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Nehemiah 2:13 by French artist Gustave Doré (1832-1883)
Nehemiah 8:5-6 by French artist Gustave Doré (1832-1883)

Nehemiah or Nechemya (Hebrew: נחמיה, Nekhemyāh; "Name means::YHWH comforts") is a major figure in the post-exile history of the Jews as recorded in the Bible, and is believed to be the primary author of the Book of Nehemiah. He was the son of Hachaliah, (Nehemiah 1:1 ) and probably of the Tribe of Judah. His ancestors resided in Jerusalem before his service in Persia (Nehemiah 2:3 ).

Personal History

Nehemiah lived during the period when Judah was a province of the Persian Empire, (see also History of ancient Israel and Judah) having been appointed royal cup-bearer at the palace of Shushan. The king, Artaxerxes I (Artaxerxes Longimanus), appears to have been on good terms with his attendant, as evidenced by the extended leave of absence granted him for the restoration of Jerusalem.

Primarily by means of his brother Hanani, (Nehemiah 1:2 ; Nehemiah 2:3 ) Nehemiah heard of the mournful and desolate condition of Jerusalem, and was filled with sadness of heart. For many days he fasted and mourned and prayed for the place of his fathers' sepulchres. At length the king observed his sadness of countenance and asked the reason of it. Nehemiah explained this to the king, and obtained his permission to go up to Jerusalem and there to act as tirshatha, or governor of Judea.

He arrived in Jerusalem in the 20th year of Artaxerxes I, (445/444 BC) with a strong escort supplied by the king, and with letters to all the pashas of the provinces through which he had to pass, as also to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests, directing him to assist Nehemiah.

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