|Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem|
“When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.”
In verse 19, they, along with Geshem the Arab, mock Nehemiah, saying, “What is this you are doing? . . . Are you rebelling against the king?” When the construction was taking place, their anger grew:
“When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews” (Nehemiah 4:1; cf. verse 7).
The Horonites and Ammonites were two of the people groups God had driven from the Promised Land for the Israelites. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were regional governors serving under the king of Persia. Sanballat, called a Horonite, was probably from Horonaim, a city of Moab.
Tobiah the Ammonite was governing an area east of the Jordan River. Geshem the Arab was most likely from the region south of Judah. Generations after Israel had first possessed the Promised Land, some of their old enemies were back, seeking to keep Jerusalem in ruins.
Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem used various ploys in their attempt to disrupt the Jews’ work.
These three men sought to harm Nehemiah (Nehemiah 6:2); intimidate him with false reports (verses 5–6); deceive him with false prophets (verses 7–13); and influence the nobles of Judah (verses 17–19). Nehemiah adds that Eliashib the high priest was related to Tobiah (Nehemiah 13:4) and one of his grandsons was the son-in-law of Sanballat (Nehemiah 13:28).
The efforts of Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were futile for the simple reason that they were fighting God’s plan. The wall of Jerusalem was completed in record time (Nehemiah 6:15).
Nehemiah’s response to his enemies is instructive to us. Rather than fear or worry or seek revenge, Nehemiah took the matter to the Lord: “Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me” (Nehemiah 6:14).
- Tobiah was the governor of Ammon, a high ranking official appointed by the Perians of the transjordan Ammonites when Nehemiah was rebuilding Jerusalem after returning from Babylonian captivity in 445 BC.
- Do not confuse this archeological site with the Tobias (200 BC), the grandfather of Hyrcanus: 2 Macc 3:11. This man was a prominent and wealthy Jew of the Maccabean period, not an Ammonite.
- Tobiah was one two central figures who, mocked, harassed, intimidated and opposed the rebuilding of Jerusalem: "When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about it, it was very displeasing to them that someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel." Nehemiah 2:10
- There are three remarkable phases of Tobiah's life:
- Opposition to the rebuilding of the temple.
- Joining in worshipping and running the temple.
- When he was thrown out of the temple, he crossed the Jordan and built his own temple and palace.
A. What the Bible says about Tobiah:
- "the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 652." Ezra 2:60
- "When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about it, it was very displeasing to them that someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel." Nehemiah 2:10
- "But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard it, they mocked us and despised us and said, "What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?"" Nehemiah 2:19
- "Now Tobiah the Ammonite was near him and he said, "Even what they are building—if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!"" Nehemiah 4:3
- "Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, and that the breaches began to be closed, they were very angry." Nehemiah 4:7
- " Now when it was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall, and that no breach remained in it, although at that time I had not set up the doors in the gates," Nehemiah 6:1
- "Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him." Nehemiah 6:12
- "Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these works of theirs, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me." Nehemiah 6:14
- "Also in those days many letters went from the nobles of Judah to Tobiah, and Tobiah's letters came to them." Nehemiah 6:17
- "Moreover, they were speaking about his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. Then Tobiah sent letters to frighten me." Nehemiah 6:19
- "the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 642." Nehemiah 7:62
- " Now prior to this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, being related to Tobiah," Nehemiah 13:4
- "and I came to Jerusalem and learned about the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, by preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God." Nehemiah 13:7
- "It was very displeasing to me, so I threw all of Tobiah's household goods out of the room." Nehemiah 13:8