The Children's Bible
Overcoming Great Difficulties
ow when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he was so angry and indignant that he mocked the Jews. He spoke before his tribesmen and the army of Samaria and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they leave it to God? Will they offer a sacrifice? Will they finish the work in a day? Will they recover the stones from the heaps of rubbish even after they have been destroyed by fire?"
Tobiah, the Ammonite, was with him, and he said, "This stone wall which they are building--if a fox should go up on it, he would break it down!"
But we went on rebuilding the wall; and all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people were eager to work. But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabians and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem was going on, so that the broken places began to be closed, they were very angry. And they all planned together to come and fight against Jerusalem and frighten the people there. But we prayed to our God and set a watch as a protection against them day and night.
When our enemies heard that their plan was known to us and that God had not let them carry it out, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work. From that time on, while half of my servants were at work, half of them held the lances, the shields, the bows and the coats of mail; and the rulers stood behind all the people of Judah. Those who built the wall and those who carried burdens were also armed, each using one of his hands for the work, and was ready with the other to grasp his spear. And each builder worked with his sword fastened at his side. The man who sounded the alarm was by me; and I said to the nobles and to the rulers and to the rest of the people, "The work is great and spread out, and we on the wall are far from each other. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, gather about us; our God will fight for us."
So we worked hard, while half of them held the lances from early in the morning until the stars came out. And I said at that time to the people, "Let each man with his servant stay in Jerusalem, that they may protect us at night and work during the day." So neither I, nor any of my relatives, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard who accompanied me took off our clothes, but each kept his spear in his right hand.
After fifty-two days the wall was finished. When our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid, and it seemed very wonderful to them, and they knew that this work had been done by our God.
After the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites had been appointed, I placed my brother Hanani, the commander of the castle, in charge of Jerusalem, for he was a faithful man and more God-fearing than many. And I said to them, "Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until after sunrise; and at night, while the watchmen are still on guard, let them shut the doors and bar them. Also let the people who live in Jerusalem be on guard, each at his post opposite his own house."
Now the city was wide and large, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not been rebuilt. So my God put it into my mind to gather together the nobles and the officials and the people. The officials lived in Jerusalem. The rest of the people drew lots that one out of every ten should live in Jerusalem, the sacred city, while the others stayed in the villages.
Then I had the officials of Judah take their place on the wall, and I formed two great processions. The first marched to the right upon the wall toward the Dung Gate; and behind them went Hoshaiah and half of the officials of Judah. At the Fountain Gate they went straight up the stairs of the City of David by the ascent along the wall above the House of David to the Water Gate on the east of the city.
The other procession went to the left on the wall above the Tower of the Furnaces, and I after them, with half of the people, to the broad wall and above the Gate of Ephraim and past the Old Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, and the Tower of the Hundred to the Sheep Gate. Then they stood in the Gate of the Guard. So the two processions took their position in the temple and I and half of the rulers who were with me.
Then the singers sang loudly, and the people offered many sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had given them great cause for joy. The women and children rejoiced, too, so that the cries of joy at Jerusalem were heard far away.