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Bible Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Nehemiah 4

 

 

Introduction
1While the enemies scoff, Nehemiah prays and continues the work.
7Understanding the wrath and secrets of the enemy, he sets a watch.
13He arms the labourers;
19and gives military precepts.

Verse 1
But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.
Sanballat
2:10,19; Ezra 4:1-5; Acts 5:17
mocked
Psalms 35:15,16; 44:13,14; Matthew 27:29; Hebrews 11:36

Verse 2
And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?
the army
Ezra 4:9,10
feeble
1 Samuel 14:11,12; 17:43,44; Zechariah 12:8; 1 Corinthians 1:27
fortify themselves
Heb. leave to themselves. sacrifice.
12:27,43
revive
10; Ezekiel 37:3-13; Habakkuk 3:2

Verse 3
Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.
Tobiah
2:10,19; 6:1; 1 Kings 20:10,18; 2 Kings 18:23

Verse 4
Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity:
Hear
Psalms 123:3,4
despised
Heb. despite. turn.
1 Samuel 17:26; Psalms 79:12; Proverbs 3:34; Hosea 12:14

Verse 5
And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.
cover not
Psalms 59:5-13; 69:27; 109:14; Jeremiah 18:23; 2 Timothy 4:14
their sin
Psalms 51:1,9; Isaiah 43:25; 44:22
before the builders
Isaiah 36:11,12

Verse 6
So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.
and all the wall
That is, the whole circuit of the wall was completed unto half the intended height.
for the people
The original is very emphatic, wyhee laiv lëâm läâsoth, "for the people had a heart to work." Their heart was engaged in it, and they went about it cheerfully and vigorously.
had a mind
6:15; 1 Chronicles 29:3,14,17,18; 2 Chronicles 29:36; Psalms 110:3; 2 Corinthians 8:16,17; Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 13:21

Verse 7
But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth,
Sanballat
1; 2:10,19
the Ammonites
Judges 10:7-18; 11:12-40; 1 Samuel 11:2; 2 Samuel 10:1-5; 2 Kings 24:2; 2 Chronicles 20:1; Ezekiel 25:3-7; Amos 1:13
Ashdodites
13:23,24; 1 Samuel 5:1,2; 2 Chronicles 26:6-8; Jeremiah 25:20; Amos 1:8; 3:9; Zechariah 9:5,6
heard
Ezra 4:4-16; 5:8
were made up
Heb. ascended. then.
Genesis 3:15; Acts 4:17,18; 5:33; Revelation 12:12,13,17

Verse 8
And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.
all
Psalms 2:1-3; 83:3-11; Isaiah 8:9,10; Acts 23:12,13
hinder it
Heb. make an error to it.
Jeremiah 20:10

Verse 9
Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.
Nevertheless
11; Genesis 32:9-12,28; 2 Kings 19:14-19; Psalms 50:15; 55:16-22; Luke 6:11,12; Acts 4:24-30
set a watch
Matthew 26:41; Luke 21:36; 1 Peter 5:8

Verse 10
And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.
The strength
Numbers 13:31; 32:9; Psalms 11:1,2; Haggai 1:2
bearers
2 Chronicles 2:18; Ezekiel 29:18

Verse 11
And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease.
They shall not
Judges 20:29-48; 2 Samuel 17:2; Psalms 56:6; Isaiah 47:11; Acts 23:12,21; 1 Thessalonians 5:2

Verse 12
And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you.
ten times
Genesis 31:7,41; Numbers 14:22; Job 19:3
From all places, etc
or, That from all places ye must return to us. ye shall return. Houbigant, Michaelis, and Dathe contend, that instead of tashoovoo, "ye shall return," we should read chashevoo, "they designed."

Verse 13
Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows.
Therefore
Genesis 32:13-20; 2 Chronicles 32:2-8; Psalms 112:5; Matthew 10:16; 1 Corinthians 14:20
in the lower places
Heb. from the lower parts of the place, etc. their swords.
17,18; Song of Solomon 3:7,8; Ephesians 6:11-20

Verse 14
And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.
Be ye not afraid
Numbers 14:9; Deuteronomy 1:21,29,30; 20:3,4; Joshua 1:9; 2 Chronicles 20:15-17; 32:7; Psalms 27:1; 46:11; Isaiah 41:10-14; Matthew 10:28; Hebrews 13:6
remember
Psalms 20:7; 77:10-20; 143:5; Isaiah 51:12,13; 63:11-13
great
1:5; Deuteronomy 10:17; Job 37:22; Psalms 65:5; 66:3,5; Isaiah 64:1-3; Nahum 1:2-7; Hebrews 12:20,21,28,29
fight
2 Samuel 10:12

Verse 15
And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.
God
2 Samuel 15:31; 17:14; Job 5:12,13; Psalms 33:10,11; Proverbs 21:30; Isaiah 8:10; Isaiah 44:25; Lamentations 3:37,38; 1 Corinthians 3:19,20
every one
Mark 13:34; Romans 12:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Verse 16
And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah.
my servants
23; 5:15,16; Psalms 101:6
and the other half
This is no unusual thing in Palestine, even at the present day; people sowing their seed are often attended by armed men, to prevent the Arabs from robbing them of it.
habergeons
Habergeon, from the Teutonic hals, the neck, and bergen, to cover, defend, may be considered as signifying a breast-plate, though the Franco-Gallic hautbergon signifies a coat of mail; the original shiryon, we have already seen, denotes a corslet.

Verse 17
They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.
bare burdens
every one
That is, he had his arms at hand; and was as fully prepared to fight as to work. The builders could not possibly have made any progress, if they had literally held a weapon in one of their hands; but the expression is evidently figurative, implying that every man was a much a soldier as a builder.
with one
Daniel 9:25; 1 Corinthians 9:12; 16:9,13; 2 Corinthians 6:7; Ephesians 6:11-20; Philippians 1:28; 2 Timothy 2:3; 2 Timothy 4:7

Verse 18
For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.
by his side
Heb. on his loins. he that sounded.
Numbers 10:9; 2 Chronicles 13:12-17

Verse 20
In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.
our God
Exodus 14:14,25; Deuteronomy 1:30; 3:22; 20:4; Joshua 23:10; Zechariah 14:3

Verse 21
So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared.
So we
1 Corinthians 15:10,58; Galatians 6:9; Colossians 1:29

Verse 22
Likewise at the same time said I unto the people, Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labour on the day.
every one
11:1,2

Verse 23
So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that every one put them off for washing.
So neither I
5:16; 7:2; Judges 9:48; 1 Corinthians 15:10
saving that, etc
or, every one went with his weapon for water.
Judges 5:11; The original of this obscure clause is {ish shilcho hammayim,} which is rendered by Montanus, {vir missile suum aquas,} "a man his dart to the waters," of which it is difficult to make sense. It is wholly omitted by the LXX.; and one of De Rossi's MSS. reads, {meshallachah âl hammayim,} "in order to send them to the water."

 


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Bibliography Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Nehemiah 4:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/nehemiah-4.html.

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