And when the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities. Nehemiah 7:73
Chapters 7-10. The Covenant Renewed
With the walls complete, Nehemiah consults the census lists as a first step toward repopulating the holy city. Walls were necessary, but the fundamental issue was repopulating the city. People, not the buildings, remain as the key to the continuation of God’s work.
Repopulation of the Holy City –> How wonderful it would be. God’s desire is always bring his people into the holy city and let them live there peacefully and safely. It’s not houses or even church buildings — it’s “people” that has been his focus of work, to clean, to train to be one day become finally the citizens of His Holy City.
Security measures instituted: 7:1-3, Guards for the wall are appointed, and the city gates closed at night.
Genealogies consulted: 7:4-73. Nehemiah registers the present population, matching their family lines with the genealogies of those who returned in the first year of Cyrus.
5 And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein, 6 These are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came again to Jerusalem and to Judah, every one unto his city;
The Persian Era
The Persian empire dominated the ancient world between 550 and 330 B.C. In a series of brilliant campaigns, Cyrus the Great first united the Medes and Persians. He captured Babylon and simply took over its vast empire. The religion of Persia was Zoroastrianism, a faith which postulated an evil deity opposed by Ahura Mazda, the god of light. The Persian tolerance of other religions is reflected in the support of a series of Persian rulers provided the Jews. Darius, the successor of Cyrus, was an effective administrator and developed a network of roads linking his far-flung provinces. Local government was generally left in the hands of native peoples, as the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah reveal.
Persian Rulers in the Scripture
Cyrus 539-530 Babylon’s conqueror returned exiled peoples to their homelands. In his first year he permitted Jews to return to Judea.
Darius I 522-486 Cyrus’ successor expanded his earlier decree and ordered completion of the Jerusalem temple at government expense.
Xerxes 486-465 This expansionist ruler twice invaded Europe and twice was thrown back by the Greeks. He is the likely ruler of Esther.
Artaxerxes 465-424 Nehemiah served this ruler as cupbearer and was granted the governorship of Judea.