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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

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Nehemiah

Leslie J. Hoppe

The Relation between the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah

The introduction to this book (OT, p. 521 ) assumes that Ezra and Nehemiah are components of what was originally a single work. The book of Nehemiah deals with the political and administrative side of the restoration, while the book of Ezra focuses on the establishment of Torah as the “constitution of the returned community.”

Besides these different concerns, there is one striking difference between the two books based on literary form. According to Nehemiah 1, 1 (“The words of Nehemiah&”), the book is an account for which Nehemiah himself is responsible. A significant portion of the book is written in the first person ( 1, 1–7, 5; 12, 31–13, 31 ). These are the so‐called “Memoirs of Nehemiah” (see introduction, OT, p. 521 ).

It is important to see the work of both Nehemiah and Ezra against the deplorable conditions that the prophet Malachi depicts (see Mal 1–2 ). Without the type of concrete communal structures that Ezra and Nehemiah were to provide, the people found it impossible to live according to the high ideals of their ancestral religion since they lacked a healthy social and religious life.

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