About this Bible Study........The King James Version of
the Bible is written in a beautiful form of the English language. It can be hard
for modern English readers to understand. In this study, you will find
notes and summaries in brown just above the the verses from the Bible. We
recommend that you read the notes and summaries first, and then read the verses
in their KJV form.
The Persian Empire covered many areas. It included the
modern-day countries of Israel, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Iran
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey.
The Persian kings named in the Bible
were Cyrus, Ahasruerus, Artaxerxes, and Darius.
The Book of Nehemiah
God allowed the people from Babylon to take the tribe of Judah,
the Jews, away. They took them back to Babylon. The Jews lived in Babylon for
about 70 years. Then, Cyrus became king of Persia (now called Iran). Persia
defeated Babylon, and Cyrus said that the Jews could return to Jerusalem.
Ezra was a scribe (secretary, historian). He wrote down the
history of the Jews going back to Jerusalem. He also led some of the Jews back
Nehemiah also went back to Jerusalem. He was sad because Jerusalem had not
been repaired. He led the Jews to rebuild the wall around the city. Later, he became the governor of Judah.
People who study the Bible believe that Ezra wrote both books of the Bible: Ezra
Here is a good timeline to see the book of Nehemiah in the history of the Bible
Nehemiah 4 - 6
The Jews continue to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.
Sanballat and Tobiah try to stop the work on the wall.
Nehemiah becomes governor of Judah.
The wall is finished.
Sanballat and his men want to stop the work
on the wall.
Sanballat was a leader who was not Jewish.
He heard about Nehemiah and the others building the wall. He was not happy.
Sanballat talked to his people and
the soldiers in Samaria.
He said the Jews were weak, and he made fun of them.
He asked what they will do now. He asks
if they will make themselves strong, make sacrifices, rebuild with the old stones,
and finish the work all in one day.
 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we
builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the
 And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What
do these feeble Jews? 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 the rubbish which are burned?
A man named Tobiah
(from the area of Ammon) was with Sanballat. He said that the wall that the
Jews were making was weak. He said it was so weak that a fox could break it and
make it fall down.
 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they
build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.
Nehemiah prayed to God. He told God that the people
hate the Jews. He asked God to punish Sanballat and the others. He asked God
for people in Persia to capture Sanballat and Tobiah. He wanted God to
punish them because they made fun of the Jews for building the wall.
 Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their
own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity:
 And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from
before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.
The Jews continued to build the wall all around the city. It was
half as tall as it would be after it was finished. The people worked hard so
they could finish it.
 So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half
thereof: for the people had a mind to work.
A group of men heard that the men in Jerusalem were
fixing the walls. They were very mad. They decided to go to Jerusalem to try
and stop the work. The men were Sanballat, Tobiah, some men from
Arabia, some men from Ammon, and some men from Ashdod.
 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians,
and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem
were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very
 And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against
Jerusalem, and to hinder it.
The Jews prayed to God for protection. They set up
guards over the wall day and night. The guards watched for the men who
wanted to stop the work on the wall.
 Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against
them day and night, because of them.
The men of the tribe of Judah said that they were
getting tired and feeling weak. They said it was hard to carry away the
rubble (from the old wall) and build the new wall. They were worried about
Sanballat and his men attacking them.
 And 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.
 And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we
come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease.
The Jews who lived near Sanballat and his men
reported to the Jews in Jerusalem. They reported 10 times. They said
that Sanballat and his men were planning to attack them from many different places.
 And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they
said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they
will be upon you.
|From the book
"Treasures of the Bible"
by Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D.
published by International Publishing Company, 1894
LaVista Church of Christ web site
Nehemiah set up guards on the wall and behind the
wall. He told the Jews to keep their swords, spears, and bows with them
always. They should have their swords ready even
when they were at home with their families.
 Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher
places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their
spears, and their bows.
Nehemiah told all of the leaders and the rest of
the people to be brave. They should remember that God is powerful.
They should fight for their brothers, sons, daughters, wives, and homes.
 And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers,
and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord,
which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and
your daughters, your wives, and your houses.
Sanballat and his men found out that the Jews knew
about their plans. God had stopped their plans from working. Then the Jews went
back to work on the wall.
 And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us,
and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to
the wall, every one unto his work.
From then on, half of the workers worked on the
wall, and the other half guarded the wall. The guards held spears, shields,
and bows and wore habergeons (metal vests). The leaders supported the people
working on the wall.
