When it began to be dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the sabbath. And I set some of my servants over the gates, to prevent any burden from being brought in on the sabbath day. Then the merchants and sellers of all kinds of merchandise spent the night outside Jerusalem once or twice. But I warned them and said to them, “Why do you spend the night in front of the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you.” From that time on they did not come on the sabbath.
Interesting economic implications. There was a real understanding of human nature that understood the power of economics on the human self. If you let the market or commercialism have any real presence among the people of God, it destroys them, and invites God’s wrath upon them. The market destroys souls. We cannot “un-economize” our selves. Hence Paul’s disruption of the Ephesians market when people are converted. This is essentially what the Pope wrote about recently. We can use the market to serve human flourishing, or we can serve it at the expense of that flourishing. Nehemiah knows the tendency of the human heart to serve economics rather than have it serve us, so he keeps the merchants away from God’s people on the Sabbath, when they should be re-syncing themselves with the Living God.