When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious. He mocked the Jews
before his colleagues and the powerful men of Samaria, and said, "What are these pathetic Jews doing? Can they restore [it] by themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they ever finish it? Can they bring these burnt stones back to life from the mounds of rubble?"
Then Tobiah the Ammonite, who was beside him, said, "Indeed, even if a fox climbed up what they are building, he would break down their stone wall!"
Listen, our God, for we are despised. Make their insults return on their own heads and let them be taken as plunder to a land of captivity.
Do not cover their guilt or let their sin be erased from Your sight, because they have provoked the builders.
So we rebuilt the wall until the entire wall was joined together up to half its [height], for the people had the will to keep working.
When Sanballat, Tobiah, and the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the repair to the walls of Jerusalem was progressing and that the gaps were being closed, they became furious.
They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw it into confusion.
So we prayed to our God and stationed a guard because of them day and night.
In Judah, it was said: The strength of the laborer fails, since there is so much rubble. We will never be able to rebuild the wall.
And our enemies said, "They won't know or see anything until we're among them and can kill them and stop the work."
When the Jews who lived nearby arrived, they said to us time and again, "Everywhere you turn, [they] attack us."
So I stationed [people] behind the lowest sections of the wall, at the vulnerable areas. I stationed them by families with their swords, spears, and bows.
After I made an inspection, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the great and awe-inspiring Lord, and fight for your countrymen, your sons and daughters, your wives and homes."
When our enemies realized that we knew their scheme and that God had frustrated it, every one of us returned to his own work on the wall.
From that day on, half of my men did the work while the other half held spears, shields, bows, and armor. The officers supported all the people of Judah,
who were rebuilding the wall. The laborers who carried the loads worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other.
Each of the builders had his sword strapped around his waist while he was building, and the trumpeter was beside me.
Then I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people: "The work is enormous and spread out, and we are separated far from one another along the wall.
Wherever you hear the trumpet sound, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us!"
So we continued the work, while half of the men were holding spears from daybreak until the stars came out.
At that time, I also said to the people, "Let everyone and his servant spend the night inside Jerusalem, so that they can stand guard by night and work by day."
And I, my brothers, my men, and the guards with me never took off our clothes. Each carried his weapon, even when washing.
There was a widespread outcry from the people and their wives against their Jewish countrymen.
Some were saying, "We, our sons, and our daughters are numerous. Let us get grain so that we can eat and live."
Others were saying, "We are mortgaging our fields, vineyards, and homes to get grain during the famine."
Still others were saying, "We have borrowed money to pay the king's tax on our fields and vineyards.
We and our children are [just] like our countrymen and their children, yet we are subjecting our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters are already enslaved, but we are powerless because our fields and vineyards belong to others."
I became extremely angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints.
After seriously considering the matter, I accused the nobles and officials, saying to them, "Each of you is charging his countrymen interest." So I called a large assembly against them
and said, "We have done our best to buy back our Jewish countrymen who were sold to foreigners, but now you sell your own countrymen, and we have to buy them back." They remained silent and could not say a word.
Then I said, "What you are doing isn't right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God [and not invite] the reproach of our foreign enemies?
Even I, as well as my brothers and my servants, have been lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop charging this interest.
Return their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses to them immediately, along with the percentage of the money, grain, new wine, and olive oil that you have been assessing them."
They responded: "We will return [these things] and require nothing more from them. We will do as you say." So I summoned the priests and made everyone take an oath to do this.
I also shook the folds of my robe and said, "May God likewise shake from his house and property everyone who doesn't keep this promise. May he be shaken out and have nothing!" The whole assembly said, "Amen," and they praised the Lord. Then the people did as they had promised.
Furthermore, from the day King Artaxerxes appointed me to be their governor in the land of Judah-from the twentieth year until his thirty-second year, 12 years-I and my associates never ate from the food allotted to the governor.
The governors who preceded me had heavily burdened the people, taking food and wine from them, as well as a pound of silver. Their subordinates also oppressed the people, but I didn't do this, because of the fear of God.
Instead, I devoted myself to the construction of the wall, and all my subordinates were gathered there for the work. We didn't buy any land.
There were 150 Jews and officials, as well as guests from the surrounding nations at my table.
Each day, one ox, six choice sheep, and some fowl were prepared for me. An abundance of all kinds of wine was [provided] every 10 days. But I didn't demand the food allotted to the governor, because the burden on the people was so heavy.
Remember me favorably, my God, for all that I have done for this people.
When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that no gap was left in it-though at that time I had not installed the doors in the gates-
Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message: "Come, let's meet together in the villages of the Ono Valley." But they were planning to harm me.
So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?"
Four times they sent me the same proposal, and I gave them the same reply.
Sanballat sent me this same message a fifth time by his aide, who had an open letter in his hand.
In it was written: It is reported among the nations-and Geshem agrees-that you and the Jews plan to rebel. This is the reason you are building the wall. According to these reports, you are to become their king
and have even set up the prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim on your behalf: "There is a king in Judah." These rumors will be heard by the king. So come, let's confer together.
Then I replied to him, "There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind."
For they were all trying to intimidate us, saying, "They will become discouraged in the work, and it will never be finished." But now, [my God,] strengthen me.
I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was restricted [to his house]. He said: Let us meet at the house of God inside the temple. Let us shut the temple doors because they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you tonight!
But I said, "Should a man like me run away? How can I enter the temple and live? I will not go."
I realized that God had not sent him, because of the prophecy he spoke against me. Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
He was hired, so that I would be intimidated, do as he suggested, sin, and get a bad reputation, in order that they could discredit me.
My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat for what they have done, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the other prophets who wanted to intimidate me.
The wall was completed in 52 days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul.
When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.
During those days, the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah's [letters] came to them.
For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, since he was a son-in-law of Shecaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah.
These nobles kept mentioning Tobiah's good deeds to me, and they reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.
"Men of Israel, listen to these words: This Jesus the Nazarene was a man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know.
Though He was delivered up according to God's determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him.
God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.
For David says of Him: I saw the Lord ever before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. Moreover my flesh will rest in hope,
because You will not leave my soul in Hades, or allow Your Holy One to see decay.
You have revealed the paths of life to me; You will fill me with gladness in Your presence.
"Brothers, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne.
Seeing this in advance, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not left in Hades, and His flesh did not experience decay.
"God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this.
Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear.
For it was not David who ascended into the heavens, but he himself says: The Lord said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand
until I make Your enemies Your footstool.'
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!"
When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: "Brothers, what must we do?"
"Repent," Peter said to them, "and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call."
And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, "Be saved from this corrupt generation!"
So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers.
Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles.
Now all the believers were together and had everything in common.
So they sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.
And every day they devoted themselves [to meeting] together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.