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Before entering on this voyage of discovery, Necho had commenced re-opening the canal from the Nile to the Red Sea, which had been cut many years before by Sesostris or Rameses the Great. The work, however, if we may believe Herodotus, was abandoned, an oracle warning the Egyptian monarch that he was labouring for the barbarian (Herod. ii. 158).
Necho also turned his attention to the Egyptian conquests already made in Asia: and, fearing lest the growing power of the Babylonians should endanger the territories acquired by the arms of his victorious predecessors, he determined to check their progress, and to attack the enemy on his own frontier. With this view he collected a powerful army, and entering Palestine, followed the route along the sea-coast of Judæa, intending to besiege the town of Carchemish on the Euphrates. But Josiah, king of Judah, offended at the passage of the Egyptian army through his territories, resolved to impede, if unable to prevent, their march. Necho sent messengers to induce him to desist, assuring him that he had no hostile intentions against Judæa, 'but against the house wherewith I have war; for God commanded me to make haste.' This conciliatory message was of no avail. Josiah posted himself in the valley of Megiddo, and prepared to oppose the Egyptians. In this valley the feeble forces of the Jewish king, having attacked Necho, were routed with great slaughter. Josiah, being wounded in the neck with an arrow, ordered his attendants to take him from the field. Escaping from the heavy shower of arrows with which their broken ranks were overwhelmed, they removed him from the chariot in which he had been wounded, and placing him in a second one that he had,' they conveyed him to Jerusalem, where he died (2 Kings xxiii. 29, sq.; 2 Chron. xxxv. 20, sq.).
he meant Jerusalem; the word is only a Greek form of the ancient, as well as the modern, name of that city.
Pleased with his success, the Egyptian monarch dedicated the dress he wore to the Deity who was supposed to have given him the victory. He did not long enjoy the advantages he had obtained. In the fourth year after his expedition, being alarmed at the increasing power of the Babylonians, he again marched into Syria, and advanced to the Euphrates. The Babylonians were prepared for his approach. Nebuchadnezzar completely routed his army, recovered the town of Carchemish, and, pushing his conquests through Palestine, took from Necho ali the territory belonging to the Pharaohs, from the Euphrates to the southern extremity of Syria (2 Kings xxiv. 7; Jer. xlvi. 2; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 9; 2 Kings xxiv. 8). Nebuchadnezzar deposed Jehoiachin, who had succeeded his father, and carried the warriors and treasures away to Baby lon; a short time previous to which Necho died, and was succeeded by Psammetichus II.
NEG'INIOTH, a word which occurs in the titles of several Psalms [PSALMS].
NEHEMIAH (comforted of Jehovah). Three persons of this name occur in Scripture; one, the son of Azbuk (Neh. iii. 16), respecting whom no more is known than that he was ruler in Beth-zur, and took a prominent part in repairing the wall of Jerusalem [BETH-ZUR]. Another is mentioned (Ezra ii. 2; Neh. vii. 7) among those who accompanied Zerubbabel on the first return from captivity. Nothing further is known of this man, though some writers hold him, without valid reasons, to be the same with the well-known Jewish patriot.
NEHEMIAH, whose genealogy is unknown, except that he was the son of Hachaliah (Neh. i. 1), and brother of Hanani (Neh. vii. 2). Some think he was of priestly descent, because his name appears at the head of a list of priests in Neh. x. 1-8; but it is obvious, from Neh. ix. 38, that he stands there as a prince, and not as a priest-that he heads the list because he was head of the nation. Others with some probability infer, from his station at the Persian court and the high commission he received, that he was, like Zerubbabel, of the tribe of Judah and of the house of David.
