Workers For Jesus Online Bible Study Table of Contents

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. 

Map from

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 to Jerusalem.

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 and Nehemiah.

Bible Timeline
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.

Nehemiah 4

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.
[1] But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.
[2] 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.
[3] 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.
[4] 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:
[5] 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.
[6] 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.  
[7] 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 wroth,
[8] 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.
[9] 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.
[10] 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.
[11] 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.
[12] 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
From the 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.
[13] 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.
[14] 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.
[15] 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.
[16] 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.
[17] 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.
[18] 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.
[19] 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.
[20] 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.
[21] 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.
[22] 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.
[23] 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.

Nehemiah 5

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.
[1] 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.
[2] 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).
[3] 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.

[4] There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards.
[5] 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 vineyards.

Nehemiah was very angry when he heard what the poor Jews said.

[6] 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.
[7] 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.
[8] 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 got.
[9] 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?
[10] I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury.
[11] 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.
[12] 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.
[13] 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. 
[14] 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.
[15] 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.
[16] 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.
[17] 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 us.

Every day 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.
[18] 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.
[19] Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

Nehemiah 6

Sanballat, Tobiah, and others plot against Nehemiah

Sanballat sent a message to Nehemiah.
Picture from

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 hurt Nehemiah.
[1] 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;)
[2] 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.
[3] 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.
[4] 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 shut.

[5] 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.
[6] 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.
[7] 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 together.

Nehemiah said the rumor is not true. He said that Sanballat is making it all up.
[8] 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 him strong.

[9] 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.

[10] 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 thee.

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.
[11] 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.
[12] 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.
[13] 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 me.

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.
[14] 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.

[15] 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 Jews.
[16] 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).
[17] Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters unto Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them.
[18] 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.
[19] Also they reported his good deeds before me, and uttered my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.


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