For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so built. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Nehemiah 4:18. He that sounded the trumpet was by me — To give the alarm, and call the people together, when and where it was necessary. It appears by this he was continually with them while they wrought upon the wall.
7-21. But … when Sanballat … heard that the walls … were made up, and … the breaches … stopped—The rapid progress of the fortifications, despite all their predictions to the contrary, goaded the Samaritans to frenzy. So they, dreading danger from the growing greatness of the Jews, formed a conspiracy to surprise them, demolish their works, and disperse or intimidate the builders. The plot being discovered, Nehemiah adopted the most energetic measures for ensuring the common safety, as well as the uninterrupted building of the walls. Hitherto the governor, for the sake of despatch, had set all his attendants and guards on the work—now half of them were withdrawn to be constantly in arms. The workmen labored with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other; and as, in so large a circuit, they were far removed from each other, Nehemiah (who was night and day on the spot, and, by his pious exhortations and example, animated the minds of his people) kept a trumpeter by his side, so that, on any intelligence of a surprise being brought to him, an alarm might be immediately sounded, and assistance rendered to the most distant detachment of their brethren. By these vigilant precautions, the counsels of the enemy were defeated, and the work was carried on apace. God, when He has important public work to do, never fails to raise up instruments for accomplishing it, and in the person of Nehemiah, who, to great natural acuteness and energy added fervent piety and heroic devotion, He provided a leader, whose high qualities fitted him for the demands of the crisis. Nehemiah's vigilance anticipated every difficulty, his prudent measures defeated every obstruction, and with astonishing rapidity this Jerusalem was made again "a city fortified."To call the people together, when and where it was fit and necessary.
and he that sounded the trumpet was by me; to give the alarm of war, that everyone might lay aside his work, and prepare for the battle: this officer stood by Nehemiah, that when he found it necessary, might give him orders to sound his trumpet, for the men to gather to him.For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. For the builders] R.V. And the builders. Not, as A.V., a fresh explanatory sentence, but a continuation of the foregoing, a description of the other class of those engaged in the work.
his sword girded by his side] Both hands were occupied in the work of laying the stones, which would be done chiefly by skilful mechanism with pulleys and rollers. The free action of both hands would be requisite. But though thus fully occupied, they were to be armed against a surprise attack. The mention of the ‘sword’ here accounts for its absence in Nehemiah 4:16.
And he that &c.] This is a distinct parenthetical sentence introducing the personal reminiscence. The men were scattered over a large area, and the commands of the governor were to be given by sound of trumpet, so that the alarm could be given to all at the same time.
by me] i.e. at my side, cf. Nehemiah 4:3. The words imply that Nehemiah was the life and soul of the defence, and that he was untiring in moving from point to point in the wall, superintending the work and directing the disposition for the defence.Verse 18. - For the builders. Rather, "and the (actual) builders"- masons, bricklayers, and the like, as distinct from the bearers of burthens, or carriers of material. He that sounded the trumpet. The signalman. Trumpeters appear both in the Egyptian and the Assyrian sculptures (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1. p. 539, second ed.; Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 2. p. 260). Nehemiah 4:6-7)
When, therefore, the Jews who dwelt near them, i.e., in the neighbourhood of the adversaries, and heard their words, came to Jerusalem, "and said to us ten times (i.e., again and again), that from all places ye must return to us, then I placed," etc. Jews came from all places to Jerusalem, and summoned those who were building there to return home, for adversaries were surrounding the community on all sides: Sanballat and the Samaritans on the north, the Ammonites on the east, the Arabians on the south, and the Philistines (Ashdodites) on the west. אשׁר before תּשׁוּבוּ introduces their address, instead of כּי; being thus used, e.g., before longer speeches, 1 Samuel 15:20; 2 Samuel 1:4; and for כּי generally, throughout the later books, in conformity to Aramaean usage. "Return to us" (על שׁוּב, as in 2 Chronicles 30:9, for אל שׁוּב), said the Jews who came from all quarters to Jerusalem to their fellow-townsmen, who from Jericho, Gibeon, and Tekoa (comp. Nehemiah 3:2-3, Nehemiah 3:5, Nehemiah 3:7) were working on the wall of Jerusalem. These words express their fear lest those who were left at home, especially the defenceless women, children, and aged men, should be left without protection against the attacks of enemies, if their able-bodied men remained any longer in Jerusalem to take part in the building of the wall.
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