah came to them. For many in Judah had taken oath to him,
because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah and his son
Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam, the son of Berechiah, as
wife. Also they praised his good deeds before me and reported my words to
him. Then Tobiah sent letters to make me afraid.

[Sidenote: Neh. 7:1-3]
Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the
porters and the singers and the Levites had been appointed, I placed my
brother Hanani and Hananiah the commander of the castle in charge of
Jerusalem; for he was a faithful man, and more God-fearing than many. And
I said to them, 'Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is
hot; and while watchmen are still on guard, let them shut the doors and
bar them. Also appoint watches consisting of the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
every one in his watch and each opposite his own house.'

[Sidenote: Neh. 7:4, 5a]
Now the city was wide and large; but there were few people in it, and the
households were not large. Therefore my God put it into my mind to gather
together the nobles and the rulers and the people.

[Sidenote: Neh. 12: 31, 32, 37-40]
Then I had the rulers of Judah take their position upon the wall, and I
appointed two great companies that gave thanks, and the first went to the
right hand upon the wall toward the Dung Gate. And behind them went
Hoshaiah and half of the nobles of Judah. And by the Fountain Gate, they
went straight up the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the
wall, above the house of David, even to the Water Gate on the east. And
the other company of those who gave thanks went to the left, and I after
them, with the half of the nobles of the people, upon the wall, above the
Tower of the Furnaces, even to the broad wall, and above the Gate of
Ephraim and by the Old Gate and by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel
and the Tower of the Hundred, even to the Sheep Gate; and they stood in
the Gate of the Guard. So the two companies of those who gave thanks in
the house of God took their position, and I, and the half of the rulers
with me.

I. Nehemiah's Memoirs. Fortunately the author of the books of Ezra and
Nehemiah has quoted at length in the opening chapters of Nehemiah from the
personal memoirs of the noble patriot through whose activity the walls of
Jerusalem were restored. They are the best historical records in the Old
Testament and they shed clear, contemporary light upon this most important
period in the evolution of Judaism. The narrative is straightforward and
vivid. It lights up the otherwise dark period that precedes Nehemiah and
enables the historian to bridge with assurance the century that intervened
before the apocryphal book of I Maccabees throws its light upon the course
of Israel's troubled history. The detailed description of the rebuilding
of the walls in Nehemiah 3 is probably from the Chronicler, but it reveals
an intimate acquaintance with the topography and the later history of
Judah's capital.

II. Nehemiah's Response to the Call to Service. The presence of a
deputation from Jerusalem (including Nehemiah's kinsman Hanani) in
the distant Persian capital of Susa was not a mere accident. Nehemah's
response to their appeal and the epoch-making movement which he
inaugurated reveal the presence of an impelling force. Probably back of
all this movement was the work of the great prophet who speaks in Isaiah
40-66. In all that Nehemiah did that influence may be seen. In the fervent
and patriotic prayer that he uttered on learning of conditions in
Jerusalem he used the term servant or servants of Jehovah eight times in
six short verses. It also echoes the phraseology and thought of the II

The king under whom Nehemiah served was evidently Artaxerxes I. In
Nehemiah 12:10-11 the Chronicler states that Eliashib, the high priest
in the days of Nehemiah, was the grandson of Joshua, who shared in
the rebuilding of the temple in 520 B.C. Eliashib was also the
great-grandfather of Jaddua, who was high priest in Jerusalem in 332 B.C.,
when Alexander conquered Palestine. References in the recently discovered
Elephantine letters, as well as in the history of Josephus, confirm the
conclusion that Nehemiah set out upon his expedition in the spring of
445 B.C. Like all those who ministered personally to the Persian kings,
he was probably a eunuch and still a young man. The true piety which is
revealed in his prayer, the courage shown by his daring to appear with sad
face in the presence of the absolute tyrant who ruled the Eastern world,
and his tact in winning the king's consent to his departure indicate that
he was a man of rare energy and ability. Artaxerxes I was famous for
his susceptibility to the influence of court favorites. The queen
referred to in 1:6 was probably the queen-mother Amestris, who exercised
commanding authority in the Persian court. Without the royal consent and
the resources and authority granted him, Nehemiah could hardly have
accomplished the large task which he undertook. The arduous journey of
fifteen hundred miles over mountains and barren deserts was enough to
daunt a man reared in the luxury of an Oriental court, but Nehemiah was
inspired by an ideal of service which recognized no obstacles.

III. Obstacles that Confronted Him. The high-priestly rulers do not
appear to have welcomed Nehemiah with enthusiasm. Some of them, at least,
later sought to undermine his work. It is not difficult to infer the
reason for their apathy. Intrenched wealth and authority are usually
conservative, especially if conscious that their position is easily
assailable. As the sequel proved, these leaders of the community were
simply intent upon self-aggrandizement, even at the expense of the
dependent members of the community. A revolutionizing work like that
proposed by Nehemiah was certain to affect their vested interests and to
reveal their cruel selfishness. Certain of their families had also
intermarried with neighboring chieftains; and they were quite content with
the existing conditions. A second obstacle was the opposition of the
hostile peoples who surrounded the little Judean community. On the east
the Ammonites had apparently pressed in and occupied the ancient Hebrew
territory as far as the Jordan. Tobiah, the Ammonite, who figures
prominently in Nehemiah's narrative, was probably one of their local
chiefs. Gashmu, the Arabian, represented the half-civilized Bedouin tribes
that had invaded the territory of Judea from the south and east during the
period of weakness following the destruction of Jerusalem. Possibly he
belonged to the Edomites who then held Hebron and all of the southern part
of Judea. Nehemiah also refers to the descendents of Israel's ancient
foes, the Philistines, living in the city of Ashdod. On the north the
superior resources of Samaria had asserted themselves, and these survivors
of the ancient Israelites who lived among the hills of Ephraim had grown
into a powerful nation that overshadowed the struggling Judean community.
These northerners, however, still worshipped at Jerusalem and were closely
allied with the Jews. At their head was Sanballat, the Horonite, who
probably came from Bethhoron, in southwestern Samaria. Each of these
peoples inherited the feeling of hostility with which their fathers had
regarded the people of Judah, and looked with suspicion upon any movement
to re-establish Jerusalem's former strength and prestige. Furthermore, the
men of the Judean community itself lacked courage and training. With
inefficient helpers and with opponents within and without the community,
Nehemiah's task seemed well-nigh impossible. That he succeeded in the face
of all these obstacles in rebuilding the walls in the incredibly short
period of fifty-two days is only explained by his superlative skill,
devotion, and energy.

