“Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?" (4:2). The repairing of Jerusalem’s wall was not like the great building projects of King Solomon, who hired thousands of expert workers. This time, the Jews were mocked by their enemies because they were building on top of rubbish, and the workers were not skilled construction laborers but priests, Levites, craftsmen, city leaders and their families (ch 3), even daughters (3:12). They worked while keeping one eye on defense (4:16).
God’s people had lost the independence, strength, and beauty of the old Jerusalem, and so they depended on Him alone. Nehemiah assured them, “Our God will fight for us” (4:20).