Get premium membership and access revision papers with marking schemes, video lessons and live classes.

Form 3 CRE Notes On Nehemiah

Grade/Class: Form 3

Subject: CRE

Term: Select Term

Document Type: PDF

    

Views: 3636     Downloads: 7

Summary

TOPIC 6:NEHEMIAH
BACKGROUND TO NEHEMIAH
A. POLITICAL BACKGROUND
- During the conquest of Judah by the Babylonians, most of the people were taken to exile in Babylon. The city of Jerusalem and the Temple were ruins yet these had been symbols of unity and security.
- In 539 BCE the Persians conquered the Babylonians and liberated the Jews allowing them to go back to Judah.
- Cyrus encouraged the Jews to return to Judah and offered those who returned grants in aid and urged those who remained to contribute to the cost of those returning to Palestine.
- Nehemiah, Ezra and Haggai were among the Jews who returned to Judah.
- Nehemiah was a government official who worked for king Artaxerxes of Persia as a cup bearer.
- Ezra was a priest.
- Haggai was a prophet who encouraged people in the rebuilding of the temple.
- The three worked together with the Jews who returned in rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple.
- The Jews who remained in Judah as others were taken captives were called the “people of the land”.
- The people Judah who returned to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple did not help from the “the people of the land” because:
i. The people of the land were descendants of the original Northern Kingdom (Israel).
ii. They considered themselves as pure heirs of the Israelite religious traditions mandated by God to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.
iii. The people of the land were not pure heirs of the Israelite religious traditions.
iv. They believed the people of the land must have worshipped other gods while they were in Israel.
v. They believed the people of the land would defile their sacrificial worship because they were part of the exiled community.
- The return of the Babylonian exiles took place in three separate periods, i.e.
a. The first group left immediately after the conquest of Babylon led by Sheshbazzar.
b. The second came eight years later led by Ezra.
c. The third group came thirteen years after the second led by Nehemiah.
- The people of the land wanted to join in the rebuilding and because they were refused, they opposed the people of Judah. This halted rebuilding work for a while.

B. SOCIAL BACKGROUND
- The exiles lived a stressful life despite encouragement by prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
- They lived together in the areas allocated to them but were not mistreated by their masters.
- Their elders did the local administrative work.
- Family units had been disrupted during the conquest.
- They worked for their masters in areas of irrigation, construction, fishing or shepherding. A few held senior administrative jobs in Babylon like Nehemiah.
- After the period of captivity, some were to do Jews opted not to return to Judah but remained in exile.
- The rich Jews who returned to Judah oppressed the poor that they found there.

C. RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND

- The religious life of the exiles was disrupted following the destruction of the temple and city.
- In exile they worshiped in private homes and in rural congregations which became synagogues.
- They doubted Yahweh as their God at this time of defeat.
- God sent prophets such as Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Deutro-Isaiah to comfort and give them hope.
- They retained most of their form of worship and practices such as circumcision, Sabbath observance and use of Psalms for worship. Sacrifices were not offered due to lack of the Temple which was a center for sacrifice.
- After the rebuilding of the Temples the true worship of Yahweh was restored. Ezra led the reformation and ensured that idol worship was not practiced in Yahweh’s house.

OCCASSIONS WHEN NEHEMIAH PRAYED
Nehemiah 1:4-11;2:4-8; 4:4-9;5:19; 6:9; 13:14; 22;29 and 31.
a) When he learnt of the suffering in Judah and the ruined state of the city. It was a confession prayer for the sins of the people.
b) Before requesting King Artaxerxes to be permitted to return to Judah he prayed to God to grant him favor before the king.
c) When the Samaritans criticized the rebuilding of the wall he prayed for Yahweh’s protection and the revenge against his enemies.
d) When the enemies conspired to attack Judah, he prayed for God to protect them against the enemies.
e) During the exploitation of the poor by the rich he prayed for God to change their hearts.
f) When his enemies plotted to kill him so that he would not oversee the construction work he prayed to God to give him strength.
g) When he was frightened by Shemiah to hide in the Temple following a plot to kill him to punish his enemies.
h) During the cleansing of the Temple following its defilement by Tobiah, he prayed to God not to destroy the Temple which he had built.
i) After warning the Jews who had violated the Sabbath law by carrying out trade, he was given the strength to evict them from Jerusalem’s gate. He prayed for God’s mercy on him.
j) After chasing away Sanbalat’s son-in-law who married a foreigner yet he was the priest by background, he prayed God’s punishment over them.
k) Before assigning duties to the priests from the Levites following their consecration, he prayed that God may remember him with favour.

