Nehemiah 2:10
When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) Sanballat the Horonite.—Satrap of Samaria under the Persians, whose secretary or minister was “Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite.” Sanballat was from one of the Beth-horons, which had been in Ephraim, and were now in the kingdom of Samaria. His name is seemingly Babylonian, while that of Tobiah is Hebrew. The revival of Jerusalem would be a blow to the recent ascendency of Samaria.

Nehemiah 2:10. Sanballat the Horonite — So called either from the place of his birth or residence, which is supposed to have been Horonaim, an eminent city of Moab. This Sanballat was the person who afterward instigated Alexander the Great to build the temple of Gerizim, in order to occasion a division among the Jews. Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite — So called, probably, from the condition from which he had been advanced to his present power and dignity; which also may be mentioned as one reason why he now carried himself so insolently, it being usual for persons suddenly raised from a low state so to demean themselves. It grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man — With such authority from the king, and in such favour with him, as appeared by the letters he brought with him, and the guard that attended him, and the diligence of the several governors, through whose provinces he passed, to serve him.

2:9-18 When Nehemiah had considered the matter, he told the Jews that God had put it into his heart to build the wall of Jerusalem. He does not undertake to do it without them. By stirring up ourselves and one another to that which is good, we strengthen ourselves and one another for it. We are weak in our duty, when we are cold and careless.The name Sanballat is probably Babylonian the first element being the same which commences "Sennacherib," namely, "Sin," the moon-God, and the second balatu, "eminent" (?),which is found in the Assyrian name, Bel-balatu. As a Horonite, he was probably a native of one of the Bethhorons, the upper or the lower (see Joshua 16:3, Joshua 16:5; 2 Chronicles 8:5), and therefore born within the limits of the old kingdom of Samaria. Tobiah seems to have been an Ammonite slave, high in the favor of Sanballat, whom he probably served as secretary Nehemiah 6:17-19 and chief adviser.

It grieved them - Compare Ezra 4:4-24; Ezra 5:6-17. The revival of Jerusalem as a great and strong city, which was Nehemiah's aim, was likely to interfere with the prosperity, or at any rate the eminence, of Samaria.

10. Sanballat the Horonite—Horonaim being a town in Moab, this person, it is probable, was a Moabite.

Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite—The term used indicates him to have been a freed slave, elevated to some official dignity. These were district magistrates under the government of the satrap of Syria; and they seem to have been leaders of the Samaritan faction.

Sanballat the Horonite; so called, either from his family, or from the place of his birth or rule, which is supposed to be Horonaim, an eminent city of Moab, Isaiah 15:5 Jeremiah 48:3.

Tobiah the servant; so called probably from his servile original or condition, from which he was advanced to his present power and dignity; which also may be mentioned as one reason why he now carried himself so insolently and perversely towards the Jews, it being usual for persons suddenly raised from a mean to a high estate so to demean themselves.

When Sanballat the Horonite,.... Who either presided at Horonaim, or sprung from thence, a city of Moab, Isaiah 15:5

and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite; who was formerly a slave, but now raised, from a low mean estate, to be governor in the land of Ammon, though still a vassal of the king of Persia:

heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there came a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel; to which the Moabites and Ammonites were always averse, and ever bore an hatred to Israel, and envied everything that tended to their happiness.

When {e} Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.

(e) These were great enemies to the Jews, and laboured always both by force and subtilty to overcome them and Tobiah, because his wife was a Jewess, knew of their affairs and so brought them great trouble.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. When] R.V. And when.

This is the first mention of the opposition which Nehemiah encountered. The news of his mission quickly spread, although its precise object was not known (cf. Nehemiah 2:12; Nehemiah 2:16).

Sanballat and Tobiah appear throughout the book as the bitterest foes he had to encounter. ‘Sanballat,’ or, as perhaps it should be called, Saneballat (LXX. Σαναβαλλὰτ, Josephus Σαναβαλλέτης) is probably an Assyrian name, meaning ‘Sin (the moon-god of the Assyrians) giveth life,’ just as Nabubalitanni means ‘Nebo giveth the life.’ The name of the moon-god appears also in Sennacherib = ‘Sin gives many brothers.’ Sanballat is distinguished as ‘the Horonite,’ by which is probably meant ‘dweller in Beth-horon,’ a town on the borders of Ephraim (Joshua 16:3; Joshua 16:5; Joshua 18:13; Joshua 21:22; 2 Chronicles 8:5; 2 Chronicles 25:13), about 18 miles N.W. of Jerusalem, upon the main road leading to the plain of the coast. Beth-horon commanded the pass into the mountains. Strategically it was a place of great importance. It is famous for its connexion with the victories of Joshua (Joshua 10:10), of Judas Maccabeus (1Ma 3:15; 1Ma 7:39), and as the scene of the overthrow of Cestius Gallus (Joseph. Bell. J. ii. 19. 8).

