Nehemiah 3:1. Then Eliashib the high-priest rose up — The grandchild of Jeshua, the first high-priest after their return from Babylon. He, with his brethren, set a noble example, in being the first that began to rebuild the walls of the holy city, which the Babylonians had demolished. Ministers should be foremost in every good work, animating others by their example as well as doctrine. And they built the sheep-gate — Which was on the south side of the city, in that part of the valley which looked toward mount Zion and the temple; called the sheep-gate, because the sheep were brought through it to be sacrificed. Thus he not only shows by whom, but in what order, the wall was built. 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 nearest 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. Even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it — That is, they sanctified the rest of the wall which they built as far as the tower of Meah on one side, and the tower of Hananeel on the other.
Nehemiah 3:2-3. The men of Jericho — The posterity of the ancient inhabitants of Jericho. The fish-gate — This gate, being on the north-west side of Jerusalem, looked toward the sea, from whence fish was wont to be brought and sold in the fish-market near this gate.
Nehemiah 3:5. Next unto them the Tekoites repaired — The inhabitants of the city of Tekoa, in the tribe of Judah. But their nobles put not their necks to the work — Would not submit to it, would not further it, either through pride, or sloth, or covetousness, or secret compliance with the enemies of the Jews. Of their Lord — Of God, whom they owned for their Lord, whose work this was, because it had proceeded thus far by his singular providence; and because it was done for the defence of the city, and people, and temple of God. And therefore they are branded to all posterity. Let not nobles think any thing beneath them, by which they may benefit their country. What is their nobility good for, but that it places them in a higher and larger sphere of usefulness?
Nehemiah 3:7. Unto the throne of the governor on this side the river — Unto the place where the governor of the country on this side Euphrates, under the Persian kings, sometimes had a palace or throne.
Nehemiah 3:8. Next unto him repaired Uzziel; also Hananiah — These were two eminent persons, one among the workers or casters of gold, the other among the perfumers. They fortified Jerusalem, &c., unto the broad wall — It is not said, they repaired, 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; or, to note their extraordinary care and diligence, that they would not only repair it, but make it stronger than ever.
Nehemiah 3:9-10. The ruler of the half part of Jerusalem — As Rome was anciently divided into several quarters or regions, so was Jerusalem; and especially into two parts, whereof one was in the tribe of Benjamin, and nearest the temple, the other in the tribe of Judah; these accordingly had two several rulers, this man and the other, (Nehemiah 3:12,) but both under the chief governor of the city. Jedaiah — over against his house — That part of the wall which was next to him, which his own interest obliged him to repair.
Nehemiah 3:12. Shallum, the ruler of the half part, &c. — That is, of the other half of Jerusalem: see on Nehemiah 3:9. He and his daughters — Who were either heiresses or rich widows, and caused part to be done at their charges.
Nehemiah 3:14-16. 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. After him repaired Nehemiah — One of the same name, but not of the same family, with the writer of this book. Over against the sepulchres of David — The place which David appointed for his own sepulchre, and the sepulchres of his successors, the kings of Israel and Judah. To the pool that was made — To wit, by Hezekiah, (2 Kings 20:20,) whereby it was distinguished from that pool, which was natural. And unto the house of the mighty — Or, valiant. The place where the king’s guards were lodged, who were all mighty men, and from this circumstance probably it had its name.
Nehemiah 3:19. The going up to the armory — Either to the house, or 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 corners.
Nehemiah 3:20. Baruch earnestly repaired the other piece — Did his work with eminent diligence and fervency; which is here noted to his commendation. And, it is probable, this good man’s zeal provoked many to take the more pains, and make the more haste.
Nehemiah 3:21. From the door of the house of Eliashib, &c. — He carried on the work from the place where the other left off, from the door of the house to the end of it, which, being the house of a great man, we may suppose was very large.
Nehemiah 3:22. The priests, the men of the plain — Either of the plains of Jordan, or of the plain country round about Jerusalem, as it is called Nehemiah 12:28. Probably they were thus called, because they or their parents now or formerly dwelt in those parts, whence they came to Jerusalem when the service of the temple required it.
Nehemiah 3:25. Over against the turning of the wall — In a part of the wall which jutted out. And the tower — Or, even the tower. Which lieth out from the king’s high house — Either from the royal palace, or from some other house which the king formerly built there, either for prospect or for defence. By the court of the prison — A place often mentioned: see Jeremiah 32:2; Jeremiah 38:7; Jeremiah 38:13.
Nehemiah 3:26. The Nethinims dwelt in Ophel — Or, who dwelt in Ophel. For this seems to be only a description of the persons whose work follows. Not only the priests and Levites, but the meanest persons that belonged to the house of God, inferior officers, contributed to this work. Over against 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.
Nehemiah 3:27. After them the Tekoites repaired — The same spoken of before, who, having despatched their first share sooner than their brethren, freely offered 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 any part of it, and for their own honour, who were so far from being corrupted by that bad example, that they were quickened to greater zeal and industry in this pious work.
Nehemiah 3:28-29. From above 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, probably, because the horses commonly went out that way to their watering-place. Shechaniah the keeper of the east gate — To wit, of the city or of the temple, which, being the chief gate, was committed to his particular care and custody.
Nehemiah 3:30. And Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, another piece — It seems his five elder brethren laid not their hands to the work. But in doing that which is good, we need not stay to see our betters go before us.
Nehemiah 3:32. The going up unto the sheep-gate — There they began, and there they ended, which shows that they left not off till they had compassed the whole city with a wall. No man can think, (as Pellicanus observes,) that the names of them who repaired the walls of Jerusalem were set down so diligently as here they are, without some rational cause for it. And the reason was, because it was a work of great virtue, to love and to do honour to their country; a work of piety, to restore the holy city; a religious conduct, to defend the true worshippers of God, that they might serve him in quietness and safety; and a courageous behaviour, in the midst of so many enemies, to go on with this work in a pious confidence of the power of God to support them. The names, therefore, of such persons deserved to be preserved and transmitted to future generations, as a most noble example to them.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Nehemiah 3". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany