5. The Parts of the book are two: I. The ascent of Nehemiah from Shushan to Jerusalem, to rebuild the city (Nehemiah 1-7). II. The Reformation of the Church, undertaken successfully by Nehemiah on two occasions (Nehemiah 8-13). A Synoptic Table, and the Interpreters of the book, Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Hebrew.
Now, this narration is generally summed up in two parts: first, the narration of the ascent of Nehemiah to Jerusalem to rebuild the city (Nehemiah 1-7); second, the narration of the reformation of Divine worship (Nehemiah 8-13), which parts it is agreeable to set forth in detail at this point.
I. The ascent of Nehemiah from Shushan to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, Chapters 1-7. See:
1. The occasion of the ascent, news of the Jews, that the homeland lies in the same ruins (verses 1-3), whence, wholly disquieted in his emotions, he prays to God with groaning and many tears, that He would pardon the sins of His people, and cause His own institution to prosper (verses 4-11): chapter 1.
2. The dismissal of the King, and the opportunity to depart to Judea, and to rebuild the city: with which obtained, he, furnished with letters and a detachment of horsemen (verses 1-10), comes to Jerusalem, undertakes the work (verses 11-18), and responds to their neighbors, burning with hatred for them (verses 19, 20): chapter 2.
3. The building of the city. See:
a. The buildings, both common to the threefold city of Jerusalem: and individual, some pertaining to the Palace, others to the seat of the Levites (verses 1-32): chapter 3.
b. A threefold obstacle, by the grace of God overcome by the virtue and prudence of Nehemiah.
α. The plots and conspiracy of Sanballat and his collaborators (verses 1-8); Nehemiah, fortifying himself with prayers and watches against them (verses 9-14), renders their efforts ineffective, and successfully pursues the things begun (verses 15-23): chapter 4.
β. The complaint of the people, oppressed with servitude, foreign tribute, and mortgaging of goods (verses 1-13), which he meets in this way, that he goes before others by his example, remitting of his own: releases the people from public burdens, and shares his own with them (verses 14-19): chapter 5.
γ. New plots and conspiracy of Sanballat and Tobiah (verses 1-9), and also of the False Prophets employed by them, and of false brethren; overcoming them by prayers to God and vigilance, he finished the wall and the doors in the gates (verses 10-19): chapter 6.
4. The restoration of the polity; with Nehemiah recognizing the offices of the house of God, putting rulers in charge of the city, appointing guards (verses 1-4): and also a reckoning of the Israelites, to strengthen the city with inhabitants (verses 5-73): chapter 7.
II. The Reformation of the Church, undertaken successfully by Nehemiah on two occasions, Chapter 8-13. See:
1. The first Reformation, after the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem: chapter 8-13. See:
a. A congregation of the whole people, in which the book of the law of Moses is read by Ezra (verses 1-8), those stricken by the hearing of the law are raised up by Nehemiah, and recalled to joy (verses 9-12), and the feast of tabernacles is proclaimed, which is celebrated with great zeal and religion, with assemblies held daily (verses 13-18): chapter 8.
b. The public repentance of the people hearing the law (verses 1-3), and the humble prayer, in which they, praising God, accuse themselves and deprecate the wrath of God and more grievous punishments (verse 4-38): chapter 9.
c. The renovation of the covenant entered into with God and a solemn sealing through the leaders of the people, the Levites and Priests, whose names are recorded (verses 1-28); whereby they bind themselves to a holy reverence and obedience of the law of God (verses 29-39): chapter 10.
2. Certain things of a mixed nature attached to this first Reformation, like:
a. The distinction of habitations for the people, both in the city of Jerusalem, and in the fields (verse 1, 2), with one of ten chosen by lot as a dweller of the city (verses 3-24), with the rest moving into their possessions (verses 25-36): chapter 11.
b. A record of the Leaders, Priests, and Levites, that returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem, and the succession of them to the times of Alexander the Great (verses 1-26): the dedication of the walls of the whole city, and a confirmation of the functions in the Temple (verses 27-47): chapter 12.
3. The second Reformation, after the return of Nehemiah to Jerusalem from Babylon, to which, with the former building and reformation finished, they were returned, undertaken, wherein he separated from the people of God the foreigners, purges a chamber, prepared for Tobiah by Eliashib, of household stuff (verses 1-9), settles stipends for the Levites (verses 10-14), with great zeal stops the profanation of the Sabbath (verses 15-22), and severely corrects and rejects the marriages with foreign women (verses 23-31): chapter 13.