Nehemiah 2:20
Then answered I them, and said to them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but you have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.
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(20) He will prosper us.—The reply is a defiance in the name of the God of heaven. The closing words imply that, as in the days of Zerubbabel, the Samaritan enemies desired really to have their share in the undertaking. Nehemiah makes Zerubbabel’s answer, but strengthens it; they had nothing in common with Jerusalem, not even a place in its memorials, save one of shame.

2:19,20 The enmity of the serpent's seed against the cause of Christ is confined to no age or nation. The application to ourselves is plain. The church of God asks for our help. Is it not desolate, and exposed to assaults? Does the consideration of its low estate cause you any grief? Let not business, pleasure, or the support of a party so engage attention, as that Zion and her welfare shall be nothing to you.Geshem the Arabian - The discovery that Sargon populated Samaria in part with an Arab colony explains why Arabs should have opposed the fortification of Jerusalem. 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. Ye have no portion nor right; you have no authority over us, nor interest in our church, or state, or city, but are mere aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. We disown and detest that mongrel worship and religion which you have set up. We desire not your favour, or friendship, or help in this matter. And you have nothing to do to inquire into or meddle with our concerns, or to hinder us in our present undertaking.

Nor memorial; no testimony, or monument, either of your relation to us by birth or religion, or of your kindness to us or to this place. But we have many memorials of your malice and enmity against us. Then answered I them, and said unto them,.... With much spirit and boldness, not at all intimidated by their scoffs or threats:

the God of heaven, he will prosper us; whom we serve, and under whose protection we are, who will supply us with everything we want, and succeed this undertaking, in whose name we engage in it, and on whom we depend, and we care not what man can do to us:

therefore we his servants will arise and build; in spite of all opposition, difficulties, and discouragements:

but you have no portion, nor right, nor memorial in Jerusalem; no part of the city belonged to them; they had no jurisdiction there; they had no name there, nor their ancestors, in times past; nor had they done anything to perpetuate their memory in it: in short, they had nothing to do with them, neither in religious nor in civil things; and it was best for them to mind their own affairs where they presided, and not trouble themselves about theirs.

Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor {k} memorial, in Jerusalem.

(k) Neither are you of the number of the children of God

(to whom he has appointed this city only) neither did any of your predecessors ever fear God.

20. The God of heaven] see on Nehemiah 1:4.

will prosper us] See Nehemiah 1:11. The Vulgate ‘juvat nos,’ the present tense corresponding to the following clause ‘we are his servants,’ is quite permissible: but is not so suitable to the occasion of Nehemiah’s reply.

we his servants] as in Nehemiah 1:6; Nehemiah 1:10.

arise and build] Nehemiah 2:18. The LXX. by a strange error renders δοῦλοι αὐτοῦ καθαροίκαὶ οἰκοδομήσομεν, reading ‘n’qiyyim’ for ‘naqûm.’

no portion, nor right, nor memorial] These words closely resemble the declaration in Ezra 4:3, and imply some sort of claim on the part of these adversaries to a share in the fortunes of Jerusalem. If so, the adversaries must be regarded as mainly consisting of the Samaritan community. Nehemiah renouncing connexion with the Samaritans, affirms that they have no share in the present community, no ground for claiming it in the future, no memorial or justification of such claim in the past.

no portion] Cf. 2 Samuel 20:1.

nor right] The word here used has generally the sense of righteousness. Here it means ‘right,’ ‘just claim;’ so in 2 Samuel 19:28 ‘What right therefore have I, &c.;’ and Joel 2:23, ‘he giveth you the former rain in just measure’ (marg. ‘Or in (or for) righteousness’).

nor memorial] i.e. the Samaritans had no memorial nor proof of their past connexion with Jerusalem. The word is rendered ‘remembrance’ in Ecclesiastes 1:11; Ecclesiastes 2:16; ‘memorial,’ Numbers 16:40; Numbers 31:54. Cf. ‘write this for a memorial in a book’ (Exodus 17:14); ‘a book of remembrance’ (Malachi 3:16).Verse 20. - Then answered I. It is remarkable that Nehemiah takes no notice of the serious charge brought against him, does not say that he had the king's permission, but rather leaves the "adversaries" to suppose that he had not. Perhaps he thought that to reveal the truth would drive them to some desperate attempt, and therefore suppressed it. The God of heaven, he will prosper us. Instead of a human, Nehemiah claims a Divine sanction for his proceedings. He and his brethren will build as servants of the God of heaven. Compare the answer made to Tatnai in Zerubbabel's time - "We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago" (Ezra 5:11). Ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem. As the claim of the Samaritans to interfere in the affairs of the Jews had been disallowed when they came with an offer of aid (Ezra 4:2, 3), so now, when their interference is hostile in character, it is still more fiercely and indignantly rejected. They are told that they have no part in Jerusalem, no right, not even so much as a place in the recollections of the inhabitants. Their interference is officious, impertinent - what have they to do with Nehemiah, or the Israelites, or Jerusalem? Let them be content to manage the affairs of their own idolatrous community, and not trouble the worshippers of the true God. Nehemiah avoids opposition by concealment as long as he can; but when opposition nevertheless appears, he meets it with defiance.

"And I went on to the fountain-gate, and to the king's pool, and there was no room for the beast to come through under me." The very name of the fountain-or well-gate points to the foundation of Siloah (see rem. on Nehemiah 3:15); hence it lay on the eastern declivity of Zion, but not in the district or neighbourhood of the present Bb el Mogharibeh, in which tradition finds the ancient dung-gate, but much farther south, in the neighbourhood of the pool of Siloah; see rem. on Nehemiah 3:15. The King's pool is probably the same which Josephus (bell. Jud. v. 4. 2) calls Σολομῶνος κολυμβήθρα, and places east of the spring of Siloah, and which is supposed by Robinson (Palestine, ii. pp. 149, 159) and Thenius (das vorexil. Jerus., appendix to a commentary on the books of the Kings, p. 20) to be the present Fountain of the Virgin. Bertheau, however, on the other hand, rightly objects that the Fountain of the Virgin lying deep in the rock, and now reached by a descent of thirty steps, could not properly be designated a pool. He tries rather to identify the King's pool with the outlet of a canal investigated by Tobler (Topogr. i. p. 91f.), which the latter regards as a conduit for rain-water, fluid impurities, or even the blood of sacrificed animals; but Bertheau as an aqueduct which, perhaps at the place where its entrance is now found, once filled a pool, of which, indeed, no trace has as yet been discovered. But apart from the difficulty of calling the outlet of a canal a pool (Arnold in Herzog's Realencycl. xviii. p. 656), the circumstance, that Tobler could find in neither of the above-described canals any trace of high antiquity, tells against this conjecture. Much more may be said in favour of the view of E. G. Schultz (Jerusalem, p. 58f.), that the half-choked-up pool near Ain Silwan may be the King's pool and Solomon's pool; for travellers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries mention a piscina grandis foras and natatoria Silo at the mouth of the fountain of Siloah (comp. Leyrer in Herzog's Realencycl. xvi. p. 372). See also rem. on Nehemiah 3:15. Here there was no room for the beast to get through, the road being choked up with the ruins of the walls that had been destroyed, so that Nehemiah was obliged to dismount.
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