Nehemiah in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

LITERATURE Nehemiah, the son of Hacaliah, is the Jewish patriot whose life is recorded in the Biblical work named after him. All that we know about him from contemporary sources is found in this book; and so the readers of this article are referred to the Book of Nehemiah for the best and fullest account of his words and deeds. See EZRA-NEHEMIAH. 1. Family: All that is known of his family is that he was the son of Hacaliah (Neh 1:1) and that one of his brothers was called Hanani (Neh 1:2; 7:2); the latter a man of sufficient character and importance to have been made a ruler of Jerusalem. From Neh 10:1-8 some have inferred that he was a priest, since Nehemiah comes first in the list of names ending with the phrase, "these were the priests." This view is supported by the Syriac and Arabic versions of 10:1, which read: "Nehemiah the elder, the son of Hananiah the chief of the priests"; and by the Latin Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) of 2 Macc 1:21, where he is called "Nehemiah the priest," and possibly by 2 Macc 1:18, where it is said that Nehemiah "offered sacrifices, after that he had builded the temple and the altar." The argument based upon Neh 10:1-8 will fall to the ground, if we change the pointing of the "Seraiah" of the 3rd verse and read "its princes," referring back to the princes of 10:1. In this case, Nehemiah and Zedekiah would be the princes; then would come the priests and then the Levites. Some have thought that he was of the royal line of Judah, inasmuch as he refers to his "fathers' sepulchres" at Jerusalem (Neh 2:3). This would be a good argument only if it could be shown that none but kings had sepulchers at Jerusalem...

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