Importance of Prayer in Christian life
a. Through prayer a Christian is able to express his/her faith in God.
b. Prayer enables one to glorify God for his greatness and goodness.
c. It strengthens one’s relationship with God/strengthens one’s faith.
d. Through prayer the needs of a Christian are met.
e. It enables one to seek God’s will and receive his revelations.
f. It enables one to face temptations with courage.
g. A Christian uses prayer to intercede for the needs of others.
h. Prayer promotes unity for believers as they fellowship together.
i. Their sins are forgiven through prayer.
j. Virtues of patience and persistence are acquired through prayer.
k. Through prayer Christians are able to enter into a personal relationship with God.
l. Through prayer Christians present their needs to God.
m. Prayer helps Christians express their faith and dependence on God.
n. Christians are able to withstand temptations, opposition and persecution through prayer.
o. Prayer gives Christians courage to be able to continue with the work of preaching the gospel.

GOOD LEADERSHIP QUALITITES THAT NEHEMIAH POSSESSED
Nehemiah 1:2; 3;4;5;6 and 7

Nehemiah demonstrated good leadership qualities which were demonstrated in his work of rebuilding Jerusalem and restoring the Jewish community to the covenant way of life e.g.
1. Patriotism

When he heard the reports that the gates of Jerusalem were ruined and the people who had turned to Judah were in greatest distress.
- He sympathized with the situation and wept. 1:4.
- He fasted and prayed to God to forgive all the people their inequalities which had led them into exile 1:4-6.
- He prayed to God to fulfill his covenant promises and restore his people back to the Promised Land.

2. Diplomacy
He used diplomatic skills to:
- Convince the king to allow him to go back to Judah and help in the reconstruction of the nation.
- Be given letters of introduction in the region he was going to pass through and for acquisition of timber.

3. Effective planner
- He planned how to travel back to Judah by putting in place security measures.
- He organized how to obtain construction materials.
- He inspected the walls of Jerusalem before reconstruction begun.

4. Team builder
- He mobilized the workers and inspired team to work hard.
- He encouraged them to continue working despite the mockery.
- He worked and stayed with them.

5. Initiative
- Nehemiah initiated the idea of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and pursued it to its completion.

6. Hardworking and Dedication
-He was able to complete the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem in a record time of 52 days.
- His dedication to work enabled him not to give up despite the many threats he received from the enemies.

7. Mindfulness
- He was able to listen to the problem of the poor.
- He contributed towards their basic needs e.g. gave land.
- He urged the rich and officials not to oppress the poor.

8. Reformist
- He improved the welfare of the poor.
- He reorganized the temple worship.

9. Wisdom
- He was able to judge the tricks of his enemies and act appropriately, e.g. when he was tricked by Shemiah with a threat of being killed by enemies.

10. Courage
- He had courage and withstood threats of his life and attempts to stop work of reconstruction of Jerusalem by the enemies.

11. Faithfulness
- He prayed to God for guidance in all situations.
-He trusted in God’s protection against his enemies.

12. Dependence of God
- This is seen in his prayer life.

13. Tactful leader
- He called the leaders of the city together in order to win their confidence and sympathy and generate enthusiasm.

14. Self-control
- Even in the face of threats ridicule and mockery, Nehemiah never tried to justify himself but remained firm in his mission.

15. Focused leader
- Nehemiah aimed at restoring Jerusalem and the worship of God. Opposition did not derail him from what he had set himself to accomplish.

