1 But it came to pass that, when Sanvalat, and Toviah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the repairing of the walls of Yerushalayim went forward, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth;
2 and they conspired all of them together to come and fight against Yerushalayim, and to cause confusion therein.
ב וַיִּקְשְׁרוּ כֻלָּם יַחְדָּו לָבוֹא לְהִלָּחֵם בִּירוּשָׁלִָם וְלַעֲשׂוֹת לוֹ תּוֹעָה.
3 But we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.
ג וַנִּתְפַּלֵּל אֶל אֱלֹהֵינוּ וַנַּעֲמִיד מִשְׁמָר עֲלֵיהֶם יוֹמָם וָלַיְלָה מִפְּנֵיהֶם.
4 And Yehuda said: ‘The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.’
ד וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוּדָה כָּשַׁל כֹּחַ הַסַּבָּל וְהֶעָפָר הַרְבֵּה וַאֲנַחְנוּ לֹא נוּכַל לִבְנוֹת בַּחוֹמָה.
5 And our adversaries said: ‘They shall not know, neither see, till we come into the midst of them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease.’
ה וַיֹּאמְרוּ צָרֵינוּ לֹא יֵדְעוּ וְלֹא יִרְאוּ עַד אֲשֶׁר נָבוֹא אֶל תּוֹכָם וַהֲרַגְנוּם וְהִשְׁבַּתְנוּ אֶת הַמְּלָאכָה.
6 And it came to pass that, when the Yehudim that dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times: ‘Ye must return unto us from all places.’
ו וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר בָּאוּ הַיְּהוּדִים הַיֹּשְׁבִים אֶצְלָם וַיֹּאמְרוּ לָנוּ עֶשֶׂר פְּעָמִים מִכָּל הַמְּקֹמוֹת אֲשֶׁר תָּשׁוּבוּ עָלֵינוּ.
7 Therefore set I in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in the open places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows.
ז וָאַעֲמִיד מִתַּחְתְּיוֹת לַמָּקוֹם מֵאַחֲרֵי לַחוֹמָה בצחחיים (בַּצְּחִחִים) וָאַעֲמִיד אֶת הָעָם לְמִשְׁפָּחוֹת עִם חַרְבֹתֵיהֶם רָמְחֵיהֶם וְקַשְּׁתֹתֵיהֶם.
8 And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people: ‘Be not ye afraid of them; remember the Lord, who is great and awful, and fight for your brethren, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your houses.’
ח וָאֵרֶא וָאָקוּם וָאֹמַר אֶל הַחֹרִים וְאֶל הַסְּגָנִים וְאֶל יֶתֶר הָעָם אַל תִּירְאוּ מִפְּנֵיהֶם אֶת אֲדֹנָי הַגָּדוֹל וְהַנּוֹרָא זְכֹרוּ וְהִלָּחֲמוּ עַל אֲחֵיכֶם בְּנֵיכֶם וּבְנֹתֵיכֶם נְשֵׁיכֶם וּבָתֵּיכֶם.
9 And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.
ט וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר שָׁמְעוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ כִּי נוֹדַע לָנוּ וַיָּפֶר הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת עֲצָתָם ונשוב (וַנָּשָׁב) כֻּלָּנוּ אֶל הַחוֹמָה אִישׁ אֶל מְלַאכְתּוֹ.
10 And it came to pass from that time forth, that half of my servants wrought in the work, and half of them held the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the coats of mail; and the rulers were behind all the house of Yehuda.
י וַיְהִי מִן הַיּוֹם הַהוּא חֲצִי נְעָרַי עֹשִׂים בַּמְּלָאכָה וְחֶצְיָם מַחֲזִיקִים וְהָרְמָחִים הַמָּגִנִּים וְהַקְּשָׁתוֹת וְהַשִּׁרְיֹנִים וְהַשָּׂרִים אַחֲרֵי כָּל בֵּית יְהוּדָה.
