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Nehemiah 4

Opposition to the Rebuilding

1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”

3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!”

4 Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of  the builders.

6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. 9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”

11 Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”

12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and 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 homes.”

15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.

16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”

21 So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.” 23 Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.


INTRODUCTION TO NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 4

opposition—opposition—opposition—What had kept them from doing anything about the broken-down wall for nearly 100 years?  One obstacle was local resistance: powerful politicians were determined to keep the Jews down.  Perhaps another reason was the lack of a leader like Nehemiah.  In his memoirs, which fill most of this book, he shows remarkable qualities of leadership:  impassioned speech, prayer, organization, resolve, trust in God, quick and determined response to problems, unselfishness.  Perhaps his years in the Persian court had been preparing him.   Organizing a difficult building project and handling fierce opposition seemed to come easily to him.  Nehemiah was more than a good business manager.  He was a man of God.  He did not act without prayer, and he did not pray without acting.  His prayers punctuate the book.  He recognized God’s role in all that happened and never forgot to give him credit.  He was not looking for earthly status—if he had been he never would have left Persia.

 

EXPOSITION TO NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 4

Opposition to the Rebuilding

1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews,

Sanballet was as arrogant as a civil servant with seniority.

2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”

Sanballet was as prissy as a pussy cat.  He was a real fuss budget.

3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!”

Tobiah sees the building of the walls as futile as a rain dance in Death Valley.

 

4 Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their

own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.

The Jews were as despised as a hymn to Hitler.

Ps 123:3,4; “Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us, for we have endured much contempt.  We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant.”  Psalm 79:12 “Pay back into the laps of our neighbors seven times the reproach they have hurled at you, O Lord.”

5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of [a] the builders.

The insults were as inflamed as strep throat.

6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

It would appear from this verse that the walls were only half the original height.  It will require more scaffolding and putting the stones up at this height will require more laborers and a crane built that will hoist up the stones

7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry.

Sanballet and Tobiah carry their insults one step further.  They are now threatening to attack.

8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.

The God haters were plotting and conspiring to do the Jews in.

Ps. 83:3 “With cunning they conspire against your people;  they plot against those you cherish.

9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

They prayed and prepared and guarded the work day and night.

 

10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”

Discouragement—they were as discouraged as a tax payer who receives a letter from the IRS for an audit.  Discouragement was spreading among the workers—laborers were complaining that they were tired and there was so much rubbish in the way that workers couldn’t work.

11 Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”

War plans were being formulated by Sanballet and Tobiah.  Meanwhile the workers have repeated 10 times that they were no match against their enemies.  They were on the verge of throwing in the towel.

12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

Sanballet and Tobia with their network of discouragement is bringing about despondency in the working ranks.  The workers are as discouraged as a baseball player who can’t get to first base.

13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.

Nehemiah has a plan which means arming every worker and their families.

14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and 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 homes.”

Nehemiah saw the fear on the faces of the people.  The enemy has rendered the Jews as feeble as a coward’s courage.  Nehemiah tells them to not be afraid and fight for your brothers.  It was this kind of a militia that won our independence.

15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.

The plans of Sanballet and Tobiah are boomeranging on them.  They see that their strategy is not working.

 

16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah

Half working and half on guard duty nevertheless the progress on the wall continues.

17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other,

The laborers looked like a one arm paper hanger—carrying stones and carrying a weapon in the other hand.  If you don’t believe in self defense explain this verse.

18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

With a sword strapped to their side and a trumpeter ready to call to arms the militia that had been organized of the work force was ready to fight.

19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall.

This called for planning in event of an attack.

20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”

Ex. 14:14; “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Gen. 15:1; “After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”

Ex 20:20. “Moses said to the people, Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning”

Nehemiah felt no difficulty in combining faith and prayer and action.  “We prayed to our God and posted a guard”.  Teddy Roosevelt said “speak softly and carry a big stick.”

 

 

21 So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.

Half holding spears till the stars came out—the other half on the next shift.

22 At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.”

They stayed at Jerusalem 24/7 and labored during the day and probably guard duty for four hours shifts during the night.

23 Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

They worked, ate and slept and kept their weapons with them even when they went to get a drink.

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