16. A man of action
-Nehemiah did not just listen to the problems of his people, he acted in order to help them and restore the city of Jerusalem.

17. Trustworthy
-This is seen in the position he held of being the king’s cup-bearer.

18. Just leader.
- As demonstrated in the way he solved the problem of the rich exploiting the poor during the rebuilding work.

RELEVANCE OF NEHEMIAH’S LEADERSHIP TO CHRISTIAN TODAY
- As leaders they should be concerned with the welfare of others. They should use their positions to improve the lives of those under them.
- Christians should learn from the planning and organizational skills of Nehemiah in order to accomplish their tasks effectively.
- Christians should learn to lead by example like Nehemiah and work with people and not just give the orders.
- Christians should emulate the hardworking spirit of Nehemiah. He continued reconstructing the wall of Jerusalem even as he faced great opposition from the Samaritans.
- Nehemiah worked selflessly. Many people would want to be paid for any
-Christians should emulate the hardworking spirit of Nehemiah. He continued reconstructing the wall of Jerusalem even as he faced great opposition from the Samaritans.
- Nehemiah worked selflessly. Many people would want to be paid for any small jobs they do. Christians should learn to render their services for the good of God and the community without expecting pay.
- Christians should be patient and caring. Nehemiah listened to his people’s grievances and gave them solutions.
- Nehemiah brought various reforms in Jerusalem. Likewise Christians should initiate political, economic, social and religious reforms.
- Being a man of God, Nehemiah made sure that the Mosaic Law was adhered to. Christians should emulate him and live upright lives.
- He practiced justices and honest which all Christians leaders should practice.
- In society where people are losing hope because of poverty, political upheaval, diseases and other social problems, leaders should encourage their people even when thing do not seems to as expected e.g. unemployment is a big problem in Kenya especially the young people. Leaders need to encourage young people to be innovative and creative.
- In a country where there are many ethics communities, political parties, various denominations religious and other interest groups arising of conflicts may be common, leaders should therefore try to emulate Nehemiah’s quality of being principled in doing the right thing. They should reconcile the people together. A good leader
- Must not favor any person regardless of their ethnic, political or religious background.

PROBLEM FACED BY NEHEMIAH
Nehemiah 3:5, 4, 5, 6
Nehemiah had to deal with the following problems.
1. Hostility from sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem and the Arabs concerning the rebuilding of the wall. Nehemiah 4: 1-9.
2. Opposition. The rich oppressed the poor who in turn launched complaints before Nehemiah. The poor were enslaved, highly taxed, lacked food and their land grabbed.
Nehemiah condemned the action and asked the rich to return what they had taken from the poor. Nehemiah 5:1-19
3. Plot to harm and kill him by sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem by use of tricks. Nehemiah discovered their tricks and refused to accept their invitation to go to them or hide in the Temple.
4. Intermarriage between Jews and foreigners which threatened the Jewish cultural identity.
5. Misuse of the Temple, abandonment of priestly duties, Levites, Musicians and gate keepers were not being paid. Nehemiah 13:10-14.

6. Laxity in observing religious matters e.g.
a) The temple was not being given honor it deserved e.g. Elishia the priest allowed Tobiah to reside in the Temple. This was wrong because non-Jews could not go inside the Temple. They were to remain in the outer court.
b) Tithes and offerings which were supposed to take care of the Levites and the singers we4re not being collected. As a result the Levites and singers had stopped taking care of the Temple and its services as they went to earn a living from their land.
c) The Jews who returned to Jerusalem from exile started breaking the Sabbath law by trading with foreigners on a day that was supposed to be resting. Nehemiah. 13:15-20
d) Some Jews had married women from Ammon, Ashdod and Moab (Neh. 13:23-27). Nehemiah asked them to chase away such wives and their children as this had defiled priesthood. (Neh. 13:23-31)