IV. Nehemiah's Plan of Work. Fortunately Nehemiah possessed resources as
well as tact. He quickly disarmed the opposition and won at least the
nominal support of the leaders by entertaining one hundred and fifty of
them as his guests. Thus he was able to place them under personal
obligation to him, to keep them under close surveillance, and to command
their co-operation. In the second place he appealed to them and to the
people by means of eloquent addresses which reveal his enthusiasm and
devotion. Furthermore, he did not depend upon the reports of others, but
personally studied the situation. His secret mid-night ride down through
the Valley Gate to the southwest of Jerusalem and thence eastward along
the Hinnom Valley to the point where it joins the Kidron, and from there
up the valley, gave him most accurate information regarding conditions. In
most cases the ancient foundations of the city walls still remained. The
first need was to remove the rubbish and where stones had fallen to
replace them. The towers required certain timbers, which were cut probably
from the royal domains to the south of the city. Nehemiah enlisted all
members of the community both within and without Jerusalem. He organized
them under their local leaders and set them to the task in which each was
most interested. Thus the heads of the different villages, the elders of
the leading families, the guilds of workmen, and even the priests, were
all put to work and inspired by the spirit of natural rivalry as well as
common loyalty. Nehemiah himself with his immediate followers directed the
work, and instituted a strict military rule which secured both efficiency
and protection.

V. The Restored Walls. In the light of recent excavations at Jerusalem
it is possible to follow Nehemiah's work in detail. In the destruction of
the walls by the Chaldeans the city had suffered most on the north where
it was nearly level and protected by no descending valleys. Just north of
the temple area a little valley ran up from the Kidron, leaving but a
narrow neck of land connected directly with the plateau on the north. Here
two great towers were restored that probably occupied the site of the
later Roman tower of Antonia. Thence the wall ran westward across the
upper Tyropoean Valley, which was here comparatively level. Numerous
bands of workmen were assigned to this part of the work. The gate of the
old wall was probably identical with the corner gate at the northwestern
end of the city. The Ephraim Gate a little further to the southwest
apparently corresponded to the modern Joppa Gate. From this point a broad
wall ran to the western side of the city where the hill descended rapidly
into the Valley of Hinnom, making its defence easy. At the southwestern
end of the city stood the Tower of the Furnaces and the Valley Gate of
which the foundations have recently been laid bare. The gate itself was
narrow, being only eight feet wide, but the wall was here nine feet in
thickness. The eighteen hundred or two thousand feet of wall along the
Valley of Hinnom was evidently practically intact, for its repair was
Intrusted to but one group of workmen. Across the southern end of the
Tyropoean Valley the ground was almost level, so that a strong wall was
required. Excavations have shown that it was twenty feet thick at its base
and supported by six strong buttresses. The Fountain Gate, through which
ran the main street down the Tyropoean Valley out into the valley of the
Kidron, was the chief southern gate of the city. It was nine feet wide
and defended by a tower about forty-five feet square. Portions of this
ancient thoroughfare, with its stones, worn smooth by the feet of the
inhabitants of the ancient city, have here been uncovered. Just above the
Pool of Siloam, which was within the city walls, was the King's Garden.

Thence the Hill of Ophel ascended rapidly making necessary the stairs
mentioned in Nehemiah 3. The wall on the southeast was readily repaired,
for it ran along the sloping western side of the Kidron Valley. The Water
Gate probably led down to the Virgin's Fount, and the Horse Gate further
to the north opened directly from the Kidron Valley to the public
buildings that occupied the site of Solomon's palace immediately to the
south of the temple. It is the space to-day occupied by the southern end
of the temple area, which was thus extended in the days of Herod. Opposite
the northeastern end of the temple area the wall curved westward until it
reached the great towers that guarded the northern end of the city.

VI. Completion and Dedication of the Walls. Under the inspiration of
Nehemiah's leadership, and as a result of the constant fear of attack, the
building of the walls proceeded rapidly and without interruption. To the
threats of hostile foes Nehemiah paid little heed. Trained in the Persian
court, he saw at once their murderous purpose when they requested a
conference in southwestern Samaria on the border of the Plain of Ono.
Through the treacherous prophets in the Judean community they sought to
play upon his fears and to lead him to compromise himself by taking refuge
in the sacred precincts of the temple, but his courage, as well as his
high respect for the sanctuary, delivered him from the plot. The cry that
he was himself aspiring to the kingship and that his acts were treason
against Persia did not daunt him, and when, in response to their malicious
reports, the order finally came from the Persian king to cease working,
the walls were already rebuilt.

Apparently Nehemiah's original leave of absence was for but a short
period. His kinsman Hanani, who had headed the original deputation to
Susa, and a certain Hananiah were by him placed in charge of the city. To
protect it against sudden attack its gates were closed at night and not
opened until the middle of the following forenoon. Effective measures
were also instituted to increase its population. When the work of
rebuilding the walls was complete, Nehemiah arranged for their public
dedication. Starting from the Valley Gate on the southwestern side of the
city, one half of the nobles and the people marched along the southern
and eastern wall, while Nehemiah with the other half of the people
proceeded along the western and northern wall. Finally meeting on the
northern side of the temple area, the two companies blended their voices
in thanksgiving to Jehovah who at last had made it possible for them to
worship him in his sanctuary secure from attack.

Nehemiah had reorganized the Judean community, rebuilt their walls, and
inspired them with a new sense of self-respect; thus he made possible
that genuine revival of the Judean state that took place during the
succeeding centuries. He, like Ezekiel, Haggai, Zechariah, and the II
Isaiah, was indeed one of the makers of Judaism. Ben Sira with true
insight declared (49:13):

The memorial of Nehemiah is great,
Who raised up for us the walls that were fallen,
And set up the gates and bars,
And raised up our homes again.


