|Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that there were no gaps left in it (although I hadn’t yet hung the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let’s meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono.”|
But they wanted to harm me, so I sent messengers to tell them, “I’m doing important work, so I can’t come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?”
They sent me a message like this four times, and every time I gave them a similar reply. But the fifth time, Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same way, except that now he carried an open letter. It stated:
It is reported among the nations and confirmed by Geshem that you and the Jews intend to rebel. This is why you are rebuilding the wall. According to these reports, you intend to become their king. You have also appointed prophets to make this announcement about you in Jerusalem: There is a king in Judah! Now, the king will hear of these reports, so come; let’s talk together.
So I sent him this reply: “Nothing that you say has happened. You are simply inventing this.”
All of them were trying to make us afraid, saying, “They will be discouraged, and the work won’t get finished.” But now, God, strengthen me!
Once again, Nehemiah faces opposition by fellow Jewish leaders. In earlier chapters, Tobiah and Sanballat made fun of Nehemiah and doubted his ability to build the wall. Now they call him away to distract or harm him. It is significant that they send an “open letter” because, at that time, letters were usually placed in silken bags and carefully sealed. An "open letter" invited perusal. We can assume that sending an unsealed letter must have been to create alarm among the Jews, and to create rebellion against Nehemiah. Rather than becoming distracted, Nehemiah defends his credibility and turns to God for strength to continue his work.
What would it look like to stand firm in your truth even when you are unjustly attacked?