“So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.
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.”
Last time we saw Nehemiah’s final request of the king: wood to build. Today we see Nehemiah take his next steps, complete with army officers and cavalry. As Nehemiah was to be the official head in Jerusalem during the rebuild, an armed escort (unlike Ezra) was appropriate according to custom.
“So I went to the governors and gave them the king’s letters. The king had freely sent an armed escort with me.
Sanballat the Samaritan governor from Beth-horon and Tobiah (“Yah is my good”) the servant from Ammon were exceedingly, greatly afflicted when they heard someone had come to baqash (desire, request) the towb (beauty) of the Israelites.”
It’s so interesting that the very same Hebrew words used to describe Nehemiah’s affliction are here used for the ruler of Syria and a governor of Transjordan at Nehmiah’s arrival. In Nehemiah’s instance, he was heartbroken for his brothers and sisters – and the city of his forefathers. But here, the use is political. These leaders were threatened by Nehemiah.
I don’t have to look far to see this played out daily – in our home and at school. But I would need to be in denial to think this only affects children. Jealousy and comparison rise quickly in us too, don’t they? Beautiful, sweeter, younger women. Older, wiser, more gracious women. Marriages that do it right and always have. Better bloggers or funny speakers or bolder, more administrative ministry leaders.
We’ve all experienced this. But the jealousy or comparison doesn’t become a threat until it gets close to something or someone important to us. That woman too admired by our man. A similar ministry doing “more.” Someone seeming to become more important to our friends. Or having more influence in an area that matters to us.
It is in times like these we are well aware it takes His Spirit in us. On our own, with our brokenness, we too can become exceedingly, greatly afflicted when someone we feel threatened by seeks beauty on behalf of others. But nothing could be further from our Father’s heart.
And thank the good goodness He will help us.