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Week 38


Day 1: Ezra 9:1-10:44, Nehemiah 1:1-2:20

Day 2: Nehemiah 3:1-5:13, Nehemiah 6:1-7:3

Day 3: Nehemiah 7:4-8:12

Day 4: Nehemiah 8:13-10:39

Day 5: Nehemiah 11:1-12:26, 1 Chronicles 9:1-34

Day 6: Nehemiah 12:27-13:6, Nehemiah 5:14-19, Nehemiah 13:7-31, Malachi 1:1-2:9

Day 7: Malachi 2:10-4:6, Joel 1:1-3:21


Hard Questions

  1. Ezra 9-10 and putting away pagan wives/Nehemiah 13:1-3/Malachi 2:11/Neh. 13:7-9; concern for genetic purity of Israel. Two characteristics of the culture in this era are a kind of flinch-out reaction on the part of the repentant toward their past sins, and a sense of having learned their lesson. The actions we see aren’t just on the part of Ezra and Nehemiah; the elders of Israel initiate it, the men of Israel come forward willingly and choose their own course of action (10:2-3, as pointed out by Edwin Yamauchi in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 668), Ezra and Nehemiah execute it, and Malachi preaches against it. There’s a definite sense of needing to fight for cultural, traditional, and genetic purity because they’ve seen how easily the nation has slid away from God through this kind of laxity, how hard it’s been to come back to Him, and how terrible the consequences have been in the meantime. Yamauchi does mention that one community at Elephantine, who continued to practice intermarriage, ended up participating in goddess-worship in addition to worship of Yahweh (677). As to the wives and children being put away, the Bible doesn’t give us a lot of details about how this worked out practically. If they had married under a dowry system, that was a kind of built-in alimony to take care of the woman and her children. There’s just not enough information to come to a conclusion as to their fate. We also see a paradigm shift in the NT as the people of God ceases to be genetic and becomes purely spiritual, with a corresponding shift in ideas about who can marry whom.
  2. (Malachi 1:2b-3a), “Jacob have I loved/ but Esau have I hated.” In the OT context, this is not about God hating Esau before he was ever born. This is about Edom’s hatefulness toward God’s people, and how God has loved Jacob (Israel) and has hated Esau (Edom), and destroyed everything Edom has. Multiple prophecies in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, and Obadiah speak of God’s vengeance toward Edom in this time period. Paul later co-opts and reinterprets this text to speak about God’s choosing Jacob over Esau in the womb (there are several times where NT writers lift verses out of their Old Testament context as they are gospel prophecies. They can do that, being inspired and, in the case of the Apostles, informed directly by Jesus. We can’t). God gave Esau a home, land, and an inheritance, and protected his people many times throughout the Bible story. Malachi is indicating His opposition toward Esau’s nation as it has come to hate Israel and seek its destruction.
  3. (Joel 2:25), “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten …” God’s restoration a pattern, here talking about giving the nation its life and beauty back, but I do think this stays applicable for the individual, especially with its close connection to the prophecies about God pouring out His Spirit on His people; it’s gospel connected.


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