Nehemiah 6:18
For there were many in Judah sworn to him, because he was the son in law of Shechaniah the son of Arah; and his son Johanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.
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(18) Sworn unto him.—Shechaniah was of the family of Arah, which had come over with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:5). Tobiah had married his daughter, and Tobiah’s son had married a daughter of Meshullam, one of the builders of the wall (Nehemiah 3:4; Nehemiah 3:30). This family connection led to a conspiracy by oath to thwart the governor. The names of Tobiah and his son are Hebrew; and it is probable that, though naturalised Ammonites, they were of Hebrew extraction. This renders it easier to understand the facility with which the affinity was contracted.

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.Though Tobiah is called "the servant" or "slave" Nehemiah 2:10, Nehemiah 2:19, and was perhaps a bought slave of Sanballat's, yet he was in such a position that Jewish nobles readily contracted affinity with him. This is quite in harmony with the practice of the East, where slaves often fill high positions and make great marriages. 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. Sworn unto him, to be true to him in the prosecution of his wicked designs.

His son had taken the daughter of Meshullam: this is noted to show the mischief of such unequal and forbidden marriages, and how reasonable and necessary Ezra’s action was in the dissolution of them. For there were many in Judah sworn unto him,.... To Tobiah, who not only in a private manner corresponded with him by letters, but bound themselves by an oath to him to be true to his interest, and do as he should advise them:

because he was the son in law of Shechaniah, the son of Arah; of a family that came up with Zerubbabel from the captivity, Ezra 2:5 and very probably of considerable note:

and his son Johanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah; a very eminent person, concerned in building the wall, Nehemiah 3:4.

For there were many in Judah sworn unto him, because he was the son in law of Shechaniah the son of Arah; and his son Johanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.
18. sworn unto him, because he was the son in law of, &c.] ‘Sworn unto him.’ LXX. ἔνορκοιαὐτῷ. It is implied that Tobiah’s connexion by marriage ensured him the support of many leading Jews; the conjunction ‘because’ suggests that the members of a family on welcoming a stranger within their circle, pledged themselves to him by an oath.

It is possible however to give a more general interpretation: many of the nobles conspired with Tobiah, and they had opportunities to meet him on account of his connexion by marriage. In Nehemiah 13:4 we find Eliashib the High-priest described as ‘allied unto Tobiah.’ ‘Son-in-law,’ or at any rate a relation by marriage.

Shechaniah the son of Arah] R.V. Shecaniah, &c. The house of Arah is mentioned in Ezra 2:5. Shecaniah was clearly a man of eminence.

Johanan] R.V. Jehohanan. The name of Tobiah’s son is a compound of which the first two syllables are derived from the sacred Hebrew Name for God. Cf. note on Nehemiah 2:10.

had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah] R.V. had taken … to wife. This Meshullam is mentioned in Nehemiah 3:4; Nehemiah 3:30, from which passages we conclude that he was of priestly descent.Verse 18. - He was the son-in-law of Shechaniah. Rather, "related by marriage to Shechaniah"- perhaps, but not certainly, by having married his daughter. Son of Arah. Member, i.e., of the family, called the Beni-Arah, which had returned with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:5; Nehemiah 7:10). Meshullam the son of Berechiah is mentioned in ch. 3. as repairing two portions of the wall (vers. 4, 30). And I perceived, - viz. from the conduct of Shemaiah on my refusal to follow his advice, - and, lo, not God had sent him (i.e., had not commissioned or inspired him to speak these words; לא emphatically precedes אלהים: not God, but himself), but that he pronounced this prophecy against me, because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. The verb שׂכרו (sing.) agrees only with the latter word, although in fact it refers to both these individuals.
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