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Nehemiah 2:1--6:19

Context
Nehemiah Is Permitted to Go to Jerusalem

2:1 Then in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought to me, 1  I took the wine and gave it to the king. Previously 2  I had not been depressed 3  in the king’s presence. 4  2:2 So the king said to me, “Why do you appear to be depressed when you aren’t sick? What can this be other than sadness of heart?” This made me very fearful.

2:3 I replied to the king, “O king, live forever! Why would I not appear dejected when the city with the graves of my ancestors 5  lies desolate and its gates destroyed 6  by fire?” 2:4 The king responded, 7  “What is it you are seeking?” Then I quickly prayed to the God of heaven 2:5 and said to the king, “If the king is so inclined 8  and if your servant has found favor in your sight, dispatch me to Judah, to the city with the graves of my ancestors, so that I can rebuild it.” 2:6 Then the king, with his consort 9  sitting beside him, replied, “How long would your trip take, and when would you return?” Since the king was amenable to dispatching me, 10  I gave him a time. 2:7 I said to the king, “If the king is so inclined, let him give me letters for the governors of Trans-Euphrates 11  that will enable me to travel safely until I reach Judah, 2:8 and a letter for Asaph the keeper of the king’s nature preserve, 12  so that he will give me timber for beams for the gates of the fortress adjacent to the temple and for the city wall 13  and for the house to which I go.” So the king granted me these requests, 14  for the good hand of my God was on me. 2:9 Then I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, and I presented to them the letters from the king. The king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 2:10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official 15  heard all this, they were very displeased that someone had come to seek benefit for the Israelites.

Nehemiah Arrives in Jerusalem

2:11 So I came to Jerusalem. 16  When I had been there for three days, 2:12 I got up during the night, along with a few men who were with me. But I did not tell anyone what my God was putting on my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no animals with me, except for the one 17  I was riding. 2:13 I proceeded through the Valley Gate by night, in the direction of the Well of the Dragons 18  and the Dung Gate, 19  inspecting 20  the walls of Jerusalem that had been breached and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 2:14 I passed on to the Gate of the Well and the King’s Pool, where there was not enough room for my animal to pass with me. 2:15 I continued up the valley during the night, inspecting the wall. Then I turned back and came to the Valley Gate, and so returned. 2:16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I had been doing, for up to this point I had not told any of the Jews or the priests or the nobles or the officials or the rest of the workers. 2:17 Then I said to them, “You see the problem that we have: Jerusalem is desolate and its gates are burned. Come on! Let’s rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that this reproach will not continue.” 2:18 Then I related to them how the good hand of my God was on me and what 21  the king had said to me. Then they replied, “Let’s begin rebuilding right away!” 22  So they readied themselves 23  for this good project. 2:19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard all this, 24  they derided us and expressed contempt toward us. They said, “What is this you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 2:20 I responded to them by saying, “The God of heaven will prosper us. We his servants will start the rebuilding. 25  But you have no just or ancient right in Jerusalem.” 26 

The Names of the Builders

3:1 Then Eliashib the high priest and his priestly colleagues 27  arose and built the Sheep Gate. They dedicated 28  it and erected its doors, working as far as the Tower of the Hundred 29  and 30  the Tower of Hananel. 3:2 The men of Jericho 31  built adjacent to it, and Zaccur son of Imri built adjacent to them. 32 

3:3 The sons of Hassenaah rebuilt the Fish Gate. They laid its beams and positioned its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 3:4 Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakoz, worked on the section adjacent to them. Meshullam son of Berechiah the son of Meshezabel worked on the section next to them. And Zadok son of Baana worked on the section adjacent to them. 3:5 The men of Tekoa worked on the section adjacent to them, but their town leaders 33  would not assist 34  with the work of their master. 35 

3:6 Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah worked on the Jeshanah Gate. 36  They laid its beams and positioned its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 3:7 Adjacent to them worked Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, who were men of Gibeon and Mizpah. These towns were under the jurisdiction 37  of the governor of Trans-Euphrates. 3:8 Uzziel son of Harhaiah, a member of the goldsmiths’ guild, worked on the section adjacent to him. Hananiah, a member of the perfumers’ guild, worked on the section adjacent to him. They plastered 38  the city wall of Jerusalem 39  as far as the Broad Wall. 3:9 Rephaiah son of Hur, head of a half-district of Jerusalem, worked on the section adjacent to them. 3:10 Jedaiah son of Harumaph worked on the section adjacent to them opposite 40  his house, and Hattush son of Hashabneiah worked on the section adjacent to him. 3:11 Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-Moab worked on another section and the Tower of the Fire Pots. 3:12 Shallum son of Hallohesh, head of a half-district of Jerusalem, worked on the section adjacent to him, assisted by his daughters. 41 

3:13 Hanun and the residents of Zanoah worked on the Valley Gate. They rebuilt it and positioned its doors, its bolts, and its bars, in addition to working on fifteen hundred feet 42  of the wall as far as the Dung Gate.

