In the Bible Ezra comes before Nehemiah and then the book of Esther, though I think Esther comes between these two books chronologically. Nehemiah is in Susa. That’s where Esther will be taken to be with the king. Nehemiah is with the king as well, as his cupbearer.
Ezra’s job was the rebuilding of the temple and restoring holiness in the temple, and among the temple workers.
Nehemiah’s job will be the rebuilding of the wall, restoring the holiness to the city, setting it apart once again to the Lord.
Jerusalem doesn’t need a wall for protection. The Lord is its defense. Righteousness is its guard. But the wall is a symbol of it being established, protected, having a name for itself, its own identity. Jerusalem is the city of the great king!
Nehemiah hears about the wall being in ruin and cries.
When those who had been alive during the deportation return to Jerusalem, they cry. They remember the splendor of the temple. There is rejoicing over the new temple being built, but there are tears of remembrance of what they had and lost.
Nehemiah confesses the sins of the people. He understands what they lost and why. No foreign army had any authority to remove them from their land and burn their gates and tear down their wall. The Lord alone had the authority. No one else could have acted against them without the Lord giving them the authority to act.
Nehemiah is in tears and fasts. He’s weeping over his nation’s sins. He’s weeping over what they lost.
He remembers the Lord’s character: great and awesome, one who keeps covenant and mercy. He remembers the Lord’s promise that if they repent, return, He would gather them from the ends of the earth.
Nehemiah is calling on God to make good on His word. God will fulfill His word. It’s a sure prayer.
He ends his prayer asking for success and mercy. He seems to have a plan to make a request of the king.