Neh.4-7 Devising Stratgies

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Nehemiah 4:1-7:73            January 7 2007

Sanballat and Tobiah mocked the Jews’ plan to
rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, Nehemiah
prayed for God’s help. The people had the will to
work hard on this project, so Nehemiah stationed
guards along the wall 24 hours per day. The
workers carried weapons as well their tools,
and Nehemiah assured them god would fight
for them.
Nehemiah’s enemies proposed that he leave
Jerusalem to meet with them. Nehemiah refused
because he knew the invitation posed a deliberate
distraction. God strengthened him when his enemies
tried to intimidate him. Nehemiah met with
Shemaiah but learned he was a false prophet.
The wall was completed in a record 52 days . Later
Nehemiah appointed leader over Jerusalem. He had
the people registered according to genealogy. Some
were excluded from serving as priests because they
could not verify their ancestry.

1. Strategy To Cope With Mockery (Neh. 4:1-2,4)

Neh. 4:1   When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding
the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He
ridiculed the Jews, 4:2   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?” 4:3   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!” 4:4   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.

HE SAID. Disputes between rival Persian
governors were frequent. Sanballat asked several
derisive questions to taunt the Jews and to discourage
them in their efforts. Fire had damaged the
stones, which were probably limestone, and had caused
many of them to crack and crumble. See Jdg 15:4.
The Hebrew for this word may also mean “jackal”
(Ps 63:10; La 5:18; Eze 13:4). The jackal normally hunts
in packs, whereas the fox is usually a nocturnal and
solitary animal. (4:4-5) As in the so-called imprecatory
psalms (Ps 79:12; 83; 94:1-3; 109:14; 137:7-9),
Nehemiah does not himself take action against his
opponents but calls down on them redress from God.
In v. 5 Nehemiah’s prayer echoes the language of
Jer 18:23.

2. Strategy To Cope With Attacks (Neh. 4:12-13,19-

Neh. 4:12   Then the Jews who lived near them came and told
us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”
4:13   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. 4:19   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. 4:20   Wherever you
hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight
for us!” 4:22   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.”

Ten Times Over. Many times. Lowest Points. . .
Exposed Places. Nehemiah posted men conspicuously in the
areas that were the most vulnerable along the wall.
Used as thrusting weapons (Nu 25:7-8; 1Ki 18:28). Our God
Will Fight For Us! For the concept of holy war, in which God
fights for his people, Jos 10:14,42; Jdg 4:14; 20:35;
2Sa 5:24: The Conquest and the Ethical Question of War.
Till The Stars Came Out. Indicates the earnestness of
their efforts, since the usual time to stop working was
at sunset (Dt 24:15; Mt 20:8). Guards By Night. Even men
from outside Jerusalem stayed in the city at night so that
some of them could serve as sentries.

3. Strategy To Cope With Distractions (Neh. 6:2-3)

Neh. 6:2   Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come,
let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”
But they were scheming to harm me; 6:3   so I sent messengers
to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and
cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and
go down to you?”

ONO. Located about seven miles southeast of Joppa
near Lod (Lydda;  Ezr 2:33), in the westernmost
area settled by the returning Jews (Ne 7:37; 11:35). It may
have been proposed as neutral territory, but Nehemiah
recognized the invitation as a trap ( Ge 4:8; Jer 41:1-3).
Nehemiah’s sharp reply may seem like a haughty response
to a reasonable invitation, but he correctly discerned the
insincerity of his enemies. He refused to be distracted by
matters that would divert his energies from rebuilding
Jerusalem’s wall.

4. Strategy to Cope With Manipulation (Neh. 6:11-13)

Neh. 6:11   But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or
should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will
not go!” 6:12   I realized that God had not sent him, but that
he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat
had hired him. 6:13   He had been hired to intimidate me so
that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would
give me a bad name to discredit me.

Even if the threat against his life was real,
Nehemiah was not a coward who would run into hiding. Nor
would he transgress the law to save his life. As a layman,
he was not permitted to enter the sanctuary (Nu 18:7). When
King Uzziah entered the temple to burn incense, he was
punished by being afflicted with leprosy (2Ch 26:16-21). The
fact that Shemaiah proposed a course of action contrary to
God’s word revealed him as a false prophet (Dt 18:20;
Isa 8:19-20). If Nehemiah had wavered in the face of the
threat against him, his leadership would have been
discredited and morale among the people would have


We can cultivate a strong Christian character through
Bible study, prayer, and interaction with mature Christian
friends. Our Christian integrity can be our moral compass
when we encounter difficult, complex situations.

What Do You Think ?

1. Who mocked the Jews?(4:1)
2. Who was the Jews greatest ally? (4:20)
3. Why didn’t Nehemiah meet with his enemies? (6:3)
4. Who was the false prophet who tried to trick
Nehemiah? (6:12)