Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed,VII.
(1-4) Measures were taken for the security of the city, now made a complete fortress. The comparative thinness of the population taxed the governor’s resources, and the result appears at a later stage.
(1) Were appointed.—Placed in charge, probably over all the walls. This was an extraordinary provision, to be explained by the fact that these organised bodies formed a large proportion of the inhabitants. The Levites had usually guarded only the Temple.
(2) Hanani.—Who probably had returned from Susa with his brother.
Hananiah the ruler of the palace.—Commander of the fortress, as in Nehemiah 2:8. He was in the immediate service of the Persian king, but his chief recommendation was his piety, which distinguished him from too many of the other rulers.
(3) Until the sun be hot.—General directions were given that the gates should not be thrown open so early as sunrise; they were to be opened and barred again while the guard was present; and the inhabitants were to be divided for night-watches, part on the walls and part before their own houses.
(4) Large and great.—Literally, broad on both sides, with large unoccupied spaces.
The houses were not builded.—In sufficient numbers to provide the requisite population for the city of God. The emphasis is on the fact that the people were few.
And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein,(5-73) The genealogical reckoning of the people, as the first step towards increasing the population of the metropolis, is determined on, not without express Divine suggestion; the allusion to this inspiration from God, is, as in Nehemiah 2:12, very emphatic. The original register of Zerubbabelis found and copied. The express language of both Ezra and Nehemiah makes it plain that this is no other than the list of those who came up with Zerubbabel and Joshua after the decree of Cyrus, in B.C. 538. Nehemiah’s own census follows, in Nehemiah 11. The exposition, especially as compared with Ezra 2, has been given on that chapter.