Sanballat was evidently one of the leaders of the Samaritan community (see on Nehemiah 4:2). Some scholars imagine from the frequent conjunction of his name with that of Tobiah the Ammonite, that Sanballat must have been a Moabite, and that the title ‘Horonite’ denotes a dweller in ‘Horonaim,’ a town in Southern Moab, mentioned in Isaiah 15:5; Jeremiah 48:3; Jeremiah 48:5; Jeremiah 48:34, and twice in the Inscription of the Moabite Stone.

Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite] Why Tobiah is called ‘the servant’ is not clear. It may denote that he once held some position under the Persian governor or under the king. Rawlinson’s suggestion that he was Sanballat’s secretary and councillor, and had originally been an Ammonite slave, is less probable. He is generally mentioned on an equality with Sanballat, and in Nehemiah 6:12; Nehemiah 6:14, his name stands first. Frequent mention is made of Tobiah’s intrigues against the work and authority of Nehemiah. According to some, the termination ‘-jah’ shows him to have been a renegade Jew: cf. Ezra 2:60; Zechariah 6:10, where the same name occurs. His son’s name, Jehohanan (Nehemiah 6:18), is also compounded of the Jewish Sacred Name.

The race-hatred between the Jews and the Ammonites and Moabites (see Nehemiah 13:1-2) may explain in some degree Tobiah’s hostility. But in all probability the Samaritans and the neighbouring nations (Moabites, Ammonites, Arabians, &c.) were combined in the desire to foil any effort made to reinstate Jerusalem in her old position of being the most powerful town in Palestine. The policy of Nehemiah would weaken the neighbouring tribes in proportion as it would strengthen the Jews.

Tobiah may have in some way represented the Ammonites, possibly as governor of their small community, having received the position from the court where he had been a slave (cf. Ecclesiastes 10:6; Lamentations 5:8, ‘servants rule over us’).

it grieved them exceedingly] Cf. the same phrase in Jonah 4:1.

that there was come a man] R.V. for that, &c.

a man] Contemptuous reference to Nehemiah. His office and position as ‘pekhah’ not referred to. The Hebrew ‘adam,’ not ‘ish,’ is used. For the difference when both occur together, cf. Psalm 49:2 (‘both low and high’), Psalm 62:9; Isaiah 2:9; Isaiah 5:15.

to seek the welfare of] Literally, ‘to seek good for.’ The phrase is not common; it is the antithesis of’ to seek the hurt’ (Esther 9:2). In Jeremiah 38:4, ‘this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt,’ the word rendered ‘welfare’ is ‘shalom’ or ‘peace,’ here it is ‘tôbh,’ the good or prosperity.

Verse 10. - Sanballat. According to Josephus, Sanballat was "satrap of Samaria" under the Persians, and by descent a Cuthaean ('Ant. Jud.,' 11:7, § 2). He was probably included among the governors to whom Nehemiah had brought letters, and learnt the fact that "a man was come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel" by the delivery of the letters to him. The Horonite, Born, i.e., at one of the two Beth-horons, the upper or the lower, mentioned in Joshua (Joshua 16:3, 5) as belonging to Ephraim, and now under Samaria. Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite. It has been usual to regard Tobiah as a native chief of the Ammonites, who, after having been a page or other servant at the Persian court, had been made head of the nation. But it seems to be quite as likely that he was a servant of Sanballat's, who stood high in his favour, gave him counsel, and was perhaps his secretary (Nehemiah 6:17, 19). It grieved them exceedingly. From the time that Zerub-babel rejected the co-operation of the Samaritans in the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 4:3), an enmity set in between the two peoples which continued till the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. The two capitals were too near not to be rivals; and the greater (general) prosperity of Jerusalem made Samaria the bitterer adversary. Nehemiah 2:10When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite heard of his coming, it caused them great annoyance (להם ירע is strengthened by גּדולה רעה, as in Jonah 4:1) that a man (as Nehemiah expresses himself ironically from their point of view) was come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel. Sanballat is called the Horonite either after his birthplace or place of residence, yet certainly not from Horonaim in Moab, as older expositors imagined (Isaiah 15:5; Jeremiah 48:34), since he would then have been called a Moabite, but from either the upper or nether Beth-horon, formerly belonging to the tribe of Ephraim (Joshua 16:3, Joshua 16:5; Joshua 18:13), and therefore in the time of Nehemiah certainly appertaining to the region of the Samaritans (Berth.). Tobiah the Ammonite is called העבד, the servant, probably as being a servant or official of the Persian king. These two individuals were undoubtedly influential chiefs of the neighbouring hostile nations of Samaritans and Ammonites, and sought by alliances with Jewish nobles (Nehemiah 6:17; Nehemiah 13:4, Nehemiah 13:28) to frustrate, whether by force or stratagem, the efforts of Ezra and Nehemiah for the internal and external security of Judah. Nehemiah mentions thus early their annoyance at his arrival, by way of hinting beforehand at their subsequent machinations to delay the fortifying of Jerusalem.
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