A. Rebuilding the Walls
Nehemiah prays for Jerusalem
1: The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, 2: That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3: And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. 4: And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, 5: And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: 6: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned. 7: We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. 8: Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: 9: But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. 10: Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand. 11: O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.
Nehemiah goes to Jerusalem
1: And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. 2: Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, 3: And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? 4: Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5: And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it. 6: And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. 7: Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; 8: And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me. 9: Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. 10: When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel. 11: So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. 12: And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon. 13: And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire. 14: Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king's pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. 15: Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned. 16: And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work. 17: Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. 18: Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. 19: But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? 20: Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.
Rebuilding the Wall
1: Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel. 2: And next unto him builded the men of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri. 3: But the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build, who also laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof. 4: And next unto them repaired Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz. And next unto them repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabeel. And next unto them repaired Zadok the son of Baana. 5: And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord. 6: Moreover the old gate repaired Jehoiada the son of Paseah, and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah; they laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, and the locks thereof, and the bars thereof. 7: And next unto them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite, and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon, and of Mizpah, unto the throne of the governor on this side the river. 8: Next unto him repaired Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, of the goldsmiths. Next unto him also repaired Hananiah the son of one of the apothecaries, and they fortified Jerusalem unto the broad wall. 9: And next unto them repaired Rephaiah the son of Hur, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem. 10: And next unto them repaired Jedaiah the son of Harumaph, even over against his house. And next unto him repaired Hattush the son of Hashabniah. 11: Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hashub the son of Pahath-moab, repaired the other piece, and the tower of the furnaces. 12: And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters. 13: The valley gate repaired Hanun, and the inhabitants of Zanoah; they built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof, and a thousand cubits on the wall unto the dung gate. 14: But the dung gate repaired Malchiah the son of Rechab, the ruler of part of Beth-haccerem; he built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof. 15: But the gate of the fountain repaired Shallun the son of Col-hozeh, the ruler of part of Mizpah; he built it, and covered it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof, and the wall of the pool of Siloah by the king's garden, and unto the stairs that go down from the city of David. 16: After him repaired Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of the half part of Beth-zur, unto the place over against the sepulchres of David, and to the pool that was made, and unto the house of the mighty. 17: After him repaired the Levites, Rehum the son of Bani. Next unto him repaired Hashabiah, the ruler of the half part of Keilah, in his part. 18: After him repaired their brethren, Bavai the son of Henadad, the ruler of the half part of Keilah. 19: And next to him repaired Ezer the son of Jeshua, the ruler of Mizpah, another piece over against the going up to the armoury at the turning of the wall. 20: After him Baruch the son of Zabbai earnestly repaired the other piece, from the turning of the wall unto the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21: After him repaired Meremoth the son of Urijah the son of Koz another piece, from the door of the house of Eliashib even to the end of the house of Eliashib. 22: And after him repaired the priests, the men of the plain. 23: After him repaired Benjamin and Hashub over against their house. After him repaired Azariah the son of Maaseiah the son of Ananiah by his house. 24: After him repaired Binnui the son of Henadad another piece, from the house of Azariah unto the turning of the wall, even unto the corner. 25: Palal the son of Uzai, over against the turning of the wall, and the tower which lieth out from the king's high house, that was by the court of the prison. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh. 26: Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth out. 27: After them the Tekoites repaired another piece, over against the great tower that lieth out, even unto the wall of Ophel. 28: From above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one over against his house. 29: After them repaired Zadok the son of Immer over against his house. After him repaired also Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the east gate. 30: After him repaired Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, another piece. After him repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah over against his chamber. 31: After him repaired Malchiah the goldsmith's son unto the place of the Nethinims, and of the merchants, over against the gate Miphkad, and to the going up of the corner. 32: And between the going up of the corner unto the sheep gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.
Workers guard the construction
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? 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. 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. 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. 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. 9: Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 21: So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared. 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. 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.
Today we begin reading in the book of Nehemiah. A good title for this book might be ‘The sword and the trowel’. This book of 13 chapters was written by Nehemiah in about 445 – 432 BC. Nehemiah wrote to record the last historical book of the OT. The book records the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the revival of faith in Gods people. Zerubbabel led the first return from Babylon in 538 BC. Ezra led the second return from Babylon in 458 BC. Nehemiah led the third return in 445 BC. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are one book in the Hebrew Bible. Chronologically, Nehemiah was the last book of the OT.
Daniel said… ‘Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. Daniel 9v25. This is the story of the rebuilding.
The book has two parts the rebuilding of the walls and revival among the people. First we will read of the rebuilding of the walls. We are introduced to Nehemiah who is praying for Jerusalem while he is in Babylon. So he returns and is immediately attacked which means that they build with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other hand. In Babylon Nehemiah hears that the walls are broken down and the city gates are burnt with fire and he becomes deeply upset and prays that God might do something. He prays and fasts before the God of Heaven. And this is his prayer.
I plead with you , O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keeps his covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let your ears hear and your eyes be open, so that you may hear the prayer of your servant, that I now pray before you, day and night, for the children of Israel your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against you: both I and my father's house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against you, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember, I plead with you, the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, If you transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: 9: But if you turn to me, and keep my commandments, and do them there even though you were cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from there, and will bring them to the place that I have chosen to set my name. Now these are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power, and by your strong hand. O Lord, I plead with you, let now your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants, who desire to fear your name: and prosper, I pray to you, your servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. (Nehemiah was the king's cupbearer.)
Nehemiah is brought before the king because it is his job to give wine to Artexerxes. But he cannot hide the sadness in his heart so the Kings asks him why he is sad and Nehemiah explains all that is in his heart. Then the king says what would you ask of me? Then Nehemiah sent a short prayer heavenward while he spoke to the king. He says if l have found grace in your sight send me to Judah to my people and give me permission to rebuild the tombs of my fathers and the walls of my city. He also asked for permission to have timber to build with and the king asked him how long he would be. Nehemiah went to Jerusalem and was there for just three days. He told no one his mission and he went to view the city by night. He returned to tell the king of what he had found but there were people who laughed and mocked the plan but Nehemiah was encouraged by his trust in the Lord. The work of building began starting at the sheep gate. First they built it then they sanctified it. And then the set up the doors. All of the men of Judah set to work each working in their own place and when the work was completed they sanctified it. When Sanballat heard of the building he mocked and was full of indignation. But the people prayed and worked on. The people had a mind to work and so all the wall was completed. The Enemies planned to attack the city but the builders worked on praying to the Lord and they set a watch day and night. Some of the men were worn out but others came to join in. They also established a signal so that if they were attacked at one point the rest would come to their aid.