Women of the Word: the Foreign Women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab

The book of Nehemiah is largely dedicated to describing how Nehemiah, with the help of others, rebuilt the wall and the city of Jerusalem. Many interesting characters make an appearance – namely, Sanballat and Tobiah. But there are also several women, including: Artaxerxes’ queen, the prophetess Noadiah, and Shallum’s daughters. Now, we come upon another group of women in the book of Nehemiah.

During the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, Nehemiah reminds God of a number of things that he did faithfully for God’s house. In chapter 13:23-29, he talks about how he rebuked the men of Judah for marrying foreign women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. His rebuke included calling curses down on them, beating them, and pulling out their hair! The main reason he rebuked them is because he was worried that by marrying these strange women who did not worship the one true God, the men of Judah would be led into sin and away from God just like Solomon (you can read about Solomon’s array of wives and concubines here). Nehemiah did not want women of another religion and culture to cause God’s people to become unfaithful. Continue reading

Women of the Word: Shallum’s Daughters

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Nehemiah’s self-titled book in the Bible details how he and many others rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem after the city had been destroyed by its enemies. We have already looked at two characters who had a role in Nehemiah’s story. The first was the queen of Persia, who likely influenced her husband, king Artaxerxes, to give Nehemiah permission to build the wall. The second was the prophetess Noadiah who tried to hinder Nehemiah from building the wall by making him afraid. Now, we look at another group of women who had a role in Nehemiah’s story. They weren’t queens or prophetesses. They were simply the daughters of a guy named Shallum.

Nehemiah chapter 3 lists the names of some of the people who helped Nehemiah rebuild the wall. Verses 11-12, in particular, read:

Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters.

We aren’t given the names or ages of these daughters. They could have been grown women with families of their own or they could have been rather young. The important thing to notice is that the work they did for the Lord alongside their father did not go unnoticed. Continue reading

Women of the Word: Noadiah

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Around 445/444 B.C., a remnant of Jews who were in Judah were suffering from low morale because the city of Jerusalem had been torn down and no one had the strength or mind to rebuild it. The city still had a temple, but all the walls around the city had been torn down. Jerusalem had no protection from enemy attacks. During this time, a man named Nehemiah, was cup-bearer to the king of Persia, who was called Artaxerxes. (We learned about Artaxerxes’ supportive queen wife in an earlier post.) When Nehemiah heard about the sad state of affairs in Jerusalem, he asked King Artaxerxes for permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city. King Artaxerxes let him do so, even providing him with timber from his own forest.

So, Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem, rallied the people, and in a few weeks they had the walls around Jerusalem rebuilt, giving the city protection from their enemies. However, Nehemiah and those who worked with him, were not without opposition while they worked. They were repeatedly harassed and opposed by two enemies in particular, Tobiah and Sanballat. Also in league with Tobiah and Sanballat was a woman named Noadiah. She was a prophetess.

Thankfully, Nehemiah did not allow himself to be distracted by Tobiah, Sanballat or Noadiah. He simply remained focused on God. Nehemiah 6:14 says that he prayed:

Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.

Nehemiah’s prayer reveals the way in which Noadiah tried to get him to stop his good work. Continue reading

Women of the Word: Artaxerxes’ Queen

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Artaxerxes was a king of Persia. His queen is mentioned once in Nehemiah 2:6. We aren’t given her name, but history has it that her name was Damaspia. The Bible tells us that when Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah permission to go to Jerusalem, the queen was sitting beside him. Back then, queens were monarchs in name only. Even though they didn’t have much influence or wield much power, perhaps there is something we can learn from Artaxerxes’ queen. Continue reading

1 Year In God’s Word: Day 363 — Nehemiah 12-13, Revelation 20

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Nehemiah 12
Focus Verse: And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away. (43)

The Israelites were happy that the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem had been completed and was now being dedicated to God. Doing God’s work is not always easy, but it does bring true and lasting joy.

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1 Year In God’s Word: Day 362 — Nehemiah 10-11, Revelation 19

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Nehemiah 10
Focus Verse: “When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts. (31)

Even though we are not under the same commands, regulations and decrees as the Israelites were, it is still important that we remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. God was the first to set aside a day of rest after He created the world. We ought not to be so busy or have so much to do that we cannot set aside one day of the week to rest, reflect and remember God.

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1 Year In God’s Word: Day 361 — Nehemiah 7-9, Revelation 18

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Nehemiah 7
Focus Verse: I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do. (2)

Just as Nehemiah put Hanani and Hananiah in a position of leadership because of their integrity and fear of God, God is also looking for men and women of character who He can raise up to take charge for Him.

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1 Year In God’s Word: Day 360 — Nehemiah 4-6, Revelation 17

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Nehemiah 4
Focus Verse: After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” (14)

Whenever we are apart of doing some work for the Lord, whether great or small, we can expect to face opposition. Satan, who is the father of lies and all things evil, is against any good work and he is certainly against those who are God’s people. However, instead of focusing on him, we should do as Nehemiah encouraged the wallbuilders to do and focus on the Lord. There is no need to be afraid of our enemies. Instead of focusing on Satan, we should focus on our Savior for He is great and awesome.

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1 Year In God’s Word: Day 359 — Nehemiah 1-3, Matthew 1, Luke 2

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Nehemiah 1
Focus Verse: Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king. (11)

God hears all prayer, but He is especially attentive to the prayers of those who are obedient to Him. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

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