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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Nehemiah 3

 

 

Verse 1

‘Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they rebuilt the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up its doors; even to the tower of Hammeah they sanctified it, to the tower of Hananel.’

Even the greatest were involved in the project. Eliashib the High Priest (the grandson of Jeshua - Nehemiah 12:10-11), together with his brother priests, set to work with a will on the portion allotted to them. And as each part was built they sanctified it (set it apart to God as holy). The priests were genuinely grateful to God for the fact that the wall was being built, as well they might be, for it protected their Temple. ‘They rose up -- and built.’ Thus we see them fulfilling what had been decided on earlier, ‘we will arise and build’ (Nehemiah 2:20). The narrative deliberately begins with the activity of the priests, (it does not commence at the north east corner, see Nehemiah 3:32). Central to the whole description is that the house of God is being protected, along with the city that it made holy.

The priests apparently commenced work at the Sheep Gate (near the north east corner), but the work would no doubt also continue on at the same time along the whole of their section on the northern wall, as far as the Tower of Hammeah (The Hundred) and the Tower of Hananel. These may well have been the Towers of the great fortress protecting the northern approach.

‘They rebuilt the Sheep Gate and sanctified it.’ This sanctifying of it is prior to the setting up of its doors, which would have occurred some time later (after Nehemiah 6:1). It would be second nature to the priests to sanctify their work as they went along in view of its proximity to the Temple. The Sheep Gate was probably the gate through which sacrificial sheep were brought to the Temple. It was in the north-east corner of the city wall. Compare John 5:2.

They also worked from there westward and rebuilt the Tower of The Hundred, and sanctified it, and as far as the Tower of Hananel. The Tower of The Hundred is not mentioned anywhere else (except in Nehemiah 12:39), but was clearly seen as of importance in relation to the Temple as it was specifically sanctified. (The ‘it’ cannot refer to the wall as it is the wrong gender). The Tower of Hananel is mentioned in Nehemiah 12:39, and is referred to as an identifying feature in Jeremiah 31:38 and Zechariah 14:10. It was possibly the northernmost point of Jerusalem.


Verses 1-32

The Rebuilding Of The Walls Of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3:1-32).

It is difficult to overemphasise the huge impact of what was about to be accomplished. A city which was largely uninhabited, lay partially in ruins, had no means of protection, and was making little impact on the surrounding area (apart from its significance to the returnees themselves as the site of the Temple), was about to arise from the ashes and become a powerful influence throughout the area. And it would all begin with the rebuilding of its walls.

That this was clearly seen by all comes out both in the ferocity of the opposition that was provoked, and in the dedication of God’s people to the task in hand. On the one hand were those who strove to prevent it by any means possible, including propaganda, threats and violence (Nehemiah 2:19; Nehemiah 4:1-3; Nehemiah 4:7-8), and on the other were those who were prepared, as depicted in this chapter, to set aside personal interests, and work together in spite of their differences, in order to ensure the completion of the work. It is a picture in microcosm of the work of God’s people in the world today, divided by differences of viewpoint, but each with their appointed portion of the wall to complete. Nor would the building work continue without cost. Many of those who were involved in the building would consequently find themselves in debt (Nehemiah 5:3-5), all would have to be on constant alert against the dangers of threatened violence (Nehemiah 4:17-18), and their families would meanwhile have to struggle on alone in the face of adversity.

This chapter, which might at first appear simply to be a list of names, brings out the intensity of what was involved. For in it we have described to us details of those who were involved in the building of the wall, both in their unity and in their diversity, and how they worked together as one in their fulfilment of their God-given task. Each group was given its task to do and were left to get on with it. What is only a name to us represented a gang of dedicated builders. This mention of them individually can be seen as an indication that they were all observed by God. Divinely speaking it reminds us that God has a place for all of us so that we can participate in His purposes, and that He is individually interested in what each of us is doing. Humanly speaking it is the record of a great achievement in which many disparate elements united to achieve a common purpose. It was probably written by the leaders of those involved as they indicated their pride in their achievement (note the use of the third person and the lack of Nehemiah’s usual pithy comments), while being later incorporated by Nehemiah into his memoirs.

