Anyway, to recap, here we are in the 5th century BC, and the Jews have been in exile in Babylon. As we saw last time, Ezra (Esdras) has brought some of them back to Jerusalem.
What ho, Nehemiah! Any chance of one of your pick-me-ups?
This is the tale of Nehemiah, the cup-bearer of King Artaxerxes of Persia, who retrains as a builder (or maybe architect) in order to get Jerusalem rebuilt. Ezra turns up again later in the Book of Nehemiah, and he is now billed as a priest and scribe,
Our hero rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem.
In the above picture Nehemiah is presumably the one reading the plans, rather than the ones doing the actual building, but one can never be sure. Perhaps the other chaps are the sons of Hassenaah, who built the Fish Gate (see Chapter 3); or possibly Malchiah the son of Rechab who was told to repair the Dung Gate. It was a true poet who named these gates.
This is what Nehemiah has on his scroll.
Actually, talking of Gates, we have Bill and Melinda here today in our Bible class for the first time. Welcome, guys! No mention of Windows in this book, I'm afraid, but I suppose you'll enjoy Jeremiah when we get to it, with its For death is come up through our Windows. I wonder whether Jerry was thinking of you there?
Half way through the book, Ezra attends to the spiritual needs of the people (now that their deliveries of fish and dung have been sorted out), and after a bit of prayer and penance they once again promise to keep the Law.
A delivery of fish.
Nehemiah actually becomes the effective governor of Jerusalem; he later pops off back to Persia to do some more cup-bearing, before returning to find that the Jews have gone off the rails yet again. So he fixes that.
In next month's instalment we have a choice: we can follow the Protestant Bible and jump straight onto Esther (so to speak), or take the Catholic and Orthodox line, and include Tobit and Judith.
Tobit or not Tobit? That is the question.
We'll discuss Tobit next. Class dismissed.