[Sidenote: Isa. 56:1, 2]
Thus saith Jehovah,
Guard justice and practice righteousness.
For my deliverance is near at hand, and my righteousness is soon to be
Happy the man who practices, the mortal who holds fast to it,
Keeping the sabbath so as not to profane it, and keeping his hand from

[Sidenote: Isa. 56:3-5]
Let not the foreigner who hath joined himself to Jehovah say,
'Jehovah will surely separate me from his people.'
And let not the eunuch say, 'Behold I am a dry tree.'
For thus saith Jehovah to the eunuchs, 'Those who keep my sabbaths,
And choose that in which I delight, and hold fast to my covenant,
I will give them in my house and walls a monument,
And a name better than sons and daughters,
An everlasting name will I give them which cannot be cut off.

[Sidenote: Isa. 56:6-8]
And the foreigners who join themselves to Jehovah to minister to him,
And to love the name of Jehovah, to be his servants,
Every one who keeps the sabbath so as not to pollute it and faithfully
abides by my covenant--
Them will I bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of
Their burnt-offerings and sacrifices will be accepted upon my altar;
For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
It is the oracle of Jehovah, who gathereth the outcasts of Israel,
'I will gather still others to him in addition to those already gathered.'

[Sidenote: Isa. 56:9-12]
O all ye wild beasts of the field come to devour, all ye wild beasts of
the forest!
My watchmen are all blind, they know not how to give heed,
They are all dumb dogs which cannot bark,
Dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber.
And the dogs are greedy, they know not how to be satisfied,
They all turn to their own way, each for his own profit [saying],
Come, I will get wine, and we will drink our fill of strong drink,
And to-morrow shall be as to-day, an exceedingly great day!

[Sidenote: Isa. 58:2-4]
Cry with full throat, be not silent!
Like a trumpet lift up thy voice,
Make known to my people their transgression,
And to the house of Jacob their sin.
Me indeed they consult daily,
And to know my ways is their delight.
As a nation that hath done righteousness,
And hath not forsaken the law of its God!
They ask me regarding righteous judgments,
To draw near to God is their delight!
'Why have we fasted and thou seest not,
Mortified ourselves and thou dost not notice?'
Behold, on your fast day ye follow your own pleasure,
And ye exact all money lent on pledge.
Behold ye fast for strife and contention,
And to smite the poor with the fist.
Your fasting to-day is not such
As to make your voice heard on high.

[Sidenote: Cor. Isa. 58:5-7]
Can such be the fast which I choose,
A day when a man mortifies himself?
To droop one's head like a bulrush,
And to lie down in sackcloth and ashes?
Wilt thou call this a fast,
And a day acceptable to Jehovah?
Is not this the fast that I choose:
To loose the fetters of injustice,
To untie the bands of violence,
To set free those who are crushed,
To tear apart every yoke?

[Sidenote: Cor. Isa. 58:8-12]
Is it not to share thy bread with the hungry,
And to bring the wanderers to thy home?
When thou seest the naked, to cover him,
And not hide thyself from thine own flesh?
Then shall thy light break forth as the dawn,
Thy restoration quickly spring forth,
And thy righteousness shall go before thee,
The glory of Jehovah shall be thy reward;
Then when thou callest Jehovah will answer,
When thou criest out he will say, Here am I.
If from thy midst thou remove the yoke,
The finger of scorn, and mischievous speech,
And bestow thy bread upon the hungry,
And satisfy the soul that is afflicted;
Then shall thy light shine forth in darkness,
And thy gloom shall be as noonday,
Jehovah will lead thee continually,
And will satisfy thy soul in parched lands,
And thy strength will he renew,
Thou shalt be like a watered garden,
As a fountain whose waters fail not.
Thy sons shall rebuild the ancient ruins,
Thou shalt rear again the foundations of olden days;
And men shall call thee, Repairer of Ruins,
Restorer of Ruined Places for Inhabiting.

[Sidenote: Neh. 5:1-5]
Then there was a loud complaint from the common people and their wives
against their fellow-countrymen the Jews. For there were those who were
saying, 'We must give our sons and our daughters in pledge to secure grain
that we may eat and live.' Some also there were who were saying, 'We must
mortgage our fields and our vineyards and our houses, that we may get
grain because of the dearth.' There were also those who were saying, 'We
have borrowed money for the king's tribute. Yet now our flesh is as the
flesh of our brothers, our children as their children; but now, we must
ring our sons and our daughters into slavery, and some of our daughters
have already thus been brought into bondage, neither is it in our power to
help it, for our fields and our vineyards belong to the nobles.'

[Sidenote: Neh. 5:6-11]
Then I was very angry when I heard their complaint and these statements.
And I took counsel with myself, and contended with the nobles and rulers,
and said to them, 'You exact usury each of his brother.' And I held a
great assembly against them. And I said to them, 'We ourselves have,
according to our ability, redeemed our fellow-countrymen the Jews, who
have been sold to the heathen; and would you yourselves sell your
fellow-countrymen, and should they sell themselves to us?' Then they were
silent and could not find a word to say. Therefore I said, 'The thing that
you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God,
because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies? For I also, my kinsmen
and my servants, lend them money and grain. Let us, therefore, leave off
this usury. Restore to them this day their fields, their vineyards, their
oliveyards, and their houses, also the usury of the money and of the
grain, of the new wine, and of the oil, that you exact from them.'

[Sidenote: Neh. 5:12, 13]
Then they said, 'We will restore them and will demand nothing from them;
we will do just as you say.' Then I called the priests and took an oath of
them, that they would do according to this promise. Also I shook out the
fold of my garment, and said, 'So may God shake out every man from his
house and from the fruit of his labor, who does not fulfil this promise;
even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.' And all the assembly said,
'So may it be.' And they praised Jehovah. And the people did according to
this promise.

[Sidenote: Neh. 5:14-19]
Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in
The land of Judah, from the twentieth year (445 B.C.) even to the
thirty-second year (432) of Artaxerxes the king, that is for twelve years,
I and my kinsmen had not eaten the bread which was due me as governor. But
the former governors who were before me were a source of expense to the
people, and took of them bread and wine, and also forty shekels of silver
each day; and furthermore their servants oppressed the people. But I did
not so, because of the fear of God. I also devoted myself to this work on
the wall, and we did not buy any land; and all my servants were gathered
there for the work. Also the Jews and the rulers, a hundred and fifty men,
besides those who came to us from among the surrounding nations, were at
my table. Now that which was prepared for each day was one ox and six
choice sheep and fowls. These were prepared at my expense, and once in ten
days wine in abundance for all the people. Yet with all this I did not
demand the bread which was due me as governor, because the public service
rested heavily upon this people. Remember to my credit, O my God, all that
I have done for this people.

