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Nehemiah 13 Investigated anew in Light of Three Questions

  • Korean Journal of Old Testament Studies
  • Abbr : KJOTS
  • 2018, 24(2), pp.37-61
  • DOI : 10.24333/jkots.2018.24.2.37
  • Publisher : Korean Society of Old Testament Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Christian Theology
  • Received : March 17, 2018
  • Accepted : April 28, 2018

Kyung-jin Min 1

1부산장신대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This work deals with three questions raised when reading Nehemiah 13. Firstly, this chapter seems auxiliary. It looks better for the book of Nehemiah to cease at Nehemiah 12 where it conveys the moving story of the wall dedication. Secondly, the so-called "remember formula" is rarely used in the Old Testament, but quite frequently occurs in Nehemiah 13. Awkwardly, however, it is used in relation to the unexpected narratives rather than that of the wall-rebuilding. Lastly, Nehemiah 13 reports Nehemiah's second visit to Jerusalem. It is hard to understand, though, the purpose of the visit when considering his achievements that the chapter conveys. They were not urgent enough for Nehemiah to come back without his taking a rest in Persia. Several proposals have been advanced to answer these questions. For instance, there has been a proposal to see the chapter as significant and theologically intended by the author. Another was on the "remember formula" put forward by Williamson who understood on the context of the Nehemiah's memoir. The last was a historical study of Sanballat and Tobiah, which helps us to comprehend the political context of the Nehemiah 13. These proposals, however, offer, at most, limited answers to our questions. Nehemiah stayed 12 years for his first visit to Jerusalem. But the book hardly mention what Nehemiah did for such a long time after finishing the wall rebuilding. Nehemiah 13 gives us a clue to suppose what he performed during the period, and for what he aimed and reformed during the second visit. From our study of the chapter it is disclosed that Nehemiah's mission was to keep the priests in check and to support the Levites who were their opponents. This view is confirmed by the remember formula which appears in the last verse of each section. From the discussion above we may conclude that Nehemiah 13 is not an appendix but plays an important role to shed a light on the political context of Nehemiah 13.

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