Joyful understanding

When Israel gathers to hear the book of Moses read, the people begin to weep. Nehemiah exhorts them, “This day is holy to Yahweh your God; do not mourn or weep.” Ezra then reads the law, the Levites explain it, and the people go out for a “great rejoicing,” because . . . . Continue Reading »

Continuing exile?

Was first-century Judaism in a condition of continuing exile? Wright says Yes. Many have questioned him. Perrin’s book, Jesus the Temple , offers an argument in support of Wright’s conclusion. Israel was driven from the land into exile because of a failure to keep Jubilee, a failure to . . . . Continue Reading »

Seated prayer

In my From Silence to Song , I highlight the fact that David sits in prayer before Yahweh at the ark-tent. David is enthroned along with Yahweh, a hint of what will come with David’s greater Son. Nehemiah provides another example. When he hears about Jerusalem’s ruins, he sits, weeps, . . . . Continue Reading »

New Exodus

The return from Babylonian exile is, Isaiah says, an exodus that so far surpasses the earlier exodus that Israel will forget Egypt and Moses and all that. When it actually happens, everyone can see its sheen is far less brilliant than the first exodus. The new temple is a disappointing, pitiful . . . . Continue Reading »

Reverse Jericho

At the dedication of the city walls in Nehemiah 12, priests process around the walls carrying and blowing trumpets (vv. 35, 41).  Last time we saw priests, trumpets and city walls, they were the walls of Jericho tumblin’ down. At Jericho, priests with trumpets brought down the city walls . . . . Continue Reading »

Jacob Limping

Matthew Levering wisely rejects von Balthasar’s notion that Ezra-Nehemiah is “like a brook in the process of drying up”: “Why should the rebuilding of the temple and the renewal of obedience to the Torah, despite the diminishment of the splendor of the temple and the . . . . Continue Reading »

Purity and holiness

Hannah Harrington gave a very fine presentation on the holiness and purity terminology in Ezra and Nehemiah. She showed that these post-exilic texts display an expansion of holy space to encompass the whole city as well as an expansion of the duties of Levites, a closing of the gap between Levites . . . . Continue Reading »