Aug 31, 2021

Top 5 Commentaries on the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah

3 Min Read

With the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the continuous historical narrative of the Old Testament comes to a close. These two books were originally a single work, and most commentaries treat them together. Ezra and Nehemiah cover an historical period of approximately one hundred years, from the decree of Cyrus permitting the exiles to return to their homeland to Nehemiah’s time in office. The following are five of the most helpful commentaries on Ezra/Nehemiah.

1. F. Charles Fensham —The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 1983).

Ezra and Nehemiah are challenging books for contemporary readers. The best commentaries for those seeking to understand these books are the commentaries by Fensham and Rata (below).

2. Tiberius Rata —Ezra & Nehemiah (A Mentor Commentary, 2010).

This exegetical and practical commentary is written from a more self-consciously evangelical perspective. There is much in this commentary that will prove especially helpful for pastors.

3. H.G.M. Williamson — Ezra, Nehemiah (Word Biblical Commentary, 1985).

Williamson’s commentary is a scholarly standard on these books and should be consulted in conjunction with Fensham’s and Rata’s commentaries. There is more technical information in Williamson’s work, but it is less user friendly due to the cumbersome format of the WBC.

4. Derek Kidner — Ezra & Nehemiah (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 1979).

For those seeking a good introductory-level commentary on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, I would recommend Derek Kidner’s commentary. He is one of those commentators whose work is consistently good.

5. Mervin Breneman — Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (New American Commentary, 1993).

Breneman’s commentary does not compare with Fensham’s and Williamson’s, but for those seeking helpful summaries of the more technical work that has been done on these books, his is a helpful work.


There are a number of other helpful commentaries on Ezra and Nehemiah. Among them are those by J.G. McConville, James Hamilton, Raymond Brown (Nehemiah only) and Stan Evers. Seminary students will also want to consult the work of David J.A. Clines.

Helpful Related Works:

The chapters on Ezra and Nehemiah in Bruce Waltke’sOld Testament Theology and Miles Van Pelt’sA Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament are very helpful.

This article is part of the Top 5 Commentaries collection.