Nehemiah 4:8
And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.
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(8) And conspired.—Not fearing the Persian authority, they resolved to attack the city; but it will be seen that they soon abandoned that project.

To hinder it.—Rather, to do it hurt.

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 Arabians ... - Probably a band, composed largely of Arabians, Ammonites, and Ashdodites, which Sanballat maintained as a guard to his person, and which formed a portion of "the army of Samaria" Nehemiah 4:2. A quarrel between such a band and the people of Jerusalem might be overlooked by the Persian king. 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the governor, for the sake of despatch, had set all his attendants and guards on the work—now half of them were withdrawn to be constantly in arms.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."

No text from Poole on this verse. And conspired all of them together,.... All the above men and people entered into a confederacy and combination:

to come and to fight against Jerusalem; to bring an army with them, and by force cause the Jews to desist; the Jews (e) pretend they came to war, and brought with them an army of 180,000 men, which is not probable:

and to hinder it; the building of the walls of it; or "to make a wandering for him" (f); for Nehemiah, or the people, or both, to, cause them to stray from their work, to frighten them from it, that they might become like men at their wits end, not knowing what to do, where to turn themselves, or what course to steer, but to wander about as persons out of their senses; so Aben Ezra. De Dieu joins this clause to the next verse, to cause everyone of them to wander, we prayed, &c.

(e) Pirke Eliezer, c. 38. (f) "ad faciendum ei errorem", Montanus; "ei aberrationem", Genevenses; "vagationem et palationem", alii apud De Dieu.

And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.
8. and conspired all of them] R.V. and they conspired all of them. R.V. makes a stronger pause at the close of Nehemiah 4:7, substituting a semicolon for the comma. ‘Conspired.’ The word here used is the usual term for secret treachery.

to come and to fight] R.V. to come and fight. Literally ‘to come fight’ without the copula. This idiom, which occurs again in Nehemiah 9:15; Nehemiah 9:23 (cf. 1 Chronicles 12:31; 2 Chronicles 20:11), combines the thought of the two infinitives, the latter being epexegetic of the former. It is equivalent ‘to come for the purpose of fighting.’

and to hinder it] R.V. and to cause confusion therein. More literally ‘and to cause confusion to him.’ The masc. pronoun is here used, referring to the dwellers in Jerusalem. ‘to cause or make confusion’, the word rendered ‘confusion’ occurs only here and in Isaiah 32:6, ‘to utter error against the Lord.’ The rareness of the word occasioned difficulty to the versions. Hence LXX. ποιῆσαι αὐτὴν ἀφανῆ, Vulg. molirentur insidias.

The sudden arrival of hostile forces outside Jerusalem would be calculated ‘to cause confusion.’ It would encourage those who were already disaffected, and would terrify the timid. It would impede the work; for the patriot Jews would have to abandon the building for the sake of defending their walls, while the unwilling workers would gladly avail themselves of the pretext.Verse 8. - To hinder it. Rather, "to do it hurt." The word used is a rare one. According to Gesenius, it has the two senses of "error" and "injury." (Nehemiah 3:33-34)

The ridicule of Tobiah and Sanballat. - As soon as Sanballat heard that we were building (בּנים, partic., expresses not merely the resolve or desire to build, but also the act of commencing), he was wroth and indignant, and vented his anger by ridiculing the Jews, saying before his brethren, i.e., the rulers of his people, and the army of Samaria (חיל, like Esther 1:3; 2 Kings 18:17), - in other words, saying publicly before his associates and subordinates, - "What do these feeble Jews? will they leave it to themselves? will they sacrifice? will they finish it to-day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps that are burned?" עשׂים מה, not, What will they do? (Bertheau), for the participle is present, and does not stand for the future; but, What are they doing? The form אמלל, withered, powerless, occurs here only. The subject of the four succeeding interrogative sentences must be the same. And this is enough to render inadmissible the explanation offered by older expositors of להם היעזבוּ: Will they leave to them, viz., will the neighbouring nations or the royal prefects allow them to build? Here, as in the case of the following verbs, the subject can only be the Jews. Hence Ewald seeks, both here and in Nehemiah 4:8, to give to the verb עזב the meaning to shelter: Will they make a shelter for themselves, i.e., will they fortify the town? But this is quite arbitrary. Bertheau more correctly compares the passage, Psalm 10:14, אלהים על עזבנוּ, we leave it to God; but incorrectly infers that here also we must supply אלהים על, and that, Will they leave to themselves? means, Will they commit the matter to God. This mode of completing the sense, however, can by no means be justified; and Bertheau's conjecture, that the Jews now assembling in Jerusalem, before commencing the work itself, instituted a devotional solemnity which Sanballat was ridiculing, is incompatible with the correct rendering of the participle. עזב construed with ל means to leave, to commit a matter to any one, like Psalm 10:14, and the sense is: Will they leave the building of the fortified walls to themselves? i.e., Do they think they are able with their poor resources to carry out this great work? This is appropriately followed by the next question: Will they sacrifice? i.e., bring sacrifices to obtain God's miraculous assistance? The ridicule lies in the circumstance that Sanballat neither credited the Jews with ability to carry out the work, nor believed in the overruling providence of the God whom the Jews worshipped, and therefore casts scorn by היזבּחוּ both upon the faith of the Jews in their God and upon the living God Himself. As these two questions are internally connected, so also are the two following, by which Sanballat casts a doubt upon the possibility of the work being executed. Will they finish (the work) on this day, i.e., to-day, directly? The meaning is: Is this a matter to be as quickly executed as if it were the work of a single day? The last question is: Have they even the requisite materials? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish which are burnt? The building-stone of Jerusalem was limestone, which gets softened by fire, losing its durability, and, so to speak, its vitality. This explains the use of the verb חיּה, to revive, bestow strength and durability upon the softened crumbled stones, to fit the stones into a new building (Ges. Lex.). The construction שׂרוּפות והמּה is explained by the circumstance that אבנים is by its form masculine, but by its meaning feminine, and that המּה agrees with the form אבנים.

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