3:14 Malkijah son of Recab, head of the district of Beth Hakkerem, worked on the Dung Gate. He rebuilt it and positioned its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

3:15 Shallun son of Col-Hozeh, head of the district of Mizpah, worked on the Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it, put on its roof, and positioned its doors, its bolts, and its bars. In addition, he rebuilt the wall of the Pool of Siloam, 43  by the royal garden, as far as the steps that go down from the City of David. 3:16 Nehemiah son of Azbuk, head of a half-district of Beth Zur, worked after him as far as the tombs of David and the artificial pool and the House of the Warriors.

3:17 After him the Levites worked – Rehum son of Bani and 44  after him Hashabiah, head of half the district of Keilah, for his district. 3:18 After him their relatives 45  worked – Binnui 46  son of Henadad, head of a half-district of Keilah. 3:19 Adjacent to him Ezer son of Jeshua, head of Mizpah, worked on another section, opposite the ascent to the armory at the buttress. 3:20 After him Baruch son of Zabbai worked on another section, from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 3:21 After him Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, worked on another section from the door of Eliashib’s house to the end of it. 47 

3:22 After him the priests worked, men of the nearby district. 3:23 After them Benjamin and Hasshub worked opposite their house. After them Azariah son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, worked near his house. 3:24 After him Binnui son of Henadad worked on another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress and the corner. 3:25 After him Palal son of Uzai worked 48  opposite the buttress and the tower that protrudes from the upper palace 49  of the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah son of Parosh 3:26 and the temple servants who were living on Ophel worked 50  up to the area opposite the Water Gate toward the east and the protruding tower. 3:27 After them the men of Tekoa worked on another section, from opposite the great protruding tower to the wall of Ophel.

3:28 Above the Horse Gate the priests worked, each in front of his house. 3:29 After them Zadok son of Immer worked opposite his house, and after him Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, guard at the East Gate, worked. 3:30 After him 51  Hananiah son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, worked on another section. After them Meshullam son of Berechiah worked opposite his quarters. 3:31 After him Malkijah, one of the goldsmiths, worked as far as the house of the temple servants and the traders, opposite the Inspection Gate, 52  and up to the room above the corner. 3:32 And between the room above the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and traders worked.

Opposition to the Work Continues

4:1 (3:33) 53  Now when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall he became angry and was quite upset. He derided the Jews, 4:2 and in the presence of his colleagues 54  and the army of Samaria 55  he said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they be left to themselves? 56  Will they again offer sacrifice? Will they finish this in a day? Can they bring these burnt stones to life again from piles of dust?”

4:3 Then Tobiah the Ammonite, who was close by, said, “If even a fox were to climb up on what they are building, it would break down their wall of stones!”

4:4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised! Return their reproach on their own head! Reduce them to plunder in a land of exile! 4:5 Do not cover their iniquity, and do not wipe out their sin from before them. For they have bitterly offended 57  the builders! 58 

4:6 So we rebuilt the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height. 59  The people were enthusiastic in their work. 60 

4:7 (4:1) 61  When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the people of Ashdod heard that the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem 62  had moved ahead and that the breaches had begun to be closed, they were very angry. 4:8 All of them conspired together to move with armed forces 63  against Jerusalem and to create a disturbance in it. 4:9 So we prayed to our God and stationed a guard to protect against them 64  both day and night. 4:10 Then those in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers 65  has failed! The debris is so great that we are unable to rebuild the wall.”

4:11 Our adversaries also boasted, 66  “Before they are aware or anticipate 67  anything, we will come in among them and kill them, and we will bring this work to a halt!”

4:12 So it happened that the Jews who were living near them came and warned us repeatedly 68  about all the schemes 69  they were plotting 70  against us.

4:13 So I stationed people at the lower places behind the wall in the exposed places. 71  I stationed the people by families, with their swords, spears, and bows. 4:14 When I had made an inspection, 72  I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the great and awesome Lord, 73  and fight on behalf of your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your families!” 74 

4:15 It so happened that when our adversaries heard that we were aware of these matters, 75  God frustrated their intentions. Then all of us returned to the wall, each to his own work. 4:16 From that day forward, half of my men were doing the work and half of them were taking up spears, 76  shields, bows, and body armor. Now the officers were behind all the people 77  of Judah 4:17 who were rebuilding the wall. 78  Those who were carrying loads did so 79  by keeping one hand on the work and the other on their weapon. 4:18 The builders to a man had their swords strapped to their sides while they were building. But the trumpeter 80  remained with me.

