Nehemiah 6

Attempts to Discourage the Builders

1 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-
2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message: "Come, let's meet together in the villages of[a] the Ono Valley." But they were planning to harm me.
3 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?"
4 Four times they sent me the same proposal, and I gave them the same reply.
5 Sanballat sent me this same message a fifth time by his aide, who had an open letter in his hand.
6 In it was written: It is reported among the nations-and Geshem[b] 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
7 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.
8 Then I replied to him, "There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind."
9 For they were all trying to intimidate us, saying, "They will become discouraged[c] in the work, and it will never be finished." But now, [my God,] strengthen me.[d]

Attempts to Intimidate Nehemiah

10 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![e]
11 But I said, "Should a man like me run away? How can I enter the temple and live? I will not go."
12 I realized that God had not sent him, because of the prophecy he spoke against me. Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
13 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.
14 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 Completed

15 The wall was completed in 52 days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul.
16 When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence,[f] for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.
17 During those days, the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah's [letters] came to them.
18 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.
19 These nobles kept mentioning Tobiah's good deeds to me, and they reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.

Nehemiah 6 Commentary

Chapter 6

Sanballat's plot to hinder Nehemiah. (1-9) False prophets try to frighten Nehemiah. (10-14) The wall finished, Treachery of some among the Jews. (15-19)

Verses 1-9 Let those who are tempted to idle merry meetings by vain companions, thus answer the temptation, We have work to do, and must not neglect it. We must never suffer ourselves to be overcome, by repeated urgency, to do anything sinful or imprudent; but when attacked with the same temptation, must resist it with the same reason and resolution. It is common for that which is desired only by the malicious, to be falsely represented by them as desired by the many. But Nehemiah knew at what they aimed, he not only denied that such things were true, but that they were reported; he was better known than to be thus suspected. We must never omit any known duty for fear it should be misconstrued; but, while we keep a good conscience, let us trust God with our good name. God's people, though loaded with reproach, are not really fallen so low in reputation as some would have them thought to be. Nehemiah lifted up his heart to Heaven in a short prayer. When, in our Christian work and warfare, we enter upon any service or conflict, this is a good prayer, I have such a duty to do, such a temptation to grapple with; now, therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. Every temptation to draw us from duty, should quicken us the more to duty.

Verses 10-14 The greatest mischief our enemies can do us, is, to frighten us from our duty, and to lead us to do what is sinful. Let us never decline a good work, never do a bad one. We ought to try all advice, and to reject what is contrary to the word of God. Every man should study to be consistent. Should I, a professed Christian, called to be a saint, a child of God, a member of Christ, a temple of the Holy Ghost, should I be covetous, sensual, proud, or envious? Should I yield to impatience, discontent, or anger? Should I be slothful, unbelieving, or unmerciful? What effects will such conduct have upon others? All that God has done for us, or by us, or given to us, should lead us to watchfulness, self-denial, and diligence. Next to the sinfulness of sin, we should dread the scandal.

Verses 15-19 The wall was begun and finished in fifty-two days, though they rested on the sabbaths. A great deal of work may be done in a little time, if we set about it in earnest, and keep close to it. See the mischief of marrying with strangers. When men once became akin to Tobiah, they soon became sworn to him. A sinful love leads to a sinful league. The enemy of souls employs many instruments, and forms many projects, to bring reproach on the active servants of God, or to take them from their work. But we should follow the example of Him who laid down his life for the sheep. Those that simply cleave to the Lord and his work will be supported.

Footnotes 6

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO NEHEMIAH 6

Sanballat and his brethren, hearing the wall was finished, sent to Nehemiah, to have a meeting with him at a place named, which he refused, Ne 6:1,2, then they sent him a terrifying letter, suggesting that he, and the Jews with him, would be treated as rebels, since their intention, as reported, was to make him king, which letter he regarded not, Ne 6:3-9, then they employed some that pretended to be prophets to advise him to flee to the temple for safety, which he rejected, Ne 6:10-14 and so the work went on and was finished, though there was a secret correspondence carried on between their enemies and some false brethren among themselves, Ne 6:15-19.

Nehemiah 6 Commentaries