Attempts to Discourage the Builders
1When 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 city gates — 2Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message: “Come, let’s meet together in the villages of the Ono Valley.” They were planning to harm me.
3So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing important work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” 4Four times they sent me the same proposal, and I gave them the same reply.
5Sanballat sent me this same message a fifth time by his aide, who had an open letter in his hand. 6In 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 7and 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.
8Then I replied to him, “There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind.” 9For they were all trying to intimidate us, saying, “They will drop their hands from the work, and it will never be finished.”
But now, my God, strengthen my hands.
Attempts to Intimidate Nehemiah
10I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was restricted to his house. He said:
Let’s meet at the house of God,
inside the temple.
Let’s shut the temple doors
because they’re coming to kill you.
They’re coming to kill you tonight!
11But I said, “Should a man like me run away? How can someone like me enter the temple and live? I will not go.” 12I realized that God had not sent him, because of the prophecy he spoke against me. Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13He 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.
14My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat for what they have done, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the other prophets who wanted to intimidate me.
The Wall Completed
15The wall was completed in fifty-two days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul. 16When 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.
17During those days, the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18For 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. 19These nobles kept mentioning Tobiah’s good deeds to me, and they reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.