«In the light of the king’s countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.» (Proverbs 16:15)
Nehemiah served the court of Medo-persia for several years (444-432 BC). His impeccable work, his responsible attitude and his loyalty to his superiors led him to occupy one of the most important positions in the palace: cupbearer to the king. In reality, he was one of the closest people to the most powerful monarch in the world. But one day, the Hebrew official heard a painful report on the condition of Jerusalem, his beloved city: abandonment, ruin and indifference. For more than a hundred years, in 586 BC, it had been brutally destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II. Many of its citizens had been dispersed throughout the area and, the most prominent, had been taken captive to Babylon. Nevertheless, the Jews had remarkably prospered in their new abode. One hundred years later, no one cared about Jerusalem. Who would ever think of going back to rebuild a city in rubble when they had excellent living conditions in the best cities of the empire?
The emperor noticed the sadness on the face of one of his most trusted men. Such an attitude could have cost Nehemiah his life, since he could not present himself to the sovereign with a depressing face. However, the monarch asked him the cause of his anguish. Then the courtier confessed to him the pain he felt for Jerusalem, the city where he had once been the pain he felt for Jerusalem, the city where the sanctuary had once stood that was the foundation of his faith. The king smiled, reflected briefly, and then asked him if he wanted anything in particular. So Nehemiah lowered his face and silently prayed for divine direction at such an important moment. Then he raised his head and asked the ruler to allow him to head a commission to rebuild the city walls. The request was granted. The Hebrew official was endowed with letters, soldiers, and funding to return to Jerusalem and fulfill his dream of rebuilding the city.
Upon his arrival in Jerusalem, Nehemiah got around all kinds of obstacles. A group of influential figures strongly opposed his plans and tried at all costs to stop the project. But they failed over and over again. Several of his enemies never ceased to be surprised how this man had managed to get the emperor to grant him so many powers.
The truth is that Nehemiah’s painstaking work, as well as his loyalty to the monarch and his good attitude in the palace had won him the sympathy of the king, who had no problem supporting one of the great illusions of the Jewish leader.