Rebuilding Jerusalem in the Face of Adversity

Class Title – Rebuilding Jerusalem in the Face of Adversity

Class taught by Meir Schweiger

Class description: When Persia became the dominant power in the Near East in the middle of the 6th century BCE, a new era was ushered in for the Jews who had been exiled to Babylonia. Under the rule of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, royal edicts were issued that allowed and even encouraged the Jews to go back to the land of Israel, rebuild the Temple, and restore the vibrancy of Jewish life in the streets of Jerusalem. Ironically, the response of the vast majority of Jews was to stay where they were; but Nehemiah was an exceptional figure who embraced this historic opportunity. Nehemiah was appointed by Artaxerxes to be the governor of Judah and, in that role, became the lay leader of the Jewish people. His mission was to not only rebuild the walls of Jerusalem but to establish and administer a functioning Judean province. The challenges he faced, from without and within, were formidable – physical danger and political intrigues, intermarriage, assimilation, ignorance and apathy. In our session, we will examine his personality, the issues that he grappled with and the methods that he used to resolve problematic situations. We will see how his leadership and courage continue to be an inspiration to this very day!