7. Disloyalty. (Neh. 3:5)
-Some nobles from Tekoa did not accept to serve under Nehemiah as the governor of Jerusalem. They therefore did not undertake the work they were given wholeheartedly
8. Food shortage (Neh. 5:1-5)
-The people of Jerusalem faced the problem of food shortage. While famine was taking its toll in Jerusalem, some of the officials were overtaxing the people to the extent that the poor were borrowing money to pay the Kings tax.
9. Land grabbing
-The rich Jews who had come from exile were encroaching the land of the poor people who were becoming slaves and even squatters on their own land. This is one of their causes of Babylonian exile. God was not happy with the oppressions and the exploitation of the poor by fellow Israelites.
10. False accusations by Sanballat and Tobiah
-Falsely accused that he was planning a rebellion against the King or Persia. Their scheme was to make the king of Persia angry with Nehemiah and stop the reconstruction of the wall.
However Nehemiah became courageous and told them that it was they who were scheme evil and not him. If anything, the work he was doing had the approval of King Artaxerxes of Persia.
11. Opposition from the indigenous people of Palestine who despised his reconstruction work.
12. Fear among Jews due to constant threats and harassment from the foreign groups.
Nehemiah encouraged them through prayers and organized people to defend the city. He advised the m to trust God.

RELEVANCE OF NEHEMIAH’S EXPERIE NCES TO CHRISTIANS TODAY
1. Christians should trust in God in all their undertaking if they have to succeed.
2. They should be ready to face opposition with courage.
3. They should work towards improving the welfare of their people.
4. They should be committed to their work until they accomplish their goals.
5. They should lead by example showing others what to do and by setting the pace.
6. They should condemn all evil in society so as to build a just society.
7. They should guard against external influences which may destroy Christianity e.g. pornography and drug abuse.
8. Christian should be inspired to work for God.
9. They should demonstrate wisdom in solving issues that affect the society.
10. They should be aware of the forces against their effort to serve God and the community.
11. Christians should obey lawful authority.

THE RESTORATION OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY
The Renewal of covenant. (Nehemiah 8, 9, 10, 11, 12:1-26)
The teaching of Moses Law had been forgotten by the Jews who return from exile. The Jews were anxious to live according to God’s will so as to avoid a repeat of God’s punishment they had suffered. The people like Ezra, the scribe had to read and interpret to them the Mosaic Law so that they could live according to its precepts. Ezra and Levites led the people into renewing the covenant in the following ways.
(a) Reading of the Law. (Nehemiah 8:1-18)
- Ezra read the book of the law to the people as the Levites interpreted.
- The people praised and worship GOD.
- They were remorseful for their sins and wept bitterly.
- Ezra explained to them that ceremony should bring joy to them and not sorrow.
- The people went away to celebrate as instructed.
(b) Celebration of the feast of Booths. (Neh. 8:13-18)
- This Feast had been forgotten for a long time after the Israelites went into exile.
- Ezra led all Jews to renew this feast.
- The people made booths from lives branches and leaves, in which they dwelt in for seven days.
- Each day the Law of Moses was read and there was great rejoicing.
(c) Holding the conference of the people. (Nehemiah 9:32-38, 10:1-39)
- The people of Judah held a national day of confession.
- The fasted and put on sack cloths as a sign of penitence.
- The Jews separated themselves from foreigners.
- They spent the day reading the Torah and confessing their sins.
- Ezra led the people in a prayer of confession in which he recounts God’s love and faithfulness to his promises to the Israelites throughout their history.
- The rebelliousness led to God sending them to exile as a punishment but he graciously spared a remnant.

(d)Sealing of the covenant (Nehemiah 9:32-38, 10:1-39)
- The leaders who included Nehemiah, the princes, priest and Levites sealed the covenant through signing of the agreement.
- The people promised to live in accordance with the Mosaic Law e.g.
- To preserve the integrity of the community.
- Not to intermarry with foreigners.
- To avoid business dealings on the Sabbath and holy days
- Let’s the land rest every seventh year.
- To cancel debts every seventh year.
- To contribute towards the maintenance of the temple.
- To offer the first fruits of their harvest to God.
- To dedicate the first born sons and animals to God.
- To pay tithes in accordance with the Law.

