New Defender's Study Bible Notes
4:1 mocked the Jews. The pagan enemies that surrounded the Jews tried various means to keep them from building the temple. They had failed politically and sociologically (Ezra 5:6,17; 6:6-7; 9:1; 10:11-12). Then, when Nehemiah began work on the wall, they tried discouragement by ridicule (Nehemiah 2:19; 4:1-3), by threat of violence (Nehemiah 4:7-8), and finally by attempted treachery (Nehemiah 6:2). Likewise, the enemies of God’s Word and God’s plan today use political means, compromising infiltration, ridicule, treachery, and finally violent persecution to defeat God’s people. But God still gives victory to those who are faithful to His Word, consistent in His work, and persistent in prayer.
4:7 Ashdodites. The Ashdodites (or Philistines) were west of Jerusalem, the Arabians were on the south, the Ammonites were on the east, with Governor Sanballat and the Samaritans on the north. Thus Jerusalem was surrounded by enemies, but God Himself was in their midst, and that was enough.
4:9 made our prayer. “Watch and pray,” the Lord told His disciples (Matthew 26:41). Thus, Nehemiah’s workmen both “made our prayer” and “set a watch.”
4:14 fight for your brethren. The Jews at this time had no standing army, nor could they hire mercenaries. Thus they all must be ready to fight for their own families and for their Jewish brethren. With each taking turn, half the men would stand guard while the other half repaired the wall (Nehemiah 4:16). Even those who worked had ready weapons (Nehemiah 4:17-18). Above all, they had faith that their “great and terrible” Lord whom they served, would help them (Nehemiah 4:14). And He did!