After Nehemiah inspected Jerusalem, he persuaded nearly everyone to help rebuild the city's walls. But he found strong opposition from the non-Jewish groups living in Palestine who did not want to see Jerusalem prosper and who tried a variety of tactics to hinder the work.
They ridiculed the wall builders, saying, " . . . if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall." (Neh. 4:4.)In Land and Leaders of Israel, Ezra C. Dalby wrote: "Nehemiah paid no attention to this; he went on working. His opponents, seeing that ridicule did not work, tried to scare him. They appeared in arms.
"That would be likely to dampen the ardor of a great many. When hands are blistered and heads ache and backs are sore, and enemies come to demand that work cease, spiritual enthusiasm is likely to cool, and it is easy to quit work.
"But even this could not daunt [NehemiahT. He simply did two jobs instead of one. Some of the men had to stop working and stand guard. His enemies organized against him, and he replied by organizing a defense that would be ready to drop everything and rush to the place of attack at a given signal."
Enemy leaders threatened to send a report back to Artaxerxes that Nehemiah was fomenting a rebellion.
Dalby wrote, "In answer to this, Nehemiah replied in effect: `We will continue our work.' His enemies next proposed a conference about it all. . . .
"But there was nothing to confer about, and Nehemiah gave them a fine answer: `I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease?' (See Neh. 6:3.)
"Why, indeed! Too many of us are ready on the slightest suggestion to give up the important work that we are doing. What a lesson Nehemiah teaches us! Ridicule, fear, threats, union of forces and organization against him, and an offer to compromise, all failed to move him, or to delay the thing he had set his hand to do a single day."
Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.
Information compiled by Gerry Avant
Sources: Dictionary of the Bible, published by Charles Scribner's Sons; John A. Dickson's New Analytical Bible and Dictionary of the Bible, and Land and Leaders of Israel, Ezra C. Dalby.
Correction: The Sept. 15 issue of Church News, featured Minerva Teichert's painting of Esther. The painting is owned by Betty Stokes, not the LDS Church as was indicated in the credit line. As a young woman, Sister Stokes posed for the painting of Esther, the Jewish maid who "was fair and beautiful" and who became wife of King Ahasuerus.