Nehemiah 4:13
Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) After their families.—In allusion to the ambushes of Nehemiah 4:11, Nehemiah set families together—besides the appointed guards—“ in the lower places,” where the wall was not raised to the due height, that is, really, “on the higher places,” or rather, the bare places, whence enemies might be better seen. The “lower” were the “bare” places.

Nehemiah 4:13. Therefore, in the lower places behind the wall — Within the walls, where they were not yet raised to their due height, and therefore most liable to the enemies’ assault. On the higher places — Upon the tops of the walls, where they were finished, and the towers which were built here and there upon the wall, whence they might shoot arrows, or throw stones.

4:7-15 The hindering good work is what bad men aim at, and promise themselves success in; but good work is God's work, and it shall prosper. God has many ways of bringing to light, and so of bringing to nought, the devices and designs of his church's enemies. If our enemies cannot frighten us from duty, or deceive us into sin, they cannot hurt us. Nehemiah put himself and his cause under the Divine protection. It was the way of this good man, and should be our way. All his cares, all his griefs, all his fears, he spread before God. Before he used any means, he made his prayer to God. Having prayed, he set a watch against the enemy. If we think to secure ourselves by prayer, without watchfulness, we are slothful, and tempt God; if by watchfulness, without prayer, we are proud, and slight God: either way, we forfeit his protection. God's care of our safety, should engage and encourage us to go on with vigour in our duty. As soon as a danger is over, let us return to our work, and trust God another time.The lower places - The places where those within the walls had the least advantage of elevation, the naturally weak places, where an enemy was likely to make his attack. Ne 4:7-23. He Sets a Watch.

7-21. But … when Sanballat … heard that the walls … were made up, and … the breaches … stopped—The rapid progress of the fortifications, despite all their predictions to the contrary, goaded the Samaritans to frenzy. So they, dreading danger from the growing greatness of the Jews, formed a conspiracy to surprise them, demolish their works, and disperse or intimidate the builders. The plot being discovered, Nehemiah adopted the most energetic measures for ensuring the common safety, as well as the uninterrupted building of the walls. Hitherto the governor, for the sake of despatch, had set all his attendants and guards on the work—now half of them were withdrawn to be constantly in arms. The workmen labored with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other; and as, in so large a circuit, they were far removed from each other, Nehemiah (who was night and day on the spot, and, by his pious exhortations and example, animated the minds of his people) kept a trumpeter by his side, so that, on any intelligence of a surprise being brought to him, an alarm might be immediately sounded, and assistance rendered to the most distant detachment of their brethren. By these vigilant precautions, the counsels of the enemy were defeated, and the work was carried on apace. God, when He has important public work to do, never fails to raise up instruments for accomplishing it, and in the person of Nehemiah, who, to great natural acuteness and energy added fervent piety and heroic devotion, He provided a leader, whose high qualities fitted him for the demands of the crisis. Nehemiah's vigilance anticipated every difficulty, his prudent measures defeated every obstruction, and with astonishing rapidity this Jerusalem was made again "a city fortified."

In the lower places behind the wall; to stand by and within the walls where they were lowest, and not yet raised to their due height, and therefore most liable to the enemy’s assault.

On the higher places; upon the tops of the walls where they were finished, and the towers which were built here and there upon the wall; whence they might shoot arrows or throw stones against their enemies, when they made their approaches.

Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall,.... Where the wall was lowest, and the enemy could more easily break it down, or get over it:

and on the higher places; where the wall was higher; or rather on the towers upon the walls, as the word signifies the tops of rocks, which are dry and smooth, see Ezekiel 24:2.

I even set the people after their families; according to their rank, number, strength, and valour:

with their swords, their spears, and their bows; with weapons they could use both near, and at a distance.

Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. Therefore set I, &c.] Nehemiah’s action recorded in this verse was intended to meet the needs of the situation generally. ‘Therefore’ must not be limited in application to Nehemiah 4:12. The difficulties which beset him on so many sides compelled him to suspend part of the building operations, and to employ some of his available men for purposes of defence.

in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places] R.V. In the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, In the open places. The original in this passage is very obscure. The true meaning seems to be given by the R.V. Nehemiah stationed armed detachments under the cover of the wall, in the open spaces, where houses and buildings would not interfere with their movement.

The difficulties of the clause are occasioned by (1) the verb ‘I set’ without an object, although repeated with an object in the next clause: (2) the word rendered ‘the space’ (lit. ‘the place’); (3) the words ‘in the open places.’ The LXX. ἐν τοῖς σκεπεινοῖς seems to have understood ‘sheltered places.’ Others explain of ‘places where the sun shone,’ i.e. where the glint of the soldiers’ armour would betray their presence and deter attack.

According to one bold conjecture we should render, ‘And I set the engines (or catapults) in the space behind the wall in well-protected positions.’

after their families] Probably defending the portion of the wall upon which they were at work. This distribution of the defence among families guaranteed the discipline and organization and energy resulting from the strong clan feeling of the Semitic races. Many would thus be required merely to defend their own homes: cf. Nehemiah 3:28.

swords … spears … bows] the chief offensive weapons: swords for the hand-to-hand melée, spears as the enemy drew near, the bow and arrow for attack from the distance.

Verse 13. - Then set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places. There is no and m the original. Nehemiah means that in the less elevated places, where the wall was least strong by nature, he had his men posted on conspicuous spots within the walls, where they could be seen from a distance, and so deterred the enemy from advancing. He drew them up after their families, that each man might feel he was fighting for his brethren, sons, etc. (ver. 14). Nehemiah 4:13Nehemiah 4:7 is hardly intelligible. We translate it: Then I placed at the lowest places behind the wall, at the dried-up places, I((even) placed the people, after their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. למּקום מתּחתּיּות is a stronger expression for למּקום מתּחת when used to indicate position, and מן points out the direction. The sense is: at the lowest places from behind the wall. בּצּחחים gives the nature of the places where the people were placed with arms. צחיח and צחיחה mean a dry or bare place exposed to the heat of the sun: bare, uncovered, or empty places, perhaps bare hills, whence approaching foes might be discerned at a distance. The second ואעמיד is but a reiteration of the verb, for the sake of combining it with its object, from which the ואעמיד at the beginning of the verse was too far removed by the circumstantial description of the locality.

(Note: Bertheau considers the text corrupt, regarding the word מתּחתּיּות as the object of אעמיד, and alters it into מחשׁבות or חשּׁבנות, engines for hurling missiles (2 Chronicles 26:15), or into מטחיּות (a word of this own invention), instruments for hurling. But not only is this conjecture critically inadmissible, it also offers no appropriate sense. The lxx reads the text as we do, and merely renders בצחחיים conjecturally by ἐν τοῖς σκεπεινοῖς. Besides, it is not easy to see how חשׁבנות could have arisen from a false reading of מתחתיות; and it should be remembered that מחשׁבות does not mean a machine for hurling, while מטחתייות is a mere fabrication. To this must be added, that such machines are indeed placed upon the walls of a fortress to hurl down stones and projectiles upon assaulting foes, and not behind the walls, where they could only be used to demolish the walls, and so facilitate the taking of the town by the enemy.)

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