- Contrast the busy scenes of this chapter with the picture of the walls and gates lying desolate, broken and burned, in 2:13, 14. What brought about the change? (Examine, if possible, a plan of the city at this time.)
- Note how all the different classes in the city took part in the work, each being assigned a special place and task. What can we learn from this chapter of the value of: (a) thorough organization and (b) willing co –operation by all?
- What is the order of events following Nehemiah’s prayer? What difficulties did he have to face at each stage?
- What light does the chapter throw on Nehemiah’s secret communion with God? On what grounds was he confident that God would prosper him in his work? Are such communion and confidence lacking in your life?
- Verse 3. Nehemiah had probably broken court etiquette in letting his grief be seen in the King’s presence.
- Verse 10. ‘Sanballat’: an important official, probably governor of Samaria. Tobiah may have been his secretary.
- How long did Nehemiah brood over the news about Jerusalem before he took action (see Note 1 below)? Note the sequence of events- one which is often seen when God calls his servants to a particular task.
- What can we learn from the example of Nehemiah’s prayer? Note is attitude, his knowledge of the scriptures, his grounds for expecting prayer to be answered. Deut. 7:9-12; 29 and 30 provide a background to the prayer.
- Verses 1. The month Kislev corresponds to our November-December and Nisan (2:1) to our March-April.
- Verse 11. ‘Cupbearer’: a high official, who had the duty of tasting wine before it was handed to the King to test if it had been poisoned.
- For the background to this incident, see Deut. 7:1-4.
In what ways had the people of God sinned?
In what ways is it possible for Christians to commit similar sins today?
- What can we learn from this chapter about:
(a) the responsibilities of leadership,
(b) prayer and confession,
(c) God’s faithfulness, and
(d) the cost of repenting?
- How many males, all told, were with Ezra?
These, with women and children (verse 21), would make a large company.
They had also their goods and provision for the way, many precious vessels and much silver and gold.
The journey was long (7:9) and dangerous (8:31).
Would it have been wrong for Ezra to ask the King for an escort?
Cf. Neh. 2:9. Why did he not do so?
Are we as careful as he to live out what we profess?
- From Ezra’s actions before setting out, what can we learn regarding undertaking work for God?
See especially verses 15-20, 21-23, 24-30, 33-35, 36; and contrast Josh. 9:14; Is.31:1 Jer. 48:10a; Matt. 25:3.
This chapter begins the second period covered by this book (see Introduction). Some sixty years have elapsed since the end of chapter 6.
- What do we learn about Ezra from this chapter?
Note particularly the order of the aims in verse 10, and consider the evidence that shows that he accomplished these aims.
Do you have any similar aims?
- What inspired the doxology in verses 27 and 28? Cf. 2Cor. 3:5.
- When the work of rebuilding the Temple had ceased for many years (4:24), by what various means did God cause it to begin again and bring about the fulfillment of his purpose?
How does dedication strengthen faith and give guidance for prayer?
Cf. Gen. 50:20; prov. 21:1; Hag. 1:14; 1 Tim. 2:2.
- Note the joy, dedication and worship when the task was completed (6:16-22). Cf. John 17:4; Acts 14:26; 20:24; Col. 4:17; 2Tim. 4:7; Rev.3:2.