The setting for the book of Nehemiah is originally the court of the king in Persia. The people of Israel are still captive in Babylon. Some individuals have returned to Jerusalem with the King’s blessing to rebuild the temple. But nothing has been done to the city walls, gates and other defensive structures. Nehemiah is granted permission to travel to Jerusalem to rebuild the defenses of Jerusalem while the work on the temple continues. In Jerusalem, there is an assortment of Jews that remained behind from the initial captivity, enemies such as Amorites and Arabs, and other Jews working on the temple. Many of the Jews in Persia still had dreams of returning home while others were becoming acculturated. All of this was happening at some time between 450 BC and 400 BC. The Book of Nehemiah follows a narrative for much of the length. It was written as a history of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and as a witness of God’s reward for diligent effort. The book begins with Nehemiah receiving word that the construction of the temple was going as planned but was dangerous because there were no walls to protect the workers and the inhabitants of the city. This troubles Nehemiah to such a degree that King Artexerxes can tell that something is troubling Nehemiah, his steward. Nehemiah courageously tell the king what is on his mind. The king grants Nehemiah permission to rebuild the walls and provides tools, equipment and food. Nehemiah arrives and finds much of the city in ruins. Great breaches have been knocked in the walls, many gates and towers are burned and streets are impassable. Nehemiah announces his plans and immediately become an object of scorn and contempt. Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Gehsem the Arab were his main detractors. They said the work could never be completed. Work does begin on the walls and progresses at a very rapid pace. The enemies of Israel are amazed. They begin to issue threats against the effort to rebuild the walls. Nehemiah records that the work continued, that half of the people stood guard while the other half worked on the construction. These threats were just one of the challenges Nehemiah needed to overcome during the reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem. Soon, a division among the local Jews arises. Many families are concerned that they need to support the workers on the walls and that the construction is taking away sons and daughters that are needed in the fields to grow crops. They threaten to stop giving to support the work of the walls and to withhold their labor. Nehemiah convinces them that this is not the right course of action. He encourages them to first of all, forgive the debts that exist within the community. That way no one needs to fear for losing his or her land. Once the locals agree to do this, they also see the wisdom in completing the walls. They continue to sacrifice to keep constructing the walls. With the construction of the walls complete, Nehemiah makes lists of the families living in the town surrounding Jerusalem. He takes a census according to town and family, making special note of any Levites that can officiate in the temple. In the middle of the book, Ezra takes over, the narrative stops and there is a long account of how the people of Israel are taught from the books of Moses and reestablish temple worship once again in Jerusalem.