And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and God had brought their counsel to nothing, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one to his work.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)We returned.—This verse remarkably condenses the frustration of the attempt and the cessation of the special guard.Nehemiah 4:15. When our enemies heard that it was known unto us — When they heard that their plot was discovered, and they had no hope to surprise us, but found that we were ready to receive them, they laid aside their designs, and we went on with our work.
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the governor, for the sake of despatch, had set all his attendants and guards on the work—now half of them were withdrawn to be constantly in arms.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."
and God had brought their counsel to naught; which was to come upon them secretly and unawares; but being discovered, they dropped their design, and their scheme came to nothing:And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. Success of Nehemiah’s precautions.
our enemies] a different word in the original from that rendered ‘adversaries’ in Nehemiah 4:11.
that it was known unto us] i.e. their project of a sudden attack.
God had brought their counsel to nought] i.e. through the precautionary measures taken by Nehemiah. The words ‘brought their counsel to nought’ are the same as those rendered ‘frustrate their purpose’ in Ezra 4:5.
we returned … work] This clause implies what is not definitely stated. The enemy, on hearing that Nehemiah was prepared to meet their attack, seem to have abandoned their intention of an immediate assault. Nehemiah and his companions were able to resume the work upon the wall, although precautions were still necessary.Nehemiah 4:3)
The Jews, on the other hand, made preparation by prayer, and by setting a watch (משׁמר, comp. Nehemiah 7:3; Nehemiah 13:30) day and night. We, viz., Nehemiah and the superintendents of the work, prayed and set a watch עליהם, against them, to ward off a probable attack. מפּניהם, for fear of them, comp. Nehemiah 4:10.
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