Intent upon his original project, Necho did not stop to revenge himself upon the Jews, but continued his march to the Euphrates. Three months had scarcely elapsed, when, returning from the capture of Carchemish and the defeat of the Chaldæans, he learned that, though Josiah had left an elder son, Jehoahaz had caused himself to be proclaimed king on the death of his father, without soliciting Necho to sanction his taking the crown. Incensed at this, he ordered Jehoahaz to meet him at Riblah, in the land of Hamath;' and having deposed him, and condemned the land to pay a heavy tribute, he carried him a prisoner to Jerusalem. On arriving there, Necho made Eliakim, the eldest son, king, changing his name to Jehoiakim; and taking the silver and gold which had been levied upon the Jewish nation, he returned to Egypt with the captive Jehoahaz, who there terminated his short and unfortunate career. Herodotus says that Necho, after having routed the Syrians (the Jews) at Magdolus, took Cady tis, a large city of Syria, in Palestine, which, he adds, is very little less than Sardis (ii. 159; iii. 5). By Cadytis there is scarcely a doubt | ing many discouragements and difficulties, caused
While Nehemiah was cupbearer in the royal palace at Shushan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, or 444 years B.C. [ARTAXERXES], he learned the mournful and desolate condition of the returned colony in Judæa. This filled him with such deep and prayerful concern for his country, that his sad countenance revealed to the king his sorrow of heart;' which induced the monarch to ascertain the cause, and also to vouchsafe the remedy, by sending him, with full powers, to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.' Being furnished with this high commission, and enjoying the protection of a military escort (ch. ii. 9), Nehemiah reached Jerusalem in the year D C. 444, and remained there till B.C. 432, being actively engaged for twelve years in promoting the public good (ch. v. 14). The principal work which he then accomplished was the rebuilding, or rather the repairing, of the city wall, which was done in fifty and two days' (ch. vi. 15), notwithstand
chiefly by Sapballat, a Moabite of Horonaim, and Tobiah, an Ammonite, who were leading men in the rival and unfriendly colony of Samaria (ch. iv. 1-3). These men, with their allies among the Arabians, Ammonites, and Ashdodites (ch. iv. 7), sought to hinder the re-fortifying of Jerusalem, first by scoffing at the attempt; then by threatening to attack the workmen-which Nehemiah averted by setting a watch against them day and night,' and arming the whole people, so that 'every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon' (ch. iv. 7-18); and finally, when scoffs and threats had failed, by using various stratagems to weaken Nehemiah's authority, and even to take his life (ch. vi. 1-14). But in the midst of these dangers from without, our patriot encountered troubles and hinderances from his own people, arising out of the general distress, which was aggravated by the cruel exactions and oppression of their nobles and rulers (ch. v. 1-5). These popular grievances were promptly redressed on the earnest and solemn remonstrance of Nehemiah, who had himself set a striking example of retrenchment and generosity in his high office (ch. v. 6-19). It appears also (ch. vi. 17-19) that some of the chief men in Jerusalem were at that time in conspiracy with Tobiah against Nehemiah. The wall was thus built in troublous times' (Dan. ix. 25); and its completion was most joyously celebrated by a solemn dedication (ch. xii. 27-43).
Having succeeded in fortifying the city, Nehemiah turned his attention to other measures in order to secure its good government and prosperity. He appointed some necessary officers (ch. vii. 1-3; also ch. xii. 44-47), and excited among the people more interest and zeal in religion by the public reading and exposition of the law (ch. viii. 1-12), by the unequalled celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (ch. viii. 13-18), and by the observance of a national fast, when the sins of the people and the iniquities of their fathers were publicly and most strikingly confessed (ch. ix.), and when also a solemn covenant was made by all ranks and classes to walk in God's law,' by avoiding intermarriages with the heathen, by strictly observing the Sabbath, and by contributing to the support of the temple service (ch. x). But the inhabitants of the city were as yet too few to defend it and to ensure its prosperity; and hence Nehemiah brought one out of every ten in the country to take up his abode in the ancient capital, which then presented so few inducements to the settler, that the people blessed all the men that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem' (ch. vii. 4; also ch. xi. 1-19).
In these important public proceedings, which appear all to have happened in the first year of his government, Nehemiah enjoyed the assistance of Ezra, who is named on several occasions as taking a prominent part in conducting affairs ch. viii. 1, 9, 13; xii. 36). Ezra had gone up to Jerusalem thirteen years before according to some, or thirty-three years according to others; but on either reckoning, without supposing unusual longevity, he might well have lived to be Nehemiah's fellow-labourer [EZRA].
