Friday, April 26, 2013

Nehemiah 6


[1] Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;)
·         Having navigated an attack and the predatory lending practices causing the work to stop from the nobles, Nehemiah sails on through and finishes the wall.
·         The doors had not yet been hung because they were heavy, and that was dedicated and skilled work. This meant that the effort was nearly over, and reading between the lines it didn’t take the wall to be finished after Nehemiah

[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.
·         This is a desperate maneuver as time is running out. If they can kill Nehemiah by walking him into a trap then they will have won.
·         This likely came by a courier who had memorized the message. It’s very obvious that this was a trap, they don’t specify what the meeting is to be about and they have already marched an army against Nehemiah. They really should have tried harder.
·         Plain of Ono (see 1 Chron 8:12) was down toward the sea coast near Gaza, somewhere between the two groups. It’s possible they were encouraging him to meet with them and take a governors vacation.

[3] And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?
·         A polite rejoinder is given: no thank you. Notice that this is precisely the question that they should have led with: a matter so pressing that he had to leave the work behind and come personally.
·         In the modern church looking with discernment upon the motives of people is frowned upon.

[4] Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner.
·         Obviously the four messengers he sent were not harmed.

[5] Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand;
·         The open letter was very disrespectful, it was allowing everyone to read your personal mail, which meant the matter was a public knowledge

[6] Wherein was written, It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words.
·         On the face of it this is completely ridiculous, Nehemiah would never have rebelled because he was not doing this for his own gain. The passage about how this is costing him a fortune to feed everyone is proof enough that he’s not in this for the money.
·         This is the same one accusation they have been continually making all along.

[7] And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together.
·         I’m perfectly willing to help you clear these charges Nehemiah, but we need to meet together first and discuss it. If you don’t come then I will have to let this letter get back to the King.
·         The idea of having a King in Jerusalem who could stand against the proper throne in Persia was laughable.

[8] Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart.
·         You made all this up and you are doing it to intimidate me into stopping. Your slander will get you nowhere.

[9] For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.
·         There was nothing Nehemiah could do about this but pray to God that He would keep them safe, and that He would keep them building.

[10] Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee.
·         Now a new plot takes shape: there is an imminent murder plot against Nehemiah and some of the leading people in the city. To go along with this they hired Shemaiah a lying prophet.
·         It’s possible that this is the son of Shechaniah (Neh 3:29) who is a priest, and a levite (Neh 12:3) son of Arah who was part of the original exodus from Babylon (Ezra 2:5). If so that would mean he’s the keeper of the east gate, in addition to being a priest and levite himself. If so, that would explain how he came to be involved in this plot, for Tobiah would be his brother in law.
·         It’s also a common name, and it’s possible that this man is never before mentioned, and only appears here.
·         Shemaiah had somehow convinced Nehemiah to come to him, and when Nehemiah arrives he finds him shut in his house, boarded it up and pretended to be in jeopardy. Because he’s in danger too he offers this plan for them to escape together.
·         He has a time and a day known that this will happen, making it seem like God was instructing him to carry out this command.

[11] And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.
·         It’s not clear how Nehemiah this, it’s possible that Shemaiah was known to not be very faithful to the rebuilding effort and Nehemiah saw through this immediately.
·         It’s also possible that Nehemiah is a very principled man and would rather die than violate the status of the Lord regarding the temple and His worship. Numbers 18:7
·         No concern at all comes over him for being tempted by this.

[12] And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
·         After denouncing him and his plan Nehemiah sees that this was a fraud. It’s a monstrous idea to Nehemiah, but after some consideration he realizes that the plot is against him.
·         God never calls us to sin. It would not make any sense that God would call us to do something he has previously forbidden.

[13] Therefore was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me.
·         Nehemiah was leading with integrity, and claiming that God wanted him to build the walls of Jerusalem. If they can show that he’s doing this from his own idea, and his own sake, then they can get the idea of wall building to bet set aside as well.
·         They as hypocrites are trying to claim the moral high ground

[14] My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.
·         Apparently they did not just hire one person against him, they hired more, including the prophetess Noadiah.
·         This is perhaps the best one case of their machinations against him, but it is by no means the only one.
·         False prophets were in and among them doing wicked works again. Their community was not cleaned out and nobody stopped them. This is decidedly different in Acts 4 when the church is infiltrated with non-believers.

[15] So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.
·         And that was the last plot they could muscle up against him. The wall was finished in 52 days from start to finish.
·         Josephus has the work taking two years, and that’s why we don’t trust Josephus like we do the Bible. The amount of work and the effort they put into it could not be run for over two years continually. It also makes no sense considering the breaches in the wall were fixed, not that a whole new wall was constructed.

[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.
·         They realized that the project came from God, as well as the ability to do the work. The task was big, and now they were done. It didn’t make them happy.
·         They were cast down and discouraged

[17] Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters unto Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them.
·         This follows as an explanation of what was happening during this time. Hiring the prophets took a lot of planning, so they sent many letters.
·         This likely took place during most of the wall building, but was particularly applicable to the current plotting and scheming.

[18] 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.
·         Its likely they took oaths and bonded themselves together, a marriage was much more like a partnership than it is today. It was deliberate and focused.

[19] Also they reported his good deeds before me, and uttered my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.
·         Tobiah sent letters to Nehemiah to threaten and scare him.
·         The people sent letters praising the men who hate God.
·         They were likely trying to close the breach of a disagreement. Disagreements are in fact disagreeable, but they may be necessary.

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