[b-hebrew] Isaiah 53 read within the book as a whole

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Thu May 27 06:42:23 EDT 2004

Dear Liz,

>It is still god-breathed and useful.
>The point is to understand what is being said.
>The point of the author of Ezra-Nehemiah is that the torah
>(Moses' torah this time, since we're in the Hellenistic period now)
>must be protected at all costs. Everything foreign and impure
>must be kept out. The author used Nehemiah's memoir to make the
>larger point. He embedded the memoir in the story he wanted to tell.
>Nehemiah's memoir is just a tool to the larger story. It is the
>larger story that is didactic.

HH: You are right that these are valid meanings for Ezra-Nehemiah if 
one is summarizing the books in brief. But Ezra-Nehemiah is a 
chronicle about the return of the people from captivity to israel and 
the recommencement of national life. Ezra-Nehemiah gives us slices of 
life that have additional meanings.
Nehemiah devotes six chapters to building the wall of Jerusalem, 
which allows security for the people. You might want to subtract 
chapter 5 from that grouping, but the context of the wall's 
construction in poverty and danger makes the condition of the people 
sold into slavery so poignant. I think the meaning of Nehemiah 1-6 is 
just what it appears to be. Nehemiah is one of the admirable 
characters of the Bible. The readers are supposed to appreciate him 
as a leader who feared and trusted God. They are supposed to admire 
the bravery, hard work, and endurance of the people in undertaking 
this task of rebuilding the wall. The whole episode is great. I don't 
see coercion on Nehemiah's part, far from it. God laid this idea on 
Nehemiah's heart (Neh 2:12), and He evidently laid it on the heart of 
the people to cooperate.

HH: In the OT the narrator is assumed to present the actual 
situation, the viewpoint from God's perspective, as it were. This is 
true whether Ezekiel is narrating, or Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, 
Zechariah, Daniel, Haggai, Ezra, Moses, or any of books of the 
prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings). it is true of Esther and 
Chronicles. Yes, Nehemiah is giving us his perspective, but it is a 
reliable perspective. If he says the people had a will to work, that 
is part of the narrative structure of the book, and we are to accept 
it as a fact. If he claims the people were encouraged, saying that 
the rebuilding should start, then that is true.

					Harold Holmyard

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