Biblical People

Biblical People: Tobiah (2)

Tobiah the Ammonite is the second of three people who oppose Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild the wall. He takes his lead from Sanballat. At one point we even see Tobiah at Sanballat’s side, agreeing with him and speaking against the wall as Nehemiah works to rebuild it.

Later, the pair hires Shemaiah to oppose Nehemiah and intimidate him by claiming there’s a death threat against him, attempting to distract him from his work.

Tobiah’s main part in the opposition to Nehemiah, however, is that he’s receiving intelligence information from the nobles in Judah about Nehemiah and what he is doing. And he is in communication with them, attempting to influence them. 

Whereas Sanballat heads up the opposition, we see Tobiah working behind the scenes to gather information and influence the people to advance their agenda. 

Like Sanballat, Tobiah is also allied with the Jews through the marriages of both him and his son. Tobiah even has a room improperly assigned to him in the temple courts.

When Nehemiah initiates his final reforms, the people read from the Law of Moses, which says no Ammonites or Moabites can ever enter the temple (Deuteronomy 23:3). As an Ammonite, this includes Tobiah. He’s out.

Have we ever let someone wrongly influence us? Have we ever worked behind the scenes to advance what is right or acted with subversive intent? 

[Read Tobiah’s story in Nehemiah 2:10; 6:10–19; and 13:1–9.]

Learn about more biblical characters in Old Testament Sinners and Saints, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. Get your copy today.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at