Over the one hundred years since the first exiles had returned with Zerubbabel, the people had become much disorganized as a nation. Opposition from enemies and other various hardships had discouraged them from rebuilding Jerusalem and setting up a proper formal government. Nehemiah was a man of action. He began by organizing the people according to their genealogy. Since only descendants of Levi could serve as priests, it was extremely important to properly identify that lineage. Without the proper genealogical proof, they would be barred from any priestly duties. Others who were involved with the operation of the temple were also identified. Nehemiah began by using a registry of those first exiles who had returned with Zerubbabel. The population totaled more than forty-two thousand people.
The people were numbered and settled by the seventh month. There were three important events during the seventh month—Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles.