Nehemiah's Enemies Oppose Him
1Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall. So he burned with anger. He became very upset. He made fun of the Jews. 2He spoke to his friends and the army of Samaria. He said, "What are those Jews trying to do? Can they make their city wall like new again? Will they offer sacrifices? Can they finish everything in a single day? The stones from their city wall and buildings are piled up like trash. And everything has been badly burned. Can they use those stones to rebuild everything again?"
3Tobiah from Ammon was at Sanballat's side. He said, "What are they building? They're putting up a stone wall. But suppose a fox climbs on top of it. Even that will break it down!"
4I prayed to God. I said, "Our God, please listen to our prayer. Some people hate us. They're making fun of us. So let others make fun of them. Let them be carried off like stolen goods. Let them be taken to another country as prisoners. 5Don't hide your eyes from their guilt. Don't forgive their sins. They have made fun of the builders."
6So we rebuilt the wall. We repaired it until all of it was half as high as we wanted it to be. The people worked with all their heart.
7But Sanballat and Tobiah heard that Jerusalem's walls continued to be repaired. The Arabs and some people from Ammon heard the same thing. Some men from Ashdod heard about it too. They heard that the gaps in the wall were being filled in. So they burned with anger. 8All of them made evil plans to come and fight against Jerusalem. They wanted to stir up trouble against it.
9But we prayed to our God. We put guards on duty day and night to watch out for danger.
10During that time, the people in Judah spoke up. They said, "The workers are getting weaker and weaker all the time. Broken stones are piled up everywhere. They are in our way. So we can't rebuild the wall."
11And our enemies said, "We will be right there among them. We'll kill them. We'll put an end to their work. We'll do it before they even know it or see us."
12Then the Jews who lived near our enemies came to us. They told us ten times, "No matter where you are, they'll attack us."
13So I stationed some people behind the lowest parts of the wall. That's where our enemies could easily attack us. I stationed the people family by family. They had their swords, spears and bows with them.
14I looked things over. Then I stood up and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people. I said, "Don't be afraid of your enemies. Remember the Lord. He is great and powerful. So fight for your brothers and sisters. Fight for your sons and daughters. Fight for your wives and homes."
15Our enemies heard that we knew what they were trying to do. They heard that God had blocked their evil plans. So all of us returned to the wall. Each of us did our own work.
16From that day on, half of my men did the work. The other half were given spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers stationed themselves behind all of the people of Judah. 17The people continued to build the wall. Those who carried supplies did their work with one hand. They held a weapon in the other hand. 18Each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who blew the trumpet stayed with me.
19Then I spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people. I said, "This is a big job. It covers a lot of territory. We're separated too far from one another along the wall. 20When you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us at that location. Our God will fight for us!"
21So we continued the work. Half of the men held spears. We worked from the first light of sunrise until the stars came out at night. 22At that time I also spoke to the people. I told them, "Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night. Then they can guard us at night. And they can work during the day."
23My relatives and I didn't take our clothes off. My men and the guards didn't take theirs off either. Each man kept his weapon with him, even when he went to get water.