4:19 I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “The work is demanding 81  and extensive, and we are spread out on the wall, far removed from one another. 4:20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, gather there with us. Our God will fight for us!”

4:21 So we worked on, 82  with half 83  holding spears, from dawn till dusk. 84  4:22 At that time I instructed 85  the people, “Let every man and his coworker spend the night in Jerusalem and let them be guards for us by night and workers by day. 4:23 We did not change clothes 86  – not I, nor my relatives, nor my workers, nor the watchmen who were with me. Each had his weapon, even when getting a drink of water. 87 

Nehemiah Intervenes on behalf of the Oppressed

5:1 Then there was a great outcry from the people and their wives against their fellow Jews. 88  5:2 There were those who said, “With our sons and daughters, we are many. We must obtain 89  grain in order to eat and stay alive.” 5:3 There were others who said, “We are putting up our fields, our vineyards, and our houses as collateral in order to obtain grain during the famine.” 5:4 Then there were those who said, “We have borrowed money to pay our taxes to the king 90  on our fields and our vineyards. 5:5 And now, though we share the same flesh and blood as our fellow countrymen, 91  and our children are just like their children, 92  still we have found it necessary to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. 93  Some of our daughters have been subjected to slavery, while we are powerless to help, 94  since our fields and vineyards now belong to other people.” 95 

5:6 I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints. 96  5:7 I considered these things carefully 97  and then registered a complaint with the wealthy 98  and the officials. I said to them, “Each one of you is seizing the collateral 99  from your own countrymen!” 100  Because of them I called for 101  a great public assembly. 5:8 I said to them, “To the extent possible we have bought back our fellow Jews 102  who had been sold to the Gentiles. But now you yourselves want to sell your own countrymen, 103  so that we can then buy them back!” They were utterly silent, and could find nothing to say.

5:9 Then I 104  said, “The thing that you are doing is wrong! 105  Should you not conduct yourselves 106  in the fear of our God in order to avoid the reproach of the Gentiles who are our enemies? 5:10 Even I and my relatives 107  and my associates 108  are lending them money and grain. But let us abandon this practice of seizing collateral! 109  5:11 This very day return to them their fields, their vineyards, their olive trees, and their houses, along with the interest 110  that you are exacting from them on the money, the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil.”

5:12 They replied, “We will return these things, 111  and we will no longer demand anything from them. We will do just as you say.” Then I called the priests and made the wealthy and the officials 112  swear to do what had been promised. 113  5:13 I also shook out my garment, 114  and I said, “In this way may God shake out from his house and his property every person who does not carry out 115  this matter. In this way may he be shaken out and emptied!” All the assembly replied, “So be it!” and they praised the LORD. Then the people did as they had promised. 116 

5:14 From the day that I was appointed 117  governor 118  in the land of Judah, that is, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes – twelve years in all – neither I nor my relatives 119  ate the food allotted to the governor. 120  5:15 But the former governors who preceded me had burdened the people and had taken food and wine from them, in addition to 121  forty shekels of silver. Their associates were also domineering over the people. But I did not behave in this way, due to my fear of God. 5:16 I gave myself to the work on this wall, without even purchasing 122  a field. All my associates were gathered there for the work.

5:17 There were 150 Jews and officials who dined with me routinely, 123  in addition to those who came to us from the nations 124  all around us. 5:18 Every day one ox, six select sheep, and some birds were prepared for me, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Despite all this I did not require the food allotted to the governor, for the work was demanding on this people.

5:19 Please remember me for good, O my God, for all that I have done for this people.

Opposition to the Rebuilding Efforts Continues

6:1 When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and no breach remained in it (even though up to that time I had not positioned doors in the gates), 6:2 Sanballat and Geshem sent word to me saying, “Come on! Let’s set up a time to meet together at Kephirim 125  in the plain of Ono.” Now they intended to do me harm.

6:3 So I sent messengers to them saying, “I am engaged in 126  an important work, and I am unable to come down. Why should the work come to a halt when I leave it to come down to you?” 6:4 They contacted 127  me four times in this way, and I responded the same way each time. 128 

6:5 The fifth time that Sanballat sent his assistant to me in this way, he had an open letter in his hand. 6:6 Written in it were the following words:

“Among the nations it is rumored 129  (and Geshem 130  has substantiated 131  this) that you and the Jews have intentions of revolting, and for this reason you are building the wall. Furthermore, according to these rumors 132  you are going to become their king. 6:7 You have also established prophets to announce 133  in Jerusalem 134  on your behalf, ‘We have a king in Judah!’ Now the king is going to hear about these rumors. So come on! Let’s talk about this.” 135 

6:8 I sent word back to him, “We are not engaged in these activities you are describing. 136  All of this is a figment of your imagination.” 137 

6:9 All of them were wanting 138  to scare us, supposing, “Their hands will grow slack from the work, and it won’t get done.”

