Introduction

Introduction

Most Christians find the books of Ezra and Nehemiah unfamiliar territory. The NT never mentions either man, nor does it directly quote either book. Nevertheless, these books are important witnesses to the origin of Judaism, the religion that gave birth to Christianity. We can scarcely understand the religious mindset of Jesus' day apart from the legacy of Ezra the priest and Nehemiah the governor.

These books also address the challenge of being the people of God in the contemporary world. The Jewish postexilic community faced this issue in a different world from that in which their forefathers had lived. Adapting to their new situation was a difficult task. The power of God's Word coupled with the skills of energetic spiritual leaders enabled the Jews to recover their identity as God's covenant people.