Nehemiah’s Enemies Oppose the Rebuilding
1Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall. So he became very angry and upset. He made fun of the Jews. 2 He spoke to his friends and the army of Samaria. He said, “What are those Jews trying to do? Can they make their city wall like new again? Will they offer sacrifices? Can they finish everything in a single day? The stones from their city wall and buildings are piled up like trash. And everything has been badly burned. Can they use those stones to rebuild everything again?”
3 Tobiah from Ammon was at Sanballat’s side. He said, “What are they building? They’re putting up a stone wall. But suppose a fox climbs on top of it. Even that will break it down!”
4 I prayed to God. I said, “Our God, please listen to our prayer. Some people hate us. They’re saying bad things about us. So let others say bad things about them. Let them be carried off like stolen goods. Let them be taken to another country as prisoners. 5 Don’t hide your eyes from their guilt. Don’t forgive their sins. They have said bad things about the builders.”
6 So we rebuilt the wall. We repaired it until all of it was half as high as we wanted it to be. The people worked with all their heart.
7 But Sanballat and Tobiah heard that Jerusalem’s walls continued to be repaired. The Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard about it too. They heard that the gaps in the wall were being filled in. So they were very angry. 8 All of them made evil plans to come and fight against Jerusalem. They wanted to stir up trouble against it. 9 But we prayed to our God. We put guards on duty day and night to watch out for danger.
10 During that time, the people in Judah spoke up. They said, “The workers are getting weaker and weaker all the time. Broken stones are piled up everywhere. They are in our way. So we can’t rebuild the wall.”
11 And our enemies said, “We will be right there among them. We’ll kill them. We’ll put an end to their work. We’ll do it before they even know it or see us.”
12 Then the Jews who lived near our enemies came to us. They told us ten times, “No matter where you are, they’ll attack us.”
13 So I stationed some people behind the lowest parts of the wall. That’s where our enemies could easily attack us. I stationed the people family by family. They had their swords, spears and bows with them. 14 I looked things over. Then I stood up and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people. I said, “Don’t be afraid of your enemies. Remember the Lord. He is great and powerful. So fight for your families. Fight for your sons and daughters. Fight for your wives and homes.”
15 Our enemies heard that we knew what they were trying to do. They heard that God had blocked their evil plans. So all of us returned to the wall. Each of us did our own work.
16 From that day on, half of my men did the work. The other half were given spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers stationed themselves behind all the people of Judah. 17 The people continued to build the wall. The people who carried supplies did their work with one hand. They held a weapon in the other hand. 18 Each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who blew the trumpet stayed with me.
19 Then I spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people. I said, “This is a big job. It covers a lot of territory. We’re separated too far from one another along the wall. 20 When you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us at that location. Our God will fight for us!”
21 So we continued the work. Half of the men held spears. We worked from the first light of sunrise until the stars came out at night. 22 At that time I also spoke to the people. I told them, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night. Then they can guard us at night. And they can work during the day.” 23 My relatives and I didn’t take off our clothes. My men and the guards didn’t take theirs off either. Each man kept his weapon with him, even when he went to get water.