Nehemiah 4

A Conspiracy Against the Builders


He spoke in the presence of his brothers and the powerful men of Samaria (Nehemiah 4:2)

The ruins in this photo date to about 100 years after the time of Sanballat, the leader of the Samaritans in the time of Nehemiah. The Samaritans lived in what had, in previous centuries, been the central hill country of Israel. However, after the fall of the northern kingdom in 723 BC, most Jews were deported and the Assyrians resettled people from the region of Babylon in the territory of the northern kingdom (2 Kgs 17:24). By the time of Nehemiah, the Samaritans were mixed both racially and religiously—they were part Jewish and part Gentile in both their ethnicity and their religion (cf. 2 Kgs 17:25-41).


Hear, O our God, for we are despised! (Nehemiah 4:4).

Brief prayers punctuating the narrative are a characteristic of the book of Nehemiah. This stele depicts a figure in a standing position of prayer. Differing from Nehemiah, this figure is shown praying beneath a winged sun disc, and thus praying to a sun deity. This sandstone stele is from Arados and dates to circa 400–200 BC.

The Curse of Exile

Give them up as plunder in a land of exile (Nehemiah 4:4).

This relief depicts women and a child of a town captured by the Assyrians being deported on an ox cart. It was standard practice for the Assyrians to deport the peoples of captured towns, replacing them with people who had been deported from another area.

Nehemiah's Wall

And all the wall was joined together to half its height (Nehemiah 4:6).

The wall shown here was part of the city wall rebuilt under the direction of Nehemiah. Several sections of Nehemiah’s wall have been uncovered by archaeologists. It was perhaps 15 feet (5 m) tall when complete. If the wall at half its finished height was 7 feet (2 m) tall, it would already constitute a significant barrier to attack.

Armed for Battle

None of us took off our clothes; every man kept his weapon even when he went for water (Nehemiah 4:23)

This display of military artifacts from Persepolis is roughly contemporary with Nehemiah. The iron sword in the foreground illustrates the kind of weapon that would have been known to the Jews.

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