Plots against Nehemiah
1 Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem, and our other enemies heard a report that we had finished rebuilding the wall, and that now there were no more ◄gaps/places where the wall was not finished► (although we had not yet put the doors in the gates).
2 So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, in which they said “Come and talk with us at a place in Ono plain north of Jerusalem.” But I knew that really they wanted to harm me if I went there.
3 So I sent messengers to them, to tell them, “I am doing an important work, and I cannot go down there. ◄Why should I stop doing this work just to go down to talk with you?/I do not want to stop doing this work just to go down to talk with you.►” [RHQ]
4 They sent me the same message four times, and each time when I replied to them I said the same thing.
5 Then Sanballat sent one of his servants to me, bringing a fifth message. This one was written, but it was not sealed. He did that in order that others would read the message that the servant was carrying in his hand.
6 This is what was written in the message:
“Some people in the nearby countries have heard a report that you and the other Jews are rebuilding the wall in order to be able to resist attacks, because you are planning to revolt against the king of Babylon. And the report also says that you are planning to become the king of the Israelis. Geshem says that what they have reported is true.
7 People are also saying that you have appointed some prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem that you, Nehemiah, are now the king in Judea. King Artaxerxes will certainly hear these reports, and then you will be in big trouble. So I suggest that we should meet together to talk about this matter.”
8 When I read that message, I sent the messenger back to Sanballat to say, “None of what you are saying is true. You have ◄made this up/concocted this► in your own head/mind.”
9 I said that because I knew that they were trying to cause us to be afraid, with the result that we would stop working on the wall. So I actually became more determined (OR, I prayed to God to help me) to continue the work.
10 One day I went to talk with Shemaiah, son of Delaiah and grandson of Mehetabel. I went to talk with him in his house, because he was not able (OR, allowed) to leave his house. He said to me, “You and I must enter the very sacred place in the temple and lock the doors, because people are going to come to kill you at night.”
11 I replied, “I ◄am not that kind of person/do not do things like that► [RHQ]! I would not run and hide in the temple to save my life! No, I will not do that!”
12 When I thought about what he had said, I realized that God had not told Shemaiah to say that to me. I realized that Tobiah and Sanballat had bribed him to say that to me.
13 They had bribed him to cause me to be afraid. They wanted me to disobey God's commands and sin by hiding in the temple. If I did that, they would be able to ruin my reputation [MTY] and discredit me.
14 So I prayed, “My God, do not forget what Tobiah and Sanballat have done. Punish them. And do not forget that the female prophet Noadiah and some of the other prophets have also tried to cause me to be afraid.”
They finished building the wall
15 On October 2 we finished rebuilding the wall. We did it all in 52 days.
16 When our enemies in the nearby countries heard about that, they realized that they had been humiliated, because everyone knew that it was because God helped us that we had been able to do this work and that they had not been able to force us to quit.
17 During this time, the Jewish leaders had been sending many messages/letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah had been sending messages back to them.
18 Many people in Judea were closely associated with Tobiah, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah. Furthermore, Tobiah's son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berekiah.
19 People often talked in my presence about all the good things that Tobiah had done, and then they would tell him everything that I said. So Tobiah sent many letters to me to try to cause me to become afraid.