That it was a great achievement cannot be doubted. The necessary material had to be obtained and shaped, no doubt including making use of the stones from the old wall; there had to be full cooperation where one piece of wall connected with the next; and food and drink had to be continually supplied to the workers, no doubt by interested womenfolk. It was a combined operation on a large scale carried out voluntarily by all involved.

It also provides interesting information about where the returnees dwelt in the land round about. It is a reminder that they were not just in a little cluster around Jerusalem. At least five administrative areas have been detected on the basis of the words ‘ruler of’; Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3:9), Beth-hakkerrem (Nehemiah 3:14 - 5 kilometres (3 miles) north of Bethlehem), Mizpah (Nehemiah 3:15 - 7 kilometres (4 miles) south of Bethel), Beth-zur (Nehemiah 3:16 - 6 kilometres (4 miles) north of Hebron), and Keilah (Nehemiah 3:17 - in the Shephelah, 16 kilometres (10 miles) north east of Lachish). We also have mention of the men of Jericho (Nehemiah 3:2), Gibeon and Mizpah (Nehemiah 3:7), and the men of Tekoa (Nehemiah 3:5; Nehemiah 3:27). Tekoa was 10 kilometres (6 miles) south of Bethlehem.

We must not underestimate the enormity of the task achieved. Furthermore, it was achieved in a remarkably short space of time such that it took even their enemies by surprise. They probably worked in shifts continually day and night. The chapter certainly bears testimony to Nehemiah’s organisational capabilities and his ability to enthuse disparate elements to join together in a common task, although, having said that, there can be no doubt that the allocation of the work was determined in consultation with interested parties, for it displays knowledge that Nehemiah could not have gained in so short a time without such consultation. We will note, for example, how work was allocated in accordance with people’s interests, whilst responsibility for many sections appears to have been in the hands of those directly involved with those areas, and the way in which the work progressed confirms their capability. They were wisely chosen.

The change to the third person in the narrative suggests that the record is based, not on Nehemiah’s memory of events, but on a contemporary record made by those involved. They wanted it recording as a reminder of the work done, and the participation of all involved. And this is confirmed by the fact that it describes the bolts, bars and doors of the gate as being put in place, whereas in Nehemiah 6:1 Nehemiah states that he had not yet hung the doors. This was therefore clearly a later record, incorporated by Nehemiah into a contemporary record of his own. But that it was made an essential part of Nehemiah’s own record is quite clear from the fact that otherwise we would have no record of the building of the wall which was a main purpose for which he had come. Also from the fact that it fits so neatly into the narrative.


Verse 2

‘And next to them built Zaccur the son of Imri.’

Next to them built Zaccur, the son of Imri. He rebuilt the next section as far as the Fish Gate. Clearly Zaccur did not build on his own. This no doubt refers to him as including the fairly large household or wider family which were his as a prominent and comparatively wealthy man. His whole wider family would be involved in building. It was possibly this Zaccur who was a sealant of Nehemiah’s covenant (Nehemiah 10:12), in which case he was a Levite, and probably identifiable with the father of Hanan (Nehemiah 13:13).

Zaccur was a fairly common Jewish name, previously being that of the father of Shammua the Reubenite spy (Numbers 13:4); of a Simeonite (1 Chronicles 4:26); and of two other Levites: (a) a Merarite (1 Chronicles 24:27); and (b) a "son" of Asaph (1 Chronicles 25:2; 1 Chronicles 25:10; Nehemiah 12:35).


Verse 3

‘And the sons of Hassenaah rebuilt the fish gate; they laid its beams, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars’.

The Fish Gate itself was repaired by ‘the sons of Hassenaaah’. Hassenaah (Senaah with the definite article ‘ha’) is probably a place name, referring to the place to which the sons of Senaah had returned (Ezra 2:35; Nehemiah 7:38). These returnee families, now living in Senaah, rebuilt the fish gate. This gate may well have been near the north-west corner of the walls, possibly a little to the south of it, although we cannot identify it specifically. Compare Nehemiah 12:39; Zephaniah 1:10; 2 Chronicles 33:14. It presumably led into the fish market.

