Nehemiah 13:21
Then I testified against them, and said to them, Why lodge you about the wall? if you do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.
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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 lodging of the merchants with their merchandise just outside Jerusalem during the Sabbath, marked their impatience for the moment when they might bring their wares in. This was thought by Nehemiah to be unseemly, and to have an irreligious tendency. 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.

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. Then I testified against them,.... Against their continuance there, and threatened them, and called heaven and earth to witness what he would do to them, if they did not depart:

why lodge ye about the wall? of the city, waiting an opportunity to get in, and tempting the Jews to come out and buy their ware:

if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you; beat them, or slay them, at least imprison them:

from that time forth came they no more on the sabbath; finding there was no likelihood of getting into the city, and that they were liable to be taken up and punished.

Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.
21. Why lodge ye about the wall?] R.V. marg. ‘Heb. before’, LXX. ἀπέναντι, Vulg. ‘ex adverso.’ Nehemiah, in his capacity of governor, was able to put his foot down upon this evasion of his law. He threatened the traders that, if they hung about on the outskirts of the walls on the Sabbath, he would treat them as public enemies.Field-work and trading on the Sabbath done away with. - Nehemiah 13:15. In those days, i.e., when he was occupied with the arrangements for worship, Nehemiah saw in Judah (in the province) some treading wine-presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses, and also wine, grapes, and figs, and all kinds of burdens, and bringing it to Jerusalem on the Sabbath-day. The מביאים is again taken up by the second וּמביאים, and more closely defined by the addition: to Jerusalem. Robinson describes an ancient wine-press in his Biblical Researches, p. 178. On כּל־משּׂא, comp. Jeremiah 17:21. ואעיד, and I testified (against them), i.e., warned them on the day wherein they sold victuals. ציד, food, victuals; Psalm 132:15; Joshua 9:5, Joshua 9:14. He warned them no longer to sell victuals on the Sabbath-day. Bertheau, on the contrary, thinks that Nehemiah saw how the market people in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem started while it was still the Sabbath, not for the purpose of selling during that day, but for that of being early in the market on the next day, or the next but one. The text, however, offers no support to such a notion. In Nehemiah 13:16 it is expressly said that selling took place in Jerusalem on the Sabbath; and the very bringing thither of wine, grapes, etc., on the Sabbath, presupposes that the sale of these articles was transacted on that day.
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