By analyzing Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s elements of narrative and the historical backgrounds, Israel Loken explains how and why God’s people rebuilt Jerusalem and changed their way of worship. Loken examines the views of other scholars before drawing persuasive conclusions about what convinced God’s people to follow him, once again, with their entire beings. Loken then tells us what the characters and events in Ezra and Nehemiah teach us about worship, life, and God. This rare combination makes this contribution both scholastic and applicable.
“The reading of the Law was not producing the desired effect. Although the Law certainly should have convicted the nation of its sins, thus resulting in mournful repentance, this was not the primary purpose of Ezra when he chose to read the biblical text. The great scribe wanted the nation to celebrate the completion of the rebuilding project by observing the Feast of Trumpets. This festival was to be a joyous occasion (cf. Deut 12:5–19; 16:9–17).” (Nehemiah 8:9)
“The collective similarities between the books of Ezra and Nehemiah and the book of Chronicles have led many scholars to incorporate all three books into a single unified work attributed to the ‘Chronicler.’” (source)
“The name Nehemiah means ‘Yahweh comforts’ or ‘My comfort is Yahweh.’ He” (Nehemiah)
“Hanani responded to the question of Nehemiah by informing him that the Jewish remnant that remained in the land of Judah was currently in רָעָה (‘distress’) and חֶרְפָּה (‘reproach’). The reference to the remnant being in distress is most likely to be taken as a description of the remnant’s social and economic situation while the use of the term ‘reproach’ announced the spiritual condition of the people.11 The nation’s social situation was in distress because of continual oppression by foreign neighbors (cf. Ezra 4:7–23). The nation’s economic situation was in distress because of the heavy tax burden placed on the remnant by the Persians (cf. 5:1–5). The nation’s spiritual condition was in reproach because of its failure to fully separate from the foreign nations (cf. Ezra 9:10–14).” (Nehemiah 1:3)
The Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC) series is a premiere biblical commentary rooted in the original text of Scripture. Incorporating the latest in critical biblical scholarship and written from a distinctly evangelical perspective, each comprehensive volume features a remarkable amount of depth, providing historical and literary insights, and addressing exegetical, pastoral, and theological details. Readers will gain a full understanding of the text and how to apply it to everyday life.
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Israel Loken is chair of the Bible and theology departments at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston, Texas. He regularly leads tours to Israel.
G. Jorge Medina