Nehemiah 7:3
And I said to them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar them: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one to be over against his house.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Nehemiah 7:3. Let not the gates be opened until the sun be hot — Till it be clear and broad day; when the people will be ready in case of an assault. While they stand by — The watches appointed to that end. Nehemiah was now about to return to the court, and left the charge of the city to these in his absence. Every one to be over against his house — That is, every one in his turn keeping watch with others, in that watching-place which is next to his house. 7:1-4 Nehemiah, having finished the wall, returned to the Persian court, and came to Jerusalem again with a new commission. The public safety depends on every one's care to guard himself and his family against sin.Until the sun be hot - An unusual precaution. The ordinary practice in the East is to open town gates at sunrise. 3. Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot, &c.—In the East it is customary to open the gates of a city at sunrise, and to bar them at sunset—a rule which is very rarely, and not except to persons of authority, infringed upon. Nehemiah recommended that the gates of Jerusalem should not be opened so early; a precaution necessary at a time when the enemy was practising all sorts of dangerous stratagems, to ensure that the inhabitants were all astir and enjoyed the benefit of clear broad daylight for observing the suspicious movements of any enemy. The propriety of regularly barring the gates at sunset was, in this instance, accompanied with the appointment of a number of the people to act as sentinels, each mounting guard in front of his own house. Until the sun be hot, i.e. till it be clear and broad day; when enemies approaching may be discovered, and the people of the city will be ready for the defence in case of an assault.

While they stand by, i.e. the watches appointed to that end, as is manifest from the following words.

Every one to be over against his house, i.e. every one in his turn keeping watch with others in that watching-place which is next to his house. And I said unto them, let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot,.... Or until the heat of the day, or near noon; at least not till the sun had been up some time, and shone out clearly, and caused much heat; that if any enemies were near, or lying in wait, they might be discovered, and the inhabitants also up and ready to defend themselves:

and while they stand by; according to Aben Ezra, Hanani and Hananiah were to be present at the opening and shutting of the gates, and so Grotius; but these being the chief rulers, it is not likely; but rather those whom they appointed to look after them, these were to stand by while their servants did it; they were not to leave it wholly to them, but to see it done themselves:

let them shut the doors, and bar them; or "lay hold" (a) on them, handle them to see whether they are shut fast or not:

and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, everyone in his watch, and everyone to be over against his house; no foreigners were to be of the watch, only inhabitants, and those everyone in their turn, and to be placed over against where they dwelt; and so it might be thought would be the more careful and diligent in their watch.

(a) "et tractate", Junius & Tremellius; "contrectate eas", Piscator.

And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while {a} they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar them: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one to be over against his house.

(a) That is, they who are mentioned, Ne 7:2.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. I said unto them] The reading of the C’thib, ‘He said,’ is clearly wrong. The K’ri is supported by the LXX. and Vulg. ‘Them,’ Hanani and Hananiah.

until the sun be hot] Vulg. ‘Usque ad calorem solis,’ i.e. until the sun was high in the heavens; cf. 1 Samuel 11:9, ‘By the time the sun is hot.’ The customary practice was to open the gates at sunrise. By this regulation the enemy would be effectually prevented from obtaining any advantage by an entry into the city before the inhabitants were stirring. The LXX. (ἔως ἄμα τῷ ἡλίῳ) did not understand the sentence. Rashi also explains ‘until mid-day,’ erroneously. The shutting of the gates was a sign of suspicion: cf. the opposite description of security in Isaiah 60:11.

stand by] R.V. stand on guard. The meaning apparently is that the gates were to be shut while the regular watch was still on guard. The A.V. ‘stand by’ refers to Hanani and Hananiah, as if the gates were always to be shut in the presence of the governors. But it would have been an impossibility for the two officers to have been present at the fastening of each gate. The emphasis rests on the word ‘while.’ The guard of Levites are to be at their post, while the doors were being secured.

shut … bar] LXX. κλείσθωσανσφηνούσθωσαν, Vulg. ‘clausæ … oppilatæ.’ The versions give the general sense. The word rendered ‘shut’ occurs only here in the O.T. in the mood employed in this verse. The word rendered ‘bar’ means literally ‘to seize.’ Hence Rashi explains, ‘let them take hold of the doors in order to shut them;’ and other interpretations have been ‘take hold in order to see whether they were fastened,’ and ‘take hold of the keys.’ But the marginal rendering of the R.V. 1 Kings 6:10, ‘he fastened the house,’ will illustrate its usage in the present verse.

appoint watches &c.] It does not appear whether Hanani and Hananiah are the subject or the Levite guards. The verb in the original is in the Infin. Abs. (cf. Nehemiah 6:9) and expresses the command in general terms (LXX. στῆσον, Vulg. ‘posui’). The citizens themselves were to be organised for the defence of the place. Every man was to belong to a particular guardhouse, and take his turn in sentinel duty; and every man also was to be responsible for the protection of his own dwelling.Verse 3. - Let not the gates be opened until the sun be hot. The gates of towns in the East are usually opened at sunrise; but this cannot be the intention here. Some extra precaution is signified - not, however, so much as Dathe supposes, who renders ante tempus meridianum, "before noon;" but rather something intermediate between this and the ordinary practice. The 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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