(d) Re-distribution of the inhabitants. (Nehemiah 11, 12:1-26)
- Nehemiah re- distributed the population of the Israelites in Jerusalem because the city was sparsely populated. This was to ensure that the Levites would easily access the Temple and to safeguard he city against attacks by enemies.
- Community leaders were settled in Jerusalem.
- One family out of ten was settled in the city through the ballot.
- The rest of the population remained in the countryside where they had settled.

DEDICATION OF THE WALL OF JERUSALEM
(Nehemiah 1227-47)
- The wall of Jerusalem had been rebuilt and completed in 52 days.
- The Levites were brought in from their respective places to Jerusalem.
- Singer also came from the surrounding villages.
- The priest and Levites purified themselves, the people, the gates and the wall.
- Nehemiah brought the leaders of Judah upon the wall and split people into two groups/choirs.
- One group/choir matched clockwise around the wall led by Nehemiah.
- The other group matched anticlockwise led by Ezra
- They converged in the temple square.
- The two choirs took their positions in the temple under the direction of Jezraiah.
- Some men were appointed to be in-charge of store rooms in the temple –for contributions of tithes and first fruits.
- The priest, singers, gatekeepers and Levites performed theirs duties as required.
- The priest and Levites were allocated their portions of contributions as required by the law.
- Sacrifices were made, with great rejoicing.

FINAL REFORMS
Nehemiah 13
- After Nehemiah dedicated the walls of Jerusalem to God, he introduced various reforms to achieve the purity of the Jews and bind them closely knit community.
- This was carried out in the following ways:
a) The separation of the Jews from the foreigners Nehemiah 13:1-3

-In Nehemiah 7:5-69, Nehemiah enrolled all the citizens in Jerusalem according to genealogy. This was meant to identify Jews. One had to be able to trace one’s ancestry to Jewish parent or grandparent.
-I n another public gathering the law was read to the Jewish people.
Nehemiah denounced relationships with Ammonites, Moabites and other foreigners.
-The community responded immediately to the demands of the law.
-It set itself apart from foreign elements. They did this according to Deut.23:4-7


b) REFORMS OF THE TEMPLE. Nehemiah 13:4-14
-Nehemiah expelled Tobiah and Sanballat from the Temple.
-He reorganized the stores in the temple and had them cleansed.
- He reformed the tithing system.
-He condemned the temple officials for forsaking the house of God.
-He restored the Levites and the singers to their rightful positions.
-He arranged for equitable distribution of Temple resources under the supervision of priest, musicians, Levites and the governor himself.

c) Reforms on observing the Sabbath. Nehemiah 13:15-22
-Nehemiah discovered that the people were breaking the Sabbath law by carrying out commercial activities.
He took the following measures to correct the situation:
- He warned the people of God’s wrath if they continued with the abuse of the Sabbath.
- He reminded the nobles of Judah that God had punished the nation because of their ancestors’ failure to observe the Sabbath.
- He ordered the doors of the gates of Jerusalem to be shut until after the Sabbath.
- He stationed his personal guards at the gate to prevent traders from entering on the Sabbath.
- He commanded the Levites to protect the purity of the Sabbath by purifying themselves the guarding the Temple gates.
- He threatened the traders who camped outside the wall to have them arrested if they did not withdraw.

