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Verses 1-23

The Machinations of the Enemies of the Jews

1. Sanballat] His irritation at Nehemiah’s arrival (Nehemiah 2:10) was increased by the work accomplished by the latter.

2. Fortify themselves] The same word as that used in Nehemiah 3:8, with a like uncertainty of meaning. Some render ’will they (the Persian authorities) let them alone?’ Will they sacrifice?] i.e. in the hope of obtaining supernatural assistance.

4. In the land of captivity] Nehemiah’s desire for the confusion of his enemies not unnaturally took the form of a wish that they might experience the fate which he and his countrymen had undergone.

6. Was joined.. thereof] The circuit of the wall was completed and raised to half the intended height.

7. The walls.. made up] RV ’the repairing of the walls.. went forward.’

9. We made our prayer.. a watch] Nehemiah and his followers, whilst commending themselves in prayer to God, took every precaution within their power.

10. Judah] i.e. the Jews.

12. From all places, etc.] perhaps, ’from all places, Ye must return to us,’ this being an appeal from the Jews of the neighbouring towns to their fellow-citizens who had gone to work at Jerusalem, summoning them to return for their protection. But LXX has ’From all places they come up against us.’

13. On the higher places] RV ’in the open (i.e. exposed) places’: where they could be seen to be on guard.

15. We returned] This implies that the enemy for a time abandoned the design described in Nehemiah 4:11.

16. Habergeons] RV ’coats of mail.’

17. With those that laded] RV ’laded themselves’: i.e. laboured vigorously. Every one .. weapon] This clause probably refers to the second of the two classes named in the beginning of the v., viz. those that bare burdens. These with one hand carried materials and with the other held a missile. The ’builders’ (Nehemiah 4:18), on the contrary, who had to use both hands for their work, only wore swords.

21. Half of them] This refers back to the servants mentioned in Nehemiah 4:16.

23. Men of the guard] i.e. the Persian guard attached to Nehemiah as governor: cp. Nehemiah 2:9. Saving that .. washing] RV renders,’ every one went with his weapon to the water’: whilst others suggest, ’every one sent for water’; but the text is too defective to be translated with certainty: the LXX omits the clause.

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