The completion of the Jerusalem wall and the genealogical registration of the people was a time for great celebration, reflection and resolution—confessions of transgressions and penitent promises. Timing was perfect for observing the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles. Prior to the dedication, the priests and Levites purified themselves and purified the people, gates and the wall. Activities included thanksgiving and singing praises to God. Two thanksgiving choirs were appointed to blend their voices in worship to the Lord. The first choir was led by Ezra as they walked on the wall to the right. Nehemiah followed the other choir as they walked on the wall to the left. Both choirs met at the Gate of the Prison where they united in songs of worship. Other temple responsibilities were also assigned to various individuals.
When Nehemiah had first left the household of King Artaxerxes, he had promised to return at a set time. He did return twelve years later. After an unspecified time back in Persia, he had persuaded the king to allow him to return to Jerusalem. During his absence from Jerusalem, the people had gotten lax in their observance of the commandments and had violated the covenant that they had made only a few years earlier. The high priest had even allowed the Ammonite, Tobiah, one of Nehemiah’s greatest enemies to occupy a room in the temple. They had begun to buy, sell and work on the Sabbath. Nehemiah was highly disturbed by those actions and immediately began to “clean house.” He tossed Tobiah’s household goods out of the room and had it cleansed.
The people were guilty of various other offences including marrying foreigners. Nehemiah was very strict in his adherence to God’s law. He ordered all profane activities to be stopped. His last recorded words consisted of a prayer to God. “Remember me, O my God, for good!” That should be the prayer and goal for everyone.