[Sidenote: Neh. 13:1-9]
Now before my return from the king, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed
over the chambers of the house of our God, being related to Tobiah, had
prepared for him a great chamber, where formerly they had stored the
cereal-offerings, the incense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, the
new wine, and the oil. But during this time I had not been at Jerusalem;
for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I went to the
king. Then after some time I asked leave of the king, and I came to
Jerusalem and discovered the crime that Eliashib had committed for the
Sake of Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the court of the house of
God. And it displeased me greatly; therefore I cast all the household
possessions of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I gave command that they
should cleanse the chambers, and I brought there again the vessels of the
house of God, with the cereal-offerings and the incense.

[Sidenote: Neh. 13:10-14]
And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them;
so that the Levites and the singers, who performed the service had each
fled to his field. Then I contended with the rulers and said, 'Why is the
house of God forsaken?' And I gathered them together and placed them at
their posts. And all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine
and the oil into the store-rooms. And I appointed in charge of the
store-rooms: Shelemiah the priest and Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah the
Levite; for they were considered faithful, and their business was to
distribute to their kinsmen. Remember me, O my God, concerning this and
forget not all my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and
for its services.

[Sidenote: Neh. 13:15-22]
At that time I saw in Judah some men treading wine-presses on the sabbath
and bringing in heaps of grain and loading asses, as also wine, grapes,
figs, and all kinds of burdens, and that they were bringing them into
Jerusalem on the sabbath; and I warned them when they sold provisions.
Tyrians also dwelt therein, who brought in fish and all kinds of wares,
and sold on the sabbath to the inhabitants of Judah and in Jerusalem. Then
I contended with the nobles of Judah and said to them, 'What evil thing is
this that you are doing, and thereby profaning the sabbath? Did not your
fathers do thus and did not our God bring all this calamity upon them and
upon us and upon this city? Yet you bring more wrath upon Israel by
profaning the sabbath.' Accordingly, when it began to be dark, the gates
of Jerusalem were shut before the sabbath; and I gave command that they
should not be opened until after the sabbath. And I placed some of my
servants in charge of the gates, and commanded that no burden should be
brought in on the sabbath. So the merchants and sellers of all kinds of
wares spent the night without Jerusalem once or twice. Then I warned them
and said to them, 'Why do you spend the night before the wall? If ye do
so again, I will lay hands on you.' From that time forth they came no more
on the sabbath. Remember, O my God, this also to my credit and show me
mercy according to the greatness of thy loving-kindness.

[Sidenote: Neh. 13:23-27]
At that time also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, of
Ammon, and of Moab. And their children spoke half in the language of
Ashdod, but none of them could speak in the Jews' language, but according
to the language of each people. And I contended with them and cursed them
and struck some of them and pulled out their hair and made them swear by
God, saying, 'You shall not give your daughters to their sons nor take
their daughters as wives for your sons or for yourselves. Did not Solomon
king of Israel sin by these acts? Yet among many nations there was no king
like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all
Israel; nevertheless foreign women led him into sin. Shall it also be
reported of you that you do all this great evil, to trespass against our
God in marrying foreign women?'

[Sidenote: Neh. 13:28, 29]
And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was
the son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; therefore I chased him from me.
Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the covenant of the
Priesthood and of the Levites.

[Sidenote: Neh. 13:30, 31]
Thus I cleansed them from all foreigners and fixed the duties for the
priests and the Levites, each for his appointed task, and the bringing of
wood for the service at appointed times, and the first-fruits. Remember
it, O my God, to my credit.

I. Cruelty and Hypocrisy of the Jewish Leaders. The fifty-sixth chapter
of Isaiah presents a sharp contrast: on the one hand a high ideal of
justice toward the oppressed and tolerance toward all foreigners who
sincerely desired to unite in Jehovah's worship; on the other the sordid
selfishness of the Jewish leaders, who disregarded their responsibilities
and thought of religion only as a round of ceremonial observances. The
situation is very similar to that in Northern Israel in the days of Amos.
The II Isaiah stands on the same platform as did his predecessors of the
Assyrian period. He strips fearlessly from the rulers of the community the
mantle of hypocrisy with which they sought to cover their shame. In
clearest terms he declares that their first duty to God is to loose the
fetters of injustice and to share their bread with the hungry. This
stirring prophetic message is the natural introduction to the reformatory
work of Nehemiah.

II. Nehemiah's Method of Correcting the Social Evils in the Community.
Nehemiah's address recorded in the fifth chapter of his memoirs completes
the picture suggested in Isaiah 56 and 58. The poor had been compelled by
their poverty to sell their children into slavery to the rich and ruling
class. In order to pay their personal taxes they had also mortgaged their
inherited fields, vineyards, and houses. Doubtless much of the tax thus
raised went into the pockets of their rulers, who preyed mercilessly upon
the helpless and needy. These crimes directly violated the laws of
Deuteronomy (cf. Deut. 23:9, 20), as well as those in the older Book of
the Covenant (Ex. 21-23). Nehemiah's position, therefore, when he demanded
that these evils be righted, was unassailable. In the spirit and with the
methods of the earlier prophets he gathered together the people, probably
within the precincts of the temple court, and plainly and unsparingly
denounced their acts. There is much in common between this later Jewish
layman and the shepherd Amos. Each spoke on the basis of close personal
observation and experience; but Nehemiah possessed many advantages over
the prophets who had preceded him. His own personal example lent force to
his words. Although it was his right as governor, he had exacted no
tribute from the Judean community. Even though the opportunity had
probably offered itself, he steadily refused to take their hereditary land
from the poor who applied to him for loans of money or grain. Instead of
enslaving his countrymen, he had lost no opportunity to free those who had
been forced by misfortune or poverty into slavery. He had also entertained
lavishly rich and poor alike, and thus given to all an example of
practical charity. His authority as Persian governor doubtless carried
great weight with the cringing, greedy leaders at Jerusalem. Above all,
the force of his personality was irresistible. It is easy to imagine the
powerful impression which his words made upon them. The restoration of
their lands and the freeing of their children were undoubtedly mighty
factors in arousing the men of Jerusalem to those herculean efforts which
alone made possible the rebuilding of the walls in the brief period of
fifty-two days.

