This part of Ezra-Nehemiah is delineated from the first by the title, “The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah” (1:1). It is an appropriate introduction because much of the book reads like a personal account of this great civil leader of postexilic Judah.
The events of most of the book took place in the spring and summer of the twentieth year of Artaxerxes I (465-424 b.c.), i.e., 445 b.c. Artaxerxes had a long reign, but his administration was not tranquil. He faced repeated revolts. An Egyptian rebellion in 460 b.c. took five years to quell, and in 448 b.c. the satrap of Trans-Euphrates, the satrapy that included Judah, mutinied. Such turmoil points to the strategic importance of Judah and the political expediency of a friendly, stable province. Nehemiah's mission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and his authority should be seen in this setting.
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