So now, strengthen my hands! 139 

6:10 Then I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel. He was confined to his home. 140  He said, “Let’s set up a time to meet in the house of God, within the temple. Let’s close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. It will surely be at night that they will come to kill you.”

6:11 But I replied, “Should a man like me run away? Would someone like me flee to the temple in order to save his life? 141  I will not go!” 6:12 I recognized the fact that God had not sent him, for he had spoken the prophecy against me as a hired agent of Tobiah and Sanballat. 142  6:13 He had been hired to scare me so that I would do this and thereby sin. They would thus bring reproach on me and I 143  would be discredited. 144 

6:14 Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat in light of these actions of theirs – also Noadiah the prophetess and the other prophets who were trying to scare me!

The Rebuilding of the Wall Is Finally Completed

6:15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in just fifty-two days. 6:16 When all our enemies heard and all the nations who were around us saw 145  this, they were greatly disheartened. 146  They knew that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.

6:17 In those days the aristocrats of Judah repeatedly sent letters to Tobiah, and responses from Tobiah were repeatedly coming to them. 6:18 For many in Judah had sworn allegiance to him, 147  because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah son of Arah. His son Jonathan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah. 6:19 They were telling me about his good deeds and then taking back to him the things I said. 148  Tobiah, on the other hand, sent letters in order to scare 149  me.

1 tc The translation reads with the LXX וְיַיִן לְפָנַי (vÿyayin lÿfanay, “and wine before me”) rather than יַיִן לְפָנָיו (yayin lÿfanayv, “wine before him”) of the MT. The initial vav (ו) on original וְיַיִן probably dropped out due to haplograpy or orthographic confusion with the two yods (י) which follow. The final vav on לְפָנָיו in the MT was probably added due to dittography with the vav on the immediately following word.

2 tc The translation reads לְפָנֵים (lÿfanim, “formerly”) rather than לְפָנָיו (lÿfanayv, “to his face”) of the MT. The MT seems to suggest that Nehemiah was not sad before the king, which is contrary to what follows.

3 tn Or “showed him a sullen face.” See HALOT 1251 s.v. רַע, רָע 9.

4 tn This expression is either to be inferred from the context, or perhaps one should read לְפָנָיו (lÿfanayv, “before him”; cf. the MT) in addition to לְפָנִים (lÿfanim, “formerly”). See preceding note on the word “previously.”

5 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 5).

6 tn Heb “devoured” or “eaten” (so also in Neh 2:13).

7 tn Heb “said to me.”

8 tn Heb “If upon the king it is good.” So also in v. 7.

9 tn Or “queen,” so most English versions (cf. HALOT 1415 s.v. שֵׁגַל); TEV “empress.”

10 tn Heb “It was good before the king and he sent me.”

11 tn Heb “across the river,” here and often elsewhere in the Book of Nehemiah.

12 tn Or “forest.” So HALOT 963 s.v. פַּרְדֵּס 2.

13 tc One medieval Hebrew MS, the Syriac Peshitta, Vulgate, and the Arabic read here the plural וּלְחוֹמוֹת (ulÿkhomot, “walls”) against the singular וּלְחוֹמַת (ulÿkhomat) in the MT. The plural holem vav (וֹ) might have dropped out due to dittography or the plural form might have been written defectively.

14 tn The Hebrew text does not include the expression “these requests,” but it is implied.

15 tn Heb “servant” (so KJV, ASV; NAB “slave”; NCV “officer.” This phrase also occurs in v. 19.

16 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

17 tn Heb “the animal.”

18 tn Or “Well of the Serpents”; or “Well of the Jackals” (cf. ASV, NIV, NLT).

19 tn Or “Rubbish Gate” (so TEV); NASB “Refuse Gate”; NCV “Trash Gate”; CEV “Garbage Gate.”

20 tc For the MT reading שֹׂבֵר (sover, “inspecting”) the LXX erroneously has שֹׁבֵר (shover, “breaking”). However, further destruction of Jerusalem’s walls was obviously not a part of Nehemiah’s purpose.

21 tn Heb “the words of the king which he had spoken to me.”

22 tn Heb “Arise! Let us rebuild!”

23 tn Heb “strengthened their hands.”

24 tn The Hebrew text does not include the words “all this,” but they have been added in the translation for clarity.

