Nehemiah’s Walls Are Dedicated

Nehemiah 12:27-47

In 445 B.C., about 13 years after the scribe Ezra led a small group of Jewish exiles back to Judea, Nehemiah received permission from Artaxerxes I of Persia to travel back to Jerusalem as well and rebuild the city (Nehemiah 1-2). Nehemiah began by rebuilding the walls, which remained in ruins after the Babylonians had besieged the city in 586 B.C. Prior to that, the walls of Jerusalem encompassed the western hill as well as the Temple of the Lord and the City of David (see map), but Nehemiah’s repairs do not appear to have included the western hill. Likewise Nehemiah’s walls no longer encompassed the Gihon Spring, which was likely no longer accessible from the outside after the Babylonians destroyed its protective towers, though its waters continued flow underground to the Lower Pool. Despite opposition from several other neighboring nations, Nehemiah and the leading families of Judea completed all the repairs in an incredibly short span of 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15). After this, Nehemiah called for Levites throughout Judea (see map) to come to Jerusalem to celebrate and dedicate the new wall. After assembling the Levites, the priests, and the musicians near the Valley Gate, Nehemiah divided them into two groups to walk along the top of the wall around much of the city. He sent the first group in the direction to the right (that is, counter-clockwise) toward the Dung Gate, and he sent the other group in the other direction toward the Fish Gate. When the first group reached the Water Gate, it appears that they came down from the wall and headed to the Temple. When the second group reached the Gate of the Guard, they they came down from the wall and took their place in the Temple as well. Then great sacrifices were offered, and the sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard from far away.

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