Nehemiah, at the close of his successful administration, from the twentieth year even to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king' (ch. v.
| 14), returned to Babylon in the year B.C. 432, and resumed, as some think, his duties as royal cupbearer.
He returned, however, after a while, to Jerusalem, where his services became again requisite, in consequence of abuses that had crept in during his absence. His stay at the court of Artaxerxes| was not very long (certainly not above nine years); for after certain days he obtained leave of the king and came to Jerusalem' (ch. xiii. 6, 7).
After his return to the government of Judæa, Nehemiah enforced the separation of all the mixed multitude from Israel (ch. xiii. 1–3); and accordingly expelled Tobiah the Ammonite from the chamber which the high-priest, Eliashib, had prepared for him in the temple (ch. xiii. 4-9). Better arrangements were also made for the support of the temple service (ch. xiii. 10-14), and for the rigid observance of the Sabbath (ch. xiii. 15-22). One of the last acts of his government was an effort to put an end to mixed marriages, which led him to chase' away a son of Joiada the high-priest, because he was son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite (ch. xiii. 23-29). His second administration probably lasted about ten years, and terminated about the year B.C. 405, towards the close of the reign of Darius Nothus, who is mentioned in ch. xii. 22 [DARIUS]. At this time Nehemiah would be between sixty and seventy years old, if we suppose him (as most do) to have been only between twenty and thirty when he first went to Jerusalem. Of the place and year of his death nothing is known.
THE BOOK OF NEHEMIAH, which bears the title Nehemiah's Words, was anciently connected with Ezra, as if it formed part of the same work. It arose, doubtless, from the fact that Nehemiah is a sort of continuation of Ezra [EZRA].
The canonical character of Nehemiah's work is established by very ancient testimony.
The contents of the book have been specified above in the biography of the author. The work can scarcely be called a history of Nehemiah and his times. It is rather a collection of notices of some important transactions that happened during the first year of his government, with a few scraps from his later history. The contents appear to be arranged in chronological order, with the exception perhaps of ch. xii. 27-43, where the account of the dedication of the wall seems out of its proper place: we might expect it rather after ch. vii. 1-4, where the completion of the wall is mentioned.
As to the date of the book, it is not likely that it came from Nehemiah's hand till near the close of his life. Certainly it could not have been all written before the expulsion of the priest, recorded in ch. xiii. 23-29, which took place about the year B.C. 413.
While the book as a whole is considered to have come from Nehemiah, it consists in part of compilation. He doubtless wrote the greater part himself, but some portions he evidently took from other works. It is allowed by all that he is, in the strictest sense, the author of the narrative from ch. i. to ch. vii. 5. The account in ch vii. 6-75 isavowedly compiled, for he says in ver. 5, 'I found a register,' &c. This register we actually find also in Ezra ii. 1-70: hence it might be thought that our author borrowed this part from Ezra,
It is interesting to observe that the fishermen 'n the boat, excepting the master (No. 264), are
almost naked, as are also those who have occasion to wade in the water in hauling the net to the shore (No. 265). Such seems also to have been the practice among the Hebrew fishermen; for Peter, when he left the boat to hasten on shore to his risen Lord, 'girt his fisher's coat unto him, for he was naked' (John xxi. 7); although, in this case, the word naked' must be understood with some latitude [NAKED].
Nets were also used in taking birds, to an extent of which we can scarcely form an adequate conception. A clap-net was usually employed. This was of different kinds. It consisted of two sides or frames, over which the net-work was spread: at one end was a short net, which they fastened to a bush, or a cluster of reeds, and at the other was one of considerable length, which, as soon as the birds were seen feeding in the area within, was pulled by the fowlers, causing the instantaneous collapse of the two sides (No. 266).