25 tn Heb “will arise and build.” The idiom “arise and…” means to begin the action described by the second verb.

26 tn Heb “portion or right or remembrance.” The expression is probably a hendiatris: The first two nouns retain their full nominal function, while the third noun functions adjectivally (“right or remembrance” = “ancient right”).

27 tn Heb “his brothers the priests.”

28 tn Or “consecrated” (so NASB, NRSV); KJV, ASV “sanctified”; NCV “gave it to the Lord’s service.”

29 tc The MT adds קִדְּשׁוּהוּ (qidshuhu, “they sanctified it”). This term is repeated from the first part of the verse, probably as an intentional scribal addition to harmonize this statement with the preceding parallel statement.

30 tc The translation reads וְעַד (vÿad, “and unto”) rather than the MT reading עַד (ad, “unto”). The original vav (ו) was probably dropped accidentally due to haplography with the final vav on the immediately preceding word in the MT.

31 map For the location of Jericho see Map5 B2; Map6 E1; Map7 E1; Map8 E3; Map10 A2; Map11 A1.

32 tn Heb “it.”

33 tn Heb “their nobles.”

34 tn Heb “bring their neck.”

35 tn The plural form אֲדֹנֵיהֶם (’adonehem, “lords”) is probably a plural of majesty referring to Nehemiah (e.g., Isa 19:4; see GKC 399 §124.i). However, some English versions take the plural to refer to the “supervisors” (NIV, NCV, TEV) and others to “their Lord” (KJV, NRSV).

36 tn Or “the Old Gate” (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB, NCV, NRSV, NLT).

37 tn Heb “to the seat.”

38 tc Assuming that the MT reading וַיַּעַזְבוּ (vayyaazvu) is related to the root עָזַב I (“to abandon”) – which makes little sense contextually – some interpreters emend the MT to וַיַּעַזְרוּ (vayyaazru, “they aided”), as suggested by the editors of BHS. However, it is better to relate this term to the root II עָזַב meaning “to restore; to repair” (BDB 738 s.v. II עָזַב) or “to plaster” (HALOT 807 s.v. II עזב qal.1). This homonymic root is rare, appearing elsewhere only in Exod 23:5 and Job 9:27, where it means “to restore; to put in order” (HALOT 807-8 s.v. II עזב qal.2). The related Mishnaic Hebrew noun מעזיבה refers to a “plastered floor.” This Hebrew root is probably related to the cognate Ugaritic, Old South Arabic and Sabean verbs that mean “to restore” and “to prepare; to lay” (see BDB 738 s.v.; HALOT 807 s.v.). Some scholars in the nineteenth century suggested that this term be nuanced “paved.” However, most modern English versions have “restored” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV) or “rebuilt” (so NCV, CEV).

39 tn Heb “[the city wall of] Jerusalem.” The term “Jerusalem” probably functions as a metonymy of association for the city wall of Jerusalem. Accordingly, the phrase “the city wall of” has been supplied in the translation to clarify this figurative expression.

map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

40 tc The translation reads נֶגֶד (neged, “before”) with a few medieval Hebrew MSS, some MSS of the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and the Vulgate, rather than וְנֶגֶד (vÿneged, “and before”) of the MT.

41 tc The reference to daughters, while not impossible, is odd in light of the cultural improbability that young women would participate in the strenuous labor of rebuilding city walls. All other such references in the Book of Nehemiah presuppose male laborers. Not surprisingly, some scholars suspect a textual problem. One medieval Hebrew MS and the Syriac Peshitta read וּבָנָיו (uvanayv, “and his sons”) rather than the MT reading וּבְנוֹתָיו (uvÿnotayv, “and his daughters”). Some scholars emend the MT to וּבֹנָיו (uvonayv, “and his builders”). On the other hand, the MT is clearly the more difficult reading, and so it is preferred.

42 tn Heb “one thousand cubits.” The standard cubit in the OT is assumed by most authorities to be about eighteen inches (45 cm) long, so this section of the wall would be about fifteen hundred feet (450 m).

43 tn The Hebrew word translated “Siloam” is הַשֶּׁלַח (hashelakh, “water-channel”; cf. ASV, NASB, NRSV, TEV, CEV “Shelah”). It apparently refers to the Pool of Siloam whose water supply came from the Gihon Spring via Hezekiah’s Tunnel built in 701 B.C. (cf. Isa 8:6). See BDB 1019 s.v. שִׁלֹחַ; W. L. Holladay, Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon, 372. On the etymology of the word, which is a disputed matter, see HALOT 1517 s.v. III שֶׁלַח.

44 tc The translation reads וְעַל (vÿal, “and unto”) with several medieval Hebrew MSS and some MSS of LXX, rather than the MT reading עַל (’al, “unto”).

