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Nehemiah 4-6 (Amplified Bible)

Nehemiah 4-6

Work Is Ridiculed

[a]But when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious, completely enraged, and he ridiculed the Jews. He spoke before his brothers and the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Can they restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the heaps of dust and rubbish, even the ones that have been burned?” Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Even what they are building—if a fox should get up on it, he would break down their stone wall.”

[And Nehemiah prayed] Hear, O our God, how we are despised! Return their taunts on their own heads. Give them up as prey in a land of captivity. Do not forgive their wrongdoing and do not let their sin be wiped out before You, for they have offended the builders [and provoked You].

So we built the wall and the entire wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a heart to work.

[b]But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, and that the breaches were being closed, they were very angry. They all conspired together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to cause a disturbance in it.

Discouragement Overcome

But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.

10 Then [the leaders of] Judah said,

“The strength of the burden bearers is failing,
And there is much rubble;
We ourselves are unable
To rebuild the wall.”

11 Our enemies said, “They will not know or see us until we are among them, kill them and put a stop to the work.” 12 When the Jews who lived near them came, they said to us ten times (repeatedly), “From every place you turn, they will come up against us.” 13 So I stationed armed men behind the wall in the lowest places, at the open positions [where it was least protected]; and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears, and bows. 14 When I saw their fear, I stood and said to the nobles and officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; [confidently] remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and [with courage from Him] fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and for your homes.”

15 Now when our enemies heard that we knew about their plot against us, and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each one to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while the other half held the spears, shields, bows, and breastplates; and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah. 17 Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens loaded themselves so that everyone worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other. 18 Every builder had his sword secured at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet [to summon the troops] stood at my side. 19 I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, gather to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

21 So we carried on with the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Let each man with his servant spend the night inside Jerusalem so that they may serve as a guard for us at night and a laborer during the day.” 23 So neither I, my brothers (relatives), my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each took his weapon [even] to the water.

Usury Abolished

Now there was a great outcry of the [poorer] people and their wives against their Jewish brothers [to whom they were deeply in debt]. For there were some who were saying, “We, along with our sons and our daughters, are many; therefore allow us to get grain, so that we may eat and survive.” There were others who were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to buy grain because of the famine.” There were also others who were saying, “We have borrowed money on our fields and vineyards for the [Persian] king’s [heavy] tax. Now our flesh (skin) is the same as that of our brothers (relatives), and our children are like their children, yet here we are forcing (selling) our sons and our daughters to be slaves; and some of our daughters are forced into bondage already, and [c]we are powerless [to redeem them] because our fields and vineyards belong to others.”

Then I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words [of accusation]. I thought it over and then challenged the nobles and the rulers. I said to them, “You are exacting usury (excessive interest) from your own brother (relative).” So I held a great assembly to confront them. I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed (purchased back) our Jewish brothers who were sold to the [Gentile] nations; now would you even sell your brothers, that they might be sold to us?” Then they were silent and could not find a [single] word to say. So I said, “What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunting by the [pagan] nations, our enemies? 10 And likewise I, my brothers, and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop [charging] this interest. 11 Please, give back to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, and also a hundredth part of the money, the grain, the new wine, and the oil that you are lending them.” 12 Then they said, “We will give it back and not require anything from them. We will do exactly as you say.” Then I called the priests and took an oath from them that they would act in accordance with this promise. 13 I also [d]shook out the [e]front of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not keep this promise; like this may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen!” And they praised the Lord. Then the people acted in accordance with this promise.

Nehemiah’s Example

14 Moreover, from the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my relatives have eaten the governor’s food allowance. 15 But the former governors who were [in office] before me put heavy burdens on the people and took food and wine from them in addition to forty shekels of silver [as an excessive monthly salary]; even their servants assumed authority over the people. But I did not do so because of the [reverent] fear of God. 16 I also applied myself to the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered together there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table a hundred and fifty Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now the following were prepared for each day: one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls (poultry) were prepared for me; and in intervals of ten days all sorts of wine was provided in abundance. Yet for all this, I did not demand the governor’s food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people. 19 Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all I have done for this people.

The Enemy’s Plot

Now 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, 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. 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?” They sent word to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same way. Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same way the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. 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. 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.” 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.” 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 [f]confined at home, he said, “Let us meet [and take refuge] together in the house of God, [g]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 [h]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, [i]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 [j]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.

Footnotes:

  1. Nehemiah 4:1 Ch 3:33 in Hebrew.
  2. Nehemiah 4:7 Ch 4:1 in Hebrew.
  3. Nehemiah 5:5 Lit our hands are.
  4. Nehemiah 5:13 The folds of a robe over the chest formed a place where objects could be carried and protected, so Nehemiah’s gesture was a vivid illustration of the divine punishment he was invoking upon violators.
  5. Nehemiah 5:13 Lit bosom.
  6. 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.
  7. Nehemiah 6:10 Only the priests were allowed to enter the sanctuary.
  8. Nehemiah 6:11 I.e. a man who is not a priest.
  9. Nehemiah 6:16 Lit they fell greatly in their own eyes.
  10. Nehemiah 6:18 Tobiah was related by marriage to various influential Jewish leaders (Ezra 2:5; Neh 3:4, 30; 7:10).
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Amplified Bible (AMP)

Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

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