Nehemiah 3
Pulpit Commentary
Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel.
Verse 1. - Then Eliashib the high priest rose up. It is satisfactory to find Eliashib the high priest taking the part which befitted him on this occasion. Subsequently we find him "allied by marriage to Tobiah (Nehemiah 13:4), and guilty of a profanation of the temple (ibid. ver. 5). By the line of high priests given in Nehemiah 12:10, 11, it appears that Eliashib was the son of Joiakim, and the grandson of the Jeshua who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:2; Ezra 3:2). With his brethren. The priests generally. Compare ver. 28, which shows that the priests undertook a portion of the eastern wall, besides the work here mentioned. Builded the sheep gate. The "sheep gate" appears to have been a gate in the eastern wall, the προβατική of St. John (John %;2), which was close to the pool of Bethesda. By this gate were brought in the sheep needed for sacrifice, which were then washed in the adjoining pool, and conveyed from it into the temple area, whereon the pool abuts. The priests dwelt principally in this portion of the city. They sanctified it. This appears to have been a dedication quite distinct from that which is described in Nehemiah 12:27-43. The priests, having completed the rebuilding of the sheep gate, and of the wall extending from it northwards as far as the tower of Hananeel, anticipated the general dedication by a special one, which "sanctified," or consecrated, their own portion of the wall Thus a sacred character was impressed on the work at the earliest possible moment, and it was placed under the protection of the Almighty. The tower of Meah (or rather Hammeah, i.e. "the Hundred") and the tower of Hananeel appear to have been situated almost at the same point of the wall. Perhaps they were opposite each other, like the towers in the walls of Babylon (Herod., 1:179).
And next unto him builded the men of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri.
Verse 2. - Next to Eliashib builded the men of Jericho, who were assigned the northeastern corner of the wall, as the part nearest to their own town. The inclusion of Jericho in the restored Judea had appeared from Ezra 2:34.
But the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build, who also laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.
Verse 3. - It is strange that the sons of Hassenaah, who built the fourth piece of wall, are not mentioned by name. There is no other similar omission. The fish gate, which they built, was in the northern wall, towards its eastern extremity, and not far from the modern "Damascus gate." It is thought to be so called from being the gate through which fish were brought in from the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee. The locks thereof should rather be "the bars thereof"; and the bars, "the sockets," or "catches," which held the bars. The gates of towns in ancient times were almost always secured in this way.
And next unto them repaired Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz. And next unto them repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabeel. And next unto them repaired Zadok the son of Baana.
Verse 4. - The son of Koz. Rather "the son of Hakkoz." Meshullam the son of Berechiah is mentioned again in Nehemiah 6:18.
And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.
Verse 5. - The Tekoites are the people of Tekoah, whence came the "wise woman" whom Joab sent to incline David to fetch home Absalom (2 Kings 14:2, 3). It was a small place, and does not appear, either in the catalogue of those who returned with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:20-35; Nehemiah 7:25-38), or in the census list of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 11:25-35). Their nobles put not their necks to the work. This imputation of blame has been thought out of harmony with the general narrative contained in the chapter, and various emendations have been proposed to remove the so-called difficulty. But it has really first to be shown that a difficulty exists. Surely it would have been more strange if there had been no opposition to Nehemiah's wishes - no withdrawal from the work, than if there were the amount of opposition that is recorded. And supposing opposition to be made, why should Nehemiah not notice it? In music, the force and value of harmonious notes is brought out by an occasional discord. A desire to do honour to those who deserved it would be quite compatible with a determination to brand with disgrace the undeserving. And the contrast would enhance the value of the praise. Thus, there is no reason for disturbing the existing text, nor for questioning its plain meaning. The upper classes at Tekoah, the adirim or "exalted, withdrew from the work, like oxen withdrawing their necks from the yoke, and stood aloof, leaving it to the common people to engage in it, or not, as they pleased. The common people were perhaps moved to the greater zeal by the defection of their natural leaders. They were among those who accomplished a double task, repairing a second portion of the wall (ver. 27) after having finished their first.
Moreover the old gate repaired Jehoiada the son of Paseah, and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah; they laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, and the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.
Verse 6. - The old gate must either have corresponded to the modern "Damascus gate" or have been in its near neighbourhood. It is not mentioned elsewhere.
And next unto them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite, and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon, and of Mizpah, unto the throne of the governor on this side the river.
