The Enemy’s Plot
1Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there was no breach left in it, although at that time I had not set up doors in the gates, 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent word to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono.” 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 stop while I leave to come down to [meet with] you?” 4 They sent word to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same way. 5 Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same way the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written, “It is reported among the [neighboring] nations, and Gashmu is saying that you and the Jews are planning to revolt, and that is the reason you are rebuilding the wall. And according to these reports, you are to be their king. 7 Also [it is reported that] you have appointed prophets to make a proclamation concerning you in Jerusalem, saying, ‘There is a king in Judah!’ And now these things will be reported to the [Persian] king. So come now, and let us consult together.” 8 I sent a message to him, saying, “Such things as you are saying have not been done; you are inventing them in your own mind.” 9 For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, [O God,] strengthen my hands.
10 When I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was [a]confined at home, he said, “Let us meet [and take refuge] together in the house of God, [b]within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple, because they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night.” 11 But I said, “Should a man like me flee [in fear and hide]? Should [c]someone like me enter the temple [for sanctuary] to save his life? I will not go.” 12 Then I realized that God had not sent him, but he spoke this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He was hired for this reason, that I would be frightened and do as he said and sin, so that they would have [grounds to make] a malicious report in order to censure and disgrace me. 14 Remember, O My God, Tobiah and Sanballat in regard to these actions of theirs, and also [remember] the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me.
The Wall Is Finished
15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth [day] of [the month] Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 When all our enemies heard about it, and all the [Gentile] nations around us saw it, [d]they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. 17 Moreover, in those days many letters went from the nobles of Judah to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18 For [e]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. 19 Also, they were speaking about Tobiah’s good deeds in my presence, and reporting to him what I said. Then Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.
- Nehemiah 6:10 The reason for the confinement is not given and is a matter of speculation. One possibility is that Shemaiah had become ceremonially defiled, in which case the Hebrew probably should be understood as “had been confined” because the purification process would have to be completed before he could enter the temple.
- Nehemiah 6:10 Only the priests were allowed to enter the sanctuary.
- Nehemiah 6:11 I.e. a man who is not a priest.
- Nehemiah 6:16 Lit they fell greatly in their own eyes.
- Nehemiah 6:18 Tobiah was related by marriage to various influential Jewish leaders (Ezra 2:5; Neh 3:4, 30; 7:10).