Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
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)
You. This was one, (Haydock) though not the principal reason which hindered him. It is often adviseable not to seem to suspect any evil.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
Sin, by taking any false step, so as to offend the people.
Prophet. Hebrew, "the prophetess." (Calmet) --- Protestants, "My God, think thou upon Tobiah,...and on the prophetess Noadiah."
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)
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)