Introduction to Nehemiah: Nice little tidbit from the introduction in the NRSV study bible: “The Nehemiah section of Ezra-Nehemiah depicts the final stage of Jewish reconstruction after exile, featuring Nehemiah as the Jewish governor under Persian rule, who rebuilds Jerusalem’s walls (1.1–7.5) and oversees many reforms” (p. 685). Good to know.
Nehemiah 1: The first chapter is a prayer from Nehemiah to God asking for forgiveness and asking for him to help Nehemiah in his task ahead. The notes also indicate that scholars treat this book like his memoir. Should be interesting. Also, he was the king’s cupbearer and became Governor of Judah. Pretty interesting.
Nehemiah 2: Nehemiah requests the king’s permission to leave for Judah and ultimately Jerusalem so he could help rebuild the city. According to the text, his ancestors were buried there. The king grants him permission to leave. Upon arriving in Jerusalem he inspects the wall and convinces others to help him rebuild it.
Nehemiah 3: Nehemiah enlists 41 diverse groups of people to help him fortify the wall in only 52 days. The wall was really big too. Priests, goldsmiths, perfumers, merchants, rulers of districts, temple servants, and keepers of the gate are all people who participated. Men and women built the wall (and gates).
Philemon: Paul’s shortest letter. He wrote the letter while still in prison. There seems to be some disagreement as to the full point of this letter, but one thing is clear, it focuses on slavery. One slave specifically, Onesimus. It seems that Onesimus was in prison with Paul (the reason why Onesimus was in prison is unclear). Paul asks Philemon, who was Onesimus’ master, to greet him as his brother instead of as his slave. This is all because of love. Very nice indeed. On that note, one thing that is interesting about this letter is that according to the notes this letter was based on love (CEB Study Bible, p. 430 NT).
I find this reading timely. I’m reading this on MLK day. At a time when our current POTUS is under scrutiny for racist comments. Just as a reminder for if I ever read this post again, several days ago we learned that Trump allegedly referred to some countries as “shithole countries” and asked why we couldn’t get immigrants from Norway. I don’t have much of a desire to go into all of his racist actions and comments over the past several years. I just find it timely that I’m reading a letter that Paul wrote directly addressing slavery on a day that we honor a man who fought for equality all while dealing with a president who makes outlandish remarks. Definitely interesting times we live in.