Nehemiah 6

An Attempt at Slander

Fixing the Breaches

When it was reported . . . that I had built the wall and that no breach remained in it . . . (Nehemiah 6:1)

The breached wall shown here at Gamla was breached by the Romans in the early stages of the First Jewish Revolt, in the late AD 60s. This breach gave them access to conquer the entire city.


Although at that time I had not yet set up the doors in the gates (Nehemiah 6:1).

The wooden components in this display are modern, but the bands and the stonework are from the reign of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III. This display was photographed at the Istanbul Museum of the Ancient Orient.

Near Ono

They said, “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono” (Nehemiah 6:2).

The plain (or “valley”) of Ono is named after the town of Ono, which is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 8:12, Ezra 2:33, and Nehemiah 7:37 and 11:35. Those references show that Ono is situated close to the better-known city of Lod (Lydda) on the coastal plain (Shephelah). This area was on the border between the Persian provinces of Judah, Samaria, and Ashdod, which made it an ideal place to suggest a meeting between rival regional governors. This picture shows an old mosque at Kefar Ana, which has been identified as Ono.

An Open Letter

Then Sanballat sent his servant to me . . . with an open letter in his hand (Nehemiah 6:5).

An open letter is a letter that is unsealed, so that anyone can read it as the messenger travels from the sender to the recipient. The term “open letter” is still used today to distinguish a public letter from private correspondence. Sanballat was trying to start a damaging rumor, in order to pressure Nehemiah and the people to stop building the wall. This statue of a man with an open document in his hand is considered to be a Roman copy of a Greek original.

An Israelite King?

You have appointed . . . to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, “There is a king in Judah!” (Nehemiah 6:7)

Ancient depictions of kings in the land of Israel are quite rare. The small faience head shown here was discovered at Abel-beth-maacah, a site on the northern edge of the modern state of Israel. It is thought to be a depiction of an Israelite ruler, perhaps a king of ancient Israel.

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