Biblical Burns
The Art of the Insult According to Scripture

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18th July 2015
“Even if a fox climbed up what they are building, he would break down their stone wall!”
- Tobiah the Ammonite
Nehemiah 4:3 (HCSB)
“When a hand creates a thing, the thing becomes the fingers.
When a mouth mocks a made thing, it really mocks the maker.”

The story of the book of Nehemiah revolves around one thing: building a wall.

After being exiled for many years, a remnant of the Jewish people returns to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. First and foremost, they need to build a wall. A big wall. The City Wall. And so they begin.

But no story is complete without a bad guy.

Enter Tobiah the Ammonite, Geshem the Arab, and Sanballat the Horonite. Each one of these guys bears a badass name and a grudge. They want the work to stop, and they’ll stop at nothing to stop it. But between their plots and schemes, these villains like nothing better than to sit back and hurl verbal abuse at the workers.

“What are these pathetic Jews doing?” asks Sanballat the Horonite. “Can they ever finish it?”

Beside him, Tobiah the Ammonite one-ups the Horonite, saying “Indeed, even if a fox climbed up what they are building, he would break down their stone wall!”


And I didn’t even know they had foxes in the Middle East. The more you know.

A Side Note

In the end, the Jews finish the wall in an incredible fifty-two days. But it turns out having a wall doesn’t fix all the problems of Jerusalem’s returned citizens. Things ain’t peachy. They might be able to rebuild a wall, but can they rebuild their hearts? And that’s actually where the story ends. It’s a kind of cliffhanger, I guess. In fact, chronologically, this story is the end of the Old Testament. What a terrible ending!

But about four hundred years later, the cliffhanger finally sees some resolution, when some kid named Jesus is born in a feeding trough…


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