1When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem was progressing—for the gaps were beginning to be closed up—they became extremely angry. 2They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to throw us into confusion. 3We prayed to our God and posted a watch against them day and night for fear of what they might do. 4Meanwhile the Judahites were saying:

“Slackened is the bearers’ strength,

there is no end to the rubbish;

Never will we be able

to rebuild the wall.”

5Our enemies thought, “Before they are aware of it or see us, we will come into their midst, kill them, and put an end to the work.”

6When the Jews who lived near them had come to us from one place after another, and had told us ten times over that they were about to attack us, 7I stationed guards down below, behind the wall, near the exposed points, assigning them by family groups with their swords, spears, and bows. 8I made an inspection, then addressed these words to the nobles, the magistrates, and the rest of the people: “Do not fear them! Keep in mind the LORD, who is great and to be feared, and fight for your kindred, your sons and daughters, your wives and your homes.” 9When our enemies realized that we had been warned and that God had upset their plan, we all went back, each to our own task at the wall.

10a From that time on, however, only half my work force took a hand in the work, while the other half, armed with spears, bucklers, bows, and breastplates, stood guard behind the whole house of Judah 11as they rebuilt the wall. The load carriers, too, were armed; each worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other. 12Every builder, while working, had a sword tied at his side. A trumpeter stood beside me, 13for I had said to the nobles, the magistrates, and the rest of the people: “Our work is scattered and extensive, and we are widely separated from one another along the wall; 14wherever you hear the trumpet sound, join us there; our God will fight with us.” 15Thus we went on with the work, half with spears in hand, from daybreak till the stars came out.

16At the same time I told the people to spend the nights inside Jerusalem, each with an attendant, so that they might serve as a guard by night and a working force by day. 17Neither I, nor my kindred, nor any of my attendants, nor any of the bodyguard that accompanied me took off our clothes; everyone kept a weapon at hand.

a. [4:10] Ps 149:6.

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