Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Nehemiah: Authorship, Part 1

1. The inscription of the Book. Who was Nehemiah? Whether he was the same as the one that is said to have gone up with Zerubbabel in Ezra 2:2? Why he is called הַתִּרְשָׁתָא, the Tirshatha?



This book is called נחמיה/Nehemiah. He was the son of Hachaliah, whose affairs this book narrates, together with those things that happened in his time. He was the first among those שָׂרִים/Princes that subscribed the covenant of God, Nehemiah 9:38; 10:1. Whether he was that same Nehemiah that is said to have gone up with Zerubbabel in Ezra 2:2, the learned dispute, and it is not yet settled. Nevertheless, it is likely that he is the same, both because the same deed is attributed to the same Nehemiah, Ezra 2:63 and Nehemiah 7:65; and because this Nehemiah is said to have gone with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem, Nehemiah 7:7; and because in Nehemiah 8:9 Nehemiah, together with Ezra, is said to interpret the law. But, if he is the same with that Nehemiah of Ezra, it is necessary that he went up at the first to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel, then returned to Babylon, and after some years journeyed back to Jerusalem. The same is called the הַתִּרְשָׁתָא, Hattirshatha, or Attershatha, which the Hebrews say denotes a cupbearer, and so is the same things as מַשְׁקֶה/cupbearer:[1] adding that this word is a composite from התיר, to permit, and שתה, to drink, because Nobles of the Jews made the use of wine free to him, which office of Royal cupbearer he was able to discharge without blame. Nevertheless, Rabbi Ibn Ezra asserts that it is more probably the name of a Magistrate among the Chaldeans.

[1] See Nehemiah 1:11.

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