III. The Historical Value of Nehemiah 13. In his _Composition of
Ezra-Nehemiah_ (pp. 44-49) Professor Torrey, of Yale, maintains that this
chapter is a pure creation of the Chronicler. Certainly its phraseology
and the subjects with which it deals are characteristic of the Chronicler,
but on the whole it is probable that he has here simply recast what was
originally an extract from the memoirs of Nehemiah. Some of the phrases
peculiar to the Chronicler are loosely connected with the context. The
nucleus which remains has the vigorous style of Nehemiah and many of his
peculiar idioms. Its courageous, assertive spirit is very different from
that of the other writings of the Chronicler. It is also doubtful whether
this later writer, with his strong, priestly interests, would have made
Nehemiah, the layman, a religious reformer and therefore in a sense the
rival of Ezra. Above all, the work attributed to Nehemiah in this
chapter is in harmony with his spirit and attitude, as revealed in the
unquestioned extracts from his memoirs. Already, as stated in 1:20, he had
told Sanballat and Tobiah that they should have no portion or memorial in
Jerusalem. He had already shown himself keen in righting wrongs within the
community. Zeal in preserving the sanctity of the sabbath and in opposing
heathen marriages was characteristic rather of the Jews of the dispersion
than of those of Palestine. It is probable, therefore, that this chapter
records Nehemiah's work when he revisited Jerusalem some time after 432
B.C., although it must be frankly confessed that the historical evidence
is far from conclusive and that the entire account of this second visit,
including the chronological data in 5:14 and the reference to the
expulsion of Sanballat in 1:20, may possibly be due to the Chronicler's
desire to discredit the Samaritans and to enlist the authority of Nehemiah
in support of the later priestly laws and customs.

IV. Regulations Regarding the Temple Service. The expulsion of Tobiah
the Ammonite from the room which had been assigned him in the temple by
Eliashib, the high priest, was apparently due to two reasons, first
because Tobiah was _persona non grata_ to Nehemiah and had already shown
himself a dangerous foe to the Jews. The second and chief reason was
because the room was needed for storing the offerings that were brought in
for the support of the temple officials. These offerings were presented in
accordance with the demands of the Deuteronomic regulation, which at this
time was the code acknowledged by the Judean community (Deut. 18:4.
14:23, 27, 28). The narrative adds that, with his practical knowledge of
affairs, Nehemiah appointed a representative committee consisting of a
priest, a scribe, and a Levite, and to them he intrusted the task of
receiving and distributing the temple tithes to their kinsmen.

V. Provisions Regarding Sabbath Observation and Foreign Marriages. Far
away from the temple, and therefore unable to participate in the
distinctive feasts and ceremonials that distinguished the religious life
of their race, and confronted by the constant danger of being absorbed by
the heathen among whom they found themselves, the Jews of the dispersion
placed strong emphasis on two institutions. The one was the observation of
the sabbath and the other was the preservation of the purity of their
blood by abstaining from all marriage alliances with their Gentile
neighbors. In Palestine, where they were able to revive the ancient feasts
in connection with the temple, and where the danger of absorption was not
so imminent, their practices in these regards appear to have been much
more lax. Not only had the priests set the example by contracting foreign
marriages, but apparently about this time the author of the beautiful
story of Ruth, by citing the tradition regarding the Moabite ancestry of
their illustrious King David, voiced the belief of many in the community
that such marriages were permissible. Nehemiah, however, rigorously
opposed this tendency. He also appreciated the menace to the dignity and
character of the temple service, if the commercial pursuits of ordinary
days were carried into the sabbath. His measure, therefore, in closing the
gates and thus excluding all traders, was both sane and effective. In
setting his face strongly against foreign marriages he was simply
enforcing the laws found in Deuteronomy 7:1, 3 and 33:3, which forbade the
Hebrews to intermarry with the people of the land.

VI. Significance of Nehemiah's Work. In rebuilding the walls of
Jerusalem Nehemiah prepared the way for that revival of the Jewish state
which characterized the closing years of the Persian period. More
important still was his work in re-establishing a close relation between
the Jews of the dispersion and those of Palestine. He himself was the
connecting link between them, and his activity prepared the minds of the
Palestinian Jews for the acceptance of those new principles that were
strongly held by leaders like himself. He also enforced the ethical and
social ideals of the earlier prophets, and ably advocated the principles
that are fundamental in the late priestly laws. Above all, in his own
personality as a prophetic layman, he held up before his race an example
of patriotism, self-sacrifice, efficiency, and devotion to the service
of Jehovah which made a profound and lasting impression upon his own and
later generations.


[Sidenote: Ezra 7:1, 6-10]
In the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra, a descendant of Aaron,
went up from Babylon; and he was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses,
which Jehovah, the God of Israel, had given. And the king granted him all
his request, inasmuch as the hand of Jehovah his God was upon him. And
some of the Israelites, and of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the
porters, and the temple servants went up to Jerusalem [with him]. And he
came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the
king. For on the first day of the first month he began the journey from
Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem,
since the good hand of God was with him. For Ezra had set his heart to
seek the law of Jehovah, and to observe it and to teach in Israel statutes
and ordinances.

[Sidenote: Neh. 7:73b, 8:4-6]
And when the seventh month drew near, all the people gathered themselves
together as one man to the broad place that was before the Water Gate. And
they spoke to Ezra the priest and scribe to bring the book of the law of
Moses, which Jehovah had commanded Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the
law before the assembly of men and women, and all who could hear with
understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read from
it before the open place that was before the Water Gate, from early
morning until mid-day, in the presence of the men and women and of those
who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the
law. And Ezra the priest and scribe stood upon a wooden pulpit, which they
made for the purpose and opened the book in the sight of all the
people--for he was above all the people--and when he opened it all the
people stood up. And Ezra blessed Jehovah, the great God. And all the
people answered, Amen, Amen, while they lifted up their hands and bowed
their heads and worshipped Jehovah with their faces to the ground.

