Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nehemiah, Chapters 1-4

Another case of the same story being told slightly different ways. Ezra tells the story of the rebuilding of Jerusalem from the point of view of the priests, Nehemiah is the same story from a political standpoint.

Chapter 1

Nehemiah finds out that the rebuilding of Jerusalem has been a disaster and the walls have been knocked down and the people enslaved. He cries and prays.

Chapter 2

The Persian king Artaxerxes notices Nehemiah's teary face and asks what's wrong. He explains about Jerusalem and the king agrees to let him go help with the rebuilding effort. He also gives him some letters to deliver, like an early pony express. He sneaks away from his escorts one night to survey the ruins, then cajoles the local leaders the next morning to rebuild the city. They laugh at him. Note that one of them is an Arab. Nehemiah's response: you have no claim on Jerusalem. Nothing new under the sun.

Chapter 3

The Israelites set to work rebuilding the walls. Even some of the women help. That's the whole chapter: a list of who repaired which section of wall. Scintillating.

Chapter 4

The governors mock the Jews and their walls, saying even a fox could break through. Ooh, nasty stuff! The Jews ignore them and join the wall up. That pisses them off and they conspire to attack. This causes the wall project to be suspended as so many workers are needed for guard duty. They never put on pajamas, even. They only take their clothes off to wash.

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