2:10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official 1 heard all this, they were very displeased that someone had come to seek benefit for the Israelites.
2:19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard all this, 2 they derided us and expressed contempt toward us. They said, “What is this you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?”
4:1 (3:33) 3 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 4 and the army of Samaria 5 he said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they be left to themselves? 6 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 7 the builders! 8
4:7 (4:1) 11 When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the people of Ashdod heard that the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem 12 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 13 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 14 both day and night. 4:10 Then those in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers 15 has failed! The debris is so great that we are unable to rebuild the wall.”
6:1 When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and no breach remained in it (even though up to that time I had not positioned doors in the gates), 6:2 Sanballat and Geshem sent word to me saying, “Come on! Let’s set up a time to meet together at Kephirim 21 in the plain of Ono.” Now they intended to do me harm.
6:3 So I sent messengers to them saying, “I am engaged in 22 an important work, and I am unable to come down. Why should the work come to a halt when I leave it to come down to you?” 6:4 They contacted 23 me four times in this way, and I responded the same way each time. 24
“Among the nations it is rumored 25 (and Geshem 26 has substantiated 27 this) that you and the Jews have intentions of revolting, and for this reason you are building the wall. Furthermore, according to these rumors 28 you are going to become their king. 6:7 You have also established prophets to announce 29 in Jerusalem 30 on your behalf, ‘We have a king in Judah!’ Now the king is going to hear about these rumors. So come on! Let’s talk about this.” 31
So now, strengthen my hands! 35
6:10 Then I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel. He was confined to his home. 36 He said, “Let’s set up a time to meet in the house of God, within the temple. Let’s close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. It will surely be at night that they will come to kill you.”
6:11 But I replied, “Should a man like me run away? Would someone like me flee to the temple in order to save his life? 37 I will not go!” 6:12 I recognized the fact that God had not sent him, for he had spoken the prophecy against me as a hired agent of Tobiah and Sanballat. 38 6:13 He had been hired to scare me so that I would do this and thereby sin. They would thus bring reproach on me and I 39 would be discredited. 40
6:14 Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat in light of these actions of theirs – also Noadiah the prophetess and the other prophets who were trying to scare me!
6:15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in just fifty-two days. 6:16 When all our enemies heard and all the nations who were around us saw 41 this, they were greatly disheartened. 42 They knew that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.
6:17 In those days the aristocrats of Judah repeatedly sent letters to Tobiah, and responses from Tobiah were repeatedly coming to them. 6:18 For many in Judah had sworn allegiance to him, 43 because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah son of Arah. His son Jonathan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah. 6:19 They were telling me about his good deeds and then taking back to him the things I said. 44 Tobiah, on the other hand, sent letters in order to scare 45 me.
2 tn The Hebrew text does not include the words “all this,” but they have been added in the translation for clarity.
3 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.
4 tn Heb “brothers.”
6 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?”
7 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.
9 tn Heb “up to its half.”
10 tn Heb “the people had a heart to work.”
13 tn Heb “to fight.”
14 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).
15 tn Heb “burden-bearers.”
16 tn Heb “said.”
17 tn Heb “see.”
18 tn Heb “ten times.”
19 tc The MT reads the anomalous מִכָּל־הַמְּקֹמוֹת (mikkol hammÿqomot, “from every place”) but the BHS editors propose כָּל־הַמְּזִמּוֹת (kol hammÿzimmot, “about every scheme”). The initial mem (מ) found in the MT may have been added accidentally due to dittography with the final mem (ם) on the immediately preceding word, and the MT qof (ק) may have arisen due to orthographic confusion with the similar looking zayin (ז). The emendation restores sense to the line in the MT, which makes little sense and features an abrupt change of referents: “Wherever you turn, they will be upon us!” The threat was not against the villagers living nearby but against those repairing the wall, as the following context indicates. See also the following note on the word “plotting.”
20 tc The MT reads תָּשׁוּבוּ (tashuvu, “you turn”) which is awkward contextually. The BHS editors propose emending to חָשְׁבוּ (hashÿvu, “they were plotting”) which harmonizes well with the context. This emendation involves mere orthographic confusion between similar looking ח (khet) and ת (tav), and the resultant dittography of middle vav (ו) in MT. See also the preceding note on the word “schemes.”
21 tn It is not entirely clear whether the Hebrew word כְּפִירִים (kÿfirim) is a place-name not mentioned elsewhere in the OT (as indicated in the present translation; so also NAB, NASB) or whether it means “in [one of] the villages” (so, e.g., NIV, NRSV, NLT; see BDB 499 s.v.; HALOT 493 s.v.). The LXX and Vulgate understand it in the latter sense. Some scholars connect this term with the identically spelled word כּפירים (“lions”) as a figurative description of princes or warriors (e.g., Pss 34:11; 35:17; 58:7; Jer 2:15; Ezek 32:2, 13; Nah 2:14; see HALOT 493 s.v.): “let us meet together with the leaders in the plain of Ono.”
22 tn Heb “[am] doing.”
23 tn Heb “sent to.”
24 tn Heb “and I answered them according to this word.”
25 tn Heb “heard.”
26 tn Heb “Gashmu”; in Neh 2:19 this name appears as Geshem. Since it is important for the modern reader to recognize that this is the same individual, the form of the name used here in the translation is the same as that in v. 19.
27 tn Heb “is saying.”
29 tn Heb “call.”
31 tn Heb “Let us consult together.”
32 tn Heb “We are not according to these matters that you are saying.”
33 tn Heb “For from your heart you are inventing them.”
35 tn The statement “So now, strengthen my hands” is frequently understood as an implied prayer, but is taken differently by NAB (“But instead, I now redoubled my efforts”).
36 tn Heb “shut in.” The reason for his confinement is not stated. BDB 783 s.v. עָצַר suggests that it had to do with the fulfillment of a vow or was related to an issue of ceremonial uncleanness.
37 tn Heb “go into the temple and live.”
38 tn Heb “and Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.”
39 tc The translation reads לִי (li, “to me”) rather than the MT reading לָהֶם (lahem, “to them”).
40 tn Heb “would have a bad name.”
41 tc The MT understands the root here to be יָרֵא (yare’, “to fear”) rather than רָאָה (ra’ah, “to see”).
42 tn Heb “they greatly fell [i.e., were cast down] in their own eyes.” Some scholars suggest emending the reading of the MT, וַיִּפְּלוּ (vayyipÿlu) to וַיִּפָּלֵא (vayyippale’, “it was very extraordinary in their eyes”).
43 tn Heb “were lords of oath.”
44 tn Heb “my words.”
45 tn Or “to intimidate” (so NIV, NRSV, NLT).