4
Enemies opposed rebuilding the wall
When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the city wall, he was very angry. He was enraged/furious. He made fun of us Jews. While his colleagues and officials of the army troops who had come from Samaria were listening, he said, “What do these feeble/pathetic Jews think they are doing? Do they think that if they offer enough/many sacrifices, their gods will hear them and enable them to finish building the wall in one day? The stones that were in the wall previously have been weakened by being burned in a fire. Those stones that they are pulling out of the rubbish/garbage heaps—do they think that they can make them strong again?” [RHQ]
Tobiah was standing beside Sanballat. He said, “That stone wall that they are building is very weak; so if even a fox climbed up on it, the wall would fall down!”
Then I prayed. I said, “Our God, hear us, because they are ridiculing us! Cause the words of their insults to fall back on them! Allow their enemies to come and capture them and force them to go to a foreign land! They are guilty; they have said things that caused you to be angry while the people here who are building the wall are listening; so punish them!”
But after some time, we finished building the wall around the whole city, up to half as high as the first wall had been. We were able to do that because we worked very hard.
But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the men from Arabia, the people from the Ammon people-group and from Ashdod city heard that the work on the wall was continuing and that we were filling in the gaps in the wall, they became very angry. They all planned to come and fight against the people of Jerusalem [MTY] and to cause trouble. But we prayed to our God to protect us, and we put men around the walls to guard the city day and night.
10 Then the people of [MTY] Judah started to say, “The men who are working on the wall are becoming very tired. There is a lot of heavy rubble that we must remove; we ourselves cannot finish the work.
11 Besides, our enemies are saying, ‘Before the Jews see us, we will swoop down on them and kill them and stop their work on the wall!’ ”
12 The Jews who were living near our enemies came and told us many times, “You should leave the city and go to other places, in order that your enemies will not attack you!”
13 So I put guards at the places where the wall was not very high yet and at places where there were gaps in the wall. I put guards to protect each of their family groups. I gave the guards daggers, spears, and bows and arrows. 14 Then after I inspected everything, I summoned the leaders and other officials and many of the other people, and I said to them, “Do not be afraid of our enemies! Think about what Yahweh, who is great and glorious, can do! And fight to protect your friends, your families, and your homes!”
15 Our enemies heard that we knew what they were planning to do and that God had ◄spoiled their plans/prevented them from doing what they planned►. But we were sure that God would defend us, so we all started to work on the wall again.
16 But after that, only half of the men who were working for me worked on the wall. The others stood there on guard, holding their spears, shields, bows and arrows, and wearing their coats made of metal plates. To encourage the people 17 who were building the wall, their leaders stood behind them. Those who carried baskets of supplies on their heads/shoulders did their work with one hand, and held a weapon with the other hand. 18 All those who were building the wall had a dagger fastened to their side. The man who would blow the trumpet if our enemies attacked was standing at my side.
19 Then I said to the officials, the other important men, and the other people, “This wall is very long, and we are far apart from each other along the wall. 20 If you hear the man blowing the trumpet, gather around us at that place. Remember that our God will fight for us!”
21 So we continued to work. Half of the men continued to hold their spears all day, from when the sun rose in the morning until the stars appeared at night. 22 At that time, I also said to the people, “Tell every worker and his helper that they must stay inside Jerusalem at night. By doing that, they can guard us at night, and they can work on the wall during the daytime.” 23 During that time, none of us ever took off our clothes (OR, we wore our clothes all the time) —I and my relatives and my workers and the guards who were with me. And we had our weapons with us, in our hands.