Wesley's Notes on the Bible
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.
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?
4:2 In a day - Do they intend to begin, and finish the work, all in one day? For if they spend any long time about it, they cannot think that we will suffer them to do it. The stones - Will they pick up their broken stones out of the ruins, and patch them together. Burnt - Which stones were burnt, and broken, by the Chaldeans when they took the city.
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.
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:
4:4 A prey - Give them for a prey to their enemies, and let these carry them into the land of captivity.
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.
4:5 Cover not - Let their wickedness be in thy sight, so as to bring down judgments upon them, that either they may be reformed, or others may be warned by their example. God is said to cover or hide sin when he forbears to punish it. Provoked thee - They have not only provoked us builders, but thee also.
So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.
4:6 The half - Unto half its height.
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,
And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.
Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.
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.
4:10 Judah - The Jews now dwelling in Judah, some of them being partly terrified by their enemies, and partly wearied with continual labour. Rubbish - More than we are able suddenly to remove. Not able - Being forced to spend our time in removing the rubbish, and therefore we must desist for a season.
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.
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.
4:12 By them - Or, among them: whereby they came to the knowledge of their counsels. Tho' these had not zeal enough to help in the work, yet they had some concern for their brethren. Ten tribes - Very often, a certain number for an uncertain. Be upon you - They will invade you every way, by which we can come to you, or you to us; therefore keep watches on every side.
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.
4:13 Behind - Within the walls where they were not yet raised to their due height, and therefore most liable to the enemies assault. Higher - Upon the tops of the walls where they were finished, and the towers which were built here and there upon the wall; whence they might shoot arrows, or throw stones.
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.
4:14 Looked - He looked up, engaged God for him, and put himself and his cause under the Divine protection. That was his way, and should be ours: all his cares, all his griefs, all his fears he spread before God. Great and terrible - You think your enemies are great and terrible. But what are they in comparison of God? Especially in opposition to him?
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.
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.
4:16 From that time forth - Lest our enemies should repeat their enterprize. My servants - Of my domestick servants, and of my guards. Held, and c. - All their weapons: they stood in their arms prepared for battle. Were behind - To encourage them in their work, sometimes to assist with their own hands: and to direct and command them in case of an assault. Judah - The Jews who were upon the wall.
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.
4:17 A Weapon - This is to be taken figuratively; being a proverbial speech, as when they say of a man pretending kindness, he carries bread in one hand, and a stone in another. Thus must we work out our salvation, with the weapons of our warfare in our hands. For in every duty we must expect opposition from our spiritual enemies.
For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.
4:18 Sounded - To call the people together, when, and where it was necessary.
And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another.
In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.
So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared.
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.
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.
4:23 Washing - When they were to wash and cleanse themselves from some impurity, which might befal them or their garments.