In Nehemiah chapter 12 there is a list of the high priests that served in the second temple. The last one mentioned is Yadua in verse 11. According to wikipedia Jadua was in the times of Alexander the great and even met each other (the famous legend of Alexander seeing Shimon hatzadik in his dream according to Josephus was Yadua, and some even think that they are the same person).

Since Yadua is mentioned in the book of Nehemiah it follows that the book wasn't completed until the days of Alexander the great. So my question is, is this compatible with Jewish tradition, are there any Rabbinical sources that state that the book of Nehemiah was completed before that?

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    The book of "Nehemiah" is just the Christian name for the latter half of the book of Ezra
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 0:49
  • The tradition is Shimon HaTzadik is Jadua's grandson, which connects Tanakh to the Mishna (Avot 1:1). While you're right that the Talmud says Ezra wrote his book, Shimon HaTzadik was part of the Anshei Keneset haGedolah according to the Mishna and we know they put finishing touches on certain late books in Tanakh (Ezekiel, Trei Asar, Esther, Daniel). So overall this is pretty consistent. (The real difficulty here isn't the dating of composition but the missing 160 years. How exactly did all those generations of high priests rule in just 80 years???)
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 0:51
  • @DoubleAA assuming the persian empire lasted more than 200 years (not 34) we have a span of 200 years between the first high priest and Shimon hatzadik and there is no need to squeeze them all into 80 years. See this post judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/37264/… where Matt argues that the AKH could have spanned a period of more than 200 years thus making shimon hatzadik the from the last ones.
    – Bach
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 1:12
  • you can assume that if you want but Jewish tradition and rabbinical sources seem not to have done so, and you asked about consistency with that. i'm not here to argue about ways to deal with the missing years issue.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 1:13
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    @Bach The 34 years figure given by Chazal (AZ 9a), as I understood it, was that the Persian empire lasted for 34 years after the 2nd Temple was built, not overall. You can add up the numbers in the books of Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Esther to see that it lasted for far longer than 34 years.
    – DonielF
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 3:06

1 Answer 1


The Beraita cited in Bava Batra (15a) asserts that "עזרא כתב ספרו," Ezra wrote his own book (that is, the eponymous book of Ezra-Nehemiah), which certainly puts it before the days of Alexander the Great. That being said, I don't know if this source precludes the possibility of later "touching up" of the biblical books. Later on, the Gemara comments upon various statements of the Beraita and explicitly claims that the stated authors did not write the entirety of their books. For example, the Beraita states that Yehoshua wrote Sefer Yehoshua, but the Gemara says that the last few Pesukim were written by Elazar or Pinchas. Similarly, the Gemara says that Shmuel only wrote the part of Sefer Shmuel which precedes his death, and thus the entirety of Shmuel B was written by Gad and Natan. So when the Beraita asserts that Ezra wrote his book, it need not imply that nothing therein postdates Ezra's life.

  • I am ok with that. Its just that the prophecies in Daniel regarding Alexander and his successors (and their accuracy) lose their value, since they could've been edited after the events, and it gives room for the skeptic to doubt its prophetic nature.
    – Bach
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 13:52
  • @Bach I don't think whole sections were edited in by non-prophets. Seder Olam Zuta says that prophecy ended when the last three prophets died, which was when Alexander the Great came to the Land of Israel. We have some hints that portions may have been edited out, but no reason to believe that non-prophetic portions were edited in.
    – Harel13
    Commented Apr 2, 2021 at 14:17

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