2 Esdras iv.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. Multitude. Hebrew and Septuagint, “army.” (Calmet) — Silly. Literally, “feeble.” (Haydock) — Sacrifice, at the dedication. (Tirinus) — Day, in so short a time, as their present vigorous proceedings seem to promise, notwithstanding their feeble condition, and the paucity of their numbers. (Haydock) — But no: we shall have time enough to hinder them, (Menochius) if the nature of their materials do it not for us. (Haydock) — Raise. Hebrew, “revive;” a word used for reparations of walls, &c. (Calmet) (Delrio, adag. 221.) — Septuagint, “heal.” God’s providence did not permit the enemy to rage, till the work was greatly advanced; so infidels laugh at the attempts of poor priests to restore religion, which nevertheless flourishes. (Worthington)
Ver. 3. Leap over. Hebrew, Septuagint, &c., “break down.” (Calmet) — Bitter sarcasm, which excites the indignation of Nehemias! (Tirinus)
Ver. 4. Captivity. Since they have not learnt to commiserate others. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Face. Punish the obstinate. (Tirinus) — He does not wish that they may continue impenitent. (Calmet) — But, on that supposition, he approves of the divine justice, and foretells what will happen. (Estius) — Revenge was equally criminal under the old law, as it is at present. But the servants of God express their approbation (Calmet) of his inscrutable counsels. The imperative in Hebrew is often used for the future tense. (Haydock) — Mocked. Protestants, “provoked thee….before the builders.” Septuagint omit most of this and the following verses; having only, “Do not hide thyself, with respect to wickedness.” (Haydock)
Ver. 6. Thereof, all round; as masons were stationed in different parts, (ver. 19.) and not barely on one side of the city. (Calmet) — Tobias alludes to the present lowness of the walls, ver. 3. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Together, to the number of 180,000, according to the Jews; who say that they were terrified at the excommunication pronounced by 300 priests against them, while 300 young men sounded trumpets; and they fled, leaving Nehemias at liberty to continue the work. It is a pity that we have no foundation for this in Scripture. (Calmet) See 1 Esdras iv. 3. (Haydock) — The Samaritans durst not openly attack the Jews, who were under the protection of the Persian monarch. But they endeavoured clandestinely to injure them, (Tirinus) and to prepare ambushes. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Juda. Some of the Jews, (Menochius) who were dispirited at the greatness of the work and the threats of the enemy. — Burdens. Septuagint, “of the enemies.” Arabic, “the Jews were strengthened, there were many porters, but they could not finish the work.” (Calmet) — Rubbish to be removed. (Tirinus)
Ver. 12. Ten times, frequently. (Menochius) — Places, among the Cuthites. — Whence they. Protestants, “ye return unto us, they will be upon you.” Hebrew, the second person is put for the third, which occurs in the Septuagint, &c., though they refer it to the enemy. “They come up from all places against us.” (Haydock) — De Dieu would translate, “return to us,” cultivate the friendship of Sanaballat; or “return home,” and leave off this work. The sense of the Vulgate is the most easy, and the best. (Calmet)
Ver. 13. Place. Hebrew adds, “below.” — Round. Hebrew, “on the hills.” (Haydock) — To remove the apparent contradiction, (Calmet) Protestants supply, “and on the higher places.” Septuagint, “in lurking holes,” skepeinois.
Ver. 14. Remember. These are the most powerful arguments to encourage an army. (Haydock)
Ver. 16. Their. Hebrew, “my servants,” (Menochius) half of whom only wrought, while the rest stood guard. If we adhere to the Vulgate, we must suppose that Nehemias altered his first plan, and ordered almost all to be ready to fight or to labour, as occasion might require, ver. 17. (Calmet) — In. “Over, (Haydock) or behind all the family of Juda,” (Vatable) encouraging the people by word, and sometimes by example. (Tirinus) (Menochius)
Ver. 17. Sword. Hebrew, “dart.” (Calmet) — The expression seems to be proverbial. So Ovid makes Canacea speak, “My right hand holds the pen, my left the sword;” (Haydock) while I write, I am on the point of killing myself. (Calmet)
Dextra tenet calamum, strictum tenet altera ferrum. (Ep. Her.)
Ver. 18. By me, when the enemy appeared. (Menochius)
Ver. 20. For us. Yet we must act with prudence and courage. (Haydock)
Ver. 22. Midst. Before they had gone home. (Calmet) — Let us. Protestants, “that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labour on the day.” (Haydock)
Ver. 23. Clothes, even to sleep. — Only. Septuagint Complutensian, “man and his arms to the water.” (Haydock) — They went armed to fetch water; (Malvenda) or they had their armour and water always at hand. (Junius, &c.) — Hebrew, “each kept his dart at the water.” It may have various senses. (Calmet) — Protestants agree with the Vulgate, “saving that every one put them off for washing” (Haydock) them, or themselves. (Tirinus)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The building is carried on notwithstanding the opposition of their enemies.
1 And *it came to pass, that when Sanaballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry: and being moved exceedingly, he scoffed at the Jews.
2 And said before his brethren, and the multitude of the Samaritans: What are the silly Jews doing? Will the Gentiles let them alone? will they sacrifice and make an end in a day? are they able to raise stones out of the heaps of the rubbish, which are burnt?
3 Tobias also, the Ammonite, who was by him said: Let them build: if a fox go up, he will leap over their stone wall.
4 Hear thou, our God, for we are despised: turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them to be despised in a land of captivity.
5 Cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thy face, because they have mocked thy builders.
6 So we built the wall, and joined it all together unto the half thereof: and the heart of the people was excited to work.
7 And it came to pass, when Sanaballat, and Tobias, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Azotians, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and the breaches began to be closed, that they were exceedingly angry.
8 And they all assembled themselves together, to come, and to fight against Jerusalem, and to prepare ambushes.
9 And we prayed to our God, and set watchmen upon the wall day and night against them.
10 And Juda said: The strength of the bearer of burdens is decayed, and the rubbish is very much, and we shall not be able to build the wall.
11 And our enemies said: Let them not know, nor understand, till we come in the midst of them, and kill them, and cause the work to cease.
12 And it came to pass, that when the Jews that dwelt by them, came and told us ten times, out of all the places from whence they came to us,
13 I set the people in the place behind the wall round about in order, with their swords, and spears, and bows.
14 And I looked and rose up: and I said to the chief men and the magistrates, and to the rest of the common people: Be not afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, and your wives, and your houses.
15 And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that the thing had been told us, that God defeated their counsel. And we returned all of us to the walls, every man to his work.
16 And it came to pass from that day forward, that half of their young men did the work, and half were ready for to fight, with spears, and shields, and bows, and coats of mail, and the rulers were behind them in all the house of Juda.
17 Of them that built on the wall, and that carried burdens, and that laded: with one of his hands he did the work, and with the other he held a sword.
18 For every one of the builders was girded with a sword about his reins. And they built, and sounded with a trumpet by me.
19 And I said to the nobles, and to the magistrates, and to the rest of the common people: The work is great and wide, and we are separated on the wall, one far from another:
20 In what place soever you shall hear the sound of the trumpet, run all thither unto us: our God will fight for us.
21 And let us do the work: and let one half of us hold our spears from the rising of the morning, till the stars appear.
22 At that time, also, I said to the people: Let every one with his servant stay in the midst of Jerusalem, and let us take our turns, in the night, and by day, to work.
23 Now I and my brethren, and my servants, and the watchmen, that followed me, did not put off our clothes: only every man stript himself when he was to be washed.
1: Year of the World 3550