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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Nehemiah 3

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

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.

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up — He was first, as fit he should, for example’s sake; ministers must be patterns of piety; they have many eyes upon them, and everything in their practice should be worthy imitation. This Eliashib was grandchild to Jeshua, Nehemiah 12:10 .

With his brethren the priests — Who were before fearful, or forgetful; till reminded and excited by Nehemiah; who, as a lion, became captain to this hosts of harts, and achieved great matters. So strong and so sweet an operation hath a seasonable exhortation, when it falleth on a prepared heart, and is set on by God.

And they built the sheep gate — And reason it was, saith an interpreter (Bishop Pilkington), that as they were shepherds to the people, so they should build the sheep gate, which was at the east end of the city where the Temple was, where the sheep came in that were offered in sacrifice, and whereof they had their parts, according to the law. This gate may well be compared to Christ Jesus, who sought the lost sheep, and was sacrificed as a lamb, and is the gate whereby only we enter, and his shepherds must be the builders of it, and bring the people into the fold.

They sanctified iti.e., beautified it, and then consecrated it by their prayers and devotions. This was priest like; and probably hereupon followed that miracle of an angel’s descending, at their several solemn feasts, into the pool of Bethesda (which was near to this gate, and where they washed their sacrifices), and healing all diseases, John 5:4 .

Even unto the tower of Meah — Or the centenary tower, so called for its hundred pinnacles, haply; or, because a hundred cubits high.

Verse 2

And next unto him builded the men of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri.

And next unto him builded the men of Jericho — And are thereby here eternalized for their forwardness.

They have fame among men of fame. Though they dwelt farthest off, yet they were of the first that came to work. Jericho was the first city that Joshua overthrew for their wickedness, and cursed him that should rebuild it. Now it is the first that comes to help forward this city of God. So great is the change when God turneth people’s hearts. Our fathers were as barbarous and brutish as the very Scythians; their religion was a mere irreligion and worse till Christ came among us, and gave us the pre-eminence. For besides that England was the first of all the provinces that publicly received the gospel (as saith Sabellicus), our Constantine hath been reckoned the first Christian emperor, our Lucius the first christened king, and our Henry VIII the first that brake the neck of the pope’s usurped authority. As we were the first that submitted to that man of sin, so were we among the first that cast him off again; and although we are penitus toto divisi orbe Britanni (Lucan.), yet we have been hitherto famous all the world over for our faith and forwardness in God’s service; though of late we have run retrograde, to the reproach of our nation. Diogenes in a great assembly going backward on purpose, and seeing every one laughing him to scorn, asked them aloud, if they were not ashamed so to do: since he went backwards but once, when they did so continually. Oh, let it not be said of us, as once of Jerusalem, that we are "slidden back by a perpetual backsliding, that we hold fast deceit, and refuse to return," Jeremiah 8:5 . This is to be worse than wicked Jericho, …

Builded Zaccur — Whose memory therefore is blessed, when "the name of the wicked shall rot," Proverbs 10:7 .

Verse 3

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.

But the fish gate — That stood toward the sea, and let in fishermen, as the men of Tyre, Nehemiah 13:16 ; Nehemiah 13:19 .

Did the sons of Hassenaah build — Whether this Hassenaah were a man or a city it appeareth not.

Verse 4

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.

Meshullam the son of Berechiah — This Meshullam was one of those men of understanding and made use of by Ezra, Ezra 8:16 .

Verse 5

And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.

The Tekoites repaired — The common sort of them; for the nobles refused. The lesser fishes bite best; the poor are gospelized, Matthew 11:5 , destined to the diadem, James 2:5 .

But their nobles put not their necks — So haughty they were and high minded, they thought it a business below their greatness; somewhat of that profane earl of Westmoreland’s mind, who said that he had no need to pray to God, for he had tenants enough to pray for him. "Not many mighty, not many noble," saith the apostle, 1 Corinthians 1:26 ; well if any. The lion and eagle were not for sacrifice, as the lamb and dove were. Yet the old nobility of Israel were forward with their staves of honour, and are therefore famous, Numbers 21:18 .

To the work of the Lord — Though they knew him to be Lord of lords, who are all his vassals and underlings; and, by special relation, their Lord, so avouched by these his holy day servants; yet so stiffnecked were they, that they would not stoop to his service; but cried out, as the Popish clergy do, Domine, nos sumus exempti, we may not work, we will not contribute.

Verse 6

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.

Moreover the old gate — Famous only for its antiquity; like as many old books are monumenta adorandae robiginis, of more antiquity than authority; and as that image at Ephesus, that was said, but falsely, to have fallen down from Jupiter ( Dιοπετες ), so the covetous priests persuaded the credulous people, Acts 19:35 . The Rabbis say, that this was a gate ever since the time that David took Zion from the Jebusites, Quis hoc credat, nisi sit pro teste vetustas? Who would believe this unless he winessed it?

