Damien F. Mackey
“Once, or perhaps oftener, during his governorship Nehemiah returned to the king.
Nothing is known as to when or where he died”.
A few ifs needed here.
If Nehemiah were also the scribe Ezra, as I have tentatively proposed in my article:
Ezra the Scribe Identified as Nehemiah the Governor
and if Ezra (possibly then, Nehemiah) did, as I have also surmised, die the death of Razis (as Razis) in Maccabean times.
Ezra ‘Father of the Jews’ dying the death of Razis. Part One: Introductory section
because Razis, given his supreme importance, must surely (despite the affront to the conventional chronology) be Ezra, hence my Part Two:
“Razis” of 2 Maccabees likely to be an aged Ezra
then it would follow that Nehemiah had, as Razis (= Ezra), died the death of Razis.
Biblical Nehemiah thrust into AD time
The “historical records … are poor” for the presumed Jewish leader, Nehemiah ben Hushiel, because there never was any historical C7th AD Nehemiah ben Hushiel.
The whole reconstruction is a weird projection into supposed AD time of a real history that had occurred way back in BC time, during the Persian empire.
I have shown this abundantly in my series:
Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time
Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time. Part Two: The Nahum Factor
Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time. Part Three (i): A Late, Fake Persian Empire
It therefore follows that this fake (supposedly second) “Nehemiah” could not have been the “leader of the Jewish revolt against Heraclius”.
Not only, though, because the AD Nehemiah did not exist, but also because of some very serious historical anachronisms associated with “Heraclius”.
See e.g. my multi-part series, beginning with (Part One):
Heraclius and the Battle of Nineveh
See also the related and extensive:
Ghosts of Assyria’s Past Haunting ‘Middle Ages’
All of this terrible, pseudo-historical mish-mash has resulted in a duplication of:
- officials Nehemiah; of
- Sanballats; possibly of
- priests Jaddua; of
- Sheshbazzar (the AD version of him being Shahrbarāz); of
- Persian-Sassanian Cyrus-Chosroes; of
- Persian into Parthian (Sassanian) empires.
Mixing Persian and Maccabean eras
“Nehemiah ben Hushiel and his “council of the righteous” were killed along with many other Jews, some throwing themselves off the city walls. The surviving Jews fled to Shahrbaraz’s encampment at Caesarea”.
This episode concerning Nehemiah ben Hushiel and his “council”, albeit un-historical, seems to me to conflate the Persian era – biblically the time of Cyrus and Sheshbazzar (cf. Ezra 1:8), who here becomes (as already noted in (Part One) “Shahrbaraz” – with the Maccabean era and the demise of the elder, Razis, who did indeed jump off a wall (2 Maccabees 14:43-46):
[Razis] … rushed to the wall and jumped off like a brave hero into the crowd below. The crowd quickly moved back, and he fell in the space they left. Still alive, and burning with courage, he got up, and with blood gushing from his wounds, he ran through the crowd and finally climbed a steep rock. Now completely drained of blood, he tore out his intestines with both hands and threw them at the crowd, and as he did so, he prayed for the Lord of life and breath to give them back to him. That was how he died.
Now, what makes the description of Nehemiah’s “council of the righteous … [throwing] themselves off the city walls” is the fact that I have identified Razis above, from 2 Maccabees, with Ezra himself:
Death of Ezra the Scribe
whom, in turn, I have identified (albeit tentatively) with Nehemiah:
Ezra the Scribe Identified as Nehemiah the Governor
Although the Persian empire period would not actually be perfectly contemporaneous with the Maccabean and Hellenistic period, as the above mish-mash might suggest, the two periods are far closer in time (by centuries) than the conventional history would have it.
And the biblical Nehemiah may perhaps be the link:
Nehemiah bridges Persia and Greece
And even more so now would this apply if Nehemiah were also to be identified with the Maccabean Razis, a connection I would not want to force at this early stage.
However, if this connection does apply, then the conventional Persian-Greek history will need to be shrunk even more radically still.
“No contemporary accounts”
of Nehemiah ben Hushiel
“… Nehemiah ben Hushiel was appointed governor of Jerusalem. There are reports that he was a strong young man, handsome and adorned in royal robes, but actually we know very little about his reign because no contemporary accounts have survived”.
There are “no contemporary accounts” of Nehemiah ben Hushiel because he was not a real AD personage, but was a phantom based upon the biblical Nehemiah of BC time.