Verse 7. - Gibeon and Mispah lay due north of Jerusalem, at the distance respectively of about 5.5 and 4.5 miles The inhabitants were set to repair the middle part of the north wall. Unto the throne of the governor on this side the river. So the Septuagint; and, among moderns, Michaelis, Pool, and A. Clarke. Others translate - "the men of Gibeon and Mizpah, who belonged to the jurisdiction of the governor across the river." But this can scarcely have been the fact, since Gibeon is mentioned among the re-occupied cities in Nehemiah 7:25, and if Bethel was Jewish, as we know that it was from Nehemiah 11:31, Gibeon and Mizpah, which were nearer Jerusalem, cannot have remained Syrian. Altogether, there is no reason to dispute the commonly received rendering, since Nehemiah again uses ל for עד in ver. 32, and the governor of Syria may well have had a "throne," or tribunal, at Jerusalem, which was usually under his jurisdiction, though exempted from his authority under the existing regime.
Next unto him repaired Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, of the goldsmiths. Next unto him also repaired Hananiah the son of one of the apothecaries, and they fortified Jerusalem unto the broad wall.
Verse 8.- Hananiah the son of one of the apothecaries. Or "the son of Harak-kashim." They fortified Jerusalem unto the broad wall. The Septuagint has κατέ
And next unto them repaired Rephaiah the son of Hur, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem.
Verse 9. - The ruler of the half part of Jerusalem. Compare verse 11. The city itself does not seem to be intended, but rather the territory outside which was considered to belong to the city. This was divided into two portions, under two "princes" or "rulers," Rephaiah and Shallum.
And next unto them repaired Jedaiah the son of Harumaph, even over against his house. And next unto him repaired Hattush the son of Hashabniah.
Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hashub the son of Pahathmoab, repaired the other piece, and the tower of the furnaces.
Verse 11. - Malchijah and Hashub, who are here said to have repaired, not the other piece, but "a second piece"of the wall, have not been previously mentioned in our present text; whence it has been concluded with reason (Bertheau) that the text is defective, some whole verses having fallen out (comp. ver. 20). The tower of the furnaces is mentioned again in Nehemiah 12:38. Its exact position cannot be fixed.
And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.
Verse 12. - He and his daughters. It seems to be almost impossible that women were pressed into the service, especially when it was one of so much danger (Nehemiah 4:13-21). By "daughters" we must therefore understand the villages contained in Shallum's district, which is agreeable to the use of the term in Nehemiah 11:25, 27, 28.
The valley gate repaired Hanun, and the inhabitants of Zanoah; they built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof, and a thousand cubits on the wall unto the dung gate.
Verse 13. - The valley gate. A gate in the western wall (See the comment on Nehemiah 2:13.) Zanoah was situated to the west of Jerusalem at the distance of some nine or ten miles. It is mentioned in Joshua 15:34 as a city of Judah, but was not a place of much importance. We can scarcely suppose that the inhabitants had as much as a thousand cubits of the wall assigned to them, since that is more than a quarter of a mile, and the entire circuit was under four miles. Bertheau suggests that Nehemiah merely means to note that the distance between the two gates, the Valley and the Dung gate, was a thousand cubits, and that he says nothing of the repairs because no repairs were needed.
But the dung gate repaired Malchiah the son of Rechab, the ruler of part of Bethhaccerem; he built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.
Verse 14. - The dung gate. See the comment on Nehemiah 2:13. The ruler of part of Beth-haccerem. Rather "ruler of the district of Beth-haccerem," or head man of the region within which Beth-haccerem, was situated. This was a district in the neighbourhood of Tekoah (Jeremiah 6:1).
But the gate of the fountain repaired Shallun the son of Colhozeh, the ruler of part of Mizpah; he built it, and covered it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof, and the wall of the pool of Siloah by the king's garden, and unto the stairs that go down from the city of David.
Verse 15. - The gate of the fountain. See the comment on Nehemiah 2:14. The ruler of part of Mizpah. Rather, "ruler of the district of Mizpah," which is distinguished from the town of Mizpah (vers. 7, 19), and shown to have furnished a distinct working party. The wall of the pool of Siloah was probably an outwork designed to protect those who at a time of siege frequented this fountain. The pool must always have been outside of the main wall of the city. It furnished water to the royal garden, which was at the junction of the Kidron and Hinnora valleys (Joseph. 'Ant. Jud.,' 7:11; 2 Kings 25:4). The stairs that go down from the city of David may well be the flight of stone steps cut in the rock which is still to be seen on the western flank of Ophel, leading from the valley of the Tyropeeon in the direction of the temple (see Stanley, 'Lectures on the Jewish Church,' Third Series, p. 126; Tristram, 'Land of Israel,' p. 190).
After him repaired Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of the half part of Bethzur, unto the place over against the sepulchres of David, and to the pool that was made, and unto the house of the mighty.
