1 Then Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and our other enemies heard that I had built the wall. We repaired all the holes in the wall, but we had not yet put the doors in the gates. 2 So Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, Nehemiah, let’s meet together. We can meet in the town of Kephirim on the plain of Ono.” But they were planning to hurt me.
3 So I sent messengers to them with this answer: “I am doing important work, so I cannot come down. I don’t want the work to stop just so I can come down and meet with you.”
4 Sanballat and Geshem sent the same message to me four times, and I sent the same answer back to them each time. 5 Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his helper to me with the same message. And he had a letter in his hand that was not sealed. 6 This is what the letter said:
“There is a rumor going around. People are talking about it everywhere. And, by the way, Geshem says it is true. People are saying that you and the Jews are planning to turn against the king. This is why you are building the wall of Jerusalem. People are also saying that you will be the new king of the Jews. 7 And the rumor is that you have chosen prophets to announce this about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’
“Now I warn you, Nehemiah, King Artaxerxes will hear about this. So come, let’s meet and talk about this together.”
8 So I sent this answer back to Sanballat: “Nothing you are saying is happening. You are just making all that up in your own head.”
9 Our enemies were only trying to make us afraid. They are thinking to themselves, “The Jews will be afraid and too weak to keep on working. Then the wall will not be finished.”
But I prayed, “God, make me strong.”
10 One day I went to the house of a man named Shemaiah son of Delaiah. Delaiah was the son of Mehetabel. Shemaiah had to stay in his house. He said, “Nehemiah, let’s meet in God’s Temple. Let’s go inside the Holy Place* Holy Place Literally, “palace.” Only priests were allowed to go into this part of the Temple. and lock the doors. Men are coming to kill you. Tonight they are coming to kill you.”
11 But I said to Shemaiah, “Should a man like me run away? You know that an ordinary man like me cannot go into the Holy Place without being put to death. I will not go!”
12 I knew that God had not sent Shemaiah. I knew that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had paid him to do that. 13 They hired Shemaiah to scare me and make me sin by going into that part of the Temple. They were planning those bad things against me so that they could shame me.
14 My God, please remember Tobiah and Sanballat and the bad things they have done. Also remember the woman prophet Noadiah and the other prophets who have been trying to scare me.
The Wall Is Finished
15 So the wall of Jerusalem was completed on the 25th day of the month of Elul.† Elul That is, August–September, 443 B.C. It had taken 52 days to finish building the wall. 16 Then all our enemies heard that we had completed the wall, and all the nations around us saw that it was finished. So they lost their courage, because they understood that this work had been done with the help of our God.
17 Also in those days after the wall had been completed, the rich people of Judah were sending many letters to Tobiah, and he was answering their letters. 18 They sent those letters because many people in Judah had promised to be loyal to him. The reason for this is that Tobiah was son-in-law to Shecaniah son of Arah. And Tobiah’s son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam. Meshullam is the son of Berekiah. 19 And in the past, those people had made a special promise to Tobiah. So they kept telling me how good Tobiah was. And they kept telling Tobiah what I was doing. Tobiah kept sending me letters to make me afraid.
*6:10 Holy Place Literally, “palace.” Only priests were allowed to go into this part of the Temple.
†6:15 Elul That is, August–September, 443 B.C.