Chronology Of Ezra And Nehemiah

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Chronology of Ezra And Nehemiah

Chronology of Ezra And Nehemiah


The books of Ezra And Nehemiah are the two books in the Hagiographa (i.e., the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah), which were originally a single work.

The Masoretic tradition regarded the books of Ezra and Nehemiah as one book and referred to it as the Book of Ezra. This was also the Greek tradition, and the same Greek name, Esdras, was given to both books (see below). The division into separate books does not occur until the time of Origen (fourth century C.E.) and this division was transferred into the Vulgate where the books are called I Esdras (Ezra) and II Esdras (Nehemiah). It was not until the 15th century that Hebrew manuscripts, and subsequently all modern printed Hebrew editions, followed this practice of dividing the books. However, there are good reasons (linguistic, literary, and thematic) for the argument that the two books were originally separate works (Kraemer), which were brought together by a later compiler, and are now to be read as a single unit (Grabbe).


the Persian king to return to Judah and take on the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. The Book of Nehemiah gives an account of his activity in the first-person style of memoirs. It begins with his reception of distressing news from the homeland while he is in the royal service in Susa. This leads to his petitioning the king for support in repairing the walls and gates of Jerusalem and to his appointment as governor to carry out the task. In spite of opposition from Sanballat, governor of Samaria, and other local authorities of the region, the work is successfully completed. With the walls rebuilt, the city was repopulated with settlers from the countryside.

Nehemiah is credited also with social and religious reforms. He is presented as showing concern for the poor while maintaining a modest administration. In his second term as governor, which is not precisely dated, Nehemiah carried out a series of religious reforms having to do with Temple regulations and provisions for the priests, observance of the Sabbath, and the dissolution of mixed marriages. These reforms emphasize a tradition of religious conservatism and concern for ethnic purity that eventually leads to the Samaritan schism.

Nehemiah 8-9, having to do with the mission of Ezra, does not properly belong to the "memoirs" source and has seriously confused the historical relationship between Ezra and Nehemiah. It seems preferable to view Ezra's activity as subsequent to that of Nehemiah, building on the latter's work of restoration.

Nehemiah is recognized by tradition (Sir. 49:13) and by modern scholarship as largely responsible for restoring Jerusalem to a place of political prominence and semiautonomy with a chance to grow into a city of destiny.

Chronology, Authorship and History

The question of the authorship of Ezra-Nehemiah is bound up with its relation with the book of Chronicles. Since the time of Zunz (1832), the consensus of modern scholarship has been that the author of Chronicles was also the author of Ezra-Nehemiah, ...
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