Organization. All of the people did not cluster together on one part of the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. They were divided into appropriate groups according to their abilities and convenience to their homes. Nehemiah was careful to record the names and responsibilities of the various builders.
When Sanballat and Tobiah heard of the work being done, they were furious and began to mock and jeer at the builders. “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.” Praying to God and arming themselves with spears, the Jews continued their work at rebuilding the wall and its gates. Half of the people stood guard with spears while the others worked. The only time that they took their clothes off was for washing. They “had a mind to work.”
Many times, good people have been oppressed by their rulers and leaders. The Jews of the Jerusalem ruins were no exception. They had mortgaged their lands to buy food and pay taxes. When they were unable to repay their loans, they had become slaves to their Jewish lenders. Nehemiah was enraged against the Jewish nobles and rulers. They had been freed from other nations, but were selling their brethren. As governor, he rebuked those men and ordered them to “…stop this usury! Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses…” During his twelve-year tenure as governor, Nehemiah refused the perks of the office because of the bondage of the people.
If the leader of a group can be removed, that group can become easier to defeat. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem formed a conspiracy to meet with Nehemiah and eliminate him as Judah’s leader. When he refused to leave the wall rebuilding, they sent another message accusing him of planning a rebellion against the Persian king to become Judah’s king. After having that claim refuted, they continued to conspire against Nehemiah. All of those attempts against his life failed. “So the wall was finished…in fifty-two days.” In spite of all of the opposition and even disloyalty among some of the nobles, the work was completed with the gates hung and security measures set into place to keep the city safe. God had been with them. Hanani had originally brought word of Jerusalem’s condition to Nehemiah less than a year earlier. Nehemiah placed him in charge of the city because of his faith and godly fear.