Nehemiah 9–10: Structure and Significance

Tamara Cohn Eskenazi

Abstract


As some have recognized long ago, Nehemiah 9 is the
theological centerpiece of Ezra-Nehemiah. Yet, until recently the long prayer
has not received the attention that it deserves. The excellent essays about
Nehemiah 9 by Rolf Rentdorff and Hugh Williamson stand out as exceptions to the
general neglect of the prayer. Fortunately, the neglect has been remedied with
some new and important studies that greatly enrich our ability to appreciate
Nehemiah 9. This paper has two goals: first it reviews some central
contributions to the discussion about Nehemiah 9 made by new studies of Nehemiah
9. Second, it builds upon these studies in order to shed more light on the
function and meaning of the prayer. In particular, the paper shows how the
three-part structure of Nehemiah 9 discloses a specific response to the
challenge of continuity and new beginnings in the postexilic era. The
implications of such response are also addressed.

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