"The chequered story of the Kings, a matter of nearly five centuries, had ended disastrously in 587 BC with the sack of Jerusalem, the fall of the monarchy and the removal to Babylonia of all that made Judah politically viable. It was a death to make way for a rebirth." So begins Derek Kidner's commentary on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which chart the Jews' return from exile to Jerusalem and the beginnings of that rebirth. As the drama unfolds, above all and through all we see the good hand of God at work.
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“The Christian, while he has been shown a better answer to evil, can learn from Nehemiah to look to God, not to himself, for vindication (he was silent under the taunts), and not for a moment to accept the world’s low estimate of his calling.” (Page 99)
“In short, what we see in Ezra-Nehemiah is an Israel cut down almost to the roots, but drawing new vitality from its neglected source of nourishment in the Mosaic law and already showing signs, by its new concern for purity, of growing into the Judaism which we meet, both for better and for worse, in the New Testament.” (Page 27)
“He is a model reformer in that what he taught he had first lived, and what he lived he had first made sure of in the Scriptures. With study, conduct and teaching put deliberately in this right order, each of these was able to function properly at its best: study was saved from unreality, conduct from uncertainty, and teaching from insincerity and shallowness.” (Page 71)
“But certainly Nehemiah, like Esther,6 had the wisdom to present the matter first as news of a personal blow, not as a political issue.” (Page 87)
“It was a death to make way for a rebirth. A millennium before this, Israel had been transplanted to Egypt, to emerge no longer a family but a nation.1 Now her long night in Babylon was to mark another turning-point, so that she emerged no longer a kingdom but a little flock with the makings of a church. This is the point at which the book of Ezra begins.” (Page 15)
The works of Derek Kidner (MA, Christ's College, Cambridge) are full of the marks of both professor and pastor with his evenhanded scholarship as well as his devotional insight. These qualities have made his commentaries in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series and The Bible Speaks Today series some of the most beloved and popular of recent decades. Kidner had a long career in both the church and the academy in England. He studied at Cambridge University and then served in the ministry for several years before becoming a senior tutor at Oak Hill Theological College. Kidner began his writing career while serving as warden of Tyndale House in Cambridge from 1964 to 1978, publishing his ninth and final book, The Message of Jeremiah, in 1987.