Work Is Ridiculed
1But when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious, completely enraged, and he ridiculed the Jews. 2He spoke before his brothers and the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Can they restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the heaps of dust and rubbish, even the ones that have been burned?” 3Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Even what they are building—if a fox should get up on it, he would break down their stone wall.”
4[And Nehemiah prayed] Hear, O our God, how we are despised! Return their taunts on their own heads. Give them up as prey in a land of captivity. 5Do not forgive their wrongdoing and do not let their sin be wiped out before You, for they have offended the builders [and provoked You].
6So we built the wall and the entire wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a heart to work.
7But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, and that the breaches were being closed, they were very angry. 8They all conspired together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to cause a disturbance in it.
9But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.
10Then [the leaders of] Judah said,
“The strength of the burden bearers is failing,
And there is much rubble;
We ourselves are unable
To rebuild the wall.”
11Our enemies said, “They will not know or see us until we are among them, kill them and put a stop to the work.” 12When the Jews who lived near them came, they said to us ten times (repeatedly), “From every place you turn, they will come up against us.” 13So I stationed armed men behind the wall in the lowest places, at the open positions [where it was least protected]; and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears, and bows. 14When I saw their fear, I stood and said to the nobles and officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; [confidently] remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and [with courage from Him] fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and for your homes.”
15Now when our enemies heard that we knew about their plot against us, and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each one to his work. 16From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while the other half held the spears, shields, bows, and breastplates; and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah. 17Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens loaded themselves so that everyone worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other. 18Every builder had his sword secured at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet [to summon the troops] stood at my side. 19I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, gather to us there. Our God will fight for us.”
21So we carried on with the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars came out. 22At that time I also said to the people, “Let each man with his servant spend the night inside Jerusalem so that they may serve as a guard for us at night and a laborer during the day.” 23So neither I, my brothers (relatives), my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each took his weapon [even] to the water.