I see trouble coming, and those guys were laughing at You, not a smart thing to do.
“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” (Neh 3:1).
The men repaired everything, but the nobles didn’t do much work, the…
“…nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord” (Neh 3:2-32).
“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.
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?
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.
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:
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.
So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.
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,
And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.
Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.
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.
In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.
So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared.
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.
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” (Neh 4:1-23).
Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem
When Nehemiah began rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem in 445 B.C., he met with strong resistance from three individuals named Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem.
Although Nehemiah did not record their titles, we know from extra-biblical evidence that they were rulers of adjoining areas (cf. Neh 2:9-10).
Sanballat: Sanballat was the governor of Samaria, the province north of Judah. We know, in fact, of three men by this name who ruled Samaria at different times.
A 407 B.C. papyrus letter from Elephantine in Egypt mentions the Sanballat of Nehemiah’s time.
Written to the governor of Judah, requesting permission to rebuild the ruined temple at Elephantine, it states:
“All these things in a letter we sent in our name to Delaiah and Shelemiah sons of Sanballat governor of Samaria.”
It appears that at this time, 38 years after Sanballat’s confrontation with Nehemiah, Sanballat’s sons were acting on behalf of their aged father.
A coin and a bulla (seal impression) from the mid-4th century B.C., inscribed with the name of Sanballat, governor of Samaria, were discovered in a cave in the wilderness of Judah.
This particular Sanballat was likely the grandson of Nehemiah’s Sanballat.
The ancient Jewish historian Josephus mentions a third Sanballat, who was ruling Samaria in 332 B.C. and was perhaps the great-grandson of the Sanballat who opposed Nehemiah.
Tobiah: The Tobia family was well known in the 3rd century B.C. as powerful Jewish aristocrats living in the Transjordan.
Papyrus letters of an Egyptian official named Zenon, dating from around 260 B.C., mention a wealthy landowner, businessman and tax collector named Tobias (an alternative spelling of Tobiah) in the province of Ammonitis.
Ruins of the Tobiah family’s palatial estate from the 2nd century B.C., mentioned by Josephus, have been excavated 11 miles (18 km) west of modern Amman, Jordan.
The family name is inscribed above two entrances to rock-cut halls on the estate.
The Tobiah of Nehemiah’s acquaintance appears to have been governor of the province of Ammon, east of Judah in Transjordan.
Geshem: An inscription found in northwestern Arabia from the time of Nehemiah reads, “Geshem son of Sahrand Abd, governor of Dedan.”
A silver offering bowl uncovered in the eastern delta region of Egypt from the late 5th century B.C. bears the same name, stating:
“That which Kainu son of Geshem king of Kedar offered to Hanilat.”
Since Dedan and Kedar were tribal nations occupying the eastern desert, including Syria, northern Arabia, Sinai and northern Egypt, Geshem must have been a powerful ruler who controlled a vast area.