11 They that builded the wall and they that bore burdens laded themselves, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other held his weapon;
ha-bo-NEEM ba-kho-MAH v’-ha-no-s’-EEM ba-SE-vel o-m’-SEEM b’-a-KHAT ya-DO o-SEH va-m’-la-KHAH v’-a-KHAT ma-kha-ZE-ket ha-SHA-lakh
יא הַבּוֹנִים בַּחוֹמָה וְהַנֹּשְׂאִים בַּסֶּבֶל עֹמְשִׂים בְּאַחַת יָדוֹ עֹשֶׂה בַמְּלָאכָה וְאַחַת מַחֲזֶקֶת הַשָּׁלַח.
4:11 With one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other held his weapon
Throughout the Bible, God does wonders and miracles to save the Jewish people. For example, He split the Red Sea so the Jews could cross and then sent it crashing over the powerful pursuing Egyptian army. Although a nation under the direct protection of God should not need arms to defend itself, it is the Torah’s way that people should conduct themselves in a natural manner. Only if necessary will God intervene with open miracles. This verse describes how in Nehemiah’s time, the Jews working to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem would work with one hand while holding weapons of self-defense in the other. Though they rely on their own strength for protection, they remember that the Lord is the source of that strength, and only if He wills it will they be successful. As verse 3 describes, first they “made… prayer unto our God,” and then they “set a watch” against their enemies day and night. Today, it is the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces who protect the nation of Israel. At the swearing-in ceremonies for the Israeli army, each soldier is handed both a gun to hold in one hand and a Hebrew Bible to hold in the other. In this way, Israeli soldiers are the spiritual descendants of Nehemiah’s work force who are reminded that it is not their strength alone that protects the nation.
12 and the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the horn was by me.
יב וְהַבּוֹנִים אִישׁ חַרְבּוֹ אֲסוּרִים עַל מָתְנָיו וּבוֹנִים וְהַתּוֹקֵעַ בַּשּׁוֹפָר אֶצְלִי.
13 And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers and to the rest of the people: ‘The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another;
יג וָאֹמַר אֶל הַחֹרִים וְאֶל הַסְּגָנִים וְאֶל יֶתֶר הָעָם הַמְּלָאכָה הַרְבֵּה וּרְחָבָה וַאֲנַחְנוּ נִפְרָדִים עַל הַחוֹמָה רְחוֹקִים אִישׁ מֵאָחִיו.
14 in what place soever ye hear the sound of the horn, resort ye thither unto us; our God will fight for us.’
יד בִּמְקוֹם אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁמְעוּ אֶת קוֹל הַשּׁוֹפָר שָׁמָּה תִּקָּבְצוּ אֵלֵינוּ אֱלֹהֵינוּ יִלָּחֶם לָנוּ.
15 So we wrought in the work; and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared.
טו וַאֲנַחְנוּ עֹשִׂים בַּמְּלָאכָה וְחֶצְיָם מַחֲזִיקִים בָּרְמָחִים מֵעֲלוֹת הַשַּׁחַר עַד צֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִים.
16 Likewise at the same time said I unto the people: ‘Let every one with his servant lodge within Yerushalayim, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and may labour in the day.’
טז גַּם בָּעֵת הַהִיא אָמַרְתִּי לָעָם אִישׁ וְנַעֲרוֹ יָלִינוּ בְּתוֹךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם וְהָיוּ לָנוּ הַלַּיְלָה מִשְׁמָר וְהַיּוֹם מְלָאכָה.
17 So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard that followed me, none of us put off our clothes, every one that went to the water had his weapon.
יז וְאֵין אֲנִי וְאַחַי וּנְעָרַי וְאַנְשֵׁי הַמִּשְׁמָר אֲשֶׁר אַחֲרַי אֵין אֲנַחְנוּ פֹשְׁטִים בְּגָדֵינוּ אִישׁ שִׁלְחוֹ הַמָּיִם.