2 Esdras vi.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. Make. Protestants, “meet together.” (Haydock) — 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.” (Worthington) — This has been no where more observable than in these [British] 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. (Haydock) — Villages. Most of the Latin editions, before Sixtus V read, in vitulis in campo uno, (Calmet) “with sacrifices of calves in some one field.” (Haydock) — Perhaps Cephirim, (Tirinus) or copirim, “villages,” (Haydock) may be the name of a place in the plain of Ono, (Tirinus) which is styled the valley of craftsmen, (chap. xi. 35.; Calmet) in the tribe of Benjamin, near the Jordan. (Adrichomius) — Mischief, by taking or killing. (Menochius)
Ver. 3. You. This was one, (Haydock) though not the principal reason which hindered him. It is often adviseable not to seem to suspect any evil.
Ver. 5-6. Letter. Hebrew, Septuagint, and Arabic 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, chap. ii. 19. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Prophets. This was false; though, no doubt, the true prophets who lived at that time, would promote the laudable undertakings of Nehemias. (Haydock) — To counteract their influence, the enemies hired Semaia and Noadias, ver. 10., and 14. — Together, that thou mayst clear thyself; (Vatable) 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. (Calmet) — The enemies left it ambiguous, whether they would not join their forces with his, in case he meant to revolt. (Menochius)
Ver. 9. I. Hebrew, “Now, O Lord, strengthen my hands; (Junius, &c.) or, “now strengthening my hands, (Calmet) I went,” &c. Septuagint, &c., agree with the Vulgate. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Went, being invited. (Tirinus) — Semaia, of the twenty-third course of priests, 1 Paralipomenon xxiv. 18. (Menochius) — Privately. Hebrew, “who was shut up,” like a recluse, (Haydock) to deceive the people, by the appearance of superior sanctity, and by an imitation of the true prophets. (Calmet) — Some translate hatsur, “bound by vow,” (1 Kings xxi. 7.) to protect the governor; (Malvenda) but this seems too far-fetched. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Should. Literally, “Does one like me retire from his post? And who like me shall enter the temple and live?” (Haydock) — 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 (Calmet) that he refused to flee, lest he should intimidate the people by his cowardly departure. (Tirinus) (Menochius) — 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, (Calmet) or a supernatural light irradiated his mind, unless human sagacity sufficed. (Tirinus) (Menochius)
Ver. 13. Sin, by taking any false step, so as to offend the people.
Ver. 14. Prophet. Hebrew, “the prophetess.” (Calmet) — Protestants, “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, chap. xii. 27. — Days. Josephus ([Antiquities?] xi. 5.) says, “two years and three (Greek four) months” (Haydock) had been spent in perfecting the work. (Cajetan) — Others date from the reception of the letter, ver. 5. (Vatable) — 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. (Calmet) — The whole people wrought almost day and night, and Nehemias encouraged them with all his power. (Tirinus) — Thus Alexander the Great built the walls of New Alexandria, on the Tanais, 60 stadia, or near 6000 paces (Calmet) long, in less than twenty days; (Tirinus) and Cæsar 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. (Josephus, Jewish Wars vi. 13.) (Calmet)
Ver. 18. Mosollam, one of the builders, chap. iii. 4. (Menochius) — 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 Corinthians xi. 26.) wars without, and fears within, generally assail the servants of God. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The enemies seek to terrify Nehemias. He proceedeth and finisheth the wall.
1 And *it came to pass, when Sanaballat, and Tobias, and Gossem, the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had built the wall, and that there was no breach left in it (though at that time I had not set up the doors in the gates,)
2 Sanaballat and Gossem sent to me, saying: Come, and let us make a league together in the villages, in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief.
3 And I sent messengers to them, saying: I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down, lest it be neglected whilst I come, and go down to you.
4 And they sent to me according to this word, four times: and I answered them after the same manner.
5 And Sanaballat sent his servant to me the fifth time, according to the former word, and he had a letter in his hand, written in this manner:
6 It is reported amongst the Gentiles, and Gossem hath said it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel, and therefore thou buildest the wall, and hast a mind to set thyself king over them: for which end
7 Thou hast also set up prophets, to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying: There is a king in Judea. The king will hear of these things: therefore come now, that we may take counsel together.
8 And I sent to them, saying: There is no such thing done as thou sayest: but thou feignest these things out of thy own heart.
9 For all these men thought to frighten us, thinking that our hands would cease from the work, and that we would leave off. Wherefore I strengthened my hands the more:
10 And I went into the house of Samaia, the son of Dalaia, the son of Metabeel, privately. And he said: Let us consult together in the house of God in the midst of the temple: and let us shut the doors of the temple, for they will come to kill thee, and in the night they will 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 I understood that God had not sent him, but that he had spoken to me as if he had been prophesying, and Tobias, and Sanaballat, had hired him.
13 For he had taken money, that I, being afraid, should do this thing, and sin, and they might have some evil to upbraid me withal.
14 Remember me, O Lord, for Tobias and Sanaballat, according to their works of this kind: and Noadias, the prophet, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.
15 But the wall was finished the five and twentieth day of the month of Elul, in two and fifty days.
16 And it came to pass, when all our enemies heard of it, that all nations which were round about us, were afraid, and were cast down within themselves, for they perceived that this work was the work of God.
17 Moreover, in those days, many letters were sent by the principal men of the Jews to Tobias; and from Tobias there came letters to them.
18 For there were many in Judea sworn to him, because he was the son-in-law of Sechenias, the son of Area, and Johanan, his son, had taken to wife the daughter of Mosollam, the son of Barachias.
19 And they praised him also before me, and they related my words to him: and Tobias sent letters to put me in fear.
1: Year of the World 3550.