Nehemiah 4:3
Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Nehemiah 4:3. If a fox go up — He mentions foxes because they were very numerous in those parts, and because in the late desolation of Jerusalem, the foxes did frequent the mount and city of Zion, (Lamentations 5:18,) wherewith he seems to upbraid them. He shall even break down their stone wall — It is so low that a fox can easily ascend to the top of it, and so weak, and built so hastily and carelessly, that the least weight or thrust will tumble it down.

4:1-6 Many a good work has been looked upon with contempt by proud and haughty scorners. Those who disagree in almost every thing, will unite in persecution. Nehemiah did not answer these fools according to their folly, but looked up to God by prayer. God's people have often been a despised people, but he hears all the slights that are put upon them, and it is their comfort that he does so. Nehemiah had reason to think that the hearts of those sinners were desperately hardened, else he would not have prayed that their sins might never be blotted out. Good work goes on well, when people have a mind to it. The reproaches of enemies should quicken us to our duty, not drive us from it.The gate Miphkad - Not elsewhere mentioned. It must have been in the east, or northeast, wall, a little to the south of the "sheep-gate" 3. if a fox go up—The foxes were mentioned because they were known to infest in great numbers the ruined and desolate places in the mount and city of Zion (La 5:18). He mentions the foxes, because they were very numerous in those parts, and because in the late desolations the foxes did walk in the mount and city of Zion, Lamentations 5:18, wherewith he seems to upbraid them.

He shall even break down their stone wall: it is so low, that a fox can easily get to the top of it; and so weak, and done so hastily and carelessly, that the least thrust will tumble it down.

Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him,.... Who was one of his brethren he spake before, Nehemiah 4:2,

and he said; in the like contemptuous and scoffing manner:

even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall break down their stone wall; signifying not only that it was so low that a fox could easily get up to it, or leap over it; but that the materials were so bad, and the work so poorly done, that the weight of a fox would break it down; of which creatures many were thereabout, since Jerusalem was desolate, see Lamentations 5:18.

Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. Even that which they build &c.] Whatever they are trying to build.

a fox] R.V. marg. ‘Or, jackal’. The light tread of some creeping animal was enough to bring down their weak wall stone though it was. The ‘shuâl’ or fox is elsewhere mentioned in Jdg 15:4; Psalm 63:10; Ezekiel 13:4; Lamentations 5:18; Song of Solomon 2:15. In the passages from Ps., Ez., Lam., it is spoken of in connexion with ruined places. The R.V. margin gives the alternative, ‘jackal’ in each case, except in Ezek. and Cant., where the slyness of the animal (cf. Luke 13:32) shows that the fox is clearly intended. The Hebrew language probably does not distinguish between the ‘jackal’ and the ‘fox.’ Perhaps the allusion in Canticles to the depredations committed by foxes in a vineyard throws light upon Tobiah’s sneer. A fox, he seems to say, would have as little difficulty in breaking through the wall of Jerusalem as through a vineyard fence.

break down] Vulg. transiliet.

Verse 3. - Tobiah the Ammonite was by him. The presence of Tobiah on this occasion, before the alliance was made with the Ammonites (ver. 8), is a strong indication that his position was not one of independent authority, but of dependence upon Sanballat. There is nothing to show that he was more than a favourite slave of the Samaritan governor. A fox. Or, "a jackal," which would be more likely than a fox to stray over a ruined wall into a town. Nehemiah 4:3(Nehemiah 3:35)

Tobiah the Ammonite, standing near Sanballat, and joining in in his raillery, adds: "Even that which they build, if a fox go up he will break their stone wall;" i.e., even if they build up walls, the light footsteps of the stealthy fox will suffice to tread them down, and to make breaches in their work.

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