Nehemiah 4

Enemies try to stop the work

1 Sanballat knew that we Jews were building the wall. He was very angry and upset. He laughed at the Jews. 2 Sanballat's officers and Samaria's army were with him. He said, ‘Those Jews have great ideas! They are weak. They are trying to repair the wall! They want to give sacrifices to their God. They will take a long time because fire has burned the stones. They cannot use them to build the wall.’ 3 Tobiah the Ammonite was with him. Tobiah said, ‘The wall that the Jews have built is very weak. If a small animal climbs on it, their wall will fall.’ 4 I prayed, ‘Hear us, our God. Our enemies are against us. Make them seem like fools. Let their enemies take them as slaves. And let their enemies take their land. 5 Do not forget their sins. They are saying bad things about you. And our people who are building the city wall can hear what they are saying.’

6 The Jews worked well because they really wanted to build the wall. So they continued to build the city wall. It soon became half as high as the old wall.

7 But Sanballat and Tobiah were very angry. They had heard that the Jews had nearly mended the walls. The holes in them were now small. The people who came from Arabia, the Ammonites and the men from Ashdod were also very angry. 8 They met together. They decided how to fight against the Jews. They wanted to cause trouble for them. 9 But we, the Jews, prayed to God. We made guards watch over the land outside the wall. They watched day and night.

10 While this was happening, the people in Judah said, ‘The workers are becoming weak. There are too many small pieces of stone. We cannot build the city. The stones are in the places where we want to build.’ 11 Our enemies said, ‘Before the Jews see us, we will go among them. Then we will kill them. While they are building the wall, we will stop them.’ 12 The Jews who lived near them said, ‘Anywhere that you go, our enemies will attack us.’ They said this to us many times.

13 So I (Nehemiah) put some men behind the lowest part of the wall. They had swords, spears and bows. They stayed near the families who repaired the wall. 14 I looked at everything. I said to the officers and the people, ‘Do not be afraid of our enemies. Remember that God is great and powerful. Fight on behalf of your brothers. Fight on behalf of your sons and daughters. Fight on behalf of your wives. Fight on behalf of your homes.’

4:14The Jews were ready if any of their enemies attacked. They would use their swords, spears and bows to kill their enemies. A sword is like a long knife. Spears are long and thin with a sharp point at the end.

15 We knew what our enemies had decided to do. They discovered this. Then they knew that God had stopped them. So each of us went back to our work on the wall.

16 After that day, half of my men carried spears, bows and swords. The officers stood behind the people while they built the wall. 17 Those who carried building materials kept one hand on their sword. Everyone who was making repairs to the wall carried a sword. They did their work with one hand and they carried their sword with the other hand. 18 Every man who built the wall carried his sword. And the man with the trumpet stayed near me.

19 I said to all the people, ‘Because the wall is long, we are not near each other. 20 When you hear the sound of the trumpet, come to me. Our God will fight on our behalf.’

21 We continued to work on the wall. Half of the men carried spears. They looked for our enemies. We worked from morning until it was dark. 22 I spoke to the Jews and to those who helped them, ‘Everyone must stay in Jerusalem at night. You can look for our enemies at night and work in the day.’ (I said this to the Jews who did not live in Jerusalem.) 23 Neither I nor my brothers took our clothes off. Nor did my men or the guards take off their clothes. Everyone carried his sword. We were ready always to fight our enemies. Even when we went to get water, we carried our swords.