Early opposition (4:1-23)
Since the Jews had the Persian king’s approval for their building program, their opponents, being also under the government of Persia, hesitated to attack Jerusalem openly. However, they were still able to mock and ridicule, hoping that this would dishearten the people from building (4:1-5).
But the Jews were not easily discouraged and the work continued (6). The enemies therefore planned to create confusion and uncertainty among the Jews by carrying out surprise terrorist attacks on the city. On hearing of this, the Jews increased their prayer and strengthened their defences (7-9).
Jews from outlying areas informed Nehemiah of the enemies’ movements (10-12), but Nehemiah still took no risks. He armed all the workers and divided them into two shifts, one working while the other stood guard. He also made arrangements for battle in case of a sudden attack (13-21). Country people who worked in the city were asked to sleep there rather than return home, in order to provide added protection at night (22-23).