Nehemiah 4:1
But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) Mocked the Jews.—The mockery comes afterwards. Here, as often in Nehemiah, a general statement is made which is afterwards expanded.

Nehemiah 4:1-2. And mocked the Jews — Pretending contempt in his words, when he had grief, anger, and vexation in his heart. And he spake before his brethren — Before Tobiah, Geshem, and others, whom Nehemiah calls his brethren, because of their conjunction with him in office and interest. And the army in Samaria — Whom he hereby designed to incense against them, or, at least, whose minds he thought thus to learn. What do these feeble Jews? Will they fortify, &c. — Do they intend to begin and finish the work, and keep the feast of dedication by sacrifice, all in one day? For if they spend any long time about it, they cannot think that we and the rest of their neighbours will suffer them to do it. Thus he persuaded himself and his companions that their attempt was ridiculous; and this mistake kept him from giving them any disturbance till it was too late. So did God infatuate him to his own grief and shame, and to the advantage of the Jews. Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish? — Will they pick up their broken stones out of the ruins, and patch them together? Which are burned — Which stones were burned, and broken by the Chaldeans, when they took the city.

4:1-6 Many a good work has been looked upon with contempt by proud and haughty scorners. Those who disagree in almost every thing, will unite in persecution. Nehemiah did not answer these fools according to their folly, but looked up to God by prayer. God's people have often been a despised people, but he hears all the slights that are put upon them, and it is their comfort that he does so. Nehemiah had reason to think that the hearts of those sinners were desperately hardened, else he would not have prayed that their sins might never be blotted out. Good work goes on well, when people have a mind to it. The reproaches of enemies should quicken us to our duty, not drive us from it.The gate Miphkad - Not elsewhere mentioned. It must have been in the east, or northeast, wall, a little to the south of the "sheep-gate" CHAPTER 4

Ne 4:1-6. While the Enemies Scoff, Nehemiah Prays to God, and Continues the Work.

1. when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth—The Samaritan faction showed their bitter animosity to the Jews on discovering the systematic design of refortifying Jerusalem. Their opposition was confined at first to scoffs and insults, in heaping which the governors made themselves conspicuous, and circulated all sorts of disparaging reflections that might increase the feelings of hatred and contempt for them in their own party. The weakness of the Jews in respect of wealth and numbers, the absurdity of their purpose apparently to reconstruct the walls and celebrate the feast of dedication in one day, the idea of raising the walls on their old foundations, as well as using the charred and mouldering debris of the ruins as the materials for the restored buildings, and the hope of such a parapet as they could raise being capable of serving as a fortress of defense—these all afforded fertile subjects of hostile ridicule.The enemies scoff, and are angry, Nehemiah 4:1-3. Nehemiah prayeth against them and continueth the work, Nehemiah 4:4-6. Understanding the wrath and design of their enemies, he setteth a watch, Nehemiah 4:7-12. He armeth and encourageth the labourers, Nehemiah 4:3-18; and giveth military precepts, Nehemiah 4:9-23.

Pretending contempt in his words when he had grief in his heart.

But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall,.... Or were building it; for as yet it was not finished, see Nehemiah 4:6,

he was wroth, and took great indignation; inwardly, though outwardly he pretended to treat the work with contempt, as if it never would be accomplished, which yet he feared:

and mocked the Jews; as a set of foolish builders, and unable to finish what they had begun.

But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. Nehemiah 4:1-23. The Opposition to the Work. (a) 1–6. The ridicule of the Samaritans. (b) 7–23. The menaces of the foe, and the precautions taken by Nehemiah

1. The IVth Chapter in ordinary editions of the Hebrew text does not begin till Nehemiah 4:7.

and took great indignation] The form of the word here used in the original is of rare occurrence and is found only in late Hebrew, 2 Chronicles 16:10, ‘was in a rage;’ Ezekiel 16:42, ‘be angry;’ Psalm 112:10, ‘be grieved,’ Ecclesiastes 5:17; Ecclesiastes 7:9. For the common use of the word in its causative sense, ‘provoke to anger’ see Nehemiah 4:5.

Nehemiah 4:1(Nehemiah 3:33-34)

The ridicule of Tobiah and Sanballat. - As soon as Sanballat heard that we were building (בּנים, partic., expresses not merely the resolve or desire to build, but also the act of commencing), he was wroth and indignant, and vented his anger by ridiculing the Jews, saying before his brethren, i.e., the rulers of his people, and the army of Samaria (חיל, like Esther 1:3; 2 Kings 18:17), - in other words, saying publicly before his associates and subordinates, - "What do these feeble Jews? will they leave it to themselves? will they sacrifice? will they finish it to-day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps that are burned?" עשׂים מה, not, What will they do? (Bertheau), for the participle is present, and does not stand for the future; but, What are they doing? The form אמלל, withered, powerless, occurs here only. The subject of the four succeeding interrogative sentences must be the same. And this is enough to render inadmissible the explanation offered by older expositors of להם היעזבוּ: Will they leave to them, viz., will the neighbouring nations or the royal prefects allow them to build? Here, as in the case of the following verbs, the subject can only be the Jews. Hence Ewald seeks, both here and in Nehemiah 4:8, to give to the verb עזב the meaning to shelter: Will they make a shelter for themselves, i.e., will they fortify the town? But this is quite arbitrary. Bertheau more correctly compares the passage, Psalm 10:14, אלהים על עזבנוּ, we leave it to God; but incorrectly infers that here also we must supply אלהים על, and that, Will they leave to themselves? means, Will they commit the matter to God. This mode of completing the sense, however, can by no means be justified; and Bertheau's conjecture, that the Jews now assembling in Jerusalem, before commencing the work itself, instituted a devotional solemnity which Sanballat was ridiculing, is incompatible with the correct rendering of the participle. עזב construed with ל means to leave, to commit a matter to any one, like Psalm 10:14, and the sense is: Will they leave the building of the fortified walls to themselves? i.e., Do they think they are able with their poor resources to carry out this great work? This is appropriately followed by the next question: Will they sacrifice? i.e., bring sacrifices to obtain God's miraculous assistance? The ridicule lies in the circumstance that Sanballat neither credited the Jews with ability to carry out the work, nor believed in the overruling providence of the God whom the Jews worshipped, and therefore casts scorn by היזבּחוּ both upon the faith of the Jews in their God and upon the living God Himself. As these two questions are internally connected, so also are the two following, by which Sanballat casts a doubt upon the possibility of the work being executed. Will they finish (the work) on this day, i.e., to-day, directly? The meaning is: Is this a matter to be as quickly executed as if it were the work of a single day? The last question is: Have they even the requisite materials? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish which are burnt? The building-stone of Jerusalem was limestone, which gets softened by fire, losing its durability, and, so to speak, its vitality. This explains the use of the verb חיּה, to revive, bestow strength and durability upon the softened crumbled stones, to fit the stones into a new building (Ges. Lex.). The construction שׂרוּפות והמּה is explained by the circumstance that אבנים is by its form masculine, but by its meaning feminine, and that המּה agrees with the form אבנים.

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