Nehemiah was the governor of Jerusalem who rebuilt the city walls. He fought for social reform and motivated the people to obey God. Nehemiah’s deeds are written in the book of Nehemiah .
When the Jews were able to return from exile, many decided to stay where they were. The people who returned were unable to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah was one of the Israelites who did not immediately return to Jerusalem. He was a butler to the king of Persia, Artaxerxes , a job of great responsibility.
Nehemiah builds the wall
One day Nehemiah’s brother gave him the news that the people in Jerusalem were suffering and the city walls were still broken down. So Nehemiah prayed and fasted , confessing the sins of his people to God ( Nehemiah 1: 3-4 ). After that, he asked the king for permission to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls.
See here: how to do fasting and prayer?
The king was kind to Nehemiah and gave him everything he needed for the construction. When he arrived in Jerusalem, Nehemiah inspected the walls and told the Israelites of his plan ( Nehemiah 2: 17-18 ). Everyone agreed to rebuild the wall and was divided into groups. Each group was responsible for building a portion of the wall. Thus, the wall was built very quickly.
Three people were not happy with what was happening: Sambalate, Tobias and Gesém . The three were from other peoples and did not want the Israelites to become more independent. At first, they ridiculed the job. But when they saw that the walls were growing, they gathered their allies together to attack Jerusalem ( Nehemiah 4: 7-9 ).
Nehemiah learned of this and prepared the people to fight by placing watchmen on the walls. When the three foreigners saw that the Israelites were ready, they gave up attacking. Seeing that Nehemiah was the force behind the work, they tried to intimidate him but Nehemiah did not run away . They also tried to defame Nehemiah, saying that he was organizing a rebellion against the king of Persia ( Nehemiah 6: 5-7 ). In addition, they still prepared ambushes to kill him, but Nehemiah did not fall into them.
Another problem that Nehemiah faced was social injustice. The wealthiest Israelis were exploiting the poorest, charging interest that no one could afford and taking some as slaves. Previous governors had lived at the expense of the people’s misery. Therefore, Nehemiah forced the rich to return everything they had taken from the poor and lived modestly as governor ( Nehemiah 5: 10-12 ). He helped build the wall himself.
See also: can a Christian be rich?
The end of construction
The wall was rebuilt in a record time of 52 days! All the neighbors of the Israelites were afraid of them, because they saw the work had the help of God ( Nehemiah 6:16 ). To celebrate the reconstruction of the wall, Nehemiah brought all the people together and the priest Ezra read and explained the entire Law of Moses to them.
Hearing God’s words, the people repented of their sins and asked God for forgiveness ( Nehemiah 9: 1-3 ). Together they made the decision to dedicate themselves totally to God, leaving idolatry. The walls were dedicated with a big party and the people made generous contributions to the temple work.
Nehemiah ruled Jerusalem for 12 years, then returned to the king of Persia. Later, he returned to Jerusalem and implemented further reforms, because the people had gone astray. Throughout his life, Nehemiah was faithful to God and did not tolerate injustice among the people.