In hunting, a space of considerable size was sometimes enclosed with nets, into which the animals were driven by beaters. The spots thus enclosed were usually in the vicinity of the water-brooks to which they were in the habit of repairing in the morning and evening; and having awaited the time when they went to drink, the hunters disposed their nets, occupied proper positions for observing them unseen, and gradually closed in upon them. These practices are obviously alluded to in such passages as Job xix. 6; Ps. cxl. 5; Isa. li. 20. NETH'INÍM. This name, which means the given' or the devoted,' was applied to the servants of the temple, or temple slaves, who were under the Levites in the ministry of the tabernacle and temple. The first servants whom the Levites obtained were the Gibeonites, on whom devolved the very laborious services of fetching water and collecting wood (Josh. ix. 3-27). The number of such servants appears to have been increased by David; and it seems to have been then, when these servants ceased to be wholly Gibeonites, that Nethinim came into use as a proper name for the whole class (Ezra viii. 20). From that time forward, they appear
to have been no longer regarded or treated as slaves, but as the lowest order of the servants of the sanctuary; who, although in their origin foreigners and heathen, had doubtless embraced the Jewish religion. These did not all forget their relationship to the sanctuary during the Captivity. Some of them returned to their duties under the decree of Cyrus, and were placed in cities with the Levites (Neh. xi. 3; Ezra ii. 70; 1 Chron. ix. 27). It was not to be expected that many of them would return to this humble station in Palestine, but 220 accompanied Ezra (Ezra viii. 20), and 392 Zerubbabel (ii. 5-8). The voluntary devotedness which was thus manifested by these persons considerably raised the station of the Nethinim, which was thenceforth regarded rather as honourable than degrading. Their number was, however, insufficient for the service of the temple; whence, as Josephus tells us, a festival, called Xylophoria, was established, in which the people, to supply the deficiency, were obliged to bring a certain quantity of wood to the temple for the use of the altar of burntoffering.
NETO PHAH, a place not far from Bethlehem in Judæa (Ezra ii. 22; Neh. vii. 26). Hence the Gentile name Netophite (2 Sam. xxiii. 28, 29; 2 Kings xxv. 23).
NETTLES. The word (charul) which is so rendered, occurs in three places in Scripture. Thus in Prov. xxiv. 30, 31, it is written, 'I went by the field of the slothful, &c., and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles (charullim) had covered the face thereof.' So in Job xxx. 7 it is stated that he was insulted by the children of those whom he would formerly have disdained to employ, and who were so abject and destitute that among the bushes they brayed; under the nettles they were gathered together;' and in Zeph. ii. 9. Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and salt-pits, and a perpetual desolation.' Considerable difficulty has been experienced in determining the plant which is alluded to in the above passages. The majority of translators and commentators have thought that some thorny or prickly plant, or a nettle, is intended. Hence brambles, the wild plum, and thistles, have been severally selected; but nettles have had the greatest number of supporters.
NEW MOON. [FESTIVALS; MOON.] NEW YEAR. YEAR.]
NIB'HAZ, an idol of the Avites (2 Kings xvii. 31). In the Zabian books the corresponding name is that of an evil demon, who sits on a throne upon the earth, while his feet rest on the bottom of Tartarus; but it is doubtful whether this should be identified with the Avite Nibhaz.
NICODE'MUS, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrim, who was impressed by what he had heard concerning Jesus; but being unwilling, on account of his station, to commit himself without greater surety than he possessed, repaired by night to the house in which Christ dwelt, and held with him that important discourse which occupies the third chapter of John's Gospel. The effect which was then produced upon his mind may be collected from the fact that subsequently, at one of the sittings of the venerable body to
which he belonged, he ventured to let fall a few |
NICOLAITANS. This word occurs twice in the New Testament (Rev. ii. 6, 15). In the former passage the conduct of the Nicolaitans is condemned; in the latter, the angel of the church in Pergamus is censured because certain members of his church held their doctrine. Various traditionary accounts of the origin and practices of this sect have been given by the fathers, but none of them are entitled to any credit.
