Nehemiah 6:16
And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) The enemies heard of it, and saw the result, and were ashamed.

Nehemiah 6:16. They were much cast down in their own eyes — That is, in their opinion, or themselves being judges. For though usually men are very prone to judge partially, and still to flatter themselves with vain hopes, yet this case was so clear and remarkable that they began to despair. Now they saw that all was lost, that their designs were broken, and that their mischief was likely to fall upon their own heads. For they perceived that this work was of our God — From that admirable courage, constancy, and quickness, wherewith this work was managed, notwithstanding all the difficulties and discouragements in the way, they concluded that it was the work of the mighty God of Israel, whom they had great reason to fear. And withal they took it for an ill omen to them, and a sure presage that God would still watch over that city and people, and crush those who should oppose or disturb them.

6:15-19 The wall was begun and finished in fifty-two days, though they rested on the sabbaths. A great deal of work may be done in a little time, if we set about it in earnest, and keep close to it. See the mischief of marrying with strangers. When men once became akin to Tobiah, they soon became sworn to him. A sinful love leads to a sinful league. The enemy of souls employs many instruments, and forms many projects, to bring reproach on the active servants of God, or to take them from their work. But we should follow the example of Him who laid down his life for the sheep. Those that simply cleave to the Lord and his work will be supported.Elul - The sixth month, corresponding to the latter part of August and the beginning of September.

In fifty and two days - Josephus states that the repairs of the wall occupied two years and four months. But Nehemiah's narrative is thoroughly consistent with itself, and contains in it nothing that is improbable. The walls everywhere existed at the time that he commenced his task, and only needed repairs. The work was partitioned among at least 37 working parties, who labored simultaneously, with material ready at hand; and, notwithstanding all menaces, uninterruptedly.

10-14. Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah, &c.—This man was the son of a priest, who was an intimate and confidential friend of Nehemiah. The young man claimed to be endowed with the gift of prophecy. Having been secretly bribed by Sanballat, he, in his pretended capacity of prophet, told Nehemiah that his enemies were that night to make an attempt upon his life. He advised him, at the same time, to consult his safety by concealing himself in the sanctuary, a crypt which, from its sanctity, was strong and secure. But the noble-minded governor determined at all hazards to remain at his post, and not bring discredit on the cause of God and religion by his unworthy cowardice in leaving the temple and city unprotected. This plot, together with a secret collusion between the enemy and the nobles of Judah who were favorably disposed towards the bad Samaritan in consequence of his Jewish connections (Ne 6:18), the undaunted courage and vigilance of Nehemiah were enabled, with the blessing of God, to defeat, and the erection of the walls thus built in troublous times (Da 9:25) was happily completed (Ne 6:15) in the brief space of fifty-two days. So rapid execution, even supposing some parts of the old wall standing, cannot be sufficiently accounted for, except by the consideration that the builders labored with the ardor of religious zeal, as men employed in the work of God. In their own eyes, i.e. in their opinion, or themselves being judges; for though ordinarily men are very prone to judge partially, and still to flatter themselves with vain hopes and fancies, yet this case was so clear and remarkable, that they began to despair. Now they saw that all was lost, that their designs were broken, and that their mischief was now likely to fall upon their own heads. They perceived, by that admirable courage, and constancy, and quickness wherewith this work was managed, notwithstanding all their difficulties and discouragements.

That this work was wrought of our God; that it was the work of that mighty God of Israel, whom they had great reason to fear; and withal they took it for an ill omen to them, and a sure presage that God would still watch over that city and people, and crush those who should oppose or disturb them. Corresponding with him against Nehemiah, and against their own city and nation.

And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof,.... That the wall was finished:

and all the Heathen that were about us saw these things; the neighbouring nations, who not only heard with their ears, but saw with their eyes what was done:

they were much cast down in their own eyes; through shame and confusion, because of their own scoffs and jeers; through grief and vexation at the unexpected success of the Jews, and through the fear of them that was fallen upon them, as Jarchi notes:

for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God; his special providence and blessing attending it, as appeared by its being so soon effected.

And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. all our enemies] Cf. Nehemiah 4:1, Nehemiah 5:9, Nehemiah 6:1.

that when … and all the heathen … saw these things, they, &c.] R.V. when … that all the heathen … feared, and, &c. Marg. ‘According to another reading, saw’. There is little distinction to be drawn between ‘the enemies’ and ‘the heathen.’ The leaders of the hostile races heard, and then the races themselves feared. The reading ‘feared,’ which is also that of the LXX. ἐφοβήθησαν, and the Vulg. ‘timerent,’ gives a preferable sense to ‘saw.’ The distinction in the A.V. between the ‘seeing’ of ‘the heathen’ and the ‘hearing’ of ‘the enemies’ is quite meaningless, and tells against that reading. The rendering of the R.V. suggests that the news first reached Tobiah, Sanballat and Geshem, and then spread a panic among the Moabites, Samaritans, Arabians, &c.

they were much cast down in their own eyes] A peculiar expression which occurs only in this passage; literally, ‘they fell much in their own eyes.’ According to the present text, two explanations have been given: (a) = ‘they were much vexed and disconcerted.’ ‘To fall in one’s eyes’ is then to be compared with the ‘falling’ or ‘lowering’ of the countenance. Cf. Genesis 4:5-6; 1 Samuel 17:32. (b) = ‘they had fallen greatly in their own estimation,’ i.e. they despised themselves. In their own eyes, i.e. in their own opinion, their power had received a heavy blow; they had ‘fallen,’ as it were, and the Jews were exalted.

A different text is followed in the three renderings: (a) the LXX. ‘And fear fell upon their eyes exceedingly,’ καὶ ἐπέπεσεν φόβος σφόδρα ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς αὐτῶν. (b) the Vulgate ‘et conciderent inter semet ipsos’ (bayneyhem for b’ay-neyhem). (c) ‘And they caused their eyes to fall’, with the same meaning as that given in Jeremiah 3:12, ‘I will not look in anger upon you’ (marg. Heb. ‘cause my countenance to fall upon you’).

this work was wrought of our God] In the completion of the wall the special favour of the God of Israel must have been recognised. What else could explain the unexpected commission from Artaxerxes at the beginning, and the frustration of all the machinations of the enemy? Cf. Psalm 126:2, ‘Then said they among the nations, The Lord hath done great things for them.’ For the phrase, cf. Psalm 118:23.

Verse 16. - Our enemies. The Samaritans, the Ammonites, the Ashdodites, and the Arabians under Oeshem are the special "enemies" here spoken cf. The Phoenicians, Syrians, Moabites, etc. are the other "heathen round about" the Jews. Even these last were unfriendly, and disliked any increase of Jewish power and prosperity. They perceived that this work was wrought of our God. They could not but recognise a special Providence as befriending and protecting the Jews, who, after having been utterly crushed and rooted out by Nebuchadnezzar, were now re-established in a commanding position in Palestine, and allowed to make their city once more an almost impregnable fortress. Nehemiah 6:16The news that the wall was finished spread fear among the enemies, viz., among the nations in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem (comp. Nehemiah 4:1; Nehemiah 5:9); they were much cast down, and perceived "that this work was effected with the help of our God." The expression בעניהם יפּלוּ occurs only here, and must be explained according to פּניו יפּלוּ, his countenance fell (Genesis 4:5), and לב יפּל, the heart fails (i.e., the courage) (1 Samuel 17:32): they sank in their own eyes, i.e., they felt themselves cast down, discouraged.
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