The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Nehemiah 6

Neh 6:1

Neh 6: Three strategies to destroy the effectiveness of spiritual leaders: intrigue, innuendo, and intimidation.

Neh 6:2

COME, LET US MEET TOGETHER IN ONE OF THE VILLAGES ON THE PLAIN OF ONO: A city rebuilt along with Lod (Lydda) by Shamed a Benjamite (1Ch 8:12). After the Exile its Jewish inhabitants, together with those of Lod and Hadid, numbered about 725 persons (Ezr 2:33; Neh 7:37). It is probably the same as "the valley of craftsmen" (Neh 11:35). It is generally identified with modern Kefr Ana, which lies nw of Lydda.

If Nehemiah had accepted this invitation he would have been many miles from Jerusalem for at least two days. This would have separated him from his protectors at Jerusalem, and given the people of the land opportunity to attack the Jewish workmen he had left behind.

TO HARM ME: KJV has "to do me mischief", but in modern terms this is far too weak. Cp v 10: "to kill you".

Neh 6:3

I AM CARRYING ON A GREAT PROJECT AND CANNOT COME DOWN: If only we could respond as nobly and wholeheartedly as Nehemiah does, when we are tempted to play the fool or dabble in the silly affairs of the world around us!

Neh 6:4


Neh 6:5

IN HIS HAND WAS AN UNSEALED LETTER: Contrary to all etiquette and courtesy, a calculated insult, an expression of utter contempt.

Neh 6:6


Neh 6:7

AND HAVE EVEN APPOINTED PROPHETS: This is exactly what his enemies had done, setting up false prophets (vv 12,13).

NOW THIS REPORT WILL GET BACK TO THE KING; SO COME, LET US CONFER TOGETHER: Either you come to terms with us, or your 'treason' will be reported to the king!' A heavy-handed threat.

Neh 6:8

YOU ARE JUST MAKING IT UP OUT OF YOUR HEAD: "You are inventing them" (RSV).

Neh 6:9

NOW STRENGTHEN MY HANDS: Cp Psa 56:1-4. "As the wall neared completion the enemies of the Jews got more and more desperate to stop the work. We read that 'they were all trying to frighten us, thinking, "Their hand will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed." ' But Nehemiah prayed a short and specific prayer for the time, 'Now strengthen my hands.' God answered his prayer and strengthened both his hands and the hands of those that were working on the wall. It was completed in record time. From start to finish they took only 52 days. Nehemiah gives all the credit for this to God.

"There have been times in my life when I have been doing the Lord's work, when the task and the opposition have seemed too great to carry on. In the end God has always seen me through it -- but I wish I had thought of praying this prayer, 'Now strengthen my hands.' Maybe next time I will remember. But there are times like this in the life of every believer -- if not yet, know that it will come. Remember this prayer at that time, 'Now strengthen my hands,' and then get on with the work God has given us to complete" (RP).

Neh 6:10

BY NIGHT THEY ARE COMING: Because their deeds are evil, and they are afraid of the light of day (cp Joh 3:19,20).

Neh 6:11

OR SHOULD ONE LIKE ME GO INTO THE TEMPLE TO SAVE HIS LIFE?: At any rate, the Mosaic Law prohibited anyone but priests from entering the holy and the most holy places in the temple (Num 1:51; 3:10; 18:7).

"The opposition to the rebuilding of the wall was so great that the enemies of the Jews, as they got more and more desperate, tried every trick in the book to stop Nehemiah and the rest of the Jews from building. Nehemiah was tested in almost every way possible as they tried to get him off the job into a place where they could kill him. They invited him to deserted places to 'talk', and sent letters to him accusing him of traitorous motivation, and they even stooped to making someone Nehemiah should have trusted give him bad advice.

"So how did Nehemiah manage to avoid all these temptations and resist being led from the job? I believe there were two things that helped. Firstly, the fact that Nehemiah had an aim, was totally determined to do the job that God had set him, and would not be distracted until the work was completed helped him to avoid the temptation. And secondly, Nehemiah was equally determined not to sin. So when instructions or suggestions came telling him to do something that was wrong, he knew straight away that it was not from God.

"So let us also be so dedicated, involved and determined not to sin that nothing will distract us from doing the work of God" (RP).

Neh 6:12

I REALIZED THAT GOD HAD NOT SENT HIM: "By their fruits you shall know them" (Mat 7:15-20). The criteria for evaluating a prophet's claims: Deu 13:1-4; Eze 13:22; Jer 23:16. Nehemiah saw through this "prophecy": it could not have been from God since it counseled disobedience to the Mosaic Law.

Neh 6:13

TO DISCREDIT ME: This is possibly the action of the aggrieved nobles, who had suffered financial loss because of Nehemiah (Neh 5).

Neh 6:15

ELUL: Late August/early September. The same month in which Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the walls in the first place: 2Ki 25:8-10.

Neh 6:16

ALL THE SURROUNDING NATIONS: See Lesson, Nations "round about".

THEY REALIZED THAT THIS WORK HAD BEEN DONE WITH THE HELP OF OUR GOD: "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain" (Psa 127:1).

Neh 6:17

Vv 17-19: This treason was brought about by alien marriage (cp Ezr 9:2; Neh 13:23). Thus the ties of the flesh superseded "ecclesial" ties.

Neh 6:19

THEY KEPT REPORTING TO ME HIS GOOD DEEDS: "Those who forsake the law praise the wicked" (Pro 28:4).

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