45 tn Heb “brothers.”

46 tc The translation reads with a few medieval Hebrew MSS and the Syriac Peshitta בִּנֻּי (binnuy) rather than the MT reading בַּוַּי (bavvay).

47 tn Heb “the house of Eliashib.” This has not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons.

48 tc The MT lacks the phrase אַחֲרָיו הֶחֱזִיק (’akharayv hekheziq, “after him worked”). This phrase is used repeatedly in Neh 3:16-31 to introduce each worker and his location. It probably dropped out accidentally through haplography.

49 tn Heb “house of the king.”

50 tc The Hebrew text lacks the verb “worked.” It is implied, however, and has been supplied in the translation.

51 tc The translation reads אַחֲרָיו (’akharayv, “after him”) with the Qere and many medieval Hebrew MSS, rather than the reading אַחֲרֵי (’akharey, “after me”) of the MT. So also in v. 31.

52 tn Heb “Miphkad Gate” (so TEV; KJV similar); NRSV “Muster Gate.”

53 sn Beginning with 4:1, the verse numbers through 4:23 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 4:1 ET = 3:33 HT, 4:2 ET = 3:34 HT, 4:3 ET = 3:35 HT, 4:4 ET = 3:36 HT, 4:5 ET = 3:37 HT, 4:6 ET = 3:38 HT, 4:7 ET = 4:1 HT, etc., through 4:23 ET = 4:17 HT. Thus in the Hebrew Bible chap. 3 of the Book of Nehemiah has 38 verses, while chap. 4 has only 17 verses.

54 tn Heb “brothers.”

55 map For location see Map2 B1; Map4 D3; Map5 E2; Map6 A4; Map7 C1.

56 tc The Hebrew text is difficult here. The present translation follows the MT, but the text may be corrupt. H. G. M. Williamson (Ezra, Nehemiah [WBC], 213-14) translates these words as “Will they commit their cause to God?” suggesting that MT לָהֶם (lahem, “to them”) should be emended to לֵאלֹהִים (lelohim, “to God”), a proposal also found in the apparatus of BHS. In his view later scribes altered the phrase out of theological motivations. J. Blenkinsopp’s translation is similar: “Are they going to leave it all to God?” (Ezra–Nehemiah [OTL], 242-44). However, a problem for this view is the absence of external evidence to support the proposed emendation. The sense of the MT reading may be the notion that the workers – if left to their own limited resources – could not possibly see such a demanding and expensive project through to completion. This interpretation understands the collocation עָזַב (’azav, “to leave”) plus לְ (lÿ, “to”) to mean “commit a matter to someone,” with the sense in this verse “Will they leave the building of the fortified walls to themselves?”

57 tn The Hiphil stem of כָּעַס (kaas) may mean: (1) “to provoke to anger”; (2) “to bitterly offend”; or (3) “to grieve” (BDB 495 s.v. Hiph.; HALOT 491 s.v. כעס hif). The Hebrew lexicons suggest that “bitterly offend” is the most appropriate nuance here.

58 tn Heb “before the builders.” The preposition נֶגֶד (neged, “before”) here connotes “in the sight of” or “in the view of” (BDB 617 s.v. 1.a; HALOT 666 s.v. 1.a).

59 tn Heb “up to its half.”

60 tn Heb “the people had a heart to work.”

61 sn Chapter 4 begins here in the Hebrew text (BHS). See the note at 4:1.

62 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

63 tn Heb “to fight.”

64 tn Heb “against them.” The words “to protect” are added in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness. Some emend MT עֲלֵיהֶם (alehem, “against them”) to עָלֶיהָ (’aleha, “against it,” i.e., Jerusalem).

65 tn Heb “burden-bearers.”

66 tn Heb “said.”

67 tn Heb “see.”

68 tn Heb “ten times.”

69 tc The MT reads the anomalous מִכָּל־הַמְּקֹמוֹת (mikkol hammÿqomot, “from every place”) but the BHS editors propose כָּל־הַמְּזִמּוֹת (kol hammÿzimmot, “about every scheme”). The initial mem (מ) found in the MT may have been added accidentally due to dittography with the final mem (ם) on the immediately preceding word, and the MT qof (ק) may have arisen due to orthographic confusion with the similar looking zayin (ז). The emendation restores sense to the line in the MT, which makes little sense and features an abrupt change of referents: “Wherever you turn, they will be upon us!” The threat was not against the villagers living nearby but against those repairing the wall, as the following context indicates. See also the following note on the word “plotting.”

