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Nehemiah Chapter Six


Nehemiah 6 Outlines

Conspiracy Against Nehemiah (v.1~14)

The Wall Completed (v.15~19)

New King James Version (NKJV)


Nehemiah 6:1. Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates),

   YLT And it cometh to pass, when it hath been heard by Sanballat, and Tobiah, and by Geshem the Arabian, and by the rest of our enemies, that I have builded the wall, and there hath not been left in it a breach, (also, till that time the doors I had not set up in the gates,)

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,....

Quite finished it:

and that there was no breach left therein;

but all was made up firm and strong:

though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;

not upon all of them, though some might by the particular builders of them; and they all of them might be ready made, though not as yet put upon the hinges.


Nehemiah 6:2. that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.

   YLT that Sanballat sendeth, also Geshem, unto me, saying, `Come and we meet together in the villages, in the valley of Ono;' and they are thinking to do to me evil.

Then Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me,....


saying, come, let us meet together in some one of the villages;

in Cephirim, which Jarchi takes to be the name of a place, perhaps the same with Cephirah, a city in the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:26

in the plain of Ono;

which was in the same tribe, see 1 Chronicles 8:12, they might pretend a friendly meeting, to accommodate differences between them, or to converse together about the general interest of the king of Persia in those parts:

but they thought to do me mischief;

to kill him, or at least to confine him; this he either conjectured from their general character and behaviour, or he had intelligence of their design.


Nehemiah 6:3. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?”

  YLT And I send unto them messengers, saying, `A great work I am doing, and I am not able to come down; why doth the work cease when I let it alone, and have come down unto you?'

And I sent messengers unto them,....

He did not show any open contempt of them, nor did he even return answer by the messenger that came from them, but sent some of his own people to them:

saying, I am doing a great work;

was about an affair of great importance, very busy, and not at leisure to give them a meeting:

so that I cannot come down;

Jerusalem being built on an eminence, and the place proposed to meet at in a plain, going thither is expressed by coming down:

why should the work cease, while I leave it, and come down to you?

signifying that it would cease if he left it; and it being of greater consequence than anything they could have to converse about, he argues it would be wrong to relinquish it on such an account; this was the reason he thought fit to give, but was not the only, nor the principal reason, which is suggested in the preceding verse.


Nehemiah 6:4. But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner.

   YLT and they send unto me, according to this word, four times, and I return them [word] according to this word.

Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort,....

Being very desirous of getting him into their hands, and therefore were very pressing and importunate:

and I answered them after the same manner;

every time as before, he being as much bent on finishing the work as they were to divert him from it.


Nehemiah 6:5. Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand.

   YLT And Sanballat sendeth unto me, according to this word, a fifth time, his servant, and an open letter in his hand;

Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time,....

In his own name, neither Tobiah nor Geshem joining with him, he being more solicitous and anxious to get him into his hands than any of them; and it may be, as some think, pretending more friendship for him than the rest, and therefore writes alone, as if they knew nothing of his writing:

with an open letter in his hand:

which having in it an intimation of Nehemiah being guilty of treason, anyone that would might read it, and so spread the defamation.


Nehemiah 6:6. In it was written: It is reported among the nations, and Geshem[a] says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king.

   YLT it is written in it, `Among the nations it hath been heard, and Gashmu is saying: Thou and the Jews are thinking to rebel, therefore thou art building the wall, and thou hast been to them for a king -- according to these words!

Wherein was written, it is reported among, the Heathen,....

Among the several neighbouring nations; it was an affair that was not whispered about among a few only; it was common talk, it was in every body's mouth in divers nations:

and Gashmu saith it;

the same with Geshem the Arabian; he affirms it, and will abide by his assertion, and engages to make good what he says; he mentions him by name, who he knew would not be offended with him for making use of it, and who doubtless agreed that he should; that Nehemiah might not think this was the talk of some of the lower rank of the people, but even was averred by no less than the king's governor in Arabia:

that thou and the Jews think to rebel;

that they had formed a scheme, and were taking measures to raise a rebellion against the king of Persia, and revolt from him:

for which cause thou buildest the wall;

the wall of Jerusalem, for their security against any force that might be sent to quell them:

that thou mayest be their king, according to these words;

written in this epistle, and reported among the Heathens.


Nehemiah 6:7. And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, “There is a king in Judah!” Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together.

   YLT And also, prophets thou hast appointed to call for thee in Jerusalem, saying, A king [is] in Judah, and now it is heard by the king according to these words; and now come, and we take counsel together.'

And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem,....

