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.

Ridicule has always been the cheap weapon of the ignorant majority. It is a powerful weapon in these days of weakness, if faith and vision are not strong.*

Wroth - Heb charah to glow, grow warm, blaze up. Sanballat represents the spirit of

antisemitism throughout the ages (Psa 2: 1) Mocked— Heb Wag to deride

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?

Feeble - Heb 'amelal, meaning to be languid, thus to be sickly and weak.

Fortify — The word 'azab means to loosen, to leave (translated as "forsaken" in Psa 22: 1) The margin has "leave to themselves", that is, to complete the work in hand

Stones out of heaps of rubbish

— The Hebrew for "revive" is chayiah, to give life. This final question implies that the people were attempting the impossible: to transform what was considered to be rubbish into something substantial and solid!

The Jews were rebuilding with broken stones and burnt timber recovered from the rubble which greatly hindered their work (v. 10). The adversaries realised this, and mocked at

their feeble attempts. Contrast the confident statement of Neh. 2:17-18 when trust is placed upon Yahweh. This is similar to the assurance given to Peter in the work of the first century:

"I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Lk. 22:32).

In building up the walls and defences of spiritual Zion (the present work of the ecclesia) there may be much rubbish to clutter the way, but we continue to labour in faith. This phrase of Sanballat fittingly describes the criticism of some against the faithful work of Bro. Thomas in reviving the Truth in these latter days, and the labours of those who follow in his path of service — whose efforts are sometimes described as "feeble" by unworthy opponents.

The Christadelphian Expositor

4 Hear, O our Elohim; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity:

Are these words in the spirit of Christ? They are prophetic and symbolic utterances of the Spirit. We would get the sense better if we read them as prophetic-

"Thou shalt give them for a prey."

The children of God do not desire the death of the wicked any more than God does, but they do fervently desire the triumph of righteousness, the vindication of faith and patience, and the complete crushing and destruction of the evil power of sin and death.

Those who presumptuously chose the way of sin must be destroyed together with sin.

The ridicule failed. 

"So we built the wall-for the people had a mind to work"*

*Bro Growcott - Let us rise up and build

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.

What a comforting expression! What wonders can be accomplished for the Truth when this is the case!*

The insults and gibes had little effect upon the people Instead, they made a conscious

effort to maintain the labour before them. It was a co-operative venture, and due to good leadership which recognized the need of the times, and applied itself to the work, the project went on apace Jerusalem was ringed with workers, and although it was heavy, difficult and dirty work, gradually results became evident.

As present-day workers, believers need to develop the "mind to work" an attitude of dedication in spiritual activity, such as is seen to perfection in the Lord Jesus (Phil 2 2-5, Jn 5 17)

This is the principle of God manifestation, the true labour of the ecclesia (cp Eph 4 16).

The Christadelphian Expositor

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 enemy pressed harder, and went from ridicule to conspiracy. And the circle of adversaries broadens as the work advances-*

9 Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our Elohim, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

Here again is combined, in a God-pleasing way-faith and works-dependence on God coupled with intense personal effort.*

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 [Adonai], which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.

*Nothing more quickly undermines a group than the presence of faithless cowardice and fear. We can do our cause no greater harm than to spread this fatal infection. in your weakness and disappointments, keep the POWER OF THE LORD before your mind!

Thereafter they worked with a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other.*

15 And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and Elohim 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 Elohim shall fight for us.

How true that is of our position today! And how important that we do as they did and keep in close contact for mutual encouragement and defense! *

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.

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 commanded that all the workers should remain inside the city during the night, for their own protection and for the mutual defense of the city. We are reminded of the instruction at the time of the passing over of the avenging angel in Egypt-

"None of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning".

Any wandering outside of the separating and protecting walls is danger and disobedience.*

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.

Complete dedication and devotion, day and night watchfulness and readiness - but still they did not neglect their own cleanliness and purification. It is so easy, in the midst of intense and energetic labour for the Truth, to forget that our principal responsibility is our own personal character and conduct and self control-our principal battle is always against our own uncleanness, our own enemy within.*

*Bro Growcott - Let us rise up and build