Nehemiah 6:2
That Sanballat and Geshem sent to 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." The former governors who had been before me in Jerusalem - Zerubbabel and his successors-had received allowances, העם על הכבּידוּ, had burdened the people, and had taken of them (their fellow-countrymen) for bread and wine (i.e., for the requirements of their table), "afterwards in money forty shekels." Some difficulty is presented by the word אחר, which the lxx render by ἔσχατον, the Vulgate quotidie. The meaning ultra, praeter, besides (EW. 217, 1), can no more be shown to be that of אחר, than over can, which Bertheau attempts to justify by saying that after forty shekels follow forty-one, forty-two, etc. The interpretation, too: reckoned after money (Bttcher, de Inferis, 409, b, and N. krit. Aehrenl. iii. p. 219), cannot be supported by the passages quoted in its behalf, since in none of them is אחר used de illo quod normae est, but has everywhere fundamentally the local signification after. Why, then, should not אחר be here used adverbially, afterwards, and express the thought that this money was afterwards demanded from the community for the expenses of the governor's table? "Even their servants bare rule over the people." שׁלט denotes arbitrary, oppressive rule, abuse of power for extortions, etc. Nehemiah, on the contrary, had not thus acted because of the fear of God.
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