The material from chapter three through chapter six covers only fifty-two days – the length of time it took to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s account begins with a listing of who did the work, going around the wall, beginning and ending with the sheep gate. I’ve included the following diagram of the building of the wall, taken from Derek Kidner’s Ezra and Nehemiah: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentary Series).
For the modern reader, chapter three is a rather tedious list of people we don’t know, and we’re tempted to ask why this much detail was preserved for us. Ezra and Nehemiah, however, appear to be official accounts and it would be necessary to be specific in such an important document.
While the building of the wall is not exactly an account of whole-hearted unanimity in Israel, it does tell us support was wide-spread. A few of the rich and powerful opposed it, but there were many others who joined in the work. Among them were Shallum and Rephaiah, sons of the two rulers in Jerusalem, Shallun (whose father ruled in Mizpah – 7 mi. north of Jerusalem), Malkijah (whose father was ruler of Beth Hakkerem – 5 miles south of Jerusalem). People from a variety of occupations (and both sexes) participated – priests, jewelry makers, perfume makers, and merchants – most of whom were not builders. And people came from some distances – Jericho Keilah, and Beth Zur were twenty miles away, Tekoah and Zanoah fifteen miles away.
All in all, that such inexperienced people could come, and did come, amid tremendous opposition (recounted in chapters 4-5), and rebuild this wall, eight feet thick and some three miles long, is a testimony to what can be accomplished when the people of God work together for the glory of the Lord.