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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Nehemiah 6

Verse 1

Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;)

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief.

Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me. The Samaritan leaders, satisfied that they could not overcome Nehemiah by open arms, resolved to gain advantage over him by deceit and stratagem. With this view, under pretext of terminating their differences in an amicable manner, they invited him to a conference. The place of rendezvous was fixed "in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono." 'In the villages' (Heb.), 'in Cephirim,' or Cephirah, the name of a town in the territory of Benjamin (Joshua 9:17; Joshua 18:26). Nehemiah, however, apprehensive of some intended mischief, prudently declined the invitation; and, though it was repeated four times, his uniform answer was, that his presence could not be dispensed with from the important work in which he was engaged. This was one, though not the only reason. The principal ground of his refusal was, that his seizure or death at their hands would certainly put a stop to the further progress of the fortifications.

Verses 3-4

And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 5

Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand;

Then sent Sanballat his servant ... the fifth time with an open letter in his hand, [ 'igeret (H107) pªtuwchaah (H6605); Septuagint, epistolee aneoogmeneen]. In Western Asia, letters, after being rolled up like a map, are flattened to the breadth of an inch, and instead of being sealed, are pasted at the ends. In Eastern Asia, the Persians make up their letters in the form of a roll about six inches long, and a bit of paper is fastened round it with gum, and sealed with an impression of ink, which resembles our printers' ink, but is not so thick. Letters were, and are still, sent to persons of distinction in a bag or purse, and even to equals they are enclosed-the tie being made with a coloured ribbon; but to inferiors, or persons who are to be treated contemptuously, the letters were sent open - i:e., not enclosed in a bag.

Nehemiah, accustomed to the punctilious ceremonial of the Persian court, would at once notice the want of the usual formality, and know that it was from designed disrespect. The strain of the letter was equally insolent. It was to this effect: that the fortifications with which he was so busy were intended to strengthen his position in the view of a meditated revolt; that he had engaged prophets to incite the people to enter into his design, and support his claim to be their native king; and that, to stop the circulation of such reports, which would soon reach the court, he was earnestly besought to come to the wished for conference. Nehemiah, strong in the consciousness of his own integrity, and penetrating the purpose of this shallow artifice, replied that there were no rumours of the kind described; that the idea of a revolt, and the stimulating addresses, of hired demagogues, were stories of the writer's own invention; and that he declined now, as formerly, to leave his work.

Verses 6-9

Wherein was written, It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 10

Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee.

Afterward I came into the house of Shemaiah ... This man was the son of a priest, who was an intimate and confidential friend of Nehemiah. The young man claimed to been endowed with the gift of prophecy. Having been secretly bribed by Sanballat, he, in his pretended capacity of prophet, told Nehemiah that his enemies were that night to make an attempt upon his life; and advised him, at the same time, to consult his safety by concealing himself in the sanctuary-a crypt which, from its sanctity, was strong and secure. But the noble-minded governor determined at all hazards to remain at his post, and not bring discredit on the cause of God and religion by his unworthy cowardice in leaving the temple and city unprotected.

Verses 11-13

And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 14

My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.

My God, think thou ... and on the prophetess Noadiah. [Furst ('Concordance,' sub voce) doubts or rejects the reading, hanªbiy'aah (H5031), the prophetess. And so also does the Septuagint too Nooadia too profeetee, Noadias, the prophet.] This plot-together with a secret collusion between the enemy and the nobles of Judah who were favourably disposed toward the bad Samaritan, in consequence of his Jewish connections (Nehemiah 6:18) - the undaunted courage and vigilance of Nehemiah were enabled, with the blessing of God, to defeat, and the erection of the walls thus built in troublous times (Daniel 9:25) was happily completed (Nehemiah 6:15) in the brief space of 52 days. So rapid execution, even supposing some parts of the old wall standing, cannot be sufficiently accounted for, except by the consideration that the builders laboured with the ardour of religious zeal, as men employed in the work of God.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Nehemiah 6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/nehemiah-6.html. 1871-8.