 And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants
wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the
shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all
the house of Judah.
All of the men who worked were careful. They used
one hand to work and held a weapon in the other hand.
 They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those
that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with
the other hand held a weapon.
The men who were building kept swords on their
sides. The trumpet player stayed by Nehemiah.
 For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so
builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.
Nehemiah talked to the leaders and the people who
were working. He said that the wall was big, and and the workers were
separated by the parts of the wall. He said that if they heard the trumpet,
they should hurry and come to him. God will protect them.
 And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the
people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one
far from another.
 In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye
thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.
They continued to work. Half of the workers held
spears from morning until it was dark.
 So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the
rising of the morning till the stars appeared.
He also told the other people that they should stay
in Jerusalem at night. They could help guard Jerusalem. Then they
could work in the daytime.
 Likewise at the same time said I unto the people, Let every one with
his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to
us, and labour on the day.
Nehemiah and the other workers did not take off
their work clothes except when they needed to take a bath.
 So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the
guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that every
one put them off for washing.
Some of the wealthy Jews are charging the
poorer Jews high interest.
Some of the Jews were poor and did not
have as much as the other Jews. The poor Jews and their wives complained.
 And there was a great cry of the people and of their
wives against their brethren the Jews.
Some of the poor Jews said that their families are
big. They must buy a lot of corn so everyone can eat and live.
 For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many:
therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live.
Other poor Jews said that they borrowed money to
buy food. They used their farms, places to grow grapes, and houses for
collateral (if they don't pay the money back, they will have to give up
their land and houses).
 Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards,
and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.
Some other poor Jews said that they had to borrow money to pay their taxes.
Their children are now slaves. They don't have their
land and farms anymore so they can't pay to get their children back.
 There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's
tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards.
 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their
children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be
servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already:
neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and
Nehemiah was very angry when he heard what the poor
 And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
He thought about what he should do. He talked to
the Jewish leaders who were not good to the poor Jews. He told them
they were not right. He said they were sinning. They were making loans with
very high interest (price to pay for borrowing money) to other Jews.
Nehemiah arranged a big meeting with the Jews.
 Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers,
and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a
great assembly against them.
Nehemiah talked about the Jews who were still
slaves to other groups of people (not Jews). They are still trying to buy
them all back. But now, the Jews are becoming slaves to other Jews. The Jews who
were charging high interest to the poor Jews said nothing.
 And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren
the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your
brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and
found nothing to answer.
Nehemiah said they must behave well. If not, the
other groups of people will criticize them. He said they should loan money
and corn to poor Jews, but they must not charge interest. They should give
back the land, farms, and houses they got from the poor Jews. They
should also give back 1/100th of the corn, money, wine, and oil that they
 Also I said, It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear
of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies?
 I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money
and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury.
 Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their
vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the the hundredth part
of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them.
They said they would do what Nehemiah said. They
will give back to the poor Jews. They will not charge them interest. Then
Nehemiah called the priests. The men made a promise in front of the priests.
 Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them;
so will we do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of
them, that they should do according to this promise.
Nehemiah gave them an example of what would happen
if they broke their promise. He shook the dust off the front of his clothes.
He said God would shake them out of their homes and work if they broke their
promise. The men said Amen, and they praised God. They kept their promise.
 Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his
house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise, even thus be
he shaken out, and emptied. And all the congregation said, Amen, and praised
the LORD. And the people did according to this promise.
Nehemiah becomes the governor of Judah.
Nehemiah was the governor of Judah for 12 years. He
started to be governor when Artaxerxes was the king of Persia for 20 years.
He continued until Artaxerxes' 32nd year. The past governors got food
and money from the people in Judah. The past governors' workers also took
food and money from the people. But Nehemiah and his family did not do that.
He respected God and so he did not eat that food or take money.
 Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the
land of Judah, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year
of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not
eaten the bread of the governor.
 But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto
the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of
silver; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not
I, because of the fear of God.
Nehemiah and his servants continued working on the
wall. They did not buy any more land.
 Yea, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any
land: and all my servants were gathered thither unto the work.
Nehemiah fed about 150 people every day. That
included Jews, Jewish leaders, and people who were not Jews.
