1 When Sanballat heard we were rebuilding the wall, he was very angry, even furious. He made fun of the Jewish people. 2 He said to his friends and those with power in Samaria, "What are these weak Jews doing? Will they rebuild the wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Can they finish it in one day? Can they bring stones back to life from piles of trash and ashes?" 3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was next to Sanballat, said, "If a fox climbed up on the stone wall they are building, it would break it down." 4 I prayed, "Hear us, our God. We are hated. Turn the insults of Sanballat and Tobiah back on their own heads. Let them be captured and stolen like valuables. 5 Do not hide their guilt or take away their sins so that you can't see them, because they have insulted the builders." 6 So we rebuilt the wall to half its height, because the people were willing to work. 7 But Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the people from Ashdod were very angry when they heard that the repairs to Jerusalem's walls were continuing and that the holes in the wall were being closed. 8 So they all made plans to come to Jerusalem and fight and stir up trouble. 9 But we prayed to our God and appointed guards to watch for them day and night. 10 The people of Judah said, "The workers are getting tired. There is so much trash we cannot rebuild the wall." 11 And our enemies said, "The Jews won't know or see anything until we come among them and kill them and stop the work." 12 Then the Jewish people who lived near our enemies came and told us ten times, "Everywhere you turn, the enemy will attack us." 13 So I put people behind the lowest places along the wall -- the open places -- and I put families together with their swords, spears, and bows. 14 Then I looked around and stood up and said to the important men, the leaders, and the rest of the people: "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and powerful. Fight for your brothers, your sons and daughters, your wives, and your homes." 15 Then our enemies heard that we knew about their plans and that God had ruined their plans. So we all went back to the wall, each to his own work. 16 From that day on, half my people worked on the wall. The other half was ready with spears, shields, bows, and armor. The officers stood in back of the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and carried a weapon with the other. 18 Each builder wore his sword at his side as he worked. The man who blew the trumpet to warn the people stayed next to me. 19 Then I said to the important men, the leaders, and the rest of the people, "This is a very big job. We are spreading out along the wall so that we are far apart. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, assemble there. Our God will fight for us." 21 So we continued to work with half the men holding spears from sunrise till the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, "Let every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night. They can be our guards at night and workmen during the day." 23 Neither I, my brothers, my workers, nor the guards with me ever took off our clothes. Each person carried his weapon even when he went for water.
1 The men and their wives complained loudly against their fellow Jews. 2 Some of them were saying, "We have many sons and daughters in our families. To eat and stay alive, we need grain." 3 Others were saying, "We are borrowing money against our fields, vineyards, and homes to get grain because there is not much food." 4 And still others were saying, "We are borrowing money to pay the king's tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 We are just like our fellow Jews, and our sons are like their sons. But we have to sell our sons and daughters as slaves. Some of our daughters have already been sold. But there is nothing we can do, because our fields and vineyards already belong to other people." 6 When I heard their complaints about these things, I was very angry. 7 After I thought about it, I accused the important people and the leaders, "You are charging your own brothers too much interest." So I called a large meeting to deal with them. 8 I said to them, "As much as possible, we have bought freedom for our fellow Jews who had been sold to foreigners. Now you are selling your fellow Jews to us!" The leaders were quiet and had nothing to say. 9 Then I said, "What you are doing is not right. Don't you fear God? Don't let our foreign enemies shame us. 10 I, my brothers, and my men are also lending money and grain to the people. But stop charging them so much for this. 11 Give back their fields, vineyards, olive trees, and houses right now. Also give back the extra amount you charged -- the hundredth part of the money, grain, new wine, and oil." 12 They said, "We will give it back and not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say." Then I called for the priests, and I made the important men and leaders take an oath to do what they had said. 13 Also I shook out the folds of my robe and said, "In this way may God shake out everyone who does not keep his promise. May God shake him out of his house and out of the things that are his. Let that person be shaken out and emptied!" Then the whole group said, "Amen," and they praised the Lord. So the people did what they had promised. 14 I was appointed governor in the land of Judah in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes' rule. I was governor of Judah for twelve years, until his thirty-second year. During that time neither my brothers nor I ate the food that was allowed for a governor. 15 But the governors before me had placed a heavy load on the people. They took about one pound of silver from each person, along with food and wine. The governors' helpers before me also controlled the people, but I did not do that, because I feared God. 16 I worked on the wall, as did all my men who were gathered there. We did not buy any fields. 17 Also, I fed one hundred fifty Jewish people and officers at my table, as well as those who came from the nations around us. 18 This is what was prepared every day: one ox, six good sheep, and birds. And every ten days there were all kinds of wine. But I never demanded the food that was due a governor, because the people were already working very hard. 19 Remember to be kind to me, my God, for all the good I have done for these people.
1 Then Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and our other enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that there was not one gap in it. But I had not yet set the doors in the gates. 2 So Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: "Come, Nehemiah, let's meet together in Kephirim on the plain of Ono." But they were planning to harm me. 3 So I sent messengers to them with this answer: "I am doing a great work, and I can't come down. I don't want the work to stop while I leave to meet you." 4 Sanballat and Geshem sent the same message to me four times, and each time I sent back the same answer. 5 The fifth time Sanballat sent his helper to me with the message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter. 6 This is what was written: A report is going around to all the nations, and Geshem says it is true, that you and the Jewish people are planning to turn against the king and that you are rebuilding the wall. They say you are going to be their king 7 and that you have appointed prophets to announce in Jerusalem: "There is a king of Judah!" The king will hear about this. So come, let's discuss this together. 8 So I sent him back this answer: "Nothing you are saying is really happening. You are just making it up in your own mind." 9 Our enemies were trying to scare us, thinking, "They will get too weak to work. Then the wall will not be finished." But I prayed, "God, make me strong." 10 One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel. Shemaiah had to stay at home. He said, "Nehemiah, let's meet in the Temple of God. Let's go inside the Temple and close the doors, because men are coming at night to kill you." 11 But I said, "Should a man like me run away? Should I run for my life into the Temple? I will not go." 12 I knew that God had not sent him but that Tobiah and Sanballat had paid him to prophesy against me. 13 They paid him to frighten me so I would do this and sin. Then they could give me a bad name to shame me. 14 I prayed, "My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat and what they have done. Also remember the prophetess Noadiah and the other prophets who have been trying to frighten me." 15 The wall of Jerusalem was completed on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul. It took fifty-two days to rebuild. 16 When all our enemies heard about it and all the nations around us saw it, they were shamed. They then understood that the work had been done with the help of our God. 17 Also in those days the important men of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and he answered them. 18 Many Jewish people had promised to be faithful to Tobiah, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah son of Arah. And Tobiah's son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah. 19 These important men kept telling me about the good things Tobiah was doing, and then they would tell Tobiah what I said about him. So Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.