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NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 3
The names of the several families that builded; their order wherein, and the proportion how much, they builded.
Eliashib the high priest; grandchild of Joshua, the first high priest after their return from Babylon.
Rose up; began the work.
They builded the sheep-gate; which was next to the temple; so called, either from the sheep-market, or the sheep-pool of Bethesda, John 5:2, where the sheep were washed, and then brought to the temple to be sacrificed.
They sanctified it; or, they prepared or repaired it; for so the word sometimes signifies. But our translation seems best, both because that use of the word is most common, and because this is spoken only of this gate, which being built by the priests, and nighest to the temple, and with a special eye to the service of the temple, for which both men and things were most commonly brought in this way, and being also the first part of the building, might be in a peculiar manner sanctified by solemn prayer and sacrifice, whereby it was dedicated to God’s service; and this either as it was considered in itself, or with respect to the rest of the building, of which this was the beginning, and in a manner the first-fruits, and therefore in the sanctification of it the whole lump and building was sanctified. And seeing the whole city is oft called the holy city, it is not strange if the walls and gates of it be also holy, and said to be sanctified, and especially this gate. Compare Deuteronomy 20:5.
The tower of Meah, or, of a hundred; so called, either because it was a hundred cubits high, or so far distant from the sheep-gate.
The men of Jericho; the posterity of the ancient inhabitants of Jericho. See Ezra 2:34.
The fish-gate; of which mention is made 2 Chronicles 33:14; Nehemiah 12:39; Zephaniah 1:10; so called, either from the fish-market, which was near it; or because the fish was brought in by it from the sea, Nehemiah 13:16; this gate being north-westward from Jerusalem.
The locks thereof, and the bars thereof: this is either here related by anticipation, the whole work being here mentioned together, though this part was not done till afterwards, Nehemiah 6:1; Nehemiah 7:1; or this was done to some of the gates, but not to all; and therefore this is said to be done more completely and universally afterwards.
Repaired, to wit, the demolished or decayed wall, there being no gate in this part. And so in the rest which follow.
i.e. Did not submit to it, would not further it, either through pride, or sloth and carelessness, or covetousness, or secret compliance with the enemies of the Jews.
To the work of their Lord; either,
1. Of Nehemiah, who was their lord and governor, and had given a general command for the carrying on of this work. Or,
2. Of God, whom they owned for their Lord, whose work this was, partly because it had proceeded thus far by God’s singular providence and blessing; and partly because it was done for the defence of the city, and people, and temple of God. And therefore they are branded to all posterity for the neglect of so great and pious a work.
i.e. Unto the place where the governor of the country on this side the river Euphrates, for and under the Persian kings, sometimes had a palace or throne, to which all persons living in the adjacent parts were to resort for judgment.
It is not said they repaired, as was said of the rest, but they
fortified it, either because this part of the wall was less demolished than the other, and therefore they needed not to repair it, but only to make it stronger by some additions; or to note their extraordinary care and diligence, that they would not only repair it, and restore it to its former state, but make it stronger than ever it was; which also might be fit to be done in that part of the city. Others render it they left, as this word commonly signifies; and so the meaning is, They omitted the building of that part of the wall, because it remained standing; this being that space of four hundred cubits which was pulled down by Joash king of Israel, and rebuilt by Uzziah, who made it so strong, that the Chaldeans could not pull it down without more trouble than they thought fit to employ about it. But this chapter gives us an account of what they did in the building, not of what they did not, but left as they found it.
As Rome was anciently divided into several quarters or regions, so was Jerusalem, and especially this was divided into two parts, whereof one was in the tribe of Benjamin, and nearest to the temple; the other in the tribe of Judah, and more remote from it; which accordingly had two several rulers, this man and the other, Nehemiah 3:12, but both under the chief governor of the city.
Over against his house; that part of the wall which was next to him, which his own interest obliged him to do with care.
Of the half part of Jerusalem, i.e. of the other half, &c.: See Poole "Nehemiah 3:9".
He and his daughters; who were either heiresses, or rich widows, and caused part to be done at their charges.
Beth-haccerem; a town or territory, the government whereof was divided between two persons.
The wall of the pool of Siloah; that part of the wall which was directly against that pool.
Over against the sepulchres of David, i.e. the place which David appointed for his own sepulchres, and the sepulchres of his successors the kings of Israel and Judah.
The pool that was made, to wit, by Hezekiah, 2 Kings 20:20; whereby it is distinguished from that pool which was natural.
The house of the mighty; or, of the valiant; which possibly was formerly appointed for the receipt of those chief captains that should attend upon the king, their courses, or of some other valiant commanders who should upon occasion resort to Jerusalem.
To the armory; either to the house of the forest of Lebanon, which was their armory from Solomon’s days, Isaiah 22:8; or to some other place, which either before or since that time had been used as another and less armory for common occasions.
At the turning of the wall; or, at the corner; or, which is in the corner.
Earnestly repaired; did his work with eminent diligence and fervency; which is here noted to his commendation.
From the turning of the wall, or, from the corner, as Nehemiah 3:19. Unto the door of the house; unto that part of the wall which was over against or next to this door.
Therefore the door was not in the middle of the house, as now they commonly are, but at one end of it.
Either of the plains of Jordan; or of the plain country round about Jerusalem, its it is called, Nehemiah 12:28. And they are thus called, because they, or their parents, either were born, or now did or formerly had dwelt, in those parks; whence they came to Jerusalem, when the service of the temple required it.
Over against the turning of the wall; in a part of the wall, which jutted out as the tower here following did, and therefore was opposite to or over against that turning.
And the tower, or, even the tower. Out from the king’s high house; either from the royal palace; or from some other smaller house which the king formerly built there, either for prospect or for defence.
By the court of the prison; a place oft mentioned; of which see Jeremiah 32:2; Jeremiah 38:6,Jeremiah 38:13.
Dwelt in Ophel, or, who dwelt in Ophel; for this seems to be only a description of the persons, whose work follows.
The water-gate; so called because by that gate water was brought in, either by the people for the use of that part of the city, or rather by these Nethinims, who were Gibeonites, for the uses of the temple, for which they were drawers of water, Joshua 9:21.
The Tekoites; the same spoken of before, Nehemiah 3:5, who having despatched their first share sooner than their brethren had done theirs, freely offered their help to supply the defects of others, who, as it seems, neglected that part of the work which had been committed to them. And this their double diligence is noted, both for the greater shame of their nobles, who would not do ally part of it, Nehemiah 3:5, and for their own greater honour, who were so far from being corrupted by the bad example of their nobles, that they were rather quickened and inflamed to greater zeal and industry in this public and pious work.
The horse gate; not that belonging to the king’s palace, 2 Chronicles 23:15, but one of the gates of the city so called; either because nigh unto that were many stables for horses, or because the horses commonly went out that way to their watering-place.
To wit, of the city, or of the temple; which being the chief gate, was committed to his particular care and custody.
Or, chambers; the singular number for the plural.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Nehemiah 3". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12