Who was Sanballat to Nehemiah?

Who was Sanballat to Nehemiah?

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Who was Sanballat to Nehemiah?

In the grand tapestry of biblical history, figures like Nehemiah and Sanballat take center stage, each playing a unique role in the unfolding drama of their time. To truly grasp who Sanballat was to Nehemiah, we must first journey back to the 5th century BCE, to the land of Judah, where this remarkable story of determination, opposition, and unwavering faith transpired.

The Context of Nehemiah and Sanballat:

Nehemiah was a prominent figure during the Persian Empire’s rule, serving as the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes I. He held a position of trust and influence, which would later prove instrumental in the events that unfolded. Sanballat, on the other hand, was a regional governor in Samaria, a territory adjacent to Judah. As we delve into their relationship, it becomes evident that they were not allies, but rather adversaries with conflicting interests and agendas.

Sanballat’s Position and Ambitions:

Sanballat, as the governor of Samaria, held a significant amount of power and influence over the Samaritan people. However, his motivations often clashed with Nehemiah’s goals. Sanballat sought to maintain the autonomy and dominance of Samaria, which put him at odds with Nehemiah’s mission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s fortified walls were a symbol of strength and security, and Nehemiah’s determination to restore them was viewed with suspicion by Sanballat and other neighboring officials.

Sanballat’s Opposition to Nehemiah:

The crux of understanding who Sanballat was to Nehemiah lies in the unrelenting opposition he posed. When Nehemiah received news of the dilapidated state of Jerusalem’s walls and gates, he felt a deep sense of duty and devotion to his homeland. He approached King Artaxerxes and received permission to return to Jerusalem with the goal of overseeing the reconstruction of the city’s defenses.

This news did not sit well with Sanballat. He perceived Nehemiah’s mission as a threat to the regional power dynamics. The rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls would undoubtedly strengthen the city’s position and diminish Samaria’s influence. To thwart Nehemiah’s efforts, Sanballat, along with other local figures like Tobiah and Geshem, embarked on a campaign of opposition, resistance, and conspiracy.

Tactics of Opposition:

Sanballat employed a series of tactics to deter Nehemiah from his mission. These included mockery, ridicule, and attempts to discredit Nehemiah’s leadership. In Nehemiah 2:19, we see a clear example of this opposition as Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem mockingly asked, “Will you rebel against the king?”

They also spread false rumors about Nehemiah’s intentions, seeking to create fear and doubt among the people. These tactics were aimed at undermining Nehemiah’s authority and the morale of those working on the walls of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s Steadfast Resolve:

In the face of this relentless opposition, Nehemiah displayed remarkable determination and unwavering faith. He refused to be deterred by the taunts and schemes of Sanballat and his associates. Nehemiah’s leadership and his ability to rally the people of Jerusalem are testament to his deep commitment to the city’s restoration and the fulfillment of his divine purpose.

The Legacy of Nehemiah and Sanballat:

Nehemiah’s perseverance paid off, and the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt in just 52 days. This feat was a remarkable accomplishment that showcased Nehemiah’s leadership and determination. It also reinforced the significance of the city of Jerusalem in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people.

Sanballat, on the other hand, serves as a vivid example of opposition to divine purposes and the consequences of pursuing selfish interests at the expense of others. His actions, while motivated by political and personal ambition, ultimately failed to thwart Nehemiah’s mission.


In the grand narrative of biblical history, Sanballat was a prominent figure who opposed Nehemiah’s mission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Sanballat, as the governor of Samaria, saw Nehemiah’s efforts as a threat to his own regional influence and used various tactics to deter and discredit Nehemiah.

Nehemiah, in contrast, remained steadfast in his resolve and displayed unwavering faith in the face of opposition. His leadership and determination led to the successful reconstruction of Jerusalem’s walls, leaving an enduring legacy of faith, determination, and devotion to a higher purpose.

So, who was Sanballat to Nehemiah? He was the formidable adversary, the obstacle on Nehemiah’s path, and a reminder that even in the face of opposition, faith and determination can lead to remarkable accomplishments.


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Joy Chinonyerem

Joy Chinonyerem is an ardent follower of Christ who believes in Living the Christian Life according to the tenets set by Christ himself. She is passionate about Walking by Faith, as commanded by the scriptures and uses her blog, Walking By Faith Blog, to minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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