The Workmen Guard against the Adversaries
4 1 But it happened that when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. 2 He spoke before his brothers and the army of Samaria, and said, What are these feeble Jews doing? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, seeing they are burned? 3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they are building, if a fox go up, he shall break down their stone wall. 4 Hear, our God; for we are despised: and turn back their reproach on their own head, and give them up for a spoil in a land of captivity; 5 and don’t cover their iniquity, and don’t let their sin be blotted out from before you; for they have provoked you to anger before the builders. 6 So we built the wall; and all the wall was joined together to half the height of it: for the people had a mind to work.
7 But it happened that when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabians, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem went forward, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very angry; 8 and they conspired all of them together to come and fight against Jerusalem, and to cause confusion therein. 9 But we made our prayer to our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. 10 Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. 11 Our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, until we come into the midst of them, and kill them, and cause the work to cease. 12 It happened that when the Jews who lived by them came, they said to us ten times from all places, You must return to us. 13 Therefore set I in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in the open places, I set there the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 I looked, and rose up, and said to the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Don’t be afraid of them: remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. 15 It happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and God had brought their counsel to nothing, that we returned all of us to the wall, everyone to his work.
16 It happened from that time forth, that half of my servants worked in the work, and half of them held the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the coats of mail; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. 17 They all built the wall and those who bore burdens loaded themselves; everyone with one of his hands worked in the work, and with the other held his weapon; 18 and the builders, everyone had his sword girded by his side, and so built. He who sounded the trumpet was by me. 19 I said to the nobles, and to the rulers and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated on the wall, one far from another: 20 in whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally there to us; our God will fight for us. 21 So we worked in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning until the stars appeared. 22 Likewise at the same time said I to the people, Let everyone with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and may labor in the day. 23 So neither I, nor my brothers, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us put off our clothes, everyone went with his weapon to the water.
The Payment of Interest Abolished
5 1 Then there arose a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brothers the Jews. 2 For there were that said, We, our sons and our daughters, are many: let us get grain, that we may eat and live. 3 Some also there were that said, We are mortgaging our fields, and our vineyards, and our houses: let us get grain, because of the dearth. 4 There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king’s tribute on our fields and our vineyards. 5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children as their children: and behold, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought into bondage already: neither is it in our power to help it; for other men have our fields and our vineyards.
6 I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words. 7 Then I consulted with myself, and contended with the nobles and the rulers, and said to them, You exact usury, everyone of his brother. I held a great assembly against them. 8 I said to them, We after our ability have redeemed our brothers the Jews, that were sold to the nations; and would you even sell your brothers, and should they be sold to us? Then held they their peace, and found never a word. 9 Also I said, The thing that you do is not good: ought you not to walk in the fear of our God, because of the reproach of the nations our enemies? 10 I likewise, my brothers and my servants, do lend them money and grain. Please let us leave off this usury. 11 Please restore to them, even this day, their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the grain, the new wine, and the oil, that you exact of them. 12 Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do, even as you say. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they would do according to this promise. 13 Also I shook out my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that doesn’t perform this promise; even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. All the assembly said, Amen, and praised Yahweh. The people did according to this promise.
14 Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even to the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brothers have not eaten the bread of the governor. 15 But the former governors who were before me were supported by the people, and took bread and wine from them, besides forty shekels of silver; yes, even their servants ruled over the people: but I didn’t do so, because of the fear of God. 16 Yes, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any land: and all my servants were gathered there to the work. 17 Moreover there were at my table, of the Jews and the rulers, one hundred fifty men, besides those who came to us from among the nations that were around us. 18 Now that which was prepared for one day was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine: yet for all this I didn’t demand the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy on this people. 19 Remember to me, my God, for good, all that I have done for this people.
The Plots of the Adversaries
6 1 Now it happened, when it was reported to Sanballat and Tobiah, and to Geshem the Arabian, and to the rest of our enemies, that I had built the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though even to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates;) 2 that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, Come, let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. 3 I sent messengers to them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I can’t come down: why should the work cease, while I leave it, and come down to you? 4 They sent to me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner. 5 Then sent Sanballat his servant to me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand, 6 in which was written, It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says it, that you and the Jews think to rebel; for which cause you are building the wall: and you would be their king, according to these words. 7 You have also appointed prophets to preach of you at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together. 8 Then I sent to him, saying, There are no such things done as you say, but you imagine them out of your own heart. 9 For they all would have made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it not be done. But now, God, strengthen my hands.
10 I went to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to kill you; yes, in the night will they come to kill you. 11 I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there that, being such as I, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in. 12 I discerned, and behold, God had not sent him; but he pronounced this prophecy against me: and Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 For this cause was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me. 14 Remember, my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and also the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.
15 So the wall was finished in the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 It happened, when all our enemies heard of it, that all the nations that were about us feared, and were much cast down in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was worked of our God. 17 Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them. 18 For there were many in Judah sworn to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah; and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as wife. 19 Also they spoke of his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.