Nehemiah : Statesman and Sage
Overview - Jewish history recognizes Nehemiah as one of the founding fathers of the Second Commonwealth, when the Second Temple stood in Jerusalem. A statesman, politician, and lay religious administrator, Nehemiah aimed to strengthen national security, foster diplomatic relations with neighboring states, and establish social and religious order in the ancient Jewish society. Read more...
More About Nehemiah by Dov S. Zakheim
Jewish history recognizes Nehemiah as one of the founding fathers of the Second Commonwealth, when the Second Temple stood in Jerusalem. A statesman, politician, and lay religious administrator, Nehemiah aimed to strengthen national security, foster diplomatic relations with neighboring states, and establish social and religious order in the ancient Jewish society.
In Nehemiah: Statesman and Sage, Dov Zakheim, a former senior official in the US government, examines the life of the biblical figure through the lens of modern experience. Zakheim mines the biblical Book of Nehemiah to present a political biography of a man who rose to the highest levels of the Persian court, dedicating his life to the welfare of the Jewish people. Utilizing a unique collection of traditional and scholarly sources, Zakheim reveals how Nehemiah confronted fundamental issues of his day, highlighting lessons for policy-makers today.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
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Zakheim, a rabbi who is best known for his stints as an under secretary of defense in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, proves an adept expositor of a relatively unknown biblical text. This self-styled "political biography" makes a convincing case that Nehemiah, who was the highest-ranking Jew in the Persian court during the reign of Emperor Artaxerxes I in the fifth century BCE, was an unsung hero. Zakheim is not at all oblivious to Nehemiah's faults: "He was self-centered. He saw himself as superior to his predecessors. He was stingy when it came to giving credit to others." But he places those very human flaws in their proper context, through close study of the biblical Book of Nehemiah as well as rabbinical and historical sources. Nehemiah emerges from the author's logical analyses as a figure worthy of more study and acclaim—a man who restored Jewish national pride and "imposed a social and religious order based on tradition, justice, and decency." Some readers may find Zakheim's repeated efforts to link Nehemiah's actions and thoughts to contemporary political personalities and events a distracting stretch, but the speculation does not diminish the overall strengths of this well-written study, which is fully accessible to the non-scholar. (Aug.)