Is Nehemiah Chapter 12 verse 10-11 written by an author other than Nehemiah?  [editor’s note: see the follow-up question below]


I am not sure why you think, in particular, that Nehemiah 12:10-11 might be written by someone other than Nehemiah.  Can you please write me back, explaining why you are unsure of the authorship of this particular set of two verses.  I am guessing it might be because you think that Jaddua lived after Nehemiah?   Please let me know.

As a general comment, it is not at all unusual that Old Testament books which, without thinking, we might assume are written by a single author, but which actually have an editor or editors who put the books into their final form.

Let me give you a couple of examples.  Daniel probably wrote significant parts of the Book of Daniel, but he almost surely did not write the whole book.  For example, in Daniel 4:19 it says, “Then Daniel (also called Betheshazzar) was greatly perplexed….”  On the other hand, in Daniel 9:2 Daniel says, “I, Daniel, understood from Scriptures, according to theWord of the Lord given to Jeremiah…”   Perhaps it is not conclusive, but the most reasonable conclusion is that parts of the book were written BY Daniel and others were written ABOUT Daniel.

Another example which seems to prove that there was a later editor of the book is found in Daniel 2:4 where it says, “Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, ‘O King, live forever…'”  There is strong evidence here that an editor inserted the phrase “in Aramaic” because it is at this point that the book shifts from Greek to Aramaic.   It is not impossible that Daniel himself put this interpolation in, but it is unlikely.

There are dozens of examples of this sort.  For example, Moses probably wrote most of Deuteronomy, but it is almost certain that there was a later editor of this book.  For example, it records the death of Moses in chapter 34!  This is not the only evidence of the work of later editors in Deuteronomy.  At the end of Deuteronomy 34, the editor of Deuteronomy tells us that “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” (Deuteronomy 34:10)  From this passage, I assume the work of the editor of Deuteronomy was hundreds of years after Moses died.  There are other tiny insertions in Deuteronomy where the editor comments that such and such a thing had continued down to the day the editor wrote.

As I already said, there are other examples in the Old Testament of editorial work of later writers on the original work of an acknowledged Old Testament writer.  Whether this is the case in Nehemiah is something, to be honest, I have not thought all that much about.  Because Nehemiah is probably the last Old Testament book written (with the possible exception of Malachi), there is less likelihood of a later editor, simply because the Old Testament was collected as a whole not all that long after Nehemiah wrote.  However, this does not preclude the work of an editor who may have added material to what Nehemia wrote.

Some might be thrown off a bit to learn that Daniel did not write all of Daniel or Moses did not write all of Deuteronomy.  They should not be distracted by this fact.   What is important is that all the books of the Old Testament are inspired.  Whether God worked through a single author of multiple authors, or whether he used an inspired editor of the original is not the key point.  The thing we should be concerned about is whether God, in his wisdom and power, has inspired the entire Old Testament.  I believe he has.  There are several authors of the Psalms, some of whom we do not know the names of.  Some of them we do not know even the century they were written in.  Proverbs has at least three, but probably more authors.  Again, the important thing is that the evidence supports the conclusion that the entire Old Testament is inspired by God.

Did Nehemiah have more than one author?  My reading of the book makes be believe that it was likely a scribe who knew Nehemiah who wrote most of this book, although there are parts ascribed directly to Nehemiah (such as Nehemiah 13:14-15).  My conclusion is that it does not really matter if there was more than one author, as long as we can reasonably conclude that God inspired that author or those authors.

I await your clarification of your question.

John Oakes

Editor’s note:  Here is the follow-up question and answer:

Thank you for your reply. Concerning Neh 12:10,11 my I assume Jaddua lived after Nehemiah
Could you explain Neh 12: 1-26. In particular the reference to the high priests that lived after Nehemiah as listed in verses 12-21. Also the reference to Darius the Persian in verse 23. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.


Probably the Jaddua of Nehemiah 12:11 is the Judda of Josephus who was the son of Johanan (who would be Jonathan, the father of Jaddua in Nehemiah 12:10.  If this is so, then this particular part of Nehemiah was written, as I conceded earler, by an editor who put together the material by and about Nehemiah.  If this is so, then the final edits of Nehemiah may have come as late as about 370 BC.  According the the research I did, which relies in part on Josephus, the date of rule for the high priests in Nehemiah 12:10-11 are Eliashib (470-433 BC), who would have been the high priest during the work of Nehemiah, Jonathan (Johanan in Josephus, 433-371 BC), and Jaddua (Juddah in Josephus 371-320 BC).

As for Nehemiah 12:22-23, this also mentions Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan and Jaddua, consistent with 12:10-11.  There was more than one Darius the Persian.  Darius I ruled Persia until 486 BC.  Probably this is not the Darius mentioned in Nehemiah.  Darius II ruled Persia from 423-405 BC.  This is a period immediately after Nehemiah.  The mention of Darius II in Nehemiah is more evidence that an editor of the material by and about Nehemiah put the book into final form a couple of generations after the work of Nehemiah.  There was also a Darius III, but he ruled from 336-330 BC and almost certainly he is not the one mentioned in Nehemiah.  He was the king who was defeated by Alexander the Great of Macedon.

Hopefully, this answers your question.
John Oakes

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