Nehemiah 8, Luke 1


It is difficult to address an entire chapter—much less two—in a brief reply, but I'll try. The Book of Nehemiah describes events immediately after some of the Hebrew people had returned from exile in Babylon, back to Jerusalem. Ezra was their spiritual leader, Nehemiah their governor. The emphasis was on restoring the community as it had been before the exile. Here Ezra calls the people together and reads aloud to them from "the law of God" (verse 8). This reading would include passages from the Pentateuch (the first five books of Hebrew scripture). Since he was reading in Hebrew, others would have to "give the sense" in Aramaic, so that the people could understand. A celebration was declared, and it was realized that they had forgotten the feast of booths, which the Lord had established in Leviticus 23. They built the required booths and observed the feast immediately. The meaning of the feast of booths is not entirely clear, but it seems to require the people, no matter how comfortable their lives had become, to remember and honor their nomadic past by leaving their homes and living for seven days in booths, or tents, as their ancestors had lived. It is important for us, too, to honor our past—the journey that has brought us this far along our spiritual path—even as we continue to expand the understanding and expression of our spiritual Truth that continues to guide us forward.

The first chapter of Luke is much too vast and complex to describe briefly. It tells of the births of both John and Jesus in imagery that has become a very familiar part of Christian faith. If you have a specific passage, or a specific question, I will be glad to address it.


Rev. Ed