This he said to cover what he and Tobiah had been doing, tampering with, corrupting, and hiring the prophets to discourage him, and put him upon methods, whereby the work would cease:

saying, there is a king in Judah;

besides Artaxerxes, whose yoke they were casting off, having got a king of their own, and among them:

and now shall it be reported to the king, according to these words;

such a report as this, and in those very words, will soon reach the ears of the king of Persia:

come now, therefore, and let us take counsel together;

contrive the best method to put a stop to this report, if a false one, and to wipe off the reproach that is upon thee, and may affect us; and thus partly terrifying him, and partly pretending friendship to him, hoped to get him into his hands.


Nehemiah 6:8. Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart.”

   YLT And I send unto him, saying, `It hath not been according to these words that thou art saying, for from thine own heart thou art devising them;'

Then I sent unto him,....

Whether a letter, or a messenger, is not said:

saying there are no such things done as thou sayest;

that there was any scheme formed to rebel, and make him king, or that prophets were appointed to declare him such:

but thou feignest them out of thine own heart;

in short, that they were no other than lies of his own inventing.


Nehemiah 6:9. For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, “Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.” Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

   YLT for all of them are making us afraid, saying, `Their hands are too feeble for the work, and it is not done;' and now, strengthen Thou my hands.

For they all made us afraid,....

Or you all, as Aben Ezra interprets it; or all the Heathen nations, as Jarchi; this was the design of all those scandalous reports, to intimidate them, and with this they pleased themselves, as follows:

their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done;

this they hoped would be the effect of those reports sent to them:

now, therefore, O God, strengthen my hands;

and let them not have what they will, and hope for; according to Aben Ezra, these words are directed to Sanballat, that if he was a friend, as he pretended, that instead of weakening, he would strengthen his hands by a sincere reconciliation; so Vatablus; but they are an address to God, such short ejaculations being usual with Nehemiah.


Nehemiah 6:10. Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.”

   YLT And I have entered the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabeel -- and he is restrained -- and he saith, `Let us meet at the house of God, at the inside of the temple, and we shut the doors of the temple, for they are coming in to slay thee -- yea, by night they are coming in to slay thee.'

Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up,....

Either in his own house, or in a chamber in the temple, as if he had given himself up to meditation, fasting, and prayer; or, as he might suggest to Nehemiah, for his safety, and so designed it as an example to him; this man might be a priest of the course of Delaiah, 1 Chronicles 24:18 or however he was a person Nehemiah had a good opinion of, and came to him on the letters sent to him by his enemies, to consult with him, and the rest, since they had suggested that he had appointed prophets to speak of him as a king:

and he said let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple;

this looks as if he was in his own house, or if in a chamber of the temple, that he thought that was not secret and safe enough, and therefore proposed going within the temple, into the holy place, where none but priests might go:

for they will come to slay thee;

meaning his enemies, Sanballat and his companions:

yea, in the night they will come to slay thee;

that very night, and therefore no time should be lost in providing for his safety.


Nehemiah 6:11. And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!”

   YLT And I say, `A man such as I -- doth he flee? and who as I, that doth go in unto the temple, and live? -- I do not go in.'

And I said, should such a man as I flee?....

The king's commissioner, who had the conducting and management of the whole affair of building the wall of Jerusalem, on whom it wholly depended; for, should he absent himself, the people would depart and leave their work, and the city and wall be left defenceless, which was what was hoped for from this scheme; and who had expressed such confidence in God, and had had such success:

and who is there, that, being as I am;

in such a post, and in such circumstances, and on whom so much depended:

would go into the temple to save his life?

or where there was little reason to believe it would be preserved long, should he take such a step as that:

I will not go in; as being neither lawful, nor honourable, nor safe.


Nehemiah 6:12. Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.

   YLT And I discern, and lo, God hath not sent him, for in the prophecy he hath spoken unto me both Tobiah and Sanballat hired him,

And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him,....

Because he advised to that which was against the cause of God and true religion:

but that he pronounced the prophecy against me;

for by fleeing, as he advised, it would seem that he was guilty of the crimes of rebellion and treason he was charged with; and leaving the people, as they would in course break up, he himself could not be long in safety, no, not in the temple:

for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him;

this he found out afterwards, on purpose to intimidate him, and take such measures as that thereby he would lose his character and his influence.


Nehemiah 6:13. For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me.

   YLT so that he [is] an hireling, that I may fear and do so, and I had sinned, and it had been to them for an evil name that they may reproach me.

Therefore was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so,

and sin,....

By distrusting the power and providence of God to protect him, and by going into such a part of the temple, which he, being no priest, had no right to go into:

and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me;

as a rebel and traitor against the king, which had been reported of him, and which would be strengthened by such a step.


Nehemiah 6:14. My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.

