Plots against Nehemiah
1Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem, and our other enemies learned that I had completely rebuilt the wall. All I lacked was hanging the doors in the gates. 2Then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message, asking me to meet with them in one of the villages in Ono Valley. I knew they were planning to harm me in some way. 3So I sent messengers to tell them, “My work is too important to stop now and go there. I can't afford to slow down the work just to visit with you.” 4They invited me four times, but each time I refused to go.
5Finally, Sanballat sent an official to me with an unsealed letter, 6which said:
A rumor is going around among the nations that you and the other Jews are rebuilding the wall and planning to rebel, because you want to be their king. And Geshem#6.6 Geshem: Hebrew “Gashmu” (see verse 1 and 2.19). says it's true! 7You even have prophets in Jerusalem, claiming you are now the king of Judah. You know the Persian king will hear about this, so let's get together and talk it over.
8I sent a message back to Sanballat, saying, “None of this is true! You are making it all up.”
9Our enemies were trying to frighten us and to keep us from our work. But I asked God to give me strength.
10One day I went to visit Shemaiah.#6.10 Shemaiah: Hebrew “Shemaiah son of Delaiah son of Mehetabel.” He wasn't supposed to leave his house, but he said, “Let's hurry to the holy place of the temple and hide there.#6.10 holy place … hide there: Only priests were allowed to enter the holy place; anyone else could be put to death. We will lock the temple doors, because your enemies are planning to kill you tonight.”
11I answered, “Why should someone like me have to run and hide in the temple to save my life? I won't go!”
12Suddenly I realized that God had not given Shemaiah this message. But Tobiah and Sanballat had paid him to trick me 13and to frighten me into doing something wrong, because they wanted to ruin my good name.
14Then I asked God to punish Tobiah and Sanballat for what they had done. I prayed that God would punish the prophet Noadiah and the other prophets who, together with her, had tried to frighten me.
The Work Is Finished
15On the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul,#6.15 Elul: The sixth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-August to mid-September. the wall was completely rebuilt. It had taken 52 days. 16When our enemies in the surrounding nations learned that the work was finished, they felt helpless, because they knew that our God had helped us rebuild the wall.
17All this time the Jewish leaders and Tobiah had been writing letters back and forth. 18Many people in Judah were loyal to Tobiah for two reasons: Shecaniah son of Arah was his father-in-law, and Tobiah's son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah.#6.18 Shecaniah … Berechiah: Jews who had helped rebuild the Jerusalem wall (see 3.4,29, 30). 19The people would always tell me about the good things Tobiah had done, and then they would tell Tobiah everything I had said. So Tobiah kept sending letters, trying to frighten me.