Likewise at the same time said I to the people, Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labor on the day.
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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the governor, for the sake of despatch, had set all his attendants and guards on the work—now half of them were withdrawn to be constantly in arms.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."Within Jerusalem; not in the suburbs, or adjoining villages, as probably many of them did, returning thence to their work in the morning.
let everyone with his servant lodge within Jerusalem; every builder had a servant, or a lad, as the word signifies, to wait upon him, to bring mortar or stone, or what he wanted; and some of these builders, with their lads, came out of the country towns and villages in the morning, and returned at night; now Nehemiah proposed, for the safety of the city and its walls, that for the present they would lodge in Jerusalem:Likewise at the same time said I unto the people, Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labour on the day.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. Likewise … said I unto the people] Another prudent regulation is enacted by Nehemiah. He addresses ‘the people,’ namely the common people capable of bearing arms, as distinguished from the nobles on the one hand and Nehemiah’s servants on the other. The object of the fresh enactment is to secure that during the nights the city should be garrisoned with its full strength.
Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem] From this we gather that numbers of the people were employed during the day in the vicinity of Jerusalem in farming and other occupations, or, being employed upon the walls by day, wandered forth and slept outside the gates. If they lodged (i.e. passed the night) outside the walls, they were liable to be surprised in detail and murdered by the enemy. For the defence of such extensive and unfinished works, Jerusalem could not afford to lose a man unnecessarily. Nehemiah therefore required that all, whatever their employment, should sleep in the city. At the time when the exhausted builders took their rest, the greatest possible number of inhabitants were in this way retained within the gates. The disaffected also were deprived of opportunities for intriguing by night with the enemy. ‘every one with his servant,’ literally ‘his young man.’ Some would restrict this expression to the ‘warriors,’ each of whom had his attendant, much as a Mediæval knight had his squire. But it is preferable to attach to the words a more general sense, i.e. ‘everyone, master and servant alike.’ Those who employed labourers would be responsible for seeing that their ‘hands’ did not disobey this edict.
a guard to us] i.e. to Nehemiah and his bodyguard. These additional inmates of the city increased the strength of the defence by night.
and labour on the day] R.V. and may labour in the day. Literally ‘and in the day a labour.’ Those who were compelled to lodge within the walls would not be able to elude their employers and officers. They would be better under control for the systematic work needful for the building. They could not wander far from the city. Work could be recommenced in the early morning without delay; whether engaged on the walls or in other ways, all were thus placed under surveillance.Verse 22. - Every one, with his servant. The material condition of the people had much improved since the return under Zerubbabel. Then there was only one slave to every six Israelites (Ezra 2:64, 65); now every Israelite had his slave, and many no doubt a large number. Lodge within Jerusalem. i.e. "sleep" or "pass the night" there, instead of returning to their several villages or towns. That in the night they may be a guard to us. The very fact that they were in Jerusalem, and known to be there, would tend to prevent an attack; and if the enemy assaulted by night, they would be at hand, and able to take their part in guarding the work. Nehemiah 4:17, Nehemiah 5:10, Nehemiah 5:16, namely, Jews placed at his disposal as Pechah for official purposes. The ו before הרמחים was probably placed before this word, instead of before the המּגנּים following, by a clerical error; for if it stood before the latter also, it might be taken in the sense of et - et. מצזיקים, instead of being construed with בּ, is in the accusative, as also in Nehemiah 4:11, and even in Jeremiah 6:23 and Isaiah 41:9, Isaiah 41:13. Unnecessary and unsuitable is the conjecture of Bertheau, that the word בּרמחים originally stood after מצזיקים, and that a fresh sentence begins with והרמחים: and the other half held the spears; and the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the armour, and the rulers, were behind the whole house of Judah, - a strange combination, which places the weapons and rulers behind the house of Judah. Besides, of the circumstance of the weapons being placed behind the builders, so that they might at any moment seize them, we not only read nothing in the text; but in Nehemiah 4:11 and Nehemiah 4:12 just the contrary, viz., that the builders wrought with one hand, and with the other held a weapon. "The rulers were behind all the house of Judah," i.e., each was behind his own people who were employed on the work, to encourage them in their labour, and, in case of attack, to lead them against the enemy. - In Nehemiah 4:11 בּחומה הבּונים is prefixed after the manner of a title. With respect to those who built the wall, both the bearers of burdens were lading with the one hand of each workman, and holding a weapon with the other, and the builders were building each with his sword girt on his side. The ו prefixed to הנּשׂאים and הבּנים means both; and בסּבל נשׂא, bearers of burdens, who cleared away the rubbish, and worked as labourers. These, at all events, could do their work with one hand, which would suffice for emptying rubbish into baskets, and for carrying material in handle baskets. ידו בּעחת, literally, with the one (namely) of his hands that was doing the work. The suffix of ידו points to the genitive following. ואחת אחת, the one and the other hand. השּׁלח, not a missile, but a weapon that was stretched out, held forth, usually a sword or some defensive weapon: see rem. on Joshua 2:8; 2 Chronicles 32:5. The builders, on the contrary, needed both hands for their work: hence they had swords girt to their sides. "And he that sounded the trumpet was beside me." Nehemiah, as superintendent of the work, stood at the head of his servants, ready to ward off any attack; hence the trumpeter was beside him, to be able to give to those employed on the wall the signal for speedy muster in case danger should threaten.
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