Nehemiah 2:16
And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.
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(16) The rest that did the work, that is, afterwards. The caution of this procedure is justified by subsequent events: the city teemed with elements of danger. The nobles and rulers were possessed of no substantial repressive authority.

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 rulers - The principal authorities of the city, in the absence of the special governor.

The rest that did the work - i. e. "the laboring class that (afterward) actually built the wall."

16-18. the rulers knew not—The following day, having assembled the elders, Nehemiah produced his commission and exhorted them to assist in the work. The sight of his credentials, and the animating strain of his address and example, so revived their drooping spirits that they resolved immediately to commence the building, which they did, despite the bitter taunts and scoffing ridicule of some influential men. Or, were to do, or should do, i.e. whom he intended to employ in the work here following, of building the walls.

And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did..... The rulers of the city of Jerusalem, who seem to be officers of the king of Persia, since they are distinguished from Jewish rulers in the next clause:

neither had I as yet told it to the Jews; what he came about and designed to do:

nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers; the principal men among the Jews, both ecclesiastical and civil:

nor to the rest that did the work; of building and repairing; neither those that were employed in it, nor those that overlooked it.

And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.
16–18. The Nation’s Resolve

16. the rulers] R.V. marg. Or deputies. ‘S’ganim’ is the title used in Ezra 9:2, and in this book (Nehemiah 4:8; Nehemiah 4:13, Nehemiah 5:7, Nehemiah 7:5, Nehemiah 12:40) for the chief magistrates and officials of the city.

whither I went, or what I did] More literally ‘whither I had gone and what I was doing.’

neither had I as yet told it] i.e. the prospect of rebuilding the walls.

the Jews … the work] A remarkable division of the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘the Jews’ here are the great mass of the lay population, as distinguished from (a) the priests, (b) ‘the nobles’ ‘Khôrim’, the aristocracy, heads of houses, &c. (cf. Nehemiah 4:13-14, Nehemiah 5:7, Nehemiah 6:17, Nehemiah 7:5, Nehemiah 13:17), (c) ‘the rulers,’ the official element (segânim), (d) ‘the rest that did the work,’ referring by anticipation to the large body who were shortly afterwards employed on ‘the work’ of building the walls.

Verse 16. - The rulers. On Nehemiah's arrival at Jerusalem he found no single individual exercising authority, but a number of persons, a sort of town-council, whom he calls khorim and saganim. It is not clear that he made his commission known to them at first, or indeed that he divulged it before the interview mentioned in vers. 17 and 18. The rest that did the work This seems to be said by anticipation, and to mean those who subsequently built the wall. Nehemiah 2:16He had spoken to no one of his purpose (Nehemiah 2:12); hence the rulers of the city knew neither whither he was going nor what he was doing (i.e., undertaking) when he rode by night out of the city gate accompanied by a few followers. As yet he had said nothing either to the Jews (the citizens of Jerusalem), the priests, the nobles, the rulers, or the rest who did the work. החרים and הסּגנים are connected, as in Ezra 9:2 השּׂרים and הסּגנים. The nobles (חרים, nobiles) or princes are the heads of the different houses or races of the people; סגנים, the rulers of the town, the authorities. המּלאכה עשׂה, the doers of the work, are the builders; comp. Ezra 3:9. When these are, in comparison with the priests, nobles, and rulers, designated as יתר, the remnant, this is explained by the fact that the priests and rulers of the people were not actively engaged in building. המּלאכה, the work in question, i.e., here the building of the walls. כּן עד, until thus, i.e., until now, until the time apparent from the context. Nehemiah then, having inspected the condition of the ruined walls, and being now persuaded of the possibility of restoring them, made known his resolution to the nobles, the rulers, and the community, i.e., to a public assembly called together for this purpose (Nehemiah 2:17). "Ye see (have before your eyes, know from experience) the distress that we are in, that Jerusalem lieth waste: come (לכוּ), let us build up the walls of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach." In other words: Let us by building our walls put an end to the miserable condition which gives our adversaries occasion to reproach us.
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