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Chapter 6:10-14 (ESV)

Posted on November 03, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 6:10-14 (ESV) - Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.” But I said, “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in.” And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me. Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.

Question to consider: Why would Nehemiah not go into the temple to hide from his enemies?

Tobiah and Sanballat failed to draw Nehemiah out of the city to murder him and failed to make him an enemy of king Artaxerxes by spreading a rumor that he desired to rule Israel and oppose the king whom he served for many years. In the rumor, they accused Nehemiah of paying prophets to declare him as king.

We find out today that the one who was actually paying prophets was Tobiah and Sanballat. In this case, they paid Shemaiah (shema is hebrew for hear and iah or yah is short for YHWH so “God hears”) and a prophetess Noadiah (noadiah is hebrew for “Meeting with God”) that Nehemiah should avoid a murder plot by locking himself in the temple.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this study, the name Nehemiah means “God is comfort”. Someone who understands that their comfort comes from God also knows that God is the only one we fear, and it is He who numbers our days. Jesus once told the disciples, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) Nehemiah was not a priest, and so he feared violating God’s temple more than being murdered by his enemies.

It turns out that the whole story was intended to get Nehemiah to sin against God and thus ruin his reputation among the people. It is a shame that those who professed to meet with God and be heard by Him would be willing to accept money to try and destroy the man God chose to rebuild the city. As is often the case, Satan was guilty of doing the very thing in which he accuses others.

Rather than take action against those plotting against him, Nehemiah once again left justice in the hands of God. In reading his prayer for justice, we should always keep in mind that implied in his words was a desire for those who did wrong to repent and receive mercy rather than face the judgment they deserved.


Dear heavenly Father, please give us comfort during times of injustice knowing that You have numbered our days and are using them to bring about Your ultimate good. May we learn to pray for our enemies rather than fear them. Amen.