   YLT Be mindful, O my God, of Tobiah, and of Sanballat, according to these his works, and also, of Noadiah the prophetess, and of the rest of the prophets who have been making me afraid.

My God, think thou on Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works,....

Their wicked counsels and schemes, and not only confound and disappoint them, but reward them as they deserve:

and on the prophetess Noadiah:

whom Aben Ezra takes to be the same with Shemaiah, because he said, נועד, "let us meet", &c. Nehemiah 6:10, but no doubt it is the name of a woman, a false prophetess, and was hired, and in the same scheme with Shemaiah:

and the rest of the prophets that would have put me in fear;

and so put him on leaving the people, and the work he was engaged in, and flee for his safety; it seems there were more than are by name mentioned, who sought to discourage and intimidate him.


Nehemiah 6:15. So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days.

   YLT And the wall is completed in the twenty and fifth of Elul, on the fifty and second day;

So the wall was finished in the twenty fifth day of the month Elul,....

The sixth month, answering to part of August and part of September:

in fifty and two days;

which Aben Ezra reckons from the time that Sanballat sent his letter to Nehemiah, when no more were wanting than to set the doors upon the gates, Nehemiah 6:1, but rather these, with Jarchi, must be reckoned from the time the building was begun; which, reckoning back from the twenty fifth of Elul, it will appear it was begun the third day of the fifth month Ab; nor need this be thought incredible, considering the number of workmen, their ardour and diligence in building, and that the walls were not wholly built all around, only repaired, and breaches made up, and much of the old materials were made use of, which were at hand, and stone unhewed, and especially being attended with the blessing of God, which succeeded the undertaking: nor are there wanting examples similar to this; and as it is observed by many from CurtiusF24Hist. l. 7. c. 6. Justin e Trogo, l. 12. c. 5. , the walls of new Alexandria, which were sixty furlongs in length, or more than seven miles, were finished in seventeen days; if NicephorusF25Hist. l. 14. c. 1. is to be credited, the high walls which surrounded Constantinople, and were twenty miles in circumference, were finished in two months time. Josephus is not to be regarded, who, contrary to the Scriptures saysF26Antiqu. l. 11. c. 5. sect. 8. , this wall of Jerusalem was two years and four months in building.


Nehemiah 6:16. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

   YLT and it cometh to pass, when all our enemies have heard, and all the nations who are round about us see, that they fall greatly in their own eyes, and know that by our God hath this work been done.

And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof,....

That the wall was finished:

and all the Heathen that were about us saw these things;

the neighbouring nations, who not only heard with their ears, but saw with their eyes what was done:

they were much cast down in their own eyes;

through shame and confusion, because of their own scoffs and jeers; through grief and vexation at the unexpected success of the Jews, and through the fear of them that was fallen upon them, as Jarchi notes:

for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God;

his special providence and blessing attending it, as appeared by its being so soon effected.


Nehemiah 6:17. Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them.

   YLT Also, in those days the freemen of Judah are multiplying their letters going unto Tobiah, and those of Tobiah are coming in unto them;

Moreover, in those days,....

While the wall was building:

the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them;

letters passed between them frequently, they informing him how things went on at Jerusalem, and he advising them to what was detrimental to the true interest of their nation; such false friends had Nehemiah about him, and yet the work succeeded under him; which showed it the more to be of God.


Nehemiah 6:18. For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.

   YLT for many in Judah are sworn to him, for he [is] son-in-law to Shechaniah son of Arah, and Jehohanan his son hath taken the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah;

For there were many in Judah sworn unto him,....

To Tobiah, who not only in a private manner corresponded with him by letters, but bound themselves by an oath to him to be true to his interest, and do as he should advise them:

because he was the son in law of Shechaniah, the son of Arah;

of a family that came up with Zerubbabel from the captivity, Ezra 2:5 and very probably of considerable note:

and his son Johanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah;

a very eminent person, concerned in building the wall, Nehemiah 3:4.


Nehemiah 6:19. Also they reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.

   YLT also, his good deeds they have been saying before me, and my words they have been taking out to him; letters hath Tobiah sent to make me afraid.

Also they reported his good deeds before me,....

Recommended him as a very worthy man, deserving of respect and notice by Nehemiah, and to be taken into his friendship, and admitted to conversation with him, whose counsel and advice might be of service:

and uttered my words to him;

reported both what he said and did; for the word used signifies both words and actions:

and Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear;

perceiving, by the intelligence of his friends, that Nehemiah would have nothing to say to him, nor to do with him, he threatened him.


──John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible


New King James Version (NKJV)


a.    Nehemiah 6:6 Hebrew Gashmu