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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Nehemiah 3

Verses 1-32

Nehemiah - Chapter 3

Wall-Builders, Verses 1-32

Nehemiah’s construction of the walls around the city of Jerusalem

is one of the best lessons in co-operation to be found in all the Scriptures. The builders comprised a continuous chain of workmen all the way around the wall. Beginning with the sheep gate, adjacent to the temple on the northeast side of the city, the builders and their sections of construction are followed counter-clockwise around the walls until the return to the sheep gate (verses 1,32). Not a single section was omitted from the building, but all the wall rose simultaneously.

A number of persons are named, and families, who built sections of the wall. Perhaps it is fitting that Eliashib the high priest, and the other priests took the first section, which was the sheep gate. Not only did people living in the city itself actively engage in the building, but a number of outlying towns and villages were involved. These included the men of Jericho (v. 2), the Tekoites (v. 5), men of Gibeon and Mizpah (v. 7), inhabitants of Zanoah (v. 13), Beth-haccerem (v. 14), Beth-zur (v. 16), Keilah (vv. 17,18), men of the plain (v. 22). Some of these were not Israelites by birth (v. 7), some were merchants (vs. 31,32) and tradesmen (v. 8). The rulers of the city and of the towns and villages were represented (vv. 5,9,14-16, etc.), but the nobles of Tekoa did not put their necks into the work (v. 5). Some men built sections with the aid of their family (vv. 10,30), and one was aided by his daughters (v. 12). Beside the chief priests other representatives of the temple ministry were the Levites (v. 17), the common priests (vv. 22,28), the Nethinim (v. 26), and the porters (v. 29).

There is a very important lesson to be learned from this. It takes all God’s people, of all walks of life, men and women, filling every place of service, to accomplish the greatest good in the cause of Christ (2 Corinthians 6:1).

It is well to note the kinds of construction necessary to make the city strong and secure. The sheep gate is thought to have been the place where the temple sacrifices were brought in; the fish gate, in the north wall, where the fishermen brought in their catch to the market (v. 3); the old gate (v. 6) is not identifiable today, but coming where it does in the context, suggests it may have been the same as the corner gate, in the northwest corner of the wall, where a later section of wall has its confluence with the older section; the valley gate (v. 13) was at the low southwest corner, overlooking the valley of Hinnom; the dung gate, in the south wall, was used to remove garbage and offal from the city and temple (v. 13); the fountain gate (v. 15) was on the southeast corner of the wall, looking out to the juncture of the valleys of Hinnom and the brook Kidron; the water gate (v. 26) was about midway of the eastern wall, and was probably the access of those who brought in water for the purification rites of the temple; the horse gate (v. 27) was formerly used to bring in the horses used in pagan practices of some of the kings, and was located between the water gate and the sheep gate on the northeast. The east gate is mentioned (v. 29). It gave access to the temple area of the city and led outside to the potter’s field.

Other structures in the wall building included many towers, lookout stations (v. 1 and others); special fortifications around the governor’s house to afford him extra protection (vv. 7-8); tower of the furnaces (v. 11), located adjacent to the corner gate and the baker’s street, from whose ovens it probably received its designation; special construction alongside the tomb of David (v. 16), the armory (v. 19), the outlying tower, king’s house, and prison (v. 25). The wall was completely constructed, all the way around, not one section being omitted.

Every gate was constructed of heavy timbers of upright beams on strong foundations, with parallel bars of the same sturdy timber. Each was equipped with heavy locks to secure it. Each had doors of access for those who went in and out after the gates were closed for the night, or during siege (vv. 3,6,13,14,15). It seemed that everything necessary was done to provide the city’s security. Compare Christ’s accomplishment for the believer (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

These important lessons may be learned: 1) the Lord expects co­operation of His people as they work for Him; 2) the members of the family, the community, the occupational group, whatever, should alike be interested in the work of Christ; 3) access and exit in the Lord’s churches should be strong and well guarded; 4) no area of worship in the service of the Lord should be neglected.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Nehemiah 3". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/nehemiah-3.html. 1985.