And I said to the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated on the wall, one far from another.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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the governor, for the sake of despatch, had set all his attendants and guards on the work—now half of them were withdrawn to be constantly in arms.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."Nehemiah 4:14,
the work is great and large; the building of the wall all around the city of Jerusalem:
and we are separated upon the wall one far from another; some at work on one part of it, and some at another, so that the distance between one another, at least in the further part, was very considerable.And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)19. nobles … rulers &c.] as in Nehemiah 4:14, and Nehemiah 2:16, where see note.
large] literally ‘wide,’ referring to the extensive character of the building operations, which caused the defenders to be so scattered.Nehemiah 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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