King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Nehemiah 6

Sanballat’s plot to hinder Nehemiah. (1-9) False prophets try to frighten Nehemiah. (10-14) The wall finished, Treachery of some among the Jews. (15-19)

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Sanballat’s plot to hinder Nehemiah

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;)

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.

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?

4 Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner.

5 Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand;

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.

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.

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.

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.

False prophets try to frighten Nehemiah

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The wall finished, Treachery of some among the Jews

15 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.

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.

17 Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters unto Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them.

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.

19 Also they reported his good deeds before me, and uttered my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. Make. Prot. “meet together.” H. — When the adversaries of faith find themselves unable to suppress it, they offer peace: so when Protestants began, and where they are still weak, they would have none persecuted for any opinions in religious matters; “but where they are strong they hardly grant toleration to Catholics.” W. — This has been no where more observable than in these islands, where the spirit of persecution has not yet subsided, though banished from most other countries. See Dr. Milner’s 4th let. to a Preb. Debates in Parl. 1810, &c. H. — Villages. Most of the Lat. editions, before Sixtus V. read, in vitulis in campo uno, (C.) “with sacrifices of calves in some one field.” H. — Perhaps Cephirim, (T.) or copirim, “villages,” (H.) may be the name of a place in the plain of Ono, (T.) which is styled the valley of craftsmen, (C. xi. 35. C.) in the tribe of Benjamin, near the Jordan. Adrichomius. — Mischief, by taking or killing. M.

Ver. 3. You. This was one, (H.) though not the principal reason which hindered him. It is often adviseable not to seem to suspect any evil.

Ver. 5-6. Letter. Heb. Sept. and Arab. add, “open:” but this word is not in Syriac. The letter might be an order to appear, or might be left open to signify that the bearer was a man of confidence, from whom Nehemias might receive any farther information; unless it was sent in this manner out of contempt. — Gossem, the Arabian governor. C. ii. 19. C.

Ver. 7. Prophets. This was false; though, no doubt, the true prophets who lived at that time, would promote the laudable undertakings of Nehemias. H. — To counteract their influence, the enemies hired Semaia and Noadias, v. 10 and 14. — Together, that thou mayst clear thyself; (Vatab.) or that we may repress these rumors, lest the king should suspect us of any connivance. The first sense appears to be preferable. Nehemias did not take the information as a piece of civility. C. — The enemies left it ambiguous, whether they would not join their forces with his, in case he meant to revolt. M.

Ver. 9. I. Heb. “Now, O Lord, strengthen my hands; (Jun. &c.) or, “now strengthening my hands, (C.) I went,” &c. Sept. &c. agree with the Vulg. H.

Ver. 10. Went, being invited. T. — Semaia, of the twenty-third course of priests. 1 Par. xxiv. 18. M. — Privately. Heb. “who was shut up,” like a recluse, (H.) to deceive the people, by the appearance of superior sanctity, and by an imitation of the true prophets. C. — Some translate hatsur, “bound by vow,” (1 K. xxi. 7.) to protect the governor; (Malvenda) but this seems too far-fetched. C.

Ver. 11. Should. Lit. “Does one like me retire from his post? And who like me shall enter the temple and live?” H. — It is unlawful for a layman to flee into the part of the temple assigned to the priests. Yet into this he had been invited, as the court of Israel was not perhaps yet secured. Those who suppose that Nehemias was a priest, say (C.) that he refused to flee, lest he should intimidate the people by his cowardly departure. T. M. — Semaia might also have a design upon his life, when they should be alone.

Ver. 12. Understood, by the nature of the suggestion, and the manner in which he heard the refusal. Aggeus, or some of the true prophets, might also inform him, (C.) or a supernatural light irradiated his mind, unless human sagacity sufficed. T. M.

Ver. 13. Sin, by taking any false step, so as to offend the people.

Ver. 14. Prophet. Heb. “the prophetess.” C. — Prot. “My God, think thou upon Tobiah,…and on the prophetess Noadiah.”

Ver. 15. Elul, the last of the civil year, corresponding with our August and September, when the walls were dedicated. C. xii. 27. — Days. Josephus (xi. 5.) says, “two years and three (Greek four) months” (H.) had been spent in perfecting the work. Cajet. — Others date from the reception of the letter, v. 5. Vatab. — But the work only lasted the time here specified, as the materials were at hand, and some of the walls were standing, while the rocks defended other parts; and the city was not then so large as it was afterwards. C. — The whole people wrought almost day and night, and Nehemias encouraged them with all his power. T. — Thus Alexander the Great built the walls of New Alexandria, on the Tanais, 60 stadia, or near 6000 paces (C.) long, in less than twenty days; (T.) and C├Žsar perfected other works, before Alise, &c. with equal expedition. Bel. Gal. i. and vii. — The Romans, at the last siege of Jerusalem, surrounded the city with a wall 5000 paces long, and with thirteen towers, in three days. Jos. Bel. vi. 13. C.

Ver. 18. Mosollam, one of the builders. C. iii. 4. M. — These two powerful men had consequently acted contrary to the laws of God, and the covenant of Esdras, with respect to marriages. They might fear the resentment of the zealous governor. Dangers from false brethren, (2 Cor. xi. 26.) wars without, and fears within, generally assail the servants of God. H.