Nehemiah’s story Setting: The story begins in 444BC in the city of Susa (which is now part of Iran) Characters: Old Nehemiah (who acts as narrator), Young Nehemiah, Hanani, King Artaxerxes, Sanballat the Horonite, Jewish people. Equipment: One cup. Old Nehemiah: Hello. I am Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. I was the cupbearer for Artaxerxes, the King. This is the story of how I came to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It began in the month of Kislev in the twentieth year when my brother Hanani visited me. Young Nehemiah: Hanani!! It’s wonderful to see you. How are you? Hanani: Wonderful. Nehemiah we need to talk. Have you heard about the people returning to Israel. A lot of the leaders have gone back but things are not going well. Especially in Jerusalem there is heaps of trouble. You see everyone is just looking after themselves. No-one is leading the people, and so no-one is able to get important things done. Young Nehemiah: What kinds of things? Hanani: Well, one of the most important is the walls. They are all broken and the gates all burnt. Without the walls and gates Jerusalem can’t be defended. It will be taken over by anyone who has even the smallest army. Old Nehemiah: Well when I heard that I was really upset. For days I cried and prayed because my home city, the beautiful city of Jerusalem, was in ruins. Then I prayed to God. I said: O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, hear my prayer. I confess the sins that we Israelites have committed against you. We have not obeyed the laws you gave your servant Moses. Redeem your servant today. Give your servant success when I am in the presence of my King. Then I went into the king’s palace. Young Nehemiah carrying a cup: Your majesty. King Artaxerxes: Why do you look so sad? You do not look ill. What is making your heart so sad? Young Nehemiah: May the King live for ever!! Why should my face not look sad when the city of my fathers lies in ruins and its gates destroyed by fire? King Artaxerxes: What is it you want? Young Nehemiah: If it pleases the king, and if I have found favour in your sight, let the king send me to this city in Judah so that I can rebuild it. King Artaxerxes: How long will your journey take and when would you get back? Young Nehemiah: It will take quite a while. Possibly two years. King Artaxerxes: You may go. Young Nehemiah: Please, your majesty, would you give me letters to the Govenor of Trans-Euphrates so that I have safe passage through your kingdom? And would you give me letters so that the keeper of the Kings forest will give me timber to repair the walls? King Artaxerxes: I will do more than that. I will give you some soldiers to make sure you are safe. Old Nehemiah: So I went to Jerusalem, protected by soldiers of the King and with his permission to use wood from his forest. When I got to Jerusalem I waited a few days before doing anything. Then one night I sneaked out of the city and went all around the walls. What a horrible sight! The Dung gate, the Fountain gate, the King’s pool and the Valley gate were all destroyed, and the walls between were broken. Jerusalem was defenceless!! Next morning I called together the Jewish people. Young Nehemiah to the Jewish people: You see the trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned to the ground. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Then we will no longer be a disgrace. The Jewish People: Let us start rebuilding. Old Nehemiah: But the leader of two of the other people who lived in Israel did not like this. Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab all mocked us. Sanballat the Horonite: What is this you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king? Young Nehemiah: The God of heaven will give us success. We will start rebuilding. But you have no share in Jerusalem. You have no historic right to it. Old Nehemiah: I split the people into teams and gave each team part of the wall to rebuild. Everyone worked as hard as they could and in no time the wall was half its height. But when Sanballat heard what was happening he was angry. He plotted to bring his army against Jerusalem before we could finish the walls. This worried the Jewish people. Jewish people: Our strength is giving out we have worked so hard, and there is so much rubble it is hard work and now our enemies are going to attack us. What are we to do! Young Nehemiah: We will split the people into teams. While one team is building, the other team will guard the bottom of the wall with spears, and swords and arrows. Remember we need this wall to defend ourselves. Without it our families can be killed by anyone. Old Nehemiah: From that day on, half of the people built the wall while the other half guarded them. Those who carried material did their work with one hand and held his weapon in the other, and even the builders all wore a sword at their side. They even slept with their swords at the ready. We also planned how we would fight if anyone came.