70 tc The MT reads תָּשׁוּבוּ (tashuvu, “you turn”) which is awkward contextually. The BHS editors propose emending to חָשְׁבוּ (hashÿvu, “they were plotting”) which harmonizes well with the context. This emendation involves mere orthographic confusion between similar looking ח (khet) and ת (tav), and the resultant dittography of middle vav (ו) in MT. See also the preceding note on the word “schemes.”

71 tc The MT preserves the anomalous Kethib form צְחִחִיִּים (tsÿkhikhiyyim); the Qere reads צְחִיחִים (tsÿkhikhim) which is preferred (BDB 850 s.v. צָהִיחַ; HALOT 1018 s.v. *צָהִיחַ).

tn The meaning of the Hebrew term צְחִיחִים (tsÿkhikhim) here is uncertain. Elsewhere (Ezek 24:7, 8; 26:4, 14) it refers to a shining or glaring surface of a rock (BDB 850 s.v. צָהִיחַ; HALOT 1018 s.v. *צָהִיחַ), but here it refers to an exposed or vulnerable portion of the wall: “open positions of the wall” (HALOT 1018 s.v. 2).

72 tn Heb “And I saw.”

73 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).

74 tn Heb “houses.”

75 tn Heb “it was known to us.”

76 tc The MT reads “and spears.” The conjunction should be deleted.

77 tn Heb “all the house.”

78 tn The first words of v. 17, “who were rebuilding the wall,” should be taken with the latter part of v. 16.

79 tn Heb “were carrying loads.” The LXX reads ἐν ὅπλοις (en hoplois, “with weapons”).

80 tn Heb “the one blowing the shophar.”

81 tn Heb “much.”

82 tn Heb “and we were doing the work.”

83 tn Heb “half of them.”

84 tn Heb “from the coming up of the dawn till the coming forth of the stars.”

85 tn Heb “said [to].”

86 tn Heb “strip off our garments.”

87 tc Heb “a man, his weapon, the waters.” The MT, if in fact it is correct, is elliptical and difficult. Some scholars emend the MT reading הַמָּיִם (hammayim, “the waters”) to בִּמִנוֹ (bimino, “in his right hand”; cf. NAB, NRSV) or מִינוּ(י)הֵ (heminu, “they held on the right side”).

88 tn Heb “their brothers the Jews.”

89 tn Heb “take” (so also in v. 3).

90 tn Heb “for the tax of the king.”

91 tn Heb “according to the flesh of our brothers is our flesh.”

92 tn Heb “like their children, our children.”

93 tn Heb “to become slaves” (also later in this verse).

94 tn Heb “there is not power for our hand.” The Hebrew expression used here is rather difficult.

95 sn The poor among the returned exiles were being exploited by their rich countrymen. Moneylenders were loaning large amounts of money, and not only collecting interest on loans which was illegal (Lev 25:36-37; Deut 23:19-20), but also seizing pledges as collateral (Neh 5:3) which was allowed (Deut 24:10). When the debtors missed a payment, the moneylenders would seize their collateral: their fields, vineyards and homes. With no other means of income, the debtors were forced to sell their children into slavery, a common practice at this time (Neh 5:5). Nehemiah himself was one of the moneylenders (Neh 5:10), but he insisted that seizure of collateral from fellow Jewish countrymen was ethically wrong (Neh 5:9).

96 tn Heb “words.”

97 tn Heb “my heart was advised upon me.”

98 tn Heb “nobles.”

99 tn Heb “taking a creditor’s debt.” The Hebrew noun מַשָּׁא (masha’) means “interest; debt” and probably refers to the collateral (pledge) collected by a creditor (HALOT 641-42 s.v.). This particular noun form appears only in Nehemiah (5:7, 10; 10:32); however, it is related to מַשָּׁאָה (mashaah, “contractual loan; debt; collateral”) which appears elsewhere (Deut 24:10; Prov 22:26; cf. Neh 5:11). See the note on the word “people” at the end of v. 5. The BHS editors suggest emending the MT to מָשָׂא (masa’, “burden”), following several medieval Hebrew MSS; however, the result is not entirely clear: “you are bearing a burden, a man with his brothers.”

100 tn Heb “his brothers.”

101 tn Heb “I gave.”

102 tn Heb “our brothers, the Jews.”

103 tn Heb “your brothers.”

104 tc The translation reads with the Qere and the ancient versions וָאוֹמַר (vaomar, “and I said”) rather than the MT Kethib, וַיֹּאמֶר (vayyomer, “and he said”).

105 tn Heb “not good.” The statement “The thing…is not good” is an example of tapeinosis, a figurative expression which emphasizes the intended point (“The thing…is wrong!”) by negating its opposite.

106 tn Heb “[should you not] walk.”

107 tn Heb “brothers.”

108 tn Heb “lads.”

