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 1 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 2 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 3 me four times in this way, and I responded the same way each time. 4
6:5 The fifth time that Sanballat sent his assistant to me in this way, he had an open letter in his hand. 6:6 Written in it were the following words:
“Among the nations it is rumored 5 (and Geshem 6 has substantiated 7 this) that you and the Jews have intentions of revolting, and for this reason you are building the wall. Furthermore, according to these rumors 8 you are going to become their king. 6:7 You have also established prophets to announce 9 in Jerusalem 10 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.” 11
6:8 I sent word back to him, “We are not engaged in these activities you are describing. 12 All of this is a figment of your imagination.” 13
6:9 All of them were wanting 14 to scare us, supposing, “Their hands will grow slack from the work, and it won’t get done.”
So now, strengthen my hands! 15
6:10 Then I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel. He was confined to his home. 16 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? 17 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. 18 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 19 would be discredited. 20
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 21 this, they were greatly disheartened. 22 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, 23 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. 24 Tobiah, on the other hand, sent letters in order to scare 25 me.
1 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.”
2 tn Heb “[am] doing.”
3 tn Heb “sent to.”
4 tn Heb “and I answered them according to this word.”
5 tn Heb “heard.”
6 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.
7 tn Heb “is saying.”
8 tn Heb “words.” So also in v. 7.
9 tn Heb “call.”
10 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.
11 tn Heb “Let us consult together.”
12 tn Heb “We are not according to these matters that you are saying.”
13 tn Heb “For from your heart you are inventing them.”
14 tn The participle has a desiderative nuance here, describing the desire of the subject and not necessarily the actual outcome. See also v. 14.
15 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”).
16 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.
17 tn Heb “go into the temple and live.”
18 tn Heb “and Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.”
19 tc The translation reads לִי (li, “to me”) rather than the MT reading לָהֶם (lahem, “to them”).
20 tn Heb “would have a bad name.”
21 tc The MT understands the root here to be יָרֵא (yare’, “to fear”) rather than רָאָה (ra’ah, “to see”).
22 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”).
23 tn Heb “were lords of oath.”
24 tn Heb “my words.”
25 tn Or “to intimidate” (so NIV, NRSV, NLT).