Verse 7

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.

Unto the throne of the governori.e. Of the king of Persia’s viceroy, who had there his throne, or tribunal. But to what a height of pride were the bishops grown, that sat in thrones, and from on high despised their fellow servants! this was their ruin, God putts down the mighty from their throne, and exalts them of low degree, Luke 1:52 .

Verse 8

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.

Of the goldsmiths … the son of one of the apothecaries — These were ever thriving trades; they both had wealth, and hearts to part with it, upon so good a work. Difficile est animos opibus non tradere, … It is not difficult that their spirits deliver help. (Martial).

Unto the broad wall — Which, haply for the thickness of it, was left undemolished by the Chaldeans.

Verse 9

And next unto them repaired Rephaiah the son of Hur, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem.

Ruler of the half part of Jerusalem — Which, being part in Judah and part in Benjamin, had two general rulers. See Nehemiah 3:12 .

Verse 10

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.

Even over against his house — Thither he was assigned, probably, because there he would build the stronger, for his own security.

Verse 11

Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hashub the son of Pahathmoab, repaired the other piece, and the tower of the furnaces.

The son of Pahathmoab — This man might be a Moabite by stock or descent, and an Israelite by religion; like as Jether was by nature an Ishmaelite, 1 Chronicles 2:17 , but by his faith an Israelite, 1 Chronicles 7:38 .

And the tower of the furnaces — That had furnaces or ovens under it; like as the library at Bonony hath an eating house and a wine cellar. In commendation of which situation Cardinal Bobba conceited that he had very wittily (indeed wickedly) applied that text, Proverbs 9:1-2 , Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath also mingled her wine, she hath also furnished her table.

Verse 12

And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.

Shallum the son of Halohesh — Some read it, the son of an enchanter, or conjurer; and tells us that conjuring was a common thing among the Jews, as, Acts 13:8 Elymas, and elsewhere the sons of Sceva, … But Shallum (if ever any such) forsook that science (as did afterwards also Cyprian) to become a Christian.

He and his daughters — Either finishing what their father (now dead) had begun; or parting with their portions toward the repair of the wall; and haply laying their own hands to the Lord’s work.

Verse 13

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.

The valley gate — See Nehemiah 2:13 .

And the inhabitants of Zanoah — Together with Hanun, their governor. Not priests and Levites only, but the great men in every country, yea, and the country people too, must work at God’s building. Every one must be active in his own sphere; not live to himself, but help to bear the burdens of Church and commonwealth, toti natum se credere mundo, as Cato did (Lucan).

Verse 14

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.

But the dung gate repaired Malchiah the son of Rechab — That is, of the noble family of the Rechabites. A ruler he was, and yet disdaineth not to repair the dung gate. All God’s work is honourable. Angels are God’s executioners, as at Sodom. Magistrates and ministers must do their utmost, by discipline and otherwise, to cause the false prophets (that filth) and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land, as by a dung gate, Zechariah 13:2 . Every man must sweep his own door, that we may have a clean street.

Verse 15

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.

He built it, and covered it — A Chaldee word. This people, in their captivity, though they had not lost the use of their native tongue, yet they had got a tincture of the Chaldee; and of the Hebrew and Chaldee came the Syriac, the mother tongue in Christ’s time, as appears by Talitha cumi, and other like passages.

And unto the stairs — By these David descended into the lower city, and suitors ascended to his palace. This is allegorically applied by some to Christ (the true Jacob’s ladder, John 1:51 ), who came down and humbled himself to the utmost; that we by him might have access, with success, in all our suits.

Verse 16

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.

Over against the sepulchres of David — His burying place. The Jews had their sepulchres ready made, as the old prophet, 1 Kings 13:30 , Joseph of Arimathaea, … So had the emperors of Constantinople their tombstone presented them on their coronation day. Charles V, emperor of Germany, five years before his death caused his sepulchre to be made, with all things appertaining to it necessary for his burial. Another great prince began his tomb, and left it imperfect; commanding a servant once every day to remind him of finishing it. The Thebans had a law, that no man should set up a house for himself to dwell in, but he should first make his grave. David, it seems, had his choice of sepulchres, not far from the wall of the city of David.

And to the pool that was made — With great art and cost, by King Hezekiah, 2 Kings 20:20 .

And unto the house of the mighty — Where David’s mighties, or the watchmen of his city, lodged; or where youth were trained up and taught to handle their arms.

Verse 17

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.

After him repaired the Levites — Who therefore were not beggarly (as many would make ministers in our days, if they might have their will), but had somewhat to spare for pious uses. For when they are said to repair, the meaning is, they bore the charge of the work, and took care that it was done.

