If you’re fortunate to have a little diagram of Jerusalem’s wall, then you may have enjoyed this chapter immensely. However, if you just read it straight through, you’re probably not as impressed. It’s a hard read, this one. The diagram in my Bible most certainly turned the tables for me. If you just read the words and had trouble imagining the actual wall itself, then you might appreciate that the building of the wall is detailed in a circular pattern, and my diagram shows that the wall encircled Jerusalem and featured the Temple in the north and the stairs descending from the City of David in the south. The rebuilding, as Nehemiah describes it, starts in the north-northeast corner and follows a counterclockwise circle. Well, it’s not really a circle. It’s more of an oval? It actually looks like a right foot with no toes in my book. I’ll just leave it at that. Actually, no, I won’t leave it at that. If you’re still having a hard time picturing the wall after my poor foot description, just look that baby up yourself!
Now, with a picture of a right foot with no toes in our minds, I want to backtrack a bit to yesterday’s chapter, specifically verse 6 when Nehemiah said that he told the king how long he’d be gone. Well, it’s great he told the king and all, but I sure do wish he’d told us, too! We have no idea how long it took to build a wall in the shape of a right foot with no toes, but we can tell from Nehemiah’s documentation of it that, like Rome, the toeless-right-foot-shaped wall was not built in a day. And it took teamwork, TONS of teamwork … and even a few girls (vs. 12).
I’m not going to elaborate much on lessons to be learned from this chapter. I think some of them are self-evident, and I think this chapter serves as an excellent foundation for the whole of Nehemiah. It shows how many people helped in this gigantic foot-shaped task and what it required to succeed, which was a lot. If you didn’t get a lot out of this chapter, I encourage you to buzz through it again. Instead of concentrating on how to pronounce names and trying to envision a wall shaped like a foot that nobody bothered posting any pics of when it was built, try counting the people involved and envisioning the spirit of the people during the weeks of restoration. And let your heart lead you from there, even if for just a few minutes.
Writing prompt: follow your heart
Put yourself, right toes and all, in the shoes of those rebuilding the wall, and write about the atmosphere of the time.