PERSEVERANCE IN the face of opposition is one of the lessons from our reading today. The Samaritans, Ammonites, and Arabs in Nehemiah’s day tried to discourage the Jews through threats, political pressure, and even a conspiracy to assassinate Nehemiah.
With the work completed, Ezra led the people in a reading of the Law and a restoration of the Feast of Tabernacles, which, we were surprised to learn, hadn’t been observed since the Exodus! Continue reading
NEARLY ONE hundred years after Cyrus issued his decree allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem, the walls of the Holy City still had not been rebuilt.
Nehemiah, cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes, was granted permission to return to Judah for twelve years and oversee the rebuilding of the walls and gates of Jerusalem. We discuss the opposition to Nehemiah, from without and within, and how he directed his crews to work while prepared to defend themselves. Continue reading
THE SECOND group to return from Babylon to Jerusalem was led by Ezra the priest, who secured permission from the Persian king Artaxerxes in 458 B.C. It was a four-month journey, which the Jews undertook without an armed guard, something that was unheard of in a time when caravan raiders were likely to prey on unsuspecting travelers — especially a group loaded down with more than 30 tons of gold and silver! Continue reading