Verse 18

After him repaired their brethren, Bavai the son of Henadad, the ruler of the half part of Keilah.

18. The ruler of the half part of Keilah — This was that city rescued by David from the Philistines, and yet false to him, 1 Samuel 23:12 .

Verse 19

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].

Another piece — Or, a second measure; that is, he repaired two parts, saith Pellican. Lyra and others think it to be meant of the second ward and wall, which was called Secunda, where the Levites, prophets, and students dwelt; their college or school is called Mishne, or a second part, 2 Kings 22:14 , which the Targum interpreteth a house of learning, Domus doctrinae.

Verse 20

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.

Earnestly repaired the other piece — Or a second piece, as Nehemiah 3:19 . He did two pieces whiles others were about one. A ready heart makes riddance of God’s work. He burst out in a heat (so the Heb.), being angry both at himself and others that had done no more; and, in a holy fume, finished quickly, kindling himself from other men’s coldness, and quickening himself from their slothfulness, Se accendit.

- Sic Caesar in omnia praeceps

Nil actum credens, dum quid superesset agendum,

Fertur atrox - (Lucan).

Verse 21

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.

Even to the end of the house of Eliashib — A small praise, saith one, if the house were not of some greatness. Eliashib was high priest, and dwelt, like himself, in a fair large house.

Verse 22

And after him repaired the priests, the men of the plain.

The men of the plain — Of the plain of Jordan, saith the Vulgar; but better understand it of the plain country round about Jerusalem, as Nehemiah 12:28 .

Verse 23

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.

Over against their houseSee Trapp on " Nehemiah 3:10 "

Verse 24

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.

Unto the turning of the wall — Namely, from the south side to the east; which turning came with the corner inwards into the city, according to the natural situation of the rock and the valley.

Verse 25

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.

Over against the turning — Of these turnings there were many, as appeareth above.

The king’s high house — In Spain, not only doth the king dwell in a stately high palace, but also the highest room in every great house is his, and he must be paid for it.

That was by the court of the prison — Here Jeremiah was prisoner more than once, Jeremiah 32:2 ; Jeremiah 38:7 ; Jeremiah 38:13 . And therefore other good people that came after him thither might be as well apaid as Dr Taylor, martyr, who blessed God that ever he was fellow-prisoner to that earthly angel (as be called him), John Bradford; or, as that other good woman, who rejoiced that she might have her foot in the hole of the stocks in which Mr Philpot had been before her.

Verse 26

Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel, unto [the place] over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth out.

Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel — Of Nethinims see Ezra 2:43 . Their work was to carry wood and water to the Temple; therefore they dwelt near the water gate, for their own convenience.

Verse 27

After them the Tekoites repaired another piece, over against the great tower that lieth out, even unto the wall of Ophel.

After them the Tekoites — The people whereof had repaired before, Nehemiah 3:5 , now also the priests, but not the nobles: they continued still stout and stiffnecked, as Nehemiah 3:5 .

Verse 28

From above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one over against his house.

From above the horse gate — So called, say some, because there they were wont to dismount, leaving their horses. When the king himself came, he must alight, and go afoot into the Temple. The Great Turk at this day, when he entereth into his mosque for devotion sake, alights and lays aside all his state, and goes in alone.

Verse 29

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.

Shemaiah the son of ShechaniahEgregie cordatus homo, Ezra 8:16 .

Verse 30

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.

After him repaired Hananiah — Or, After me. Nehemiah, doubtless, did his part, and a large one too, see Nehemiah 4:16 , but he omitteth, out of his modesty, to set down how much. In the Hebrew text it is, After me; but in the margin, After him. The reason is given by some to be this, that Nehemiah might most covertly set forth his own work, to avoid all show of vain glory.

And Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph — Not the eldest, but the best of all the brethren. There must be no straining courtesy who shall begin; nor must men fear for their forwardness to be styled seraphical and singular. If Hanun were alone, it was a shame for his brethren to suffer him to be so.

Verse 31

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.

After him — Or, After me. See Nehemiah 3:30 .

Over against the gate Miphkad — The judicial gate, saith the Vulgate; the gate of commandment, saith Junius; probably where the Sanhedrim sat.

Verse 32

And between the going up of the corner unto the sheep gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.

Unto the sheep gate — Here they began and here they end, having repaired round, and thereby obtained a good report, being here registered and renowned. Those that have a hand in building the spiritual Jerusalem shall be surely crowned and chronicled. Their names shall be written in the book of life, where no devil can scrape them out. Up, therefore, and be doing worthily in Ephratah, that ye may be famous in Bethlehem, Ruth 4:11 . "To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, shall be eternal life," Romans 2:7 .

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Nehemiah 3". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/nehemiah-3.html. 1865-1868.
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