Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews.
He spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing ? Are they going to restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices ? Can they finish in a day ? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?"
Now Tobiah the Ammonite was near him and he said, "Even what they are building -if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down !"
Hear, O our God, how we are despised ! Return their reproach on their own heads and give them up for plunder in a land of captivity.
Do not forgive their iniquity and let not their sin be blotted out before You, for they have demoralized the builders.
So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.
Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, and that the breaches began to be closed, they were very angry.
All of them conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause a disturbance in it.
But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.
Thus in Judah it was said, "The strength of the burden bearers is failing, Yet there is much rubbish ; And we ourselves are unable To rebuild the wall."
Our enemies said, "They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them and put a stop to the work."
When the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, "They will come up against us from every place where you may turn,"
then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows.
When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people : "Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses."
When our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had frustrated their plan, then all of us returned to the wall, each one to his work.
From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while half of them held the spears, the shields, the bows and the breastplates ; and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah.
Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon.
As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me.
I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall far from one another.
"At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us."
So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared.
At that time I also said to the people, "Let each man with his servant spend the night within Jerusalem so that they may be a guard for us by night and a laborer by day."
So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water.
Now there was a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers.
For there were those who said, "We, our sons and our daughters are many ; therefore let us get grain that we may eat and live."
There were others who said, "We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our houses that we might get grain because of the famine."
Also there were those who said, "We have borrowed money for the king's tax on our fields and our vineyards.
"Now our flesh is like the flesh of our brothers, our children like their children. Yet behold, we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters are forced into bondage already, and we are helpless because our fields and vineyards belong to others."
Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words.
I consulted with myself and contended with the nobles and the rulers and said to them, "You are exacting usury, each from his brother !" Therefore, I held a great assembly against them.
I said to them, "We according to our ability have redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations ; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?" Then they were silent and could not find a word to say.
Again I said, "The thing which you are doing is not good ; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies ?
"And likewise I, my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please, let us leave off this usury.
"Please, give back to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money and of the grain, the new wine and the oil that you are exacting from them."
Then they said, "We will give it back and will require nothing from them; we will do exactly as you say." So I called the priests and took an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.
I also shook out the front of my garment and said, "Thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not fulfill this promise ; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied." And all the assembly said, "Amen !" And they praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise.
Moreover, from the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my kinsmen have eaten the governor's food allowance.
But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver ; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so because of the fear of God.
I also applied myself to the work on this wall ; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work.
Moreover, there were at my table one hundred and fifty Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us.
Now that which was prepared for each day was one ox and six choice sheep, also birds were prepared for me; and once in ten days all sorts of wine were furnished in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the governor's food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people.
Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.
Now when it was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall, and that no breach remained in it, although at that time I had not set up the doors in the gates,
then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, saying, "Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono." But they were planning to harm me.
So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?"
They sent messages to me four times in this manner, and I answered them in the same way.
Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same manner a fifth time with an open letter in his hand.
In it was written, "It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel ; therefore you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports.
"You have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, 'A king is in Judah !' And now it will be reported to the king according to these reports. So come now, let us take counsel together."
Then I sent a message to him saying, "Such things as you are saying have not been done, but you are inventing them in your own mind."
For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, "They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done." But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
When I entered the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined at home, he said, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night."
But I said, "Should a man like me flee ? And could one such as I go into the temple to save his life ? I will not go in."
Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me.
Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these works of theirs, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me.
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days.
When all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence ; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.
Also in those days many letters went from the nobles of Judah to Tobiah, and Tobiah's letters came to them.
For many in Judah were bound by oath to him because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.
Moreover, they were speaking about his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. Then Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.
"Men of Israel, listen to these words : Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know -
this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
"But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.
"For David says of Him, 'I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE ; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN.
'THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED ; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE ;
BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.
'YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE ; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.'
"Brethren , I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
"And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE,
he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY.
"This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.
"Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.
"For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says : 'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,
UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET."'
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ -this Jesus whom you crucified."
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren , what shall we do ?"
Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins ; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
"For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself."
And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation !"
So then, those who had received his word were baptized ; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe ; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common ;
and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.