Introduction to Nehemiah
Since Ezra and Nehemiah were once considered to be one book, and since Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries in post-exilic Jerusalem, there is much in common between the two books (see “Introduction” to Ezra). In fact, many of the ancient scribes believe Ezra actually wrote the first few chapters of Nehemiah, but the internal evidence strongly favors Nehemiah as the author.
Nehemiah was a high official in the court of Artaxerxes, king of Persia. As a Jew, however, he was greatly concerned about the reestablishment of Jerusalem and the temple back in Israel. Approximately fourteen years after Ezra received his decree from the king Artaxerxes, Nehemiah obtained another decree from the same king, giving him authority to rebuild the wall and the city as a whole. This was almost certainly the decree prophesied by Daniel as the beginning of the “seventy weeks” in Daniel’s famous prediction of the coming of the Messiah (Daniel 9:24-27).
Under Nehemiah’s dynamic leadership, the walls were quickly rebuilt, despite much opposition from the previous inhabitants of the land. Under Ezra’s spiritual leadership, and Nehemiah’s governmental leadership, the remnant nation experienced a significant religious revival, though it never again gained complete independence.