A fourth group of exiles returns with Nehemiah

Neh 1:1-11   Nehemiah, the Jewish cupbearer to Artaxerxes I (465-424BC) at Susa, prays and seeks God’s guidance about the raids that are being carried out on Jerusalem by her Samaritan and Ammonite enemies.

Neh 2:1-10   He persuades the king to allow him to return to Jerusalem with an armed escort to rebuild the city. Nehemiah is issued with letters of introduction to the Governors of the Persian province of Trans-Euphrates, and carries an imperial requisition authorising a supply of timber from the king’s forests.

Neh 2:11- 3:32   Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem with a fourth group of exiles in 445BC. He assesses the damage to the city walls and sets about re-building them.

 

Map 61 Nehemiah's Jerusalem

Map 61  Nehemiah's Jerusalem

 

Rebuilding the Walls of Jerusalem

Nehemiah’s first task on returning to Jerusalem was to re-build the city walls in order to protect its inhabitants from constant raids by their enemies. Nehemiah began by surveying the damage to the city walls at night, starting at the Valley Gate, and proceeding down the Hinnom Valley to the Dung Gate. Turning north up the Kidron Valley, he examined the broken-down Fountain Gate near the King’s Pool before returning to the city (see Map 61).

Nehemiah then began to organise the re-building of the ruined walls. Sections of wall were allocated to different work parties. Eliashib, the high priest was put in charge of the group repairing the Sheep Gate and re-building the wall as far as the Tower of Hananel. The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the Hassenaah family, while the Jeshanah Gate and the Broad Wall were repaired by men from Gibeon and Mizpah. Other families rebuilt the Tower of the Ovens and the section of wall overlooking the Hinnom Valley between the Valley Gate and the Dung Gate.

 

A section of Nehemiah's wall at the City of David

Nehemiah's wall at the City of David

 

The Fountain Gate, the wall by the Pool of Siloam and the steps leading down from the City of David were rebuilt by the son of the governor of Mizpah. The son of the governor of Beth Zur repaired the wall overlooking the Kidron Valley as far as David’s tomb and the Pool of Gihon. Other families completed sections of the wall from the Water Gate as far as the site of Solomon’s Palace on Ophel Hill, while the priests and others reconstructed the wall bordering the Temple Mount, from the Horse Gate to the Sheep Gate.

An excavated section of the foundations of Nehemiah’s original seven metre wide Broad Wall can be seen today just to the north of Hurva Square in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

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