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When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that we had almost completed the rebuilding of the wall—though we had not yet hung all the doors of the gates— they sent me a message asking me to meet them in one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But I realized they were plotting to kill me, so I replied by sending back this message to them: “I am doing a great work! Why should I stop to come and visit with you?”

Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply. 5-6 The fifth time, Sanballat’s servant came with an open letter in his hand, and this is what it said:

“Geshem tells me that everywhere he goes he hears that the Jews are planning to rebel, and that is why you are building the wall. He claims you plan to be their king—that is what is being said. He also reports that you have appointed prophets to campaign for you at Jerusalem by saying, ‘Look! Nehemiah is just the man we need!’

“You can be very sure that I am going to pass along these interesting comments to King Artaxerxes! I suggest that you come and talk it over with me—for that is the only way you can save yourself!”

My reply was, “You know you are lying. There isn’t one bit of truth to the whole story. You’re just trying to scare us into stopping our work.” (O Lord God, please strengthen me!)

10 A few days later I went to visit Shemaiah (son of Delaiah, who was the son of Mehetabel), for he said he was receiving a message from God.

“Let us hide in the Temple and bolt the door,” he exclaimed, “for they are coming tonight to kill you.”

11 But I replied, “Should I, the governor, run away from danger? And if I go into the Temple, not being a priest, I would forfeit my life. No, I won’t do it!”

12-13 Then I realized that God had not spoken to him, but Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him to scare me and make me sin by fleeing to the Temple; and then they would be able to accuse me.

14 “O my God,” I prayed, “don’t forget all the evil of Tobiah, Sanballat, Noadiah the prophetess, and all the other prophets who have tried to discourage me.”

15 The wall was finally finished in early September[a]—just fifty-two days after we had begun!

16 When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated, and they realized that the work had been done with the help of our God. 17 During those fifty-two days many letters went back and forth between Tobiah and the wealthy politicians of Judah. 18 For many in Judah had sworn allegiance to him because his father-in-law was Shecaniah (son of Arah) and because his son Jehohanan was married to the daughter of Meshullam (son of Berechiah). 19 They all told me what a wonderful man Tobiah was, and then they told him everything I had said; and Tobiah sent many threatening letters to frighten me.


  1. Nehemiah 6:15 early September, or “the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul.”

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