Nehemiah was a famous cupbearer for King Artaxerxes. The events of this book begin around 446BC, around the 20th year of his reign. The book of Nehemiah was once joined with Ezra; and considered 'Second Ezra'. It is widely believed that Ezra was the writer of the book though he drew all the information from Nehemiah's personal account of the events. The timeline looks something like this:
Persia conquers Babylonians; the decree of Cyrus – 539BC
Zerubbabel returns with 50,000 to rebuild temple – 538BC
The events of Esther during reign of Xerxes (Ahasuerus) – 483-473BC
Ezra returns under King Artaxerxes with 2000 – 458BC
Nehemiah returns with a small group under Artaxerxes – 445BC
Ezra records in Ezra 4:21 that Artaxerxes stopped the construction at one time. Artaxerxes began his reign in 465BC; by 458 he supported Ezra's return. This is quite possible because of the influence of his stepmother Esther.
There are a few major themes that run through this book. First, the reading of God's word and seeking to do His will was important. In chapter eight we see a spiritual revival stemming from the reading of the book of the law. We should note the theme of Nehemiah's obedience. When God's word is at work and His children are focused on obedience we can rest assured that the enemy will also be at work to create opposition and frustration. Watch for this theme also.
This is the only place in scripture where Nehemiah is mentioned. The name Nehemiah means "Yahweh comforts". This book is not quoted at all in the New Testament.
Nehemiah leads the people
The rebuilding of the wall
Defense of the wall
Conspiracy against Nehemiah
The wall completed
The captives who returned
Ezra renews the covenant
The people confess their sins
The people dwelling in Jerusalem
The priests and Levites
The dedication of the wall
The reforms of Nehemiah