“When it began to be dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut. I gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. 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. I 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. I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves. They should come and guard the gates, to keep the Sabbath day holy.
Also in my favor,
O my God,
According to the greatness of thy steadfast love.’”
Apparently Nehemiah must have some royal authority. He ordered that the gates of the city be closed during the Sabbath, from the sunset of Friday to the sunset on Saturday. He even put guards on the gates. The merchants stayed outside the gates in the hopes that they could conduct business just outside the gates. He scared off the merchants by saying that he was going to lay hands on them. He then commanded the Levites to stand guard at the gates during the Sabbath to keep it holy. Then he once again uttered a prayer to God to spare him out of his great love.