Why did Nehemiah have to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem? What happened to it?
God had the Babylonians come to take Israel into captivity because of Israel's sins. The Israelites resisted and the Babylonians (also called the Chaldeans) broke into Jerusalem and leveled the city. "And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the LORD and the king's house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire. And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls of Jerusalem all around. Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive the rest of the people who remained in the city and the defectors who had deserted to the king of Babylon, with the rest of the multitude" (II Kings 25:8-11).
The city remained in this state for seventy years. The Babylonian empire had been conquered by another empire, the Medo-Perseans during this time. A cupbearer named Nehemiah decided to do something about the matter and asked the king for permission to lead a group of people back to Israel and rebuilt. "And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may rebuild it." Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), "How long will your journey be? And when will you return?" So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time" (Nehemiah 2:5-6).