4:1 (3:33) 1 Now when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall he became angry and was quite upset. He derided the Jews, 4:2 and in the presence of his colleagues 2 and the army of Samaria 3 he said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they be left to themselves? 4 Will they again offer sacrifice? Will they finish this in a day? Can they bring these burnt stones to life again from piles of dust?”
4:3 Then Tobiah the Ammonite, who was close by, said, “If even a fox were to climb up on what they are building, it would break down their wall of stones!”
4:4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised! Return their reproach on their own head! Reduce them to plunder in a land of exile! 4:5 Do not cover their iniquity, and do not wipe out their sin from before them. For they have bitterly offended 5 the builders! 6
4:7 (4:1) 9 When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the people of Ashdod heard that the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem 10 had moved ahead and that the breaches had begun to be closed, they were very angry. 4:8 All of them conspired together to move with armed forces 11 against Jerusalem and to create a disturbance in it. 4:9 So we prayed to our God and stationed a guard to protect against them 12 both day and night. 4:10 Then those in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers 13 has failed! The debris is so great that we are unable to rebuild the wall.”
1 sn Beginning with 4:1, the verse numbers through 4:23 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 4:1 ET = 3:33 HT, 4:2 ET = 3:34 HT, 4:3 ET = 3:35 HT, 4:4 ET = 3:36 HT, 4:5 ET = 3:37 HT, 4:6 ET = 3:38 HT, 4:7 ET = 4:1 HT, etc., through 4:23 ET = 4:17 HT. Thus in the Hebrew Bible chap. 3 of the Book of Nehemiah has 38 verses, while chap. 4 has only 17 verses.
2 tn Heb “brothers.”
4 tc The Hebrew text is difficult here. The present translation follows the MT, but the text may be corrupt. H. G. M. Williamson (Ezra, Nehemiah [WBC], 213-14) translates these words as “Will they commit their cause to God?” suggesting that MT לָהֶם (lahem, “to them”) should be emended to לֵאלֹהִים (lelohim, “to God”), a proposal also found in the apparatus of BHS. In his view later scribes altered the phrase out of theological motivations. J. Blenkinsopp’s translation is similar: “Are they going to leave it all to God?” (Ezra–Nehemiah [OTL], 242-44). However, a problem for this view is the absence of external evidence to support the proposed emendation. The sense of the MT reading may be the notion that the workers – if left to their own limited resources – could not possibly see such a demanding and expensive project through to completion. This interpretation understands the collocation עָזַב (’azav, “to leave”) plus לְ (lÿ, “to”) to mean “commit a matter to someone,” with the sense in this verse “Will they leave the building of the fortified walls to themselves?”
5 tn The Hiphil stem of כָּעַס (ka’as) may mean: (1) “to provoke to anger”; (2) “to bitterly offend”; or (3) “to grieve” (BDB 495 s.v. Hiph.; HALOT 491 s.v. כעס hif). The Hebrew lexicons suggest that “bitterly offend” is the most appropriate nuance here.
7 tn Heb “up to its half.”
8 tn Heb “the people had a heart to work.”
11 tn Heb “to fight.”
12 tn Heb “against them.” The words “to protect” are added in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness. Some emend MT עֲלֵיהֶם (’alehem, “against them”) to עָלֶיהָ (’aleha, “against it,” i.e., Jerusalem).
13 tn Heb “burden-bearers.”
14 tn Heb “said.”
15 tn Heb “see.”