It must be recognised that the repairing of a gateway was not simply a matter of preparing a place to hang the gates, but would include the construction and repair of guardrooms, administrative rooms and storerooms within the gateway.

‘They laid its beams, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars’. The setting up of the doors, bolts and bars would have been done after the gateway had been rebuilt, and therefore after Nehemiah 6:1. See Nehemiah 7:1. It is a recurring idea in connection with gateways (Nehemiah 3:13-15). The gateway having been rebuilt, the doors would later be set up, and bolts and bars would be provided so as to bar the gateways. Note the emphasis placed on security. This was a main reason for the building of the walls.

We learn here a recurring lesson of life in that having rebuilt our spiritual gateway with God’s help we are to set up doors, bars and bolts to keep out the Enemy (compare Ephesians 6:10-18). It is not spiritual to be careless.


Verse 4

‘And next to them repaired Meremoth the son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz.’

The verb now changes from ‘rebuilt’ to ‘repaired, made strong’. This may indicate that in this section the walls were in a better state of preservation. But as it is also used of the building of new walls later in the chapter it is possibly simply a general term for building.

This important northern section was repaired under the oversight of Meremoth, the son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz. It is probable that he is the same Meremoth, son of Uriah, son of Hazzoz, who is described as being in charge of a group of priestly builders in Nehemiah 3:21 with regard to ‘a second portion’. Thus he was clearly seen as very reliable, having oversight over two portions. It has been suggested that Nehemiah 3:17 may suggest that that Meremoth was a Levite, which might discount the connection, but that interpretation is not necessary.

One question is whether this Meremoth is to be identified with Meremoth the son of Uriah who was one of the treasurers to whom Ezra handed over the treasures that he had brought from Persia (Ezra 8:33). There he was called ‘the priest’, i.e. one of the chief priests. While that Meremoth is not also further called ‘the son of Hakkoz’ there is a good likelihood that the identity can be maintained, even though it be admitted that both names were popular ones. This would make Meremoth a very important man, and would serve to confirm the close association of the ministry of Ezra with the time of Nehemiah. The problem with this identification is that the sons of Hakkoz had not earlier been accepted as priests because they could not prove their genealogy (Ezra 2:62), but it is quite probable that by this time that had been remedied. In Nehemiah 10:6 a Meremoth is listed as eleventh among the priests, but is seen as important enough to be called on as a sealant of the covenant of Nehemiah. This may well be the same Meremoth. In Nehemiah 12:3 a Meremoth, (clearly not the same one), was one of the chiefs of the priests who had come up with Zerubbabel. This Meremoth the son of Uriah may have been his grandson.

Nehemiah 3:4

‘And next to them repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel.’

Meshullam was a very popular Jewish name. It appears that this Meshullam later gave his daughter to be wife of Jehohanan, the son of Tobiah, suggesting that, at least by that stage, he was favourably inclined towards Tobiah, who was an adversary of Nehemiah’s and opposed to the building of the wall (Nehemiah 2:19). But however that may be, Meshullam here, along with his wider family, plays his full part in the building of the wall. His presence is, however, a reminder of the divisions which grew up among the descendants of the returnees as they continued to settle in the land (Nehemiah 6:17-19). He was not the only one to be so involved. Many of the aristocracy became friendly with Tobiah and were in constant communication with him (Nehemiah 6:17), reminding us that not all was straightforward for Nehemiah, even among the descendants of the returnees. But differences had to be set aside when the walls of Jerusalem had to be rebuilt.

Another Meshullam, son of Besodeia, helped to repair the gate of the old city (Nehemiah 3:6) whilst even another ‘Meshullam, the son of Berechiah’, repaired a further part of the wall (Nehemiah 3:30). This latter might be seen as identifiable with the one here, but as there is no mention of him as building ‘a second portion’ (contrast Nehemiah 3:11; Nehemiah 3:19-21; Nehemiah 3:24; Nehemiah 3:30), it may simply be a coincidence of names.

