Nehemiah Child Abuser

Why did Nehemiah pull out the children’s hair? Was this just going too far? Recognising Bible patterns is a big help in interpretation.

Nehemiah’s new Jerusalem is pictured as a new creation. It’s construction follows the Creation week pattern. The book ends with three victories.

Where the serpent conquered Adam in the garden Nehemiah evicted Tobiah the Ammonite, who had been an opponent to reconstruction and was now squatting in the Temple compound.

Where Cain broke sabbath and slew his brother, Nehemiah barred the Canaanite merchants from the city on Saturdays (this is also alluded to in Zechariah 14:21). He also chased away a grandson of Eliashib the High Priest, who had married a daughter of Sanballat, another major opponent of the restoration of the walls.

This brings us to the children. The sons of God (Sethites) had intermarried with pagans and produced an army of mighty men. Here, Nehemiah attacks the potential “mighty men” children. They were cursed, beaten and had their ‘false Nazirite’ hair torn out. They would not fill the ‘world’ of this ‘new covenant’ with violence. This was a new creation and the old sins would not be tolerated. These children of compromise were ‘sins’ that would not grow to maturity.

Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign… Remember me, O my God, for good. (Nehemiah 13:30-31)

The king’s cupbearer saw his new creation with the eyes of God, the bride-city he had rebuilt, the walled garden he had guarded and cleansed for God. He (kind of) prayed the Lord would say it was very good.

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