Nehemiah the Builder
I have always loved the story of Nehemiah. From the beginning prayer of Nehemiah to ask God’s favor through the end, Nehemiah stayed grounded in obedience and prayer. What a great example for our children! My sister shared her version of Tobiah with me and I added some illustrations. Enjoy!
Tobiah the Bully
Now Tobiah was a bully You would not think so with a name that means, “The Lord is Good.” But Tobiah wasn’t good. Tobiah was an enemy of God’s people.
Tobiah would take his merchant cart and sell things in the city of Jerusalem. He knew he was not suppose to sell things on the Sabboth, but Tobiah paid no attention to rules. Rules were for other people. One day he heard that a new governor named Nehemiah was coming to rebuild the city walls and gates. Tobiah did not want that. Nehemiah might make him quit selling things on the Sabboth.
When Nehemiah arrived, Tobiah gathered up his friends Sanballot and Geshem. They planned to make Nehemiah afraid. They wanted run him off. They sent threatening letters and spread rumors and lies. They heckled and mocked Nehemiah, but
Nehemiah was not afraid. He and the people had finished the wall in 52 days. Everything was good in the city. It was safe and secure. They even celebrated the Feast of Booths. This was a fun time for everyone. It was kind of like a camp out. Everyone built a small tent or booth in front of their house. They ate and slept in the small shelters for a week. The purpose of the feast was to remind them how God had taken care of them in the wilderness when Moses had brought them out of Egypt. It was a time of joy!
Now you might think that Tobiah would not still be hanging around town. But he was a bully. He wanted to stay and cause trouble any time he could. That’s the way bullies are. One day he heard that the governor, Nehemiah, was leaving the city to go back and visit the king and thank him for his help.
Tobiah hurried quickly back to the city. When Nehemiah was gone, it would be a great time for a long stay in Jerusalem. At first Tobiah scouted out the city. It was really a quite lovely and very safe place with the new wall. He decided that he would move to Jerusalem. He looked around for a new home. He was a friend with the priest at the temple. “What a beautiful place for a new home,” thought Tobiah. “The Temple of God.”
Tobiah loved the beautiful courtyards. The storerooms in the temple were large and spacious. It was a perfect place for his home, and it even had things there he could probably sell. So Tobiah moved in his stuff. He moved in couches, tables, goblets, platters, carpets, pillows, lamp stands and shiny copper kettles. And he propped his feet up right there in the house of God.
Now when Nehemiah got back from Babylon the people ran to meet him at the gate. They told Nehemiah all that had happened and that Tobiah was living in the temple of God. Nehemiah was angry. The temple belonged to God and the storeroom was where people brought their gifts to God. Tobiah was not only a bully, he was robbing God. So Nehemiah strode off to the temple with the people following close behind.
The first thing he did was throw old Tobiah out of the temple. He threw out all of Tobiah’s stuff. There were carpets flying and pans clanging. Nehemiah threw out the couches, the tables, the goblets, the platters, the pillows, the lamp stands and all of Tobiah’s stuff. He tossed out Tobiah’s merchant cart and wares. Then Nehemiah marched Tobiah right out of the city. He cleaned up the temple of God and once again the people could worship God by bringing their gifts to the storehouse.