Tobiah was not a priest, so moving his household furniture into the temple desecrated the area (13:5, 7). His presence in the temple also meant that one of Nehemiah’s fierce opponents had been given a luxurious home in the temple.
Dedications were ceremonies performed to consecrate something or someone for service to the Lord.
Why did the small towns of Judah send people to live in Jerusalem? In Nehemiah’s time, Jerusalem was only one-fourth the size it had been before the exile. No one wanted to live in a city without defensive walls. Once the walls were completed, however, the community leaders wanted Jerusalem to become a thriving capital city once again. This meant transplanting citizens from the small towns (11:1–2).
Seals in the ancient Near East (e.g., 10:1) were stamps pressed into soft wax on documents that demonstrated ownership or authorship.
Word pictures for worship and teaching. Religious images were strictly forbidden under the Mosaic law, but Israel’s leaders often used vivid imagery in their story-telling to teach the people and to help them worship. Chapter 9 gives an example of this, as the Levites publicly recite the nation’s history, from creation to the present.
The Feast of Booths (8:2) marked the end of the agricultural year. It was a time to celebrate God’s provision and to ask his blessing for the next year’s crops. Once every seven years, the Book of the Law of Moses was to be read during the festival. This was done to instruct the children and as a reminder for the adults.
Can Nehemiah’s wall be seen today? In the 2,500 years since Nehemiah’s day, Jerusalem has been rebuilt, destroyed, and rebuilt again. This has made evidence of Nehemiah’s wall difficult to find. However, a part of the wall can still be seen.