109 tn Heb “this debt.” This expression is a metonymy of association: “debt” refers to the seizure of the collateral of the debt.

110 tc The MT reads וּמְאַת (umÿat, “and the hundredth”) which is somewhat enigmatic. The BHS editors suggest emending to וּמַשַּׁאת (umashat, “and the debt”) which refers to the interest or collateral (pledge) seized by a creditor (Deut 24:10; Prov 22:26; see HALOT 641-42 s.v. מַשָּׁא). The term מַשַּׁאת (mashat) is related to the noun מָשָּׁא (masha’, “debt”) in 5:7, 10.

111 tn The words “these things” are not included in the Hebrew text, but have been supplied in the translation for clarity.

112 tn Heb “took an oath from them”; the referents (the wealthy and the officials, cf. v. 7) have been specified in the translation for clarity.

113 tn Heb “according to this word.”

114 tn Heb “my bosom.”

115 tn Heb “cause to stand.”

116 tn Heb “according to this word.”

117 tc The BHS editors suggest reading צֻוֵּאתִי (tsuvveti, “and I was appointed”) rather than the reading of the MT, אֹתִי צִוָּה (tsivvahoti, “he appointed me”).

118 tc The translation reads with one medieval Hebrew MS פֶּחָה (pekhah, “governor”) rather than פֶּחָם (pekham, “their governor”) of the MT. One would expect the form with pronominal suffix to have a tav (ת) before the suffix.

119 tn Heb “brothers.”

120 tn Heb “the food of the governor.” Cf. v. 18.

121 tc The Hebrew term אַחַר (’akhar) is difficult here. It normally means “after,” but that makes no sense here. Some scholars emend it to אַחַד (’akhad) and supply the word “day,” which yields the sense “daily.” Cf. TEV “40 silver coins a day for food and wine.”

122 tn Heb “we did not purchase.”

123 tn Heb “who were gathered around us at my table.”

124 tn Or “from the Gentiles.” The same Hebrew word can refer to “the Gentiles” or “the nations.” Cf. the phrase in 6:16.

125 tn It is not entirely clear whether the Hebrew word כְּפִירִים (kÿfirim) is a place-name not mentioned elsewhere in the OT (as indicated in the present translation; so also NAB, NASB) or whether it means “in [one of] the villages” (so, e.g., NIV, NRSV, NLT; see BDB 499 s.v.; HALOT 493 s.v.). The LXX and Vulgate understand it in the latter sense. Some scholars connect this term with the identically spelled word כּפירים (“lions”) as a figurative description of princes or warriors (e.g., Pss 34:11; 35:17; 58:7; Jer 2:15; Ezek 32:2, 13; Nah 2:14; see HALOT 493 s.v.): “let us meet together with the leaders in the plain of Ono.”

126 tn Heb “[am] doing.”

127 tn Heb “sent to.”

128 tn Heb “and I answered them according to this word.”

129 tn Heb “heard.”

130 tn Heb “Gashmu”; in Neh 2:19 this name appears as Geshem. Since it is important for the modern reader to recognize that this is the same individual, the form of the name used here in the translation is the same as that in v. 19.

131 tn Heb “is saying.”

132 tn Heb “words.” So also in v. 7.

133 tn Heb “call.”

134 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

135 tn Heb “Let us consult together.”

136 tn Heb “We are not according to these matters that you are saying.”

137 tn Heb “For from your heart you are inventing them.”

138 tn The participle has a desiderative nuance here, describing the desire of the subject and not necessarily the actual outcome. See also v. 14.

139 tn The statement “So now, strengthen my hands” is frequently understood as an implied prayer, but is taken differently by NAB (“But instead, I now redoubled my efforts”).

140 tn Heb “shut in.” The reason for his confinement is not stated. BDB 783 s.v. עָצַר suggests that it had to do with the fulfillment of a vow or was related to an issue of ceremonial uncleanness.

141 tn Heb “go into the temple and live.”

142 tn Heb “and Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.”

143 tc The translation reads לִי (li, “to me”) rather than the MT reading לָהֶם (lahem, “to them”).

144 tn Heb “would have a bad name.”

145 tc The MT understands the root here to be יָרֵא (yare’, “to fear”) rather than רָאָה (raah, “to see”).

146 tn Heb “they greatly fell [i.e., were cast down] in their own eyes.” Some scholars suggest emending the reading of the MT, וַיִּפְּלוּ (vayyipÿlu) to וַיִּפָּלֵא (vayyippale’, “it was very extraordinary in their eyes”).

147 tn Heb “were lords of oath.”

148 tn Heb “my words.”

149 tn Or “to intimidate” (so NIV, NRSV, NLT).



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