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Sanballat Ridicules the Jews

[a]When Sanballat heard we were rebuilding the wall, he became enraged and made fun of the Jews. In front of his allies and the army from Samaria, he said, “What do these miserable Jews think they’re doing? Can they rebuild it by themselves? Are they going to offer sacrifices? Can they finish it in a day? Will they get the stones out of the rubbish heaps, burned as these stones are, and give them new strength?”

Tobiah the Ammonite, who was beside Sanballat, said, “Even a fox would make their stone wall collapse if it walked on top of what they’re building!”

Nehemiah Overcomes Opposition from Sanballat

Nehemiah prayed, “Our Elohim, hear us. We are despised. Turn their insults back on them, and let them be robbed in the land where they are prisoners. Don’t ignore their guilt, and don’t let their sins disappear from your records. They have insulted you in front of these builders.”

So we rebuilt the wall, which was rebuilt to about half its original height. The people worked with determination.

When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the people from Ashdod heard that the repair work on the walls of Jerusalem was making progress and that the gaps were being filled in, they became furious. All of them plotted to attack Jerusalem to create confusion. But we prayed to our Elohim and set guards to protect us day and night.

10 Then the people of Judah said, “The work crews are worn out, and there is too much rubble. We can’t continue to rebuild the wall.”

11 Our enemies said, “Before they know what is happening or see a thing, we will be right in the middle of them. We’ll kill them and bring the work to an end.”

12 Jews who were living near our enemies warned us ten times that our enemies would attack us from every direction.[b]

13 That is why I positioned people by their families behind the wall where it was lowest and most exposed. The people were armed with swords, spears, and bows. 14 I looked them over and proceeded to tell the nobles, the leaders, and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of our enemies. Remember how great and awe-inspiring Adonay is. Fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

15 When our enemies heard that we knew about their plots and that Elohim had prevented their plans from being successful, we all went back to the work on the wall. Each person performed his own job. 16 From that day on, half of my men worked on the wall, and the other half were wearing body armor and holding spears, shields, and bows. The leaders stood behind all the Judeans 17 who were rebuilding the wall. The workers who were carrying loads did the work with one hand and held their weapons with the other, 18 and each builder had his sword fastened to his side. The man who was supposed to sound the trumpet alarm was with me. 19 I told the nobles, the leaders, and the rest of the people, “So much work has to be done in different places that we are widely separated from one another on the wall. 20 When you hear the trumpet, assemble around me. Our Elohim will fight for us!”

21 So we continued to work. Half of us held spears from early dawn until the stars came out. 22 At that time I told the people, “Every man and his servant should stay overnight in Jerusalem so that we can set a guard at night and work during the day.” 23 My brothers, my servants, and the guards assigned to me never changed their clothes. Neither did I. We each kept our weapons at hand.


  1. Nehemiah 4:1 Nehemiah 4:1–23 in English Bibles is Nehemiah 3:33–4:17 in the Hebrew Bible.
  2. Nehemiah 4:12 Hebrew meaning of this verse uncertain.