The Book of Nehemiah in Its Biblical and Historical Context -- By: Terry J. Betts

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 09:3 (Fall 2005)
Article: The Book of Nehemiah in Its Biblical and Historical Context
Author: Terry J. Betts


The Book of Nehemiah in Its Biblical and Historical Context

Terry J. Betts

Terry J. Betts is Assistant Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a fourth generation Baptist minister and has pastored fourteen churches in Ohio and Indiana. Dr. Betts is the author of Ezekiel The Priest: A Custodian Of Tôrâ (Peter Lang, 2005).

One may only begin to understand the significance of the events in the book of Nehemiah when one looks at God’s words to the children of Israel in Moab through his servant Moses just before the nation entered into the Promised Land. Moses foretold of exile and return in Deuteronomy. Moses said to the people,

All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you. They shall be a sign and a wonder against you and your offspring forever. Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you. The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand, a hard-faced nation who shall not respect the old or show mercy to the young. It shall eat the offspring of your cattle and the fruit of your ground, until you are destroyed; it also shall not leave you grain, wine, or oil, the increase of your herds or the young of your flock, until they have caused you to perish. They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land. And they shall besiege you in all your towns throughout all your land, which the LORD your God has given you (Deut 28:45–52).

And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the LORD will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul (Deut 28:65–66).

All the nations will say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?’ Then people will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of thei...

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