“Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, ‘What they are building – if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!'”
Last time we saw the tail end of Sanballat’s mockery toward Nehemiah and the rebuilders. He made sure to point out the previous devastation of Jerusalem and its wall was thorough.
As our narrative progresses, we’ll find out more about Tobiah’s family and political connections to Jerusalem. For now we can know that Tobiah does not seem to be walking out the Truth of his name.
I like the Hebrew for Tobiah being “at [Sanballat’s] side.” It is etsel – at, with, a sense of joining. Tobiah was there for Sanballat’s mockery. He was going to show up and join in.
In what ways are we guilty of this? Sometimes we don’t even have to throw in our 2 cents; it’s enough we’re showing up for the mockery against our fellow human beings. Let’s not confuse this with justice. Genuine love never calls something evil good, nor does it pretend everything is fine. But neither does justice join in on the evil. In our genuine outrage at sin, let’s ask God for discernment to speak truth without throwing in with ridicule.
But Tobiah was not just there in spirit with Sanballat’s mockery. He had something to add: gam – moreover, besides, in addition, furthermore.
“And furthermore…what [these feeble Jews] are building (banah – construct, fortify, rebuild) if a fox simply climbed up (alah – go up, ascend) the whole wall (chomah – wall of protection) would break down (parats – break through, breach, tear down).”
Well, there you have it. The whole purpose of rebuilding is to fortify. Not just a wall of protection, but a communal identity as the people of God. And the enemies of our rebuilders mock how one sad little fox is all it would take to break down their fortification.
Sometimes we’re just mean to each other. If we don’t have the control or affirmation or fulfillment we’re desperate for, we don’t care who we have to hurt to have our needs met. But if we are His children, learning to find our identity in Him and what He’s done to rescue us from ourselves, there’s no need for the desperation. We can trust His heart toward us to provide all we need.
We have had another week to watch this all play out on the big screen of life: evil seeming to win and mockery of fellow image bearers. Fellow Believers, it is imperative we fix our eyes on Jesus. The only One who secured our eternal protection is the One who can sustain us.
And nothing and no one can breach such a fortification.