Nehemiah 6

CHAPTER VI

Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, insidiously desire a conference

with Nehemiah, which he refuses, 1-4.

They then charge him with the design of rebelling, and causing

himself to be made king, 5-7;

which he denies, and prays to God for support, 8, 9.

A false prophet is hired by Tobiah and Sanballat, to put him in

fear; he discovers the imposture, and defeats their design,

10-13.

He prays to God against them, 14.

The wall is finished in fifty-two days, 15.

He discovers a secret and treasonable correspondence between

Tobiah and some of the Jewish nobles, 16-19.

NOTES ON CHAP. VI

Verse 2. Come, let us meet together in-the plain of Ono.]

They wished to get him out of Jerusalem from among his friends,

that they might either carry him off, or murder him. Ono is

supposed to have been in the tribe of Benjamin, near Jordan.

Verse 3. I am doing a great work] Though he knew their design,

he does not think it prudent to mention it. Had he done so, they

would probably have gone to extremities, finding that they were

discovered; and perhaps in a formidable body attacked Jerusalem,

when ill provided to sustain such a shock. They wished to effect

their purpose rather by treachery than by open violence. I know

not any language which a man who is employed on important labours

can use more suitably, as an answer to the thousand invitations

and provocations he may have to remit his work, enter into useless

or trivial conferences, or notice weak, wicked, and malicious

attacks on his work and his motives: "I am doing a great work, so

I cannot stoop to your nonsense, or notice your malevolence. Why

should the work cease, while I leave it, and come down to such as

you?"

Verse 5. With an open letter in his hand] This was an insult

to a person of Nehemiah's quality: as letters sent to chiefs and

governors in the East are always carefully folded up, and put in

costly silken bags, and these carefully sealed. The circumstance

is thus marked to show the contempt he (Sanballat) had for him.

Verse 6. And Gashmu saith it] You are accused of crimes

against the state, and Geshem, the Arabian, is your accuser.

Verse 7. Thou hast also appointed prophets] Persons who

pretend to be commissioned to preach to the people, and say,

Nehemiah reigneth!

Come now therefore, and let us take counsel] Come and justify

yourself before me. This was a trick to get Nehemiah into his

power.

Verse 8. There are no such things done] You well know that

what you say is false: I shall not, therefore, trouble myself

about a false charge.

Verse 10. Who was shut up] Lived in a sequestered, solitary

state; pretending to sanctity, and to close intercourse with God.

Let us meet together in the house of God] The meaning is, "Shut

yourself up in the temple; appear to have taken sanctuary there,

for in it alone can you find safety." This he said to discourage

and disgrace him, and to ruin the people; for, had Nehemiah taken

his advice, the people would have been without a leader, their

enemies would have come upon them at once, and they would have

been an easy prey. Besides, had Nehemiah done this, he would have

been shut up in the temple, his government would have been

declared at an end, and Sanballat would have assumed the reins.

Verse 11. Should such a man as I flee?] Shall I, who am

governor of the people, appointed both by God and the king, shall

I betray my trust, and leave the flock without a shepherd? Shall

I be a traitor, and abandon the office to which I am appointed?

-No! Who, in my situation, with such responsibility, and such

prospects, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not:

I will stand at my post, and be ready to receive my enemies

whensoever they come; so let Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem look to

themselves.

Verse 14. And on the prophetess Noadiah] Whether this was a

prophet or prophetess, we cannot tell; the Hebrew text only

makes her a prophetess; all the versions have Noadiah the prophet,

except the Arabic which has [Arabic] Younadaa the prophet. I think

the he at the end of nebiah is a mistake, and

that we should read Noadiah the prophet.

Verse 15. The twenty and fifth-of-Elul] This Jewish month

answers to a part of our August and September.

Fifty and two days.] I see no difficulty in supposing that

several thousand workmen, each of whom was working as for God,

should be able to complete this wall in fifty-two days. There is

little doubt that several parts of the old wall were entire; in

many places the foundations still remained; there were all the

materials of the old wall still at hand; and though they had to

clear and carry away much rubbish, yet they do not appear to have

had any stones to quarry. The work mentioned here was little when

compared to what Caesar did in Gaul and other places; and to what

Titus did at Jerusalem, who built a wall round Jerusalem of five

thousand paces in three days, besides, thirteen towers of ten

stadia in circuit. And Quintus Curtius and Arrian inform us

that Alexander the Great built the walls of Alexandria, on the

Tanais, which were nearly eight miles in compass, in the space of

between twenty and thirty days. Nehemiah therefore had time

sufficient in fifty-two days to repair and restore the walls of

Jerusalem. See Calmet on this place.

Verse 16. This work was wrought of our God.] This is an

additional reason why we should not wonder at the shortness of the

time in which so great a work was done, for God helped them by an

especial providence; and this was so very observable, that their

carnal enemies could discover it.

Verse 17. The nobles of Judah sent many letters] The

circumstances marked in this and the following verses show still

more clearly the difficulties which Nehemiah had to encounter; he

had enemies without and false friends within. A treacherous

correspondence was carried on between the nobles of Judah and the

Ammonites; and had almost any other man been at the head of the

Jewish affairs, Jerusalem had never been re-established.

Verse 18. He was the son-in-law of Shechaniah] Previously to

the coming of Nehemiah, the Jews seemed to be fast intermixing

with the heathen, by intermarriages with Ashdodites, Ammonites,

and Moabites; see Ne 13:23. Ezra had many evils of this kind

to redress, (Ezr 9:3, &c.,) chiefly among the common people,

though there were both chiefs and priests in that trespass. But

here we find the heathen and Jewish nobles interlinked; and the

latter were so far imbued with the spirit of idolatry, that they

forgot God, his service, their brethren, and their own souls.

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