Based on years of intensive study and research, this commentary provides competent guidance to the complexities of Ezra and Nehemiah. The author gives special attention to the perplexing problems associated with their form, structure, and literary history. Supporting the view that much of this material is from the fifth century BC, just as it claims to be, he concludes that “there is good reason to approach Ezra and Nehemiah as two parts of single work and that this work is to be regarded as complete as it stands.” Williamson also focuses on sections of these books commonly referred to as the “Ezra Memoir” and the “Nehemiah Memoir.” He notes the specifically theological purpose of such sections, in which the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple are defended against the enemies, and the leaders of Israel plead for recognition of their faithfulness to the commission given them by God through the Persian kings.
“Second, being defined more by race and religion than by nationality, the Jewish community is urged to observe a strict program of separation in order to maintain its identity.” (Page l)
“We may therefore conclude by affirming that there is good reason to approach Ezra and Nehemiah as two parts of a single work and that this work is to be regarded as complete as it stands.” (Page xxiii)
“We must start by noting that although the books have an initial appearance of straightforward historical narrative, they do not regard chronology in the same rigid manner as we do. The events recorded are selected for their contribution to the total presentation of the restoration and then welded together without particular concern for the intervening passage of time.” (Page xlviii)
“First, the books make a clear statement about the role of the Persian kings in the divine purposes;” (Page l)
“Finally, the temptation to give up because of the difficulties of the work was met with the response of leadership by example.” (Page 230)
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