[Sidenote: Neh. 8:9-12]
Then Ezra the priest, the scribe, and the Levites who taught the people
said to all the people, This day is holy to Jehovah your God; mourn not,
nor weep; for all the people when they heard the words of the law. Then he
said to them, Go away, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions
to him for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and
do not be troubled, for the joy of Jehovah is your bulwark. So the Levites
quieted all the people, saying, Be still, for the day is holy, and do not
be troubled. And all the people went away to eat and drink and to send
portions and to make a great rejoicing, for they had understood the words
which had been made known to them.

[Sidenote: Neh. 8:13-19]
And on the second day the heads of fathers' houses of all the people, the
priests and the Levites were gathered together to Ezra the scribe, in
order to gain an insight into the words of the law. And they found written
in the law, how Jehovah had commanded by Moses that the Israelites should
dwell in booths at the feast in the seventh month; and that they should
proclaim aloud in all their cities and in Jerusalem: Go forth to the
mount and bring olive branches and branches of wild olive and myrtle and
palm branches and branches of thick trees to make booths, as it is
prescribed. So the people went out and brought them, and made themselves
booths, each man upon the roof of his house and in their courts and in
the courts of the house of God and in the open space at the Water Gate and
in the open space at the Ephraim Gate. And all the assembly of those who
had come back from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths; for
since the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day the Israelites had not
done so. And there was very great gladness. And day by day, from the first
to the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they
celebrated the feast seven days, and on the eighth day, as was the custom,
there was a concluding solemn assembly.

[Sidenote: Neh. 9:1-3]
Now in the twenty-fourth day of this month the Israelites were assembled
with fasting, and with sackcloth and earth upon their heads. And the
children of Israel had separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood
and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they
stood up in their place and read in the book of the law of Jehovah their
God a fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed and
worshipped Jehovah their God.

[Sidenote: Neh. 9:6-8]
And Ezra said, Thou art Jehovah, even thou alone; thou hast made heaven
and the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all things
that are on it, the seas and all that is in them, and thou preservest
them all and the host of heaven worshippeth thee. Thou art Jehovah the
God, who didst choose Abraham and bring him forth out of Ur of the
Chaldees, and didst give him the name Abraham, and find his heart
faithful before thee and make a covenant with him to give the land of the
Canaanites to his descendants, and hast performed thy words, for thou art

[Sidenote: Neh. 9:32-37]
Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who
keepest covenant and kindness, let not all the affliction seem little
before thee, that hath come on us, on our kings, our nobles, our priests,
our prophets, our fathers, and on all thy people, since the days of the
kings of Assyria to this day. However thou art just in all that has come
upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly, neither have
our kings, our nobles, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law nor
heeded thy commands and thy testimonies with which thou didst testify
against them. For they have not served thee in the time of their kingly
rule, and in spite of thy great goodness that thou gavest them, they have
not turned from their wicked deeds. Behold, we this day are slaves, and as
for the land that thou gavest to our fathers to eat its fruit and enjoy
its good gifts, see we are only slaves in it. And it yieldeth a great
income to the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sin; also
they have power over our bodies and over our cattle, at their pleasure,
and we are in great distress.

[Sidenote: Neh. 9:38]
Moreover in addition to all this we made a fixed covenant and wrote it
out, and our nobles, our Levites, and our priests were enrolled upon the
sealed document.

[Sidenote: Neh. 10:28-31]
And all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands
to the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one
who had knowledge and insight, strongly supported their kinsmen, their
nobles, and entered into a solemn obligation and took oath to walk in
God's law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe
and do all the commands of Jehovah our Lord, and his ordinances and his
statutes; and that we would neither give our daughters to the peoples of
the land nor take their daughters as wives for our sons; and that, if the
peoples of the land should bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to
sell, we would not buy of them on the sabbath or on a holy day; and that
on the seventh year we would leave the land uncultivated and would refrain
from the exaction of any debt.

[Sidenote: Neh. 10:32-39]
We also imposed upon ourselves the obligation to give yearly the third
part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God, for the bread
that was set forth, and for the continual burnt-offering, for the
sabbaths, the new moons, the fixed feasts, and the holy things, and for
the sin-offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of
the house of our God. And we cast lots, the priests, the Levites, and the
people, for the wood-offering, to bring it into the house of our God,
according to our father's houses, at appointed times year by year, to burn
upon the altar of Jehovah our God, as it is prescribed in the law; and to
bring the earliest products of our ground, and the first of all fruit of
every kind of tree year by year, to the temple of Jehovah; also the
first-born of our sons and of our cattle, as is prescribed in the law, and
the firstlings of our herds and of our flocks, to bring to the house of
God to the priests who minister in the house of our God; and that we
should bring the first bread baked of our dough, the fruit of every kind
of tree, the new wine and the oil, to the priests, in the chambers of the
house of our God; and the tithes of our ground to the Levites; and that
they, the Levites, should receive the tithes in all the cities of our
agricultural districts. And that the priest the son of Aaron should be
with the Levites, when the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes
to the house of our God, to the chambers, into the store-house. For the
Israelites and the sons of Levi shall bring the gifts of grain, of new
wine, and of oil, into the chambers, where are the vessels of the
sanctuary, and the priests who minister and the porters and the singers,
and that we would not neglect the house of our God.

I. The Ezra Tradition. The tradition regarding Ezra and his work
presents many difficult problems. Part of it is found in the heart of the
book of Nehemiah; while another part is now found in the second half of
the book of Ezra. It is not entirely clear whether this dislocation is due
to the Chronicler, who desired to give Ezra, the priest and scribe, the
precedence before Nehemiah, the layman, or to the mistake of a scribe. A
recent writer (Professor Torrey, in _Composition of Ezra-Neh_.) has shown
convincingly that the Ezra story in its present form is at least from the
school to which the Chronicler belonged, if not from his own pen. Not only
does it abound in the characteristic phrases of this voluminous editor,
but it also reflects at many points his peculiar conception of the history
of this period. Ezra is described as a descendant of Aaron and "a scribe
skilled in the law of Moses." His work as interpreter of the law, which he
is represented as bringing in his hand, is typical of the scribes, who
were becoming the chief teachers of Judaism in the days of the Chronicler
(the Greek period). The decree of Artaxerxes found in the seventh chapter
of Ezra suggests at every point its late Jewish origin. It confers upon
Ezra, the scribe, royal authority far eclipsing that given by Artaxerxes
to Nehemiah, his favorite. A sum representing more than three million
dollars is placed at Ezra's disposal. At his summons seventeen hundred
priests, Levites, singers, and servants of the temple rally about the
standard of the faithful scribe. He is represented as going under the
royal protection to Palestine to instruct the Judean community, to reform
its abuses, and to institute the rule of the law of Moses which he bore in
his hand.

