’Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.’
Who is there, that, being as I am—that is, being a layman, not a priest—as I am, could go into the temple and live? for that is the better translation. In other words, if I, Nehemiah, who am not a priest, should break the clear command of God, by crossing the threshold of the temple, instead of saving my life I should lose it. I will not go in.
So failed this dastardly plot to get Nehemiah to sin, in order that his God might desert him. The sentinel stood unmoved at his post, Nehemiah goes on steadily with his work. Should such a man as I flee? And in fifty-two days after its commencement, in less than two months, the wall was finished, vi. 15.
With a huge army, with hundreds of horses, and with twenty elephants, Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, crossed over from Greece to Italy to conquer the Romans. No elephants had ever before been seen in Italy; and when the two armies met, and the huge animals advanced with their dark trunks curling and snorting, and their ponderous feet shaking the earth, the horses in the Roman army were so terrified that they refused to move, and Pyrrhus won an easy victory. After the battle was over Pyrrhus walked amongst the dead, and looked at the bodies of his slain foes. As he did so, one fact struck him very forcibly, and it was this, the Romans did not know how to run away. Not one had turned and fled from the field of battle. The wounds were all in front, not one was wounded in the back.
‘Ah,’ said Pyrrhus, ’with such soldiers as that the whole world would belong to me.’
Soldiers of Christ, let us be brave for the Master. Let the language of the heart of each in the Lord’s army be that of Nehemiah, ’Should such a man as I flee?’ Nay, I will not flee, I will not desert my post, I will stand my ground, bravely, consistently, perseveringly, unto death.
The Tarpeian Rock was the place where Roman criminals who had been guilty of the crime of treason were executed. They were thrown headlong from this rock into the valley below, and perished at its base. The rock took its name from a woman named Tarpeia, who has ever been a disgrace to her sex, and whose name was hated in Rome, for she was a traitress to her country. For a long time the war had raged between the Romans and the Sabines. The Romans were at last compelled to shut themselves up in their strong fortress, which the Sabines attempted to take, but in vain. So steep were the rocks on which it stood, so strong were the walls, that the Sabines must have given up their attempt in despair, had it not been for the treachery of Tarpeia, the governor’s daughter. She looked down from the fortress into the Sabine host, and she noticed that, whilst with their right arms