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Bible Commentaries
Nehemiah 7

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed,

When the wall was built — For better defence of the city. Moenia a munienda urbo dicuntur.

And I had set up the doors — We may not take this expression for a vain glorious haec ego feci, I have made this, such as was that of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4:30 , boasting as if he (and not Ninus) had built Babel, when he enlarged it only, and built the palace; or that of Augustus, Urbem ego lateritiam inveni, marmoream reliqui. I found the city of clay but I left it of marble. We read of one Lampadius, a nobleman in Rome, who per omnia civitatis membra, through all parts of the city, where other great men had bestowed cost in building, he would set up his own name (not as a repairer of the work either, but) as the chief builder. Trajan the emperor also is said to have been sick of this disease; and was therefore called by way of jeer, Wallweed, Herba parietina. But good Nehemiah was none such; he was humiliter sublimis, et sublimiter humilis, as Cyprian phraseth it; that is, humbly lofty, and loftily humble; humble in heart, and yet high in worth and works, as Nazianzen saith of Athanasius, υψηλος τοις εργοις, ταπεινος δε τω φρονηματι .

And the Levites were appointed — viz. To their several services in the temple (as David had distributed them), after that they had been otherwise employed about the building.

Verse 2

That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he [was] a faithful man, and feared God above many.

That I gave my brother Hanani — Of whom see Nehemiah 1:2 Ezra 10:20 .

And Hananiah the ruler of the palace — The second person next to the governor; commanding in his name within his court.

Charge over Jerusalem — Thus he that is faithful in a little shall be made master of much, Matthew 25:31 .

For he was a faithful man — Heb. A man of truth, faithfulness, or firnmess; a sure man, and such as one might safely confide in.

And feared God — No wonder therefore though faithful to men. See Nehemiah 5:15 . God’s holy fear is the ground of all goodness and fidelity. Hence Jethro, in his well-qualified ruler, places the fear of God in the midst of the other graces, as the heart in the body, for conveying life to all the parts, or as a dram of musk, perfuming the whole box of ointment, Exodus 18:21 . Most sure it is, that nothing maketh a man so good a patriot as the true fear of God. On the other side, Pietate sublata fides tollitur, take away piety, and fidelity is gone; as is to be seen in the unrighteous judge, Luke 18:2 , and as Constantius Chlorus, father of Constantine the Great, did well experience in his counsellors and courtiers; whence that famous maxim of his recorded by Eusebius, He cannot be faithful to me that is unfaithful to God, religion being the foundation of all true fidelity and loyalty to king and country. Hence that close connection, Fear God, honour the king, 1 Peter 2:17 . And hence that saying of Bernard, If all the world should conspire to make me complot against my prince, yet I would fear God, and honour the king.

Above many — This is a singular praise, and by every man to be sought after - it was Cicero’s posy and practice,

Aιεν αριστευειν, και υπειροχον εμμεναι αλλων ,

to be the best at every good thing, to excel and exceed others, - to be eminent and exemplary, taller than the rest by the head and shoulders, full of all goodness, filled with all knowledge, Romans 15:14 , able and active in every good word and work. That is a low and unworthy strain in some, to labour after no more grace than will keep life and soul together, that is, soul and hell asunder. God would have his people to be discontentedly contented with the measures they have received, and to be still adding, 2 Peter 1:5 , and advancing, Philippians 3:14 , aspiring to perfection, till they "come unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ," Ephesians 4:13 .

Verse 3

And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar [them]: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one [to be] over against his house.

Until the sun be hot — The sun hath one of his names, in Hebrew, a calefaciendo, from heating, çîä , Job 30:28 , there is nothing hid from the heat thereof, Psalms 19:6 . The name here given to the sun signifieth a minister, or servant; because it is the common servant of the world, whereby God ministeretb light, heat, and precious fruits to all people, Deuteronomy 4:19 ; Deuteronomy 33:14 . It whirleth about the world with incredible swiftness; and is up in a morning before most people. Therefore till the sun be risen the gates must be kept shut, to keep out the enemy, who watcheth his opportunity.

And while they stand by — To see it done as it ought to be; lest, by the treachery or carelessness of under-officers, it should either be undone or ill-done. Let them feel with their hands, so some render it, etiam tractate (Junius), whether the gates are made fast or not.

And appoint watches — Heb. Set thou watches. He speaketh to the two Hananis, and bids each of them, whose turn it was, see to the well-doing of it. Xenophon saith of Cyrus, that when he gave anything in command he never said, Let some one do this, but, Do thou this, Hoc tu facias (Cyropaed.).

Verse 4

Now the city [was] large and great: but the people [were] few therein, and the houses [were] not builded.

Now the city was large — Heb. Broad in spans or spaces.

And great — Yet nothing so great as Nineveh was of old; or Babylon then; or Alcair and Quinsay at this day. Of the former Bunting saith, that it is sixty miles in compass. Of the latter, Paulus Venetus (who himself dwelt therein about the year 1260) writeth, that it is a hundred miles about, being of all the cities in the world the greatest. Jerusalem was a great city and spacious, though it fell far short of these.

And the people were few therein — But how exceedingly they multiplied afterwards appeareth by those many thousands of persons there destroyed and carried away by the Romans at the last desolation; as testifieth Josephus, an eyewitness, quem lege, et luge, what he collected and lamented. For present, they were so few that they were not able, without help, to defend the walls in so large a circuit.

And the houses were not builded — All could not be done in a day. But some ceiled houses there were, Haggai 1:4 , and Nehemiah was all his time busy in building the old waste places, and raising up the foundations of many generations; so that he was worthily called, "The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in," Isaiah 58:12 . Eusebius saith, Nehemiah was twelve years in building the walls; he should have said, the city. Jerome likewise saith, that he came to Jerusalem in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, and made an end of building the wall and city in the two and thirtieth year; so that, during the whole twelve years of his government, he was in action.

Verse 5

And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein,

And my God put into my heart — Seeing how thinly the city was inhabited, and casting in his mind what evil might come of it, he bethinks himself (by a motion from heaven) how to set things to rights; that the city might be better peopled, and so preserved. This to do, God put into his heart by his Holy Spirit (the sweet motions whereof are the sound of his goings, the footsteps of his anointed, Psalms 89:51 ). We are not sufficient of ourselves (saith that great apostle) to think anything as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is of God, 2 Corinthians 3:5 . Nemo vir magnus sine aliquo afflatu Divino unquam fuit, saith Cicero; no man ever grew to be greatly good without a Divine instinct.

To gather together the nobles, and the rulers, … — That out of them a tenth man might be taken to furnish out the city, Nehemiah 11:1 , after that they had been first prepared by the hearing of the law, Nehemiah 8:2 .

That they might be reckoned by their genealogy — And so, Jerusalem be inhabited again, in her own place, even in Jerusalem, Zechariah 12:6 .

Verse 6

These [are] the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came again to Jerusalem and to Judah, every one unto his city;

These are the children, … — See Ezra 2:1-3 , …, with the notes. Some small differences there are in names and numbers between this catalogue and that; not by the negligence of the scribes who wrote out this register, as Pellican would have it, but by other means, as is above noted.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Nehemiah 7". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/nehemiah-7.html. 1865-1868.
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