Nehemiah avoids his enemies
1Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that there were no gaps left in it (although I hadn’t yet hung the doors in the gates), 2Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: "Come, let’s meet together in one of the villages#LXX, Vulg; MT at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono."
But they wanted to harm me, 3so I sent messengers to tell them, "I’m doing important work, so I can’t come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?"
4They sent me a message like this four times, and every time I gave them a similar reply. 5But the fifth time, Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same way, except that now he carried an open letter. 6It stated:
It is reported among the nations and confirmed by Geshem#Or Gashmu that you and the Jews intend to rebel. This is why you are rebuilding the wall. According to these reports, you intend to become their king. 7You have also appointed prophets to make this announcement about you in Jerusalem: There is a king in Judah! Now, the king will hear of these reports, so come; let’s talk together.
8So I sent him this reply: "Nothing that you say has happened. You are simply inventing this."
9All of them were trying to make us afraid, saying, "They will be discouraged, and the work won’t get finished." But now, God, strengthen me!
10Later I went to see Shemaiah, Delaiah’s son and Mehetabel’s grandson, who was confined to his house, and he said:
"Let’s meet together in God’s house,
inside the temple itself.
Let’s shut the doors of the temple,
for they are coming to kill you;
they are coming to kill you tonight!"
11But I replied, "Should someone like me run away? Who like me would go into the temple to save his life? I won’t go in!" 12Then I realized that God hadn’t sent him at all but that he spoke this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13He was hired to frighten me and to make me sin by acting in this way. Then they could give me a bad name and discredit me. 14My God, remember these deeds of Tobiah and Sanballat! Also remember Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to frighten me.
15So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul.#August–September It took fifty-two days. 16When our enemies heard about this, all of the nations around us were afraid and their confidence was greatly shaken. They knew that this work was completed with the help of our God.
17In addition, in those days the officials of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters were coming to them. 18Many in Judah were bound to him by solemn pledge because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah, Arah’s son, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam, Berechiah’s son. 19They also kept talking about his good deeds in my presence and then reported back to him what I said. In addition, Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.