Nehemiah observed that the city of Jerusalem was not very crowded, and that there was plenty of room. He searched for and found a census of the people who originally came back from captivity. The total number was 42,360 Jews plus 7,337 servants and 245 singers. The census also recounted the governor’s contribution to the effort of rebuilding, and the heads of households contributions. In each of the surrounding cities, the priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, people of Judah, Nethinim, and all Israel dwelt there.
While this simply seems like a recounting of who was brought back to Jerusalem years before, it also gives us an understanding of what had been accomplished by that group. No doubt, 50,000 people can accomplish much, but they were returning from imprisonment, without the particular skills for building. They had to figure it out as they went, and it was a difficult work to be done, but they did it in the face of opposition from their enemies. The statement, “and all Israel dwelt in their cities” is a statement of completion, a statement that they were home. When you have been wandering, or imprisoned, and God brings you home, don’t forget to remember from whence you came, and who came with you. Take time to remember and rest in the blessing of restoration from God.