That is why the character is variously described as “enigmatic”, as ‘poorly attested historically’, or “thought to be a historical figure”.
According to what we read of “Nehemiah ben Hushiel” at The Free Social Encyclopedia: https://alchetron.com/Nehemiah-ben-Hushiel
Nehemiah ben Hushiel is an enigmatic figure. He is thought to be a historical figure and leader of the Jewish revolt against Heraclius. Nehemiah ben Hushiel is best known as a figure who appears in many medieval Jewish apocalyptic writings. In these writings he is cast as the Messiah ben Joseph who is an Ephraimite.
In 590-591 CE according to Karaite sources the Exilarch Haninai was put to death by Khosrau II for supporting Bahram VI
Mackey’s comment: I have already discussed in various articles the historical anomalies associated with Heraclius (e.g. Nineveh).
The name “Haninai” here is suspiciously like the “Hanani” and “Hananiah” connected with the biblical Nehemiah (7:2): “I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do”.
The next Exilarch Haninais’ son Bostanai would not reign until around 640 CE. Bostanai would be the first Exilarch under Arab rule. This would leave a fifty-year gap where no Exilarch would have reigned.
It is thought that after Haninai was put to death, Khosrau II suspended all forms of Jewish self-governance and created many difficulties for rabbinical academies. By 609 CE, both of the major academies Sura and Pumbedita are known to have been holding classes and led by a Geonim.
The historical records from this period are poor. Nehemiah ben Hushiel is thought to be an historical figure and leader of the Jewish revolt against Heraclius.
Jacob Neusner guesses that Jews of the west supported Khosrau II against the Byzantines either not knowing or not caring about his persecution of the Exilarchs and suppression of Jews in the east. Frank Meir Loewenberg speculates that in order to gain Jewish support Khosrau II appointed an Exilarch of his choosing. Named Hushiel, this Exilarch had a son named Nehemiah – hence Nehemiah ben Hushiel. According to this guess Nehemiah was placed as the symbolic leader of the Jewish forces.
The Persian Sassanians, commanded by Shahrbaraz, were joined by Nehemiah
Mackey’s comment: As also previously discussed, this is an appropriation of the era of Ezra-Nehemiah, the ancient Persian era, with “Khosrau” replacing Cyrus; Shahrbaraz replacing Sheshbazzar; and Nehemiah ben Hushiel replacing Nehemiah ben Helcias.
… and the wealthy Jewish leader Benjamin of Tiberias, who had mustered a force of Tiberian Jews. The combined force captured Jerusalem in 614 CE without resistance. Nehemiah was then appointed the ruler of Jerusalem. He began the work of making arrangements for the building of the Third [sic] Temple, and sorting out genealogies to establish a new High Priesthood.
Mackey’s comment: Is this not basically what the biblical Nehemiah did?
After only a few months, a Christian revolt occurred. Nehemiah ben Hushiel and his “council of the righteous” were killed along with many other Jews, some throwing themselves off the city walls. The surviving Jews fled to Shahrbaraz’s encampment at Caesarea. The Christians were able to briefly retake the city for 19 days before the walls were breached by Shahrbaraz’s forces.
In 617 CE, the Persians reversed their policy and sided with the Christians, probably because of pressure from Mesopotamian Christians. It has been suggested that Nehemiah ben Hushiel was killed then. However, it does not appear that Jews were violently expelled from Jerusalem as Sebeos thought. Instead, Modestos’ letter seems to imply that further Jewish settlers were banned from settling in or around Jerusalem. A small synagogue on the Temple Mount was also demolished.
Otot ha-Mašiah (Signs of the Messiah)
Another medieval Hebrew apocalypse the Otot ha-Mašiah also casts Nehemiah ben Hushiel as a Messianic leader. It gives a less detailed account but is also thought to be dated to this period.
The following texts also mention Nehemiah and they are all similar to ’Otot ha-Mašiah (Signs of the Messiah). For example, Nehemiah will confront Armilos with a Torah scroll in all of them and in some cases the text is almost identical. The texts are Tefillat (Prayer of) R. Shimon b. Yohai, ’Otot of R. Shimon b. Yohai and Ten Signs ….
Mackey’s comment: “Messianic”?
If I am correct with my radical revision of the Infancy of Jesus Christ, as set out in my article:
A New Timetable for the Nativity of Jesus Christ
then the life (very long, I believe) of the biblical Nehemiah may just have overlapped with the beginnings of Jesus Christ as a child on earth.