1 When Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites[a] heard that the repairs to the walls of Jerusalem were proceeding according to plan and that the gaps were beginning to be closed, they became infuriated. 2 As a result, they all plotted together to launch an attack against Jerusalem and throw all of us into panic and confusion. 3 Therefore, we prayed to our God and posted guards against them day and night in an attempt to foil their plans.
4 Meanwhile, the Judahites were saying: “The strength of the laborers is beginning to falter, and the rubbish is so extensive that we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” 5 However, our enemies, who were adamant in their belief that we would not know or see anything before they came into our midst, prepared to kill us and put a stop to the work.
6 When the Jews who lived near them came to us, they warned us ten times over: “Whichever way you turn, they will be prepared to attack us.” 7 Therefore, I commanded men to position themselves in the lowest places behind the wall, and near them I stationed the people by families with their swords, spears, and bows.
8 After I made a thorough inspection, I addressed the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, saying: “Have no fear of them! Remember the Lord, who is great and awe-inspiring, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” 9 When our enemies realized that we were forewarned and that God had thwarted their plans, they withdrew, and we all went back to the wall, each one to his particular task.
10 From that time on, however, half of my men did the construction work, while the other half posted themselves behind the whole house of Judah as they rebuilt the wall. 11 Those who carried the building materials did their work with one hand while holding a spear with the other. 12 Moreover, every worker involved in the task of building had his sword strapped to his side at all times. In addition, a trumpeter stood beside me.
13 [b]I then said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people: “Our work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 14 Whenever you hear the sound of a trumpet, come to our side to support us immediately. Our God will fight for us.”
15 Therefore, we continued to labor at the work, from the break of dawn until the stars came out. 16 At the same time I also told the people: “Let every man with his servant remain each night in Jerusalem, so that they may spend the night as a guard for us and be at work during the day.” 17 Therefore, neither I, nor my brothers, nor my servants, nor any of the bodyguards who accompanied me ever took off our clothes. In addition, each one kept his spear in his right hand.
- Nehemiah 4:1 Ashdodites: the people of Ashdod were Philistines; 13:23 speaks of women of Ashdod who had married Jews.
- Nehemiah 4:13 Nehemiah combined prayer with thoughtful safety precautions, constantly reminding the workers of their goal and of God’s protection.