He first holds a great synagogue service in which the law is read and
interpreted to the people. They are then bidden to observe the Feast
of Booths or Tabernacles in accordance with its regulations. Later, when
he discovers that the people of the land have entered into foreign
marriages, he tears his clothes and hair and sits for hours overwhelmed
by the great crime that rests upon the community. When the people are
gathered about him, he upbraids them for their laxness and secures the
appointment of a commission with himself at the head to investigate and
put an end to these evil practices. When after three months the community
has been purified from this foreign element, the people are again
assembled to listen to the reading of the law. Then Ezra utters a fervent
prayer in which he sets forth Jehovah's leadership of his people in the
past and the disasters which have come as a result of their sins. After
this public petition for Jehovah's forgiveness, the people through their
nobles, Levites, and priests subscribe in writing to the regulations
imposed by the lawbook that Ezra had brought. Its more important
regulations are also recapitulated. They are to refrain from foreign
marriages, to observe strictly the sabbath laws, and also the requirements
of the seventh year of release, to bring to the temple the annual tax of
one-tenth of a shekel and the other dues required for its support and for
the maintenance of the priests and Levites.

II. The Historical Value of the Ezra Tradition. Recognizing that the
Ezra tradition comes from the hand of the Chronicler, certain Old
Testament scholars are inclined to regard it as entirely unhistorical.
It can no longer be regarded as a strictly historical record. Like II
Chronicles 31, it is shot through with the ideas current during the Greek
period. With no desire to deceive, but with nothing of the modern
historical spirit, the Chronicler freely projects the institutions, ideas,
and traditions of his own day into these earlier periods. The result is
that he has given not an exact or reliable historical record, but his own
conception of the way in which the course of history should have unfolded.
The Ezra tradition also lacks the support not only of contemporary
testimony, but also of all the Jews who wrote during the next few
centuries. Ben Sira in his review of Israel's heroes speaks in highest
terms of Nehemiah, but knows nothing of Ezra's work. Even the
comparatively late Jewish tradition reflected in the opening chapters of
II Maccabees attributes to Nehemiah the re-establishment of the temple
Service and the collection of the sacred writings of his race. At many
points the Ezra tradition is also inconsistent with the straightforward
contemporary record contained in Nehemiah's memoirs. The real question
is whether or not there is a historical nucleus in the Ezra story, and
if so, what are the facts which it reflects.

III. The Facts Underlying the Ezra Tradition. The later records make it
clear that during the latter part of the Persian period the attitude of
the Jews in Palestine toward their neighbors became more and more
exclusive. Nehemiah appears to have given a great impetus to the movement
which ultimately resulted in the Samaritan schism and the high wall that
henceforth separated Jew and Gentile. The emphasis on the strict
observation of the sabbath grew stronger and stronger, until at the
beginning of the Greek period the Jews of Jerusalem preferred to fall
before the sword of their foes rather than fight on the sabbath day (cf.
Section CIII). The ritual of the temple became even more elaborate, and
its income was greatly increased during the latter part of the Persian
period. The extension of the territory of the Judean community implied
that its numbers were increased by the return of loyal Jews attracted by
the security offered by its walls and by the new spirit that animated the
Jews of Palestine. The priestly laws which were formulated to meet the new
needs of the Judean community appear to have been written in Palestine and
by those closely connected with the temple service, but in the emphasis
upon the sabbath and in their endeavor to prevent marriage with foreigners
they suggest the presence and influence of Jews who had returned from the
land of the dispersion. It is possible that among those who thus returned
was the priest Ezra, and he may have been at the head of one of these
groups of returning exiles. In the days of Josiah the code contained in
the newly discovered Book of the Covenant was presented to the people in a
public assembly and adopted and enforced by the king, who acted as the
representative of the people (Section LXXXIII:iii). It is probable that in
the small Judean community new regulations gained acceptance in the same
way, except that the people were represented by their nobles and priests
rather than by a king. The tradition of Ezra, therefore, is typical of the
great movement that shaped the life of Judaism in the century immediately
following the work of Nehemiah.

IV. Origin and Aims of the Priestly Laws. The late priestly laws which
moulded the life of Judaism are found in the books of Exodus, Leviticus,
and Numbers. They do not constitute a unified code, but rather are
made up of a series of smaller groups of laws, the older nucleus
being the Holiness Code found in chapters 17-26 of Leviticus (cf. Section
XCIII:iii). In some cases variants of the same law are found in different
groups. Certain of these laws simply reiterate in slightly different form
those already found in the primitive and Deuteronomic codes; but in
general they supplement these earlier codes. The formulation, collection,
and codification of these later laws apparently continued until toward the
latter part of the Persian period when the Samaritan schism (Section CIII)
fixed them in their present form.

To these laws was prefixed, as an introduction, the priestly history that
opens with the account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis and
briefly traces Israel's history to the settlement in Canaan. The interest
of these late priestly historians is, like that of the Chronicler, in the
origin of institutions. Thus the object of the first chapter of Genesis is
to give the traditional origin and authority of the sabbath. The account
of the flood culminates in a covenant embodying the command that man shall
not eat of the blood of sacrificial animals; the priestly stories
regarding Abraham aim to give the origin of the rite of circumcision.
Israel's early experiences in the wilderness furnish the setting for the
giving of the law at Sinai. In this way the late editors of these opening
books of the Old Testament connect all of Israel's legislation with Moses
and aim to establish its divine authority.

