Nehemiah 6:2
That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief.
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(2) Sanballat and Geshem.—In the original of Nehemiah 6:1, Tobiah is not distinguished from Sanballat by another preposition, as Geshem is; and here he is omitted, as not to appear in the conference otherwise than as Sanballat’s secretary.

In some one of the villages in the plain of Ono.—Probably, in Hahkiphirem, the name of a village in the plain of Ono, which was on the borders of Philistia, more than twenty miles from Jerusalem.

6:1-9 Let those who are tempted to idle merry meetings by vain companions, thus answer the temptation, We have work to do, and must not neglect it. We must never suffer ourselves to be overcome, by repeated urgency, to do anything sinful or imprudent; but when attacked with the same temptation, must resist it with the same reason and resolution. It is common for that which is desired only by the malicious, to be falsely represented by them as desired by the many. But Nehemiah knew at what they aimed, he not only denied that such things were true, but that they were reported; he was better known than to be thus suspected. We must never omit any known duty for fear it should be misconstrued; but, while we keep a good conscience, let us trust God with our good name. God's people, though loaded with reproach, are not really fallen so low in reputation as some would have them thought to be. Nehemiah lifted up his heart to Heaven in a short prayer. When, in our Christian work and warfare, we enter upon any service or conflict, this is a good prayer, I have such a duty to do, such a temptation to grapple with; now, therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. Every temptation to draw us from duty, should quicken us the more to duty.The choice made of Ono, on the skirts of Benjamin, 25 or 30 miles from Jerusalem, as the meeting-place, was, no doubt, in order to draw Nehemiah to a distance from his supporters, that so an attack might be made on him with a better chance of success. 2-4. Then Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me—The Samaritan leaders, convinced that they could not overcome Nehemiah by open arms, resolved to gain advantage over him by deceit and stratagem. With this in view, under pretext of terminating their differences in an amicable manner, they invited him to a conference. The place of rendezvous was fixed "in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono." "In the villages" is, Hebrew, "in Cephirim," or "Chephirah," the name of a town in the territory of Benjamin (Jos 9:17; 18:26). Nehemiah, however, apprehensive of some intended mischief, prudently declined the invitation. Though it was repeated four times, [Nehemiah's] uniform answer was that his presence could not be dispensed with from the important work in which he was engaged. This was one, though not the only, reason. The principal ground of his refusal was that his seizure or death at their hands would certainly put a stop to the further progress of the fortifications. Let us meet together; to consult about the common service of our master the king of Persia, or to make a friendly accommodation.

Ono; a city in the tribe of Benjamin; of which see Nehemiah 11:35 1 Chronicles 8:12.

Then Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me,.... Messengers:

saying, come, let us meet together in some one of the villages; in Cephirim, which Jarchi takes to be the name of a place, perhaps the same with Cephirah, a city in the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:26

in the plain of Ono; which was in the same tribe, see 1 Chronicles 8:12, they might pretend a friendly meeting, to accommodate differences between them, or to converse together about the general interest of the king of Persia in those parts:

but they thought to do me mischief; to kill him, or at least to confine him; this he either conjectured from their general character and behaviour, or he had intelligence of their design.

That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief.
2. Sanballat and Geshem] It is noticeable that Tobiah’s name is not also mentioned. Some commentators have held that this omission is to be accounted for by the fact of Tobiah being ‘the mere servant of Sanballat’ (see Nehemiah 2:10). But the explanation seems very improbable when we consider the prominence of Tobiah in Nehemiah 2:10; Nehemiah 2:19, Nehemiah 4:7, Nehemiah 6:17; Nehemiah 6:19, Nehemiah 13:7-8, and the way in which his name is mentioned in Nehemiah 6:12; Nehemiah 6:14. It is better to suppose that Nehemiah’s enemies deputed two of the most crafty of their number to make these overtures for an interview. An invitation to meet and discuss matters with only two of the leaders would wear a friendly and innocent appearance. Perhaps Tobiah and the other conspirators were intended to take advantage of Nehemiah’s absence and to make a surprise attack upon Jerusalem.

