Nehemiah 13:20
So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.
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(20) Once or twice.—For a time they lodged outside; the unseemliness of this, and the evidence it gave that they were only waiting to evade the law, made Nehemiah testify in word, and threaten forcible action. This effectually removed the evil.

Nehemiah 13:20-21. The merchants, &c., lodged without Jerusalem — In the open field, (as appears by the next verse,) where, perhaps, they pitched their tents, and opened their packs, hoping to sell their wares on the sabbath day to the country people, though they could not get admittance into Jerusalem. Then I testified against them, and said, I will lay hands on you — I will punish you and seize your goods. For this was a temptation to covetous or needy Jews, that lived in or near the city, to steal opportunities of buying their commodities, which then they might do with more advantage. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath —

Such power have good magistrates; especially when they are resolute. And it is very observable, that these traffickers, being men of other nations, were not bound by the law of the sabbath enjoined to the Jews, and did not transgress in breaking it; yet he would not permit them to make the Jews, who were under the obligation of it, to break it; and thereby trouble the commonwealth of Israel, by drawing the people into sin. It is also observable, that though buying and selling was not a servile work, yet he thought this to be comprehended in those words, Thou shalt do no manner of work.

13:15-22 The keeping holy the Lord's day forms an important object for their attention who would promote true godliness. Religion never prospers while sabbaths are trodden under foot. No wonder there was a general decay of religion, and corruption of manners among the Jews, when they forsook the sanctuary and profaned the sabbath. Those little consider what an evil they do, who profane the sabbath. We must answer for the sins others are led to commit by our example. Nehemiah charges it on them as an evil thing, for so it is, proceeding from contempt of God and our own souls. He shows that sabbath-breaking was one of the sins for which God had brought judgments upon them; and if they did not take warning, but returned to the same sins again, they had to expect further judgments. The courage, zeal, and prudence of Nehemiah in this matter, are recorded for us to do likewise; and we have reason to think, that the cure he wrought was lasting. He felt and confessed himself a sinner, who could demand nothing from God as justice, when he thus cried unto him for mercy.The gates were closed at the sunset of the day before the Sabbath; since the Sabbath was regarded as commencing on the previous evening. Ne 13:15-31. The Violation of the Sabbath.

15-22. In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine-presses on the sabbath—The cessation of the temple services had been necessarily followed by a public profanation of the Sabbath, and this had gone so far that labor was carried on in the fields, and fish brought to the markets on the sacred day. Nehemiah took the decisive step of ordering the city gates to be shut, and not to be opened, till the Sabbath was past; and in order to ensure the faithful execution of this order, he stationed some of his own servants as guards, to prevent the introduction of any commodities on that day. On the merchants and various dealers finding admission denied them, they set up booths outside the walls, in hopes of still driving a traffic with the peasantry; but the governor threatened, if they continued, to adopt violent measures for their removal. For this purpose a body of Levites was stationed as sentinels at the gate, with discretionary powers to protect the sanctification of the Sabbath.

No text from Poole on this verse.

For the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware,.... The Tyrians particularly, Nehemiah 13:16 lodged without Jerusalem once or twice; one sabbath day or two, not being able to get into the city, such strict watch and care being taken to keep the gates shut; this they did, hoping the Jews would come out to them and buy their goods, though they were not admitted to bring them within the city. So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.
20. So the merchants, &c.] The device only partially succeeded; and various merchants, who had been compelled for 24 hours to remain without the walls, seem to have carried on their trade with such of the inhabitants as came outside to deal with them. We gather from the verse that the chief market was held on the first day of the week.

lodged] i.e. passed the night, as in Genesis 19:2; Genesis 24:25.

Verse 20. - The merchants lodged without. The merchants could not leave their wares unguarded; and the wares not being admitted into the town, they were obliged to camp out. Thus a crowd was collected about the gates, and a disturbance and excitement caused, which was unsuitable for the sabbath. To prevent this, Nehemiah threatened to arrest the merchants, whereupon the practice was given up (ver. 21). Nehemiah 13:20Then the merchants and sellers of all kinds of ware remained throughout the night outside Jerusalem, once and twice. Thus, because egress from the city could not be refused to the inhabitants, the rest of the Sabbath was broken outside the gates. Nehemiah therefore put an end to this misdemeanour also.
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