Nehemiah 6:10
Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee.
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(10) I came unto the house.—As a specimen of another kind of attack, through false prophets, Shemaiah’s plot is mentioned. This man—probably a priest—Nehemiah found shut up in his house; probably he sent for the governor, and represented himself as being in danger from the common enemy. He predicted that on the night ensuing an attempt would be made on Nehemiah’s life, and proposed that they should meet “within the Temple”—that is, in the holy place, between the Holiest and the outer court—for security.

Nehemiah 6:10. I came into the house of Shemaiah — Who was a pretended prophet, as appears from Nehemiah 6:12, and taken by Nehemiah for his friend, who therefore went to advise and consult with him at his house. Who was shut up — In his chamber adjoining to the temple, either upon pretence of singular devotion and communion with God, or rather of having received certain knowledge, by the Spirit of God, of their approaching danger, from which they could be safe nowhere but in the temple. He probably intended also by this action to give Nehemiah to understand what he himself ought to do for his own security; for it was the manner of the prophets to instruct the people by actions and signs, as well as by words. Let us meet together within the temple — For the danger is so near that we cannot safely tarry here so long as to consult what to do in this juncture. For they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night, &c. — Even this very night will they fall upon thee; therefore consult thy safety by fleeing hither. Thus he hoped to intimidate Nehemiah, and thereby to strike a dread into all the people, and put a speedy and full stop to the work; which effect would indeed have been produced if Nehemiah had taken his advice, and through fear shut himself up: for then the people would have left their work, and every one have shifted for his own safety. He probably hoped also by this means to render Nehemiah contemptible among the people, by manifesting such cowardice as to desert his post and take refuge in the temple in time of danger; and by all these things to prepare the way for the enemies to assault and take the city.

6:10-14 The greatest mischief our enemies can do us, is, to frighten us from our duty, and to lead us to do what is sinful. Let us never decline a good work, never do a bad one. We ought to try all advice, and to reject what is contrary to the word of God. Every man should study to be consistent. Should I, a professed Christian, called to be a saint, a child of God, a member of Christ, a temple of the Holy Ghost, should I be covetous, sensual, proud, or envious? Should I yield to impatience, discontent, or anger? Should I be slothful, unbelieving, or unmerciful? What effects will such conduct have upon others? All that God has done for us, or by us, or given to us, should lead us to watchfulness, self-denial, and diligence. Next to the sinfulness of sin, we should dread the scandal.Who was shut up - On account, probably, of some legal uncleaness. Compare Jeremiah 36:5. 10-14. Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah, &c.—This man was the son of a priest, who was an intimate and confidential friend of Nehemiah. The young man claimed to be endowed with the gift of prophecy. Having been secretly bribed by Sanballat, he, in his pretended capacity of prophet, told Nehemiah that his enemies were that night to make an attempt upon his life. He advised him, at the same time, to consult his safety by concealing himself in the sanctuary, a crypt which, from its sanctity, was strong and secure. But the noble-minded governor determined at all hazards to remain at his post, and not bring discredit on the cause of God and religion by his unworthy cowardice in leaving the temple and city unprotected. This plot, together with a secret collusion between the enemy and the nobles of Judah who were favorably disposed towards the bad Samaritan in consequence of his Jewish connections (Ne 6:18), the undaunted courage and vigilance of Nehemiah were enabled, with the blessing of God, to defeat, and the erection of the walls thus built in troublous times (Da 9:25) was happily completed (Ne 6:15) in the brief space of fifty-two days. So rapid execution, even supposing some parts of the old wall standing, cannot be sufficiently accounted for, except by the consideration that the builders labored with the ardor of religious zeal, as men employed in the work of God. Shemaiah the son of Delaiah; probably one of the chief of the priests, 1 Chronicles 24:26.

Who was shut up in his chamber adjoining to the temple, upon pretence of singular devotion, sequestration from the world, and special acquaintance and much communion with God in his retirements, after the manner of the prophets; and withal upon pretence of certain knowledge, which he had by the Spirit of God and of prophecy, concerning their approaching danger, from which they could be safe no where but in the temple, which the very heathens owned for a sanctuary, which they might not violate.

Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple; for the danger is so near, that we cannot safely tarry here so long as to consult what to do in this juncture. His design herein was, partly, to discourage and disgrace Nehemiah, and thereby to strike a dread into all the people, and give a speedy and full stop to the work; partly, to prepare the way for the enemies to assault and take the city, whilst Nehemiah was shut up, and unable to give them any opposition; partly, to justify their accusation of Nehemiah to the king by his flight upon it; and partly, that there, by the help of other priests, who were conscious of his plot, he might either destroy him, or secure his person, till the city by some of his accomplices were betrayed into the enemy’s hands.

Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up,.... Either in his own house, or in a chamber in the temple, as if he had given himself up to meditation, fasting, and prayer; or, as he might suggest to Nehemiah, for his safety, and so designed it as an example to him; this man might be a priest of the course of Delaiah, 1 Chronicles 24:18 or however he was a person Nehemiah had a good opinion of, and came to him on the letters sent to him by his enemies, to consult with him, and the rest, since they had suggested that he had appointed prophets to speak of him as a king:

and he said let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple; this looks as if he was in his own house, or if in a chamber of the temple, that he thought that was not secret and safe enough, and therefore proposed going within the temple, into the holy place, where none but priests might go:

for they will come to slay thee; meaning his enemies, Sanballat and his companions:

yea, in the night they will come to slay thee; that very night, and therefore no time should be lost in providing for his safety.

Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was {e} shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee.

(e) As though he would be secret, to the intent that he might pray to God with greater liberty, and receive some revelation, which in him was only hypocrisy.

Dangers from within: False Prophets (Nehemiah 6:10-14)

10. Afterward I came] R.V. And I went. There is no note of time expressed.

Shemaiah the son of Delaiah] Not otherwise known; apparently a priest and a prophet. The name Delaiah occurs in 1 Chronicles 24:18 as that of the three-and-twentieth priestly house.

Mehetabeel] R.V. Mehetabel.

who was shut up] Concerning the meaning of this obscure phrase there is much variety of opinion. (LXX. καὶ αὐτὸς συνεχόμενος. Vulg. secreto.)

(a) According to one view, he was ‘shut up’ in the sense that he was prevented by ceremonial pollution from mixing in the society of his countrymen or from approaching the Temple. Cf. Jeremiah 33:1; Jeremiah 36:5. Accepting this interpretation, we see in his proposal to Nehemiah the extremity of his alarms real or feigned.

(b) According to another view, the expression is metaphorical, and denotes that he was a ‘prisoner,’ in the sense of being ‘possessed by’ the prophetic spirit.

(c) According to a third view, he had shut himself up in his house in order to show by a symbolical action that Nehemiah was prophetically warned to take refuge in some hiding-place. Cf. 1 Kings 22:11; Jeremiah 28:10; Acts 21:11.

within the temple … doors of the temple] Shemaiah’s proposal is that Nehemiah should hide himself in sacred precincts, where only priests could go. He implies that this advice which he gives as a prophet is sufficient sanction to absolve the act of profanation. The safety of the governor, he seems to say, is of more importance than a detail of ceremonial.

yea, in the night, &c.] The repetition of the clauses has all the ring of poetic parallelism.

‘They will come.’ The indefiniteness of the oracular utterance does not state who the assassins are.

11 And I said] Nehemiah refuses to listen to Shemaiah. (1) He has his duty and position as governor to remember; it is not for him to show the white feather. (2) The proposal to take refuge in the Temple is monstrous; it was forbidden by the Law, which he served, and to trespass upon the domain of the priests was impious in the extreme. (Cf. 2 Chronicles 26:16-20.)

