The story read well. Nehemiah who was the cupbearer of the king, but also a prophet of God, heard about the renmant that managed to survive somehow in Israel. Remember the Babylonians had taken everyone into captivity except a few people to tend the fields. That remnant was telling the tale that the walls were broken down and the gates were shattered so they were completely subject to the whims and fancies of their surrounding neighbors. There was zero protection for them which meant that all of their sons and daughters would be taken off as slaves and they were constantly under the risk of death.
This made Nehemiah sad and the king, who loved him, noticed that he was sad and it was the first time ever that he was sad in the king’s presence. What’s wrong? I’m sad because my people are living this way. Would you give me permission to go back to Israel, to Jerusalem specifically, and rebuild the walls and the gates? He is given permission and he goes and rebuilds. He faces constant pressure from those nations surrounding Jerusalem but he perserveres in a way that is exceptional. He finishes the walls and the gates and takes a census which gives us close to 50,000 people which is amazing. Now the story is really ready to begin as things are fixed up and they can look toward the future.