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Nehemiah Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Nehemiah 4:1 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.

mocked the Jews. The pagan enemies that surrounded the Jews tried various means to keep them from building the temple. They had failed politically and sociologically (Ezra 5:6, 17; 6:6-7; 9:1; 10:11-12). Then, when Nehemiah began work on the wall, they tried discouragement by ridicule (Nehemiah 2:19; 4:1-3), by threat of violence (Nehemiah 4:7-8), and finally by attempted treachery (Nehemiah 6:2). Likewise, the enemies of God's Word and God's plan today use political means, compromising infiltration, ridicule, treachery, and finally violent persecution to defeat God's people. But God still gives victory to those who are faithful to His Word, consistent in His work, and persistent in prayer.

Nehemiah 4:2 And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?

Nehemiah 4:3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.

Nehemiah 4:4 Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity:

Nehemiah 4:5 And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.

Nehemiah 4:6 So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.

Nehemiah 4:7 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth,

Ashdodites. The Ashdodites (or Philistines) were west of Jerusalem, the Arabians were on the south, the Ammonites were on the east, with Governor Sanballat and the Samaritans on the north. Thus Jerusalem was surrounded by enemies, but God Himself was in their midst, and that was enough.

Nehemiah 4:8 And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.

Nehemiah 4:9 Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

made our prayer. “Watch and pray,” the Lord told His disciples (Matthew 26:41). Thus, Nehemiah's workmen both “made our prayer” and “set a watch.”

Nehemiah 4:10 And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.

Nehemiah 4:11 And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease.

Nehemiah 4:12 And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you.

Nehemiah 4:13 Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows.

Nehemiah 4:14 And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.

fight for your brethren. The Jews at this time had no standing army, nor could they hire mercenaries. Thus they all must be ready to fight for their own families and for their Jewish brethren. With each taking turn, half the men would stand guard while the other half repaired the wall (Nehemiah 4:16). Even those who worked had ready weapons (Nehemiah 4:17-18). Above all, they had faith that their “great and terrible” Lord whom they served, would help them (Nehemiah 4:14). And He did!

Nehemiah 4:15 And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.

Nehemiah 4:16 And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah.

Nehemiah 4:17 They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.

Nehemiah 4:18 For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.

Nehemiah 4:19 And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another.

Nehemiah 4:20 In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.

Nehemiah 4:21 So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared.

Nehemiah 4:22 Likewise at the same time said I unto the people, Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labour on the day.

Nehemiah 4:23 So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that every one put them off for washing.