V. Their Important Regulations. The central aim in all these late
priestly laws was similar to that of Ezekiel: it was to make Israel a
holy people and to prevent them from falling again into the sins to which
were attributed the overwhelming disasters that had overtaken them. This
aim they sought to accomplish: (1) by making the temple and its services
the centre of the life of the people and through ceremonial barriers and
regulations to shield it from everything that might pollute it; (2) by
rendering the temple service attractive; (3) by insuring through rigid
ceremonial laws the purity of its priesthood; (4) by preserving the
ceremonial cleanliness of the people through strict laws regarding the
food which they ate and elaborate provisions for their purification in
case they were contaminated by contact with that which was regarded as
unclean; (5) by prohibiting absolutely all marriages with the heathen; and
(6) by emphasizing the rigid observation of the sabbath and other
distinctive institutions. In general these late priestly laws represented
a return to the older and more primitive conception of religion, and
defined duty in terms of ceremonial rather than moral acts.

VI. Their Practical Effects. Later Judaism represents to a great extent
the result of the rigid enforcement of these regulations. Its life was
centralized more and more about the temple. In its services the people
found their chief interest and joy. The numbers of the priests and Levites
were also greatly increased. To the older temple dues many new ones were
added. Thus each man brought to the temple the first-born of his flock.
Even his oldest son must be redeemed within a month after his birth by a
gift of five shekels (which represented in modern currency between three
and four dollars). Of every animal slain the shoulder, two joints, and the
stomach went to the priests. Of the vintage and oil and grain they
received about one-fiftieth. In addition a tithe was turned over to the
Levites. Part of the wool in every sheep-shearing, as well as a part of
the bread which they baked, found its way to the temple. In addition a
large income came through the vows made by the people or the conscience
money which was paid either in currency or gifts. Although the priests had
no temporal authority by which to enforce these laws, it is evident that
the people bore their heavy burdens gladly and brought willingly their
offerings, that they might thereby win a definite assurance of Jehovah's
favor. The law was to them a source of joy rather than a burden. Their
love for it steadily grew until two centuries later during the Maccabean
persecutions there were many who were ready to lay down their lives for it.


[Sidenote: Ps. 36:5-10]
Thy loving-kindness, O Jehovah, is in the heavens,
Thy faithfulness reacheth to the skies,
Thy righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
Thy judgments are like the great deep;
Thou preservest man and beast.
How precious is thy loving-kindness, O God!
And the sons of men put their trust in the shadow of thy wings.
They are fully satisfied with the rich things of thy house,
And thou makest them drink of thy river of delights.
For with thee is the fountain of life,
And in thy light shall we see light.
O continue thy loving-kindness to those who know thee,
And thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

[Sidenote: Joel 2:1, 2b]
The word of Jehovah, which came to Joel, the son of Pethuel:
Blow a horn in Zion,
Sound an alarm in my holy mountain,
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
For the day of Jehovah comes,
For near is the day of darkness and gloom,
The day of cloud and thick darkness!

[Sidenote: Joel 2:2c-6]
Like the light of dawn scattered over the mountains,
A people great and powerful;
Its like has not been from of old,
Neither shall be any more after it,
Even to the years of coming ages.
Before them the fire devours,
And behind them a flame burns;
Like the garden of Eden is the land before them,
And after them it is a desolate desert,
Yea, nothing escapes them.
Their appearance is as the appearance of horses,
And like horsemen they run.
Like the sound of chariots on the tops of the mountains they leap,
Like the crackle of flames devouring stubble,
Like a mighty people preparing for battle.
Peoples are in anguish before them,
All faces glow with excitement.

[Sidenote: Joel 2:7-9]
Like mighty men they run,
Like warriors they mount up a wall,
They march each by himself,
They break not their ranks,
None jostles the other,
They march each in his path,
They fall upon the weapons without breaking,
They scour the city, they run on the wall,
They climb up into the houses,
Like a thief they enter the windows.

[Sidenote: Joel 2:10-11]
Earth trembles before them,
Heaven quakes,
The sun and the moon become dark,
And the stars withdraw their shining;
And Jehovah uttereth this voice before his army,
For his host is exceedingly great,
Yea, mighty is he who performs his word,
For great is the day of Jehovah,
It is very terrible, who can abide it?

[Sidenote: Joel 2:12-14]
But now this is the oracle of Jehovah:
Turn ye to me with all your heart,
And with fasting and weeping and mourning.
Rend your hearts and not your garments,
And turn to Jehovah your God;
For he indeed is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger and plenteous in love,
And relenteth of the evil.
Who knows but he will turn and relent,
And leave a blessing behind him,
A cereal and drink-offering for Jehovah your God?

[Sidenote: Joel 2:16-17]
Blow a horn in Zion,
Sanctify a fast, summon an assembly,
Gather the people, make holy the congregation,
Assemble the old men,
Gather the children, and the infants at the breast,
Let the bridegroom come forth from his chamber,
And the bride from her bridal tent.
Between the porch and the altar,
Let the priests, the ministers of Jehovah, weep aloud,
Let them say, Spare, O Jehovah, thy people,
And make not thine heritage an object of reproach,
For the heathen to mock them.
Why should it be said among the nations, Where is their God?

[Sidenote: Joel 2:18-20]
Then Jehovah became jealous for his land, and took pity upon his people,
And Jehovah answered and said to his people,
Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil,
And ye shall be satisfied therewith;
I will not make you again an object of reproach among the nations,
I will remove far from you the northern foe,
And I will drive him into a land barren and desolate,
His van to the eastern sea,
And his rear to the western sea,
And a stench from him shall arise.

[Sidenote: Joel 2:21-24]
Fear not, O land, exult,
And rejoice for Jehovah hath done great things.
Fear not, O beasts of the field,
For the pastures of the wilderness are putting forth new grass,
For the trees bear their fruit,
Fig tree and vine yield their strength.
Be glad, then, ye sons of Zion,
And rejoice in Jehovah your God,
For he hath given you the early rain in just measure,
And poured down upon you the winter rain,
And sent the latter rain as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain,
And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.

[Sidenote: Joel 2:25-27]
I will make restoration to you for the years which the swarmer hath eaten,
The devourer, the destroyer, and the shearer,
My great army which I sent among you,
And ye shall eat your food and be satisfied,
And praise the name of Jehovah your God,
Who hath dealt so wonderfully by you,
And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
That I am Jehovah your God and none else,
And my people shall nevermore be abashed.

[Sidenote: Joel 2:28, 29]
And it shall come to pass afterwards,
That I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh,
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions,
And even upon thy male and female slaves,

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