d) Nehemiah’s policy on mixed marriages. Nehemiah 13:23-31
-Nehemiah was opposed to the Israelites who had married foreigners because their children could not speak the Hebrew language.
-He cursed those who had intermarried, beat them and pulled their hair as a way of humiliating them in public.
-He made the people to take an oath not to engage their children in foreign marriages.
-He banished Eliashib, the priest, from the office for having married the daughter of sanballat, the Samaritan governor.
-He reminded the people of how King Solomon intermarried with foreign wives hence leading him into idolatry and invoking God’s punishment on Israel.
According to Nehemiah, it was necessary for the Jews to separate themselves from foreigners because of the following reasons:
- The Jews an ethnic minority which needed to preserve their identity and culture.
- Judah was a small and vulnerable nation in the large Persian Empire which needed to remain united.
- There were conflicts between the post exilic Jews and those who had remained behind over the land ownership.
- The returned exiles needed to be isolated and united because the Jews who had remained behind were defiled through inter-marriages.
- Inter-marriages posed the threat of loss of land through inheritance.
- Intermarriages would lead the Jews into idolatry due to influence of foreign wives.
-The desire to keep the Jewish community pure after the exile through birth and religious loyalty.
e) Restored the Levites to their duties and the purification of priesthood
f) He made sure the Jews were loyal to the laws of Moses.
g) Chased Eliashib’s grandson who had defiled the priesthood by marrying a foreigner.
h) Re-organized the tithing system.
i) Re-arranged for equal distribution of Temple resources for priest, Levites and musicians.

RELATING THE TEACHING FROM NEHEMIAH’S EXEMPLARY LIFE TO ST.LUKE’S GOSPEL AND CHRISTIAN LIFE TODAY
1. Prayerfulness
-Nehemiah led a life of prayer. He always responded to a problem affecting him by consulting God.
-Jesus constantly prayed and even taught his disciples how to pray. He used the parable of the friend of midnight to illustrate persistence in prayer.
-Christians should live a prayerful life if they are to succeed in life.
2) Being compassionate
- Nehemiah felt for the suffering Jews who had returned to Jerusalem. He came to rescue of the poor who were oppressed by the rich.
-John the Baptist taught about the need to share with the poor.
Jesus’ mission mainly targeted the poor and the suffering. He healed them, provided food for them. He taught about visiting the prisoners, feeding the hungry and clothing the poor.
-Christians should demonstrate compassion for the needy through sending relief food to famine stricken areas, building homes for orphans and aged, rehabilitating street children and prisoners.
3) Opposition in the Mission
-Nehemiah faced opposition from the Sanbalat and Tobiah during his construction work but he never gave up.
-Jesus met opposition from the Jewish leaders but did not stop preaching the gospel.
-Christians should be ready to suffer and face opposition for the sake of the Gospel.
4) Reform of the temple.
- Nehemiah led the people in reforming their religious life. He carried out cleansing of the temple so that the true worship of Yahweh could be restored.
-During his triumphant entry to Jerusalem, Jesus cleansed the temple by chasing out merchants. His death on the cross illustrates the spiritual renewal for his followers. He also forgave sinners.
- Christian should not misuse the church as means of acquiring wealth or for political reasons.
5) Honoring the Sabbath
- Nehemiah restored the observance of the Sabbath. The merchant had abused the holy day by carrying out business.
- Jesus acknowledged the importance of the Sabbath and used it to promote the life of the suffering by healing the sick.
- Christians should use the day of the lord for prayers and to carry out works of charity such as visiting the sick and praying with them.
6) Patriotism
- Nehemiah had deep feelings for Jewish community. He championed for the restoration of his community. He isolated them from foreign influence during his reform.
- Jesus had great love for his fellow Jews and wept over Jerusalem for her failure to recognize him as the messiah.
- Christians should be patriotic to their country by participating in national issues such as constitution review process and general elections.
7) Wisdom
- Nehemiah demonstrated wisdom by mobilizing and encouraging the Jews to work. He could detect the false traps laid against him by his enemies.
- Jesus was able to read the minds of the religious leaders who wanted to trap him e.g. on the issue of payment of taxes to the Romans Empire and the resurrection.
- Christians should apply life skills of critical thinking and decision making when handling challenges situations.
8) Repentance
-Nehemiah interceded for the sins of the people of Judah to God and asked for forgiveness. He also repented on their behalf.
-Jesus while on the cross interceded to God for those who had crucified him and asked God to forgive them. He offered his life on the cross for the forgiveness of the sins of humankind.
-Christians hold prayers of intercessions to god for people’s sins.


 

More Notes