in some one of the villages] R.V. in one of the villages. According to this translation the invitation leaves it open to Nehemiah to select the place of meeting. But literally the Hebrew gives ‘in the villages (Chephirim)’. It is very possible that this word gives the name of a place (cf. Chephirah, Ezra 2:25), as Rashi long ago suggested. It is certainly natural to expect that Sanballat and Geshem would name a place for the proposed interview; and the form of the Hebrew word favours this explanation. The proposed meeting-place then would be ‘Hacchephirim.’

in the plain of Ono] On Ono, see Ezra 2:33 (Nehemiah 7:37; Nehemiah 11:35; 1 Chronicles 8:12). An interview in the plain of Ono would have necessitated Nehemiah’s absence from Jerusalem during three or four days. The object of his enemies was doubtless to seize or assassinate him at a distance from Jerusalem.

thought to do me mischief] ‘thought’ i.e. ‘considered how.’ Cf. Nehemiah 6:6, ‘think to rebel.’ Genesis 50:20, ‘ye thought (R.V. meant) evil against me.’ ‘Mischief,’ lit. ‘evil,’ by which expression Nehemiah hints that his foes plotted to assassinate him. Cf. 1 Samuel 23:9, ‘Saul devised mischief.’ Esther 8:3, ‘the mischief of Haman the Agagite.’

Verse 2. - In some one of the villages. The Hebrew has "in the villages," which seems too vague. Bertheau therefore suggests, "in Hakkiphirim," taking the word as the name of a particular village, which is probably right. Ono was near Lydda, in the plain country bordering on Philistia. They thought to do me mischief. A euphemism for "they thought to murder me." Nehemiah 6:2The attempts of Sanballat and his associates to ruin Nehemiah. - Nehemiah 6:1, Nehemiah 6:2. When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of the enemies, heard that the wall was built, and that no breaches were left therein, though the doors were then not yet set up in the gates, he sent, etc. לו נשׁמע, it was heard by him, in the indefinite sense of: it came to his ears. The use of the passive is more frequent in later Hebrew; comp. Nehemiah 6:6, Nehemiah 6:7, Nehemiah 13:27; Esther 1:20, and elsewhere. On Sanballat and his allies, see remarks on Nehemiah 2:19. The "rest of our enemies" were, according to Nehemiah 4:1 (Nehemiah 4:7, A.V.), Ashdodites, and also other hostile individuals. וגו העת עד גּם introduces a parenthetical sentence limiting the statement already made: Nevertheless, down to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates. The wall-building was quite finished, but doors to the gates were as yet wanting to the complete fortification of the city. The enemies sent to him, saying, Come, let us meet together (for a discussion) in the villages in the valley of Ono. - In Nehemiah 6:7, נוּערה of the present verse. The form כּפרים, elsewhere only כּפר, 1 Chronicles 27:25, or כּפר, village, 1 Samuel 6:18, occurs only here. כּפירה, however, being found Ezra 2:25 and elsewhere as a proper name, the form כּפיר seems to have been in use as well as כּפר. There is no valid ground for regarding כּפרים as the proper name of a special locality. To make their proposal appear impartial, they leave the appointment of the place in the valley of Ono to Nehemiah. Ono seems, according to 1 Chronicles 8:12, to have been situate in the neighbourhood of Lod (Lydda), and is therefore identified by Van de Velde (Mem. p. 337) and Bertheau with Kefr Ana (Arab. kfr ‛ânâ) or Kefr Anna, one and three-quarter leagues north of Ludd. But no certain information concerning the position of the place can be obtained from 1 Chronicles 8:12; and Roediger (in the Hallische Lit. Zeitung, 1842, No. 71, p. 665) is more correct, in accordance both with the orthography and the sense, in comparing it with Beit Unia (Arab. byt ûniya), north-west of Jerusalem, not far from Beitin (Bethel); comp. Rob. Pal. ii. p. 351. The circumstance that the plain of Ono was, according to the present verse, somewhere between Jerusalem and Samaria, which suits Beit Unia, but not Kefr Ana (comp. Arnold in Herzog's Realenc. xii. p. 759), is also in favour of the latter view. "But they thought to do me harm." Probably they wanted to make him a prisoner, perhaps even to assassinate him.
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