Should such a man as I] The governor and the leader of the national movement.

being as I am] R.V. being such as I, i.e. not a Priest, cf. Nehemiah 1:1, Nehemiah 2:3, but the Governor responsible for the protection of his countrymen.

would go into the temple to save his life] R.V. marg. ‘Or, could go into the temple and live’. According to the A.V. and R.V. text the words ‘and live’ are made to depend upon the verb ‘go,’ and denote the purpose of the action ‘to save his life.’ According to the rendering of the R.V. marg., which is more probable, the words ‘and live’ (cf. Deuteronomy 5:24) are coordinate with ‘go,’ and represent the main thought of astonished enquiry. The Law declared that the stranger, i.e. ‘the layman that cometh nigh shall be put to death,’ Numbers 18:7. Nehemiah’s words point to this prohibition, binding against the governor as much as against the poorest of the Israelites. He does not quote a written statute, but appeals to what was generally known and recognised as law.

Verse 10. - A Shemaiah appears in the list of priests who afterwards signed the covenant (Nehemiah 10:8); but the names in that list do not appear to be personal. There is a Shemaiah also among the priests who took part in the dedication of the wall (Nehemiah 12:42); he is not said, however, to be "the son of Delaiah." Shut up. Prevented, i.e., by some legal impurity from taking part in the temple service, or even entering the temple. In the house of God, within the temple. Rather, "within the sanctuary." The heykal was the same as the holy place, and meant that part of the temple building which intervened between the porch and the holy of holies. It corresponded, as Gesenius observes, to the body or nave of modern cathedrals. Let us shut the doors. Folding doors of fir wood separated the holy place from the porch in the temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6:34); and these had no doubt their counterpart in the restored temple. Shemaiah suggested the shutting of these doors for greater security Nehemiah 6:10A false prophet, hired by Tobiah and Sanballat, also sought, by prophesying that the enemies of Nehemiah would kill him in the night, to cause him to flee with him into the holy place of the temple, and to protect his life from the machinations of his enemies by closing the temple doors. His purpose was, as Nehemiah subsequently learned, to seduce him into taking an illegal step, and so give occasion for speaking evil of him.

Nehemiah 6:10

"And I came into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up." Nothing further is known of this prophet Shemaiah. From what is here related we learn, that he was one of the lying prophets employed by Sanballat and Tobiah to ruin Nehemiah. We are not told what induced or caused Nehemiah to go into the house of Shemaiah; he merely recounts what the latter was hired by his enemies to effect. From the accessory clause, "and he was shut up," we may perhaps infer that Shemaiah in some way or other, perhaps by announcing that he had something of importance to communicate, persuaded Nehemiah to visit him at his house. עצוּר והוּא does not, however, involved the meaning which Bertheau gives it, viz., that Nehemiah went to Shemaiah's house, because the latter as עצוּר could not come to him. The phrase says only, that when Nehemiah entered Shemaiah's house, he found him עצוּר, which simply means shut up, shut in his house, not imprisoned, and still less in a state of ceremonial uncleanness (Ewald), or overpowered by the hand of Jahve - laid hold on by a higher power (Bertheau). It is evident from his proposal to Nehemiah, "Let us go together to the house of God," etc., that he was neither imprisoned in his house, nor prevented by any physical cause from leaving home. Hence it follows that he had shut himself in his house, to intimate to Nehemiah that also he felt his life in danger through the machinations of his enemies, and that he was thus dissimulating in order the more easily to induce him to agree to his proposal, that they should together escape the snares laid for them by fleeing to the temple. In this case, it may be uncertain whether Shemaiah had shut himself up, feigning that the enemies of Judah were seeking his life also, as the prophet of Jahve; or whether by this action he was symbolically announcing what God charged him to make known to Nehemiah. Either view is possible; while the circumstance that Nehemiah in Nehemiah 6:12 calls his advice to flee into the temple a נבוּאה against him, and that it was quite in character with the proceedings of such false prophets to enforce their words by symbolical signs (comp. 1 Kings 22:11), favours the former. The going into the house of God is more closely defined by ההיכל אל־תּוך, within the holy place; for they (the enemies) will come to slay thee, and indeed this night will they come to slay thee." He seeks to corroborate his warning as a special revelation from God, by making it appear that God had not only made known to him the design of the enemies, but also the precise time at which they intended to carry it into execution.

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