The Wall That Nehemiah Built
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Even before Nehemiah came from Babylonia to Jerusalem in the middle of the fifth century B.C.E., he knew that he wanted to rebuild the broken-down walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:3). When he arrived, he promptly made his famous night journey around the city, surveying the dilapidated city wall (Nehemiah 2:11–15). On the eastern slope, the wall of stones was so badly collapsed that his donkey could not navigate the path (Nehemiah 2:14).
Quite amazingly, especially considering its condition, the wall was rebuilt in a mere 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15). Nehemiah was able to accomplish this feat by assigning different sections of the wall’s rebuilding to various groups such as families, people from specific settlements, craftsmen’s guilds and so on (Nehemiah 3:1–32). Each section was denoted by specific public landmarks such as existing gates and other known structures. The landmarks in the eastern wall were private homes, probably because here the wall was built higher up on the slope than the old wall, at the top of the crest rather than nearer the floor of the valley, where it had been before the Babylonian destruction. True, the city became smaller this way (some of the old residential areas were now outside the city wall), but there were also fewer people living in the city, so there was no need for a big city.
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