Literary and Ideological Aspects of Nehemiah 11. by Journal of Biblical Literature

Literary and Ideological Aspects of Nehemiah 11.

By Journal of Biblical Literature

  • Release Date: 2002-09-22
  • Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Brief Description

Most scholars have argued for a literary connection between ch. 7 and ch. 11 of Nehemiah. (1) After building the wall (Neh 7:1) and making arrangements for guarding the city (7:2-3), Nehemiah ponders the problem of populating Jerusalem: "The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few and no houses had been built" (7:4). In his search for a solution, Nehemiah came upon a list of those who had come up out of captivity, "the book of the genealogy of those who came up at the first" (7:6-73a), parallel to the list of returnees found in Ezra 2:1-70. The account, beginning in Neh 7:73b, carries the narrative line through three chapters (8, 9, 10), concerned with the assembly of the people for reading the Torah, celebrating the festival of Tabernacles, and sealing the covenant. Immediately afterwards, the opening of ch. 11 returns to the problem of populating Jerusalem. The leaders of the people who lived in Jerusalem and the rest of the people, who lived in their towns (7:73a), decide to cast lots "to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem the holy city while nine-tenths remained in the other towns" (Neh 11:1). In this literary context, ch. 11 seems to encompass the fortification of Jerusalem's physical, human, and governmental strength. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that this chapter is particularly solemn and tendentious, intending to emphasize the renewed centrality of the holy city, the ancient capital of the nation. The emphasis here is on the utopian and ideological aspects of the author's perceptions. The fortification and repopulating of the city are both described as the initial stages in the process of the city's restoration to the fame and glory known during the monarchic period.

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