Verse 16. - Nehemiah the son of Azbuk. Not the writer, who was "the son of Hachaliah" (Nehemiah 1:1), but another person of the same name. It was the frequent bearing of the same name by two or more contemporaries which made it necessary to designate men generally by their own names and the names of their fathers. Bethzur ("House of the Rock") is now Beit-Sur, and lies on the ordinary route from Jerusalem to Hebron, about fifteen miles south of Jerusalem. It is mentioned in Joshua 15:58 among the cities of Judah, and appears to have become a place of considerable importance under the Maccabees (1 Maccabees 4:29 1 Maccabees 6:31-50 1 Maccabees 14:7; etc.). The sepulchres of David and the kings, his descendants, to the time of Hezekiah, were excavated in the rock upon which the temple stood (Ezekiel 43:7-9), apparently on its western side. They have not hitherto been discovered. Here too was the pool that was made by Hezekiah when he was about to be besieged by Sennacherib (2 Chronicles 32:30; Isaiah 22:9-11). The house of the mighty - the Gibborim, or "mighty men of David (2 Samuel 23:8; 1 Chronicles 11:10) - is not elsewhere mentioned. It was no doubt the barrack where, according to tradition, David had quartered his best troops.
After him repaired the Levites, Rehum the son of Bani. Next unto him repaired Hashabiah, the ruler of the half part of Keilah, in his part.
Verse 17. - The ruler of the half part of Keilah. Rather, "ruler of one-half of the region of K." The district within which Keilah stood was divided into two parts, one of which was under Hashabiah and the other under Bavai (ver. 18). Both took part in the work of restoration, and the two working-parties were assigned adjacent portions of the wall In his part; Rather, "for his part" - pro tractu suo, as Rambach renders.
After him repaired their brethren, Bavai the son of Henadad, the ruler of the half part of Keilah.
Verse 18. - Keilah is probably the modern Kila, which is situated about twelve miles S.S.W. of Jerusalem, in the Shephelah, or low plain of the Philistines (1 Samuel 23:1-3). It was assigned to Judah by Joshua (Joshua 15:44), threatened with capture, but "saved" by David (1 Samuel 23:5), and apparently reoccupied on the return from the captivity.
And next to him repaired Ezer the son of Jeshua, the ruler of Mizpah, another piece over against the going up to the armoury at the turning of the wall.
Verse 19. - Another piece. Ezer has not been previously mentioned as repairing any portion of the wall; but "the men of Mizpah" have been mentioned as so doing (ver. 7). Ezer had apparently succeeded to "Jadon the Meronothita, as the superintendant of the Mizpah working-party. The going up to the armoury at the turning of the wall. Literally, "the ascent to the armoury of the corner." There were probably several armouries in Jerusalem (see Isaiah 22:8). This one was called "the armoury of the corner," being situated at the north-western angle of the special wall of the city of David. There was an "ascent" to it, either by steps, or by a steep pathway, from the Tyropoeon valley.
After him Baruch the son of Zabbai earnestly repaired the other piece, from the turning of the wall unto the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest.
Verse 20. - Earnestly repaired. So Gesenius, Pool, and Bertheau. The construction is not free from difficulty, and the reading is somewhat doubtful (the Vulgate "in monte" showing a different one); but on the whole the translation of the A. V. may stand. Baruch has the high honour of being singled out for special praise, as having shown a burning zeal which deserved this recompense. He rapidly accomplished the task first set him, the mention of which must have accidentally fallen out (see the comment on ver. 11), and now undertook a "second piece," which extended from the north-western angle of the inner wall to the door of the high priest's house. It would seem that this door was in the wall, upon which the house must have abutted (see the next verse).
After him repaired Meremoth the son of Urijah the son of Koz another piece, from the door of the house of Eliashib even to the end of the house of Eliashib.
Verse 21. - Meremoth's first piece is mentioned in ver. 4. The second piece cannot have been very long, since it only extended along a portion of the high priest's house.
And after him repaired the priests, the men of the plain.
Verse 22. - The priests who had lands in the Jordan valley seem to be intended by the men of the plain, hak-kikkar, "the plain," without further addition, having always that meaning in Scripture. We have already heard that the men of Jericho were engaged in the work (ver. 2).
After him repaired Benjamin and Hashub over against their house. After him repaired Azariah the son of Maaseiah the son of Ananiah by his house.
After him repaired Binnui the son of Henadad another piece, from the house of Azariah unto the turning of the wall, even unto the corner.
Verse 24. - After him repaired Binnui the men of Henadad another piece. The name, Binnui, has not occurred previously, but probably ought to be substituted for Bavai (בנוי for בוי) in ver. 18. He was a Levite (ch. 10:9), of the important Levitical family of Henadad, mentioned in Ezra 3:9. Unto the turning of the wall, even unto the corner. As far as the northeast angle of the special wall of the city of David, which here adjoined the main wall of Jerusalem. A tower here stood out (ver. 25), and the wall turned at a right angle, both northward and southward.
