The story of Ezra’s reading of the law breaks into the The governor of Jerusalem who rebuilt the city walls after the exile memoir, taking the form of a A covenant is a promise or agreement. In the Bible the promises made between God and God's people are known as covenants; they state or imply a relationship of commitment and obedience. renewal.
The timing is important. These events take place shortly after the completion of the reconstruction of the walls. Mention of the “seventh month” (7:73b; “Tishri,” September/October) is even more important, since this marks the beginning of the religious New Year with convocations, sacrifices, the A Day of Atonement is a ritual occasion of prayer and confession during which a community recalls its disobedience and wrongdoing. Among Christians such an occasion is known as a Day of Penitence. Among Jews Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement; its origins in..., and the Festival of Booths (Numbers 29).
Nehemiah 7:73b-10:39 reintroduces Scribe who helped establish Jewish practices in Jerusalem after the exile. to the narrative by relating his crowning achievement, namely, the introduction of the law as the theological center of the community. These chapters stand apart from their context and treat a different matter. It is likely that they have been ordered as a covenant renewal similar to the reforms of Asa (2 Chronicles 15:1-8), Judean king noted for his reforms in time of Isaiah (2 Chronicles 29-31), and Judean king noted for his reforms of Israel's worship in the time of Jeremiah (2 Chronicles 34:29-35:19). Seen in this way the chapters fall into a congruent structure: proclamation of the law (chapter 8), confession (chapter 9), and renewal of commitment to the covenant (chapter 10).
The placement of this material has caused problems for readers, who usually decide it is easier to read these chapters in conjunction with the material in Ezra. This was, after all, Artaxerxes’s commission to Ezra, to introduce the law to the fledgling postexilic community. Why would he have waited until now to do so? Furthermore, Nehemiah’s dual task of rebuilding the walls (Nehemiah 2-7) and repopulating Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11) seem to be artificially separated by this Ezra material. The present placement of this material suggests that the author considered Ezra’s institution of the law as the most important event of the restoration.