 Moreover there were at my table an hundred and fifty of the Jews and
rulers, beside those that came unto us from among the heathen that are about
Nehemiah's helpers cooked 1 ox, 6 of the best sheep, and birds. Every 10
days, they brought different kinds of wine. None of this food was tax from
the Jews. Nehemiah knew the Jews had a hard time and that paying taxes was very
hard for them.
 Now that which was prepared for me daily 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 required not I the bread of the governor,
because the bondage was heavy upon this people.
Nehemiah prayed that God will see the good things
he has done for the Jews.
 Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for
Sanballat, Tobiah, and others plot against Nehemiah
The Jews had finished the wall
except for the doors for the gates. The three men who were against the Jews
heard about it. They were Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem (from the
place named Arabia). Other people heard about it, too. Sanballat and
Geshem sent a message to Nehemiah. They wanted him to come and meet them.
They wanted to meet in the flat place named Ono. They were planning to
 Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and
Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded
the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I
had not set up the doors upon the gates;)
 That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet
together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought
to do me mischief.
Nehemiah sent a message back to them. He told them
that he was busy and couldn't meet them. He said if he went to meet them,
the work on the wall would stop.
 And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so
that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and
come down to you?
The men sent messages to Nehemiah 4 more times. He
always answered them the same way.
 Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them
after the same manner.
Sanballat sent Nehemiah a 5th letter. The letter was open--it was not sealed
 Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time
with an open letter in his hand;
This is what was in the letter. Sanballat wrote
that he heard a rumor from the man named Gashmu. He said that Nehemiah and
theJews are planning to fight against the king of Persia. That is why
they were building the wall around Jerusalem. He said that Nehemiah
wants to be the king. He said that Nehemiah had prophets say good things
about him so he will be king. Sanballat said that the king in Persia will
hear this rumor. Sanballat asks Nehemiah to meet with him.
 Wherein was written, It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith
it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the
wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words.
 And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee 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
Nehemiah said the rumor is not true. He said that
Sanballat is making it all up.
 Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou
sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart.
Nehemiah said that Sanballat and the others made them afraid. They wanted to
scare them so they would not work on the wall. Nehemiah prays to God to make
 For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from
the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.
Later, Nehemiah went to the home of Shemaiah (his father was
Delaiah and his grandfather was Mehetabeel). Shemaiah did not come out of
his house. Shemaiah wanted to meet Nehemiah in God's Temple. He said they
should meet in the temple behind closed doors. He said someone would come at
night to kill Nehemiah.
 Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son
of Mehetabeel, 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 slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay
Nehemiah said no. He would not meet Shemaiah in the
temple. He said that he would not run away. He would not go into the
temple to save his life.
 And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being
as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.
Then Nehemiah could see clearly that God did not
send Shemaiah. Shemaiah was not saying something from God. Tobiah and
Sanballat had paid him to say that. They were trying to make Nehemiah do
something wrong so that the Jews wouldn't follow him. They were trying to
make Nehemiah go into God's temple. Only priests were allowed in that part
of the temple, and Nehemiah was not a priest.
 And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced
this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
 Therefore 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
Nehemiah prayed that God would punish Tobiah and
Sanballat. He also prayed for God to punish a female prophet named Noadiah
and the other prophets who were working for Tobiah and Sanballat.
 My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their
works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that
would have put me in fear.
The wall around Jerusalem is finished.
The wall was finished in the month named Elul on the 25th day. It took them
52 days to finish the wall.
 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul,
in fifty and two days.
The other people in Judah saw that the wall was
finished. There were not happy because they were enemies of the Jews. They
did not believe in God. But they understood now that God was helping the
 And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all
the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in
their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.
During that time, many leaders in Judah sent
letters back and forth to Tobiah. There were many people in Judah who
followed Tobiah. They followed him because he was married to a Jewish woman.
Also, his son married a Jewish woman. Tobiah's father-in-law was
Shechaniah (his father was Arah). Tobiah's son was named Johanan. His
father-in-law was Meshullam (his father was Berechiah).
 Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters unto
Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them.
 For there were many in Judah sworn unto him, because he was the son in
law of Shechaniah the son of Arah; and his son Johanan had taken the
daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.
Some of the Jews told Nehemiah that Tobiah did good
things. Then they told Tobiah what he said. Tobiah sent letters to Nehemiah,
and Nehemiah was afraid.
 Also they reported his good deeds before me, and uttered my words to
him. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.