So neither I, my brethren, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me took off our clothes, except that everyone took them off for washing. NKJVThe Bible can really get specific at times, such as by clearing up that there was one instance that they took off their clothes. However, this specification does clear up that the statement before it is no gross over-exageration.
In the previous verse Nehemiah puts forth that the men and their servants should remain within Jerusalem at night as guards and work during the day. That they never removed their clothes except to wash shows that they were doing exactly that.
They were camping out. All of their effort was going into building the wall and defending it's unfinished stones.
They worked, stood guard, went to sleep, woke up and worked some more.
They were not returning home to their families at the end of a long work day, seeing their children and wives, sitting down to a warm meal and relaxing by the house fire come night, rejuvenating themselves while looking forward to another day of good hard and productive work. What they were doing was hard.
They worked with all their might through the day carrying weapons on hand encase of attack. When it grew dark the men remained onsite, weapons ready and sleeping in shifts to ensure the wall was well guarded from enemies known to have a desire for blood. When their shift came to sleep these men did not change their clothes and crawl into a warm bed, it's possible they just got down on the ground, clothes as the verse says unchanged, weapons STILL on hand and ready encase of sudden attack. The only time they removed their clothes was to bath.
But look at other translations of the same verse:
So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water. NASB
So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand. ESV
And I, my brothers, my men, and the guards with me never took off our clothes, each carried his weapon, even when washing. HCSB
Even in bathing they brought their weapons, always ready should the trumpet sound and everyone be called to rally.
In those days their weapons were swords and bows and spears of metal and wood for cleaving flesh and bringing death.
Today our weapon is living and powerful. Sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow. It is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. [Hebrews 4:12]
Nehemiah had an enemy on the verge of attack and willing and wanting to strike at anytime, at the opportune and most destructive moment. Because of this Nehemiah set guards and prepared the defenses, calling the people to readiness.
If Nehemiah, in all evidence fully backed by the strength and might of God, had to put in so much effort to be prepared encase worst came to worst, how much more should we prepare ourselves being faced by the powers of darkness and the Prince of the Power of the Air? When our enemies are not of flesh and bone but spirits who cannot be deterred from attack by the readiness of a sword? When we could be called at anytime to make a defense? [1 Peter 3:15]
I fell out of the habit of verse memorization and am going to get back into it, working to memorize at least one verse a week and asking my fellow Ingite-ers to help keep me accountable. (God help me please, verse memorization is not my forte.)
that He brings
what He wants
for the reasons
He wants it.