Palal the son of Uzai, over against the turning of the wall, and the tower which lieth out from the king's high house, that was by the court of the prison. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh.
Verse 25. - The tower which lieth out from the king's high house. In the original it is uncertain whether the word translated "high" belongs to "tower" or "house." Most commentators attach it to "tower." The "king's house" of this place can be nothing but the old palace of David, which was in this quarter, while Solomon's was on the opposite, or western, hill This palace, like Solomon s (Jeremiah 32:2), would naturally have its prison, which would stand in its own court. From this prison, the "prison gate" of Nehemiah 12:39 took its name.
Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth out.
Verse 26. - The Nethinims dwelt in Ophel. Ophel was "the long, narrowish, rounded spur or promontory which intervenes between the central valley of Jerusalem (the Tyropoeon) and the Kidron, or Valley of Jehoshaphat" (Grove). The Nethinims, who had their dwellings on this spur, were set to fortify a portion of the eastern circuit, but apparently restored not so much their own wall as that which lay north of it, at the edge of the present Haram area. Here must have been the water gate, which carried off the superfluous water from the temple reservoirs; and here was the great tower that lieth out, whose foundations have been recently discovered. It stood at the southeastern angle of the great platform on which the temple was built.
After them the Tekoites repaired another piece, over against the great tower that lieth out, even unto the wall of Ophel.
Verse 27. - The Tekoites repaired another piece. Compare ver. 5. Their "second piece" appears to have extended from the "great tower" to the wall built by Shallum on the western side of the spur which reached as far as the pool of Siloam (ver. 15). This is here called "the wall of Ophel."
From above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one over against his house.
Verse 28. - From above the horse gate. This was a gate in the eastern wall (Jeremiah 31:40) through which horses could enter the city. It probably adjoined the old palace, being at or near the "turning of the wall" mentioned in vers. 24, 25. Nehemiah seems here to return to the point quitted in ver. 26, and to proceed thence northwards in order to complete the entire circuit.
After them repaired Zadok the son of Immer over against his house. After him repaired also Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the east gate.
Verse 29. - Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah is very possibly the descendant of David mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:22. He must have been an old man, as his son, Hattush, had returned to Jerusalem with Ezra (Ezra 8:2, 3); but still he may have taken part in the work. That he was keeper of the east gate does not militate against this hypothesis, for that post was an honourable one, and it is not to be supposed that all the descendants of David were in flourishing circumstances. By "the east gate"we are perhaps to understand "the water gate towards the east" of ver. 26.
After him repaired Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, another piece. After him repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah over against his chamber.
Verse 30. - After him. The traditional text gives "after me;" and it has been supposed that Nehemiah assigned himself a certain portion of the wall and repaired it, but suppressed his own name through modesty. But, as general superintendent of the whole (Nehemiah 4:13-23), he could scarcely take any special work; and the argument that might have been founded upon a single occurrence of the expression "after me" is deprived of all force by its double occurrence, here and in ver. 31. Another piece. A Hanun has been mentioned (ver. 13) among the leaders of the working parties, and also a Hananiah (ver. 8); but they were not coupled together; and it may well be questioned whether either is identical with his namesake of this verse. Probably we have here another instance of the incompleteness of our present text of this chapter (see the comment on ver. 11).
After him repaired Malchiah the goldsmith's son unto the place of the Nethinims, and of the merchants, over against the gate Miphkad, and to the going up of the corner.
Verse 31. - Malchiah the goldsmith's son. Or "the son of Hazzorephi." But the mention of goldsmiths (zorephim) in ver. 32 lends support to the rendering of the A. V., which is accepted by most critics. Unto the place of the Nethinims. Rather, "the house." The exact position cannot be fixed; but the gate Miphkad must have been situated in the east wall, a little to the south of the sheep gate. The going up of the corner may have been an "ascent," like Solomon's (2 Chronicles 9:4), which was probably a flight of steps; or the word translated "going up" may mean "an upper chamber" (ὑπερῷον) - a chamber situated over the gate.
And between the going up of the corner unto the sheep gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.
Verse 32. - Unto the sheep gate. Compare ver. 1. The circuit is completed, and the point reached from which the commencement was made. The goldsmiths and the merchants were required to repair the piece of wall immediately to the south of the sheep gate, for which no individual had volunteered. Probably they had houses in the neighbourhood. They consented; and thus the entire wall was taken in hand, and the great work, which Nehemiah had conceived in his heart while still in Susa, was inaugurated.

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by BibleSoft, inc., Used by permission

Bible Hub
Nehemiah 2
Top of Page
Top of Page