It is evident from the accounts which they give, that the Nicolaitans with whom they were acquainted were Gnostics; since they impute to them the distinctive tenets and practices of the Gnostics. But in the short aliusion in Rev. ii. 6, 15, there is nothing to identify the tenets or confduct alluded to with Gnosticism, even supposing that Gnosticism, properly so called, existed in the Apostolic age, which, to say the least, has not been proved to be the case. So that the conjecture mentioned by Mosheim, and which Tertullian appears to favour, may be regarded as probable, that the Nicolaitans mentioned in Revelation had erroneously been confounded with a party of Gnostics formed at a later period by one Nicholas.
The ingenious conjecture of Michaelis is worthy of consideration, who supposes that by Nicolaitans (Rev. ii. 6, 15) the same class of persons is intended whom St. Peter (2 Ep. ii. 15) describes followers of the way of Balaam; and that their name, Nicolaitans, is merely a Greek translation of their Hebrew designation. The only objection which occurs to us against this very ingenious and probable supposition, arises from the circumstance that, in the passage, Rev. ii. 14, 15, Doth they that hold the doctrine of Balaam,' and the Nicolaitans,' are specified, and are distinguished from each other: So hast thou also,' the Nicolaitans, as well as the Balaamites, mentioned in the previous verse. So that whatever general agreement there might be between those two classes of heretics-and their collocation in the passage before us seems to imply that ¡
there was such agreement—it appears equally evident that some distinction also must have separated them the one from the other.
NICOLAS, a proselyte of Antioch, and one of the seven deacons (Acts vi. 5). Nothing further is known of him; but a large body of unsafe tradition has been connected with his name, under the supposition that he was the founder of the heresy of the Nicolaitans, stigmatised in Rev. ii. 6, 15. (See the preceding article.)
NICOPOLIS, a city of Thrace, now Nicopi, on the river Nessus, now Karasou, which was here the boundary between Thrace and Macedonia; and hence the city is sometimes reckoned as belonging to the latter. In Titus iii. 15, Paul expresses an intention to winter at Nicopolis, and invites Titus, then in Crete, to join him there. NIGER. SIMON.]
NIGHT. The general division of the night among the Hebrews has been described under DAY; and it only remains to indicate a few marked applications of the word. The term of human life is usually called a day in Scripture; but in one passage it is called night, to be followed soon by day, the day is at hand' (Rom. viii. 12). Being a time of darkness, the image and shadow of death, in which the beasts of prey go forth to devour, it was made a symbol of a season of adversity and trouble, in which men prey upon each other, and the strong tyrannize over the weak (Isa. xxi. 12; Zech. xiv. 6, 7; comp. Rev. xxi. 23; xxii. 5). Hence continued day, or the absence of night, implies a constant state of quiet and happiness, undisturbed by the vicissitudes of peace and war. Night is also put, as in our own language, for a time of ignorance and helplessness (Mic. iii. 6). In John ix. 4, night represents death, a necessary result of the correlative usage which makes life a day.
NIGHT-HAWK (Lev. xi. 16; Deut. xiv. 15) is mentioned as one of the unclean birds in the Pentateuch, but so little characterized that no decided opinion can be expressed as to what species is really intended. Commentators incline to the belief that the name imports voracity, and therefore indicates a species of owl, which, however, we take to be not this bird, but the lilith; and as the night-hawk of Europe, or a species very nearly allied to it, is an inhabitant of Syria, there is no reason for absolutely rejecting it in this place, since it belongs to a genus highly connected with superstitions in all countries; and though a voracious bird among moths, and other insects that are abroad during darkness, it is absolutely harmless to all other animals, and as wrongfully accused of sucking the udders of goats, as of being an indicator of misfortune and death to those who happen to see it fly past them after evening twilight; yet, beside the name of goat sucker,' it is denominated 'night-hawk' and night-raven,' as if it were a bulky species, with similar powers of mischief as those day birds possess. The night-hawk is a migratory bird, inferior in size to a thrush, and has very weak talons and bill; but the gape or mouth is wide; it makes now and then a plaintive cry, and preys on the wing; it flies with the velocity and action of a swallow, the two genera being nearly allied. Like those of most night birds, the eyes are large and remarkable, and the plumage a mixture of colours and dots, with a pre