“I’m Doing a Great Work; I Can’t Come Down”
1-2When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that there were no more breaks in it—even though I hadn’t yet installed the gates—Sanballat and Geshem sent this message: “Come and meet with us at Kephirim in the valley of Ono.”
2-3I knew they were scheming to hurt me so I sent messengers back with this: “I’m doing a great work; I can’t come down. Why should the work come to a standstill just so I can come down to see you?”
4Four times they sent this message and four times I gave them my answer.
5-6The fifth time—same messenger, same message—Sanballat sent an unsealed letter with this message:
6-7“The word is out among the nations—and Geshem says it’s true—that you and the Jews are planning to rebel. That’s why you are rebuilding the wall. The word is that you want to be king and that you have appointed prophets to announce in Jerusalem, ‘There’s a king in Judah!’ The king is going to be told all this—don’t you think we should sit down and have a talk?”
8I sent him back this: “There’s nothing to what you’re saying. You’ve made it all up.”
9They were trying to intimidate us into quitting. They thought, “They’ll give up; they’ll never finish it.”
I prayed, “Give me strength.”
10Then I met secretly with Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, at his house. He said:
Let’s meet at the house of God,
inside The Temple;
Let’s find safety behind locked doors
because they’re coming to kill you,
Yes, coming by night to kill you.
11I said, “Why would a man like me run for cover? And why would a man like me use The Temple as a hideout? I won’t do it.”
12-13I sensed that God hadn’t sent this man. The so-called prophecy he spoke to me was the work of Tobiah and Sanballat; they had hired him. He had been hired to scare me off—trick me—a layman, into desecrating The Temple and ruining my good reputation so they could accuse me.
14“O my God, don’t let Tobiah and Sanballat get by with all the mischief they’ve done. And the same goes for the prophetess Noadiah and the other prophets who have been trying to undermine my confidence.”
15-16The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul. It had taken fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard the news and all the surrounding nations saw it, our enemies totally lost their nerve. They knew that God was behind this work.
17-19All during this time letters were going back and forth constantly between the nobles of Judah and Tobiah. Many of the nobles had ties to him because he was son-in-law to Shecaniah son of Arah and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah. They kept telling me all the good things he did and then would report back to him anything I would say. And then Tobiah would send letters to intimidate me.