Nehemiah 3:4

‘And next to them repaired Zadok the son of Baana.’

The next section was repaired under the supervision of Zadok ben-Baana. This was probably the same Zadok who was also one of the signatories to the covenant made with Nehemiah by the princes, priests and Levites of Israel (Nehemiah 10:21), although the name was a admittedly very popular one. We do not know whether the Zadok mentioned in Nehemiah 13:13 is identical with him.


Verse 5

‘And next to them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles did not put their necks to the work of their lords (or ‘of their Lord’).’

Next to Zadok and his wider family were the Tekoites. However, their leadership refused to be involved. They were stiffnecked. They refused to take on themselves the yoke ‘of their lords’. That may signify Nehemiah and the nobles as ‘their lords’, or it may signify the Lord God as ‘their Lord’ (using an intensive plural). Tekoa was a sub-region of Beth-zur, south of Bethlehem (Bethlehem was probably in the region of Beth-hakkerem) Their leaders may well not have been descendants of the returnees, but may have been of those who had remained in the land. It may be another reminder of the tensions still remaining among the people in the district of Judah. On the other hand they might simply have felt themselves above this kind of work, while willingly offering their townsfolk for the task. It is clear, however, that Nehemiah did not view their attitude with anything but disfavour. He felt that all should be willing to do what they could for the Lord.


Verse 6

‘And Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the gate of the old (city or wall). They laid its beams, and set up its doors, and its bolts, and its bars.’

The next gate following the Fish Gate was the ‘gate of the old’, that is, either of the old city or of the old wall. It was jointly repaired by Joiada ben-Paseah and Meshullam ben-Besodeia and their families. Both were popular Jewish names. A son of Eliashib the High Priest was also called Joiada. The gateway and the gatehouses would be repaired first, with the beams being put in place ready for the gates, then later on (after Nehemiah 6:1) the gates with their bolts and bars would be hung. Note that once again trusting in God does not prevent the need for bolts and bars. We are not called on to be foolish. This gate was near the north-west corner of the city.


Verse 7

‘And next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite, and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon, and of Mizpah, which pertains to the seat of the governor of Beyond the River.’

The part of the wall following the Gate of the Old City/Wall was repaired by Melatiah the Gibeonite, and Jadon the Meronothite, who supervised the men of Gibeon and Mizpah. As Melatiah was a Gibeonite, Meronoth was presumably connected with Mizpah. The Mizpah in question is possibly identified as being the place where the Governor of Beyond The River had his residence when he visited Judah (‘the seat of the Governor’). Or it may be that ‘towards the seat of the governor of Beyond the River’ refers to the part of the wall being repaired, it being by the Governor’s Jerusalem residence. Either way it is probable that Mizpah is the Mizpah of 2 Kings 25:23; Jeremiah 40:5-12.

All the work described above was on the northern wall, and it is around this point that we move to the work on the western wall.


Verse 8

‘Next to him repaired Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths.’

The next part of the wall was repaired by the family or guild of Uzziel ben Harhaiah, who were goldsmiths. The name of the family guild head is intended to include both his own wider family and the guild of goldsmiths who would all assist in building. In Jerusalem each occupation would have its guild, and they would tend to live together in their own ‘quarter’ where their products were sold. This part of the wall probably sheltered ‘the quarter of the goldsmiths’, where gold was moulded and then sold in the gold market. Note, however, that in Nehemiah 3:32 we learn of goldsmiths involved in the Temple area, no doubt on religious artefacts.

Nehemiah 3:8

‘And next to him repaired Hananiah one of the perfumers, and they left out part of Jerusalem even to the broad wall.’

Next to the quarter of the goldsmiths was the quarter of the perfumers where perfume was made and traded (or ‘of the apothecaries’). A leading light of the guild was Hananiah, a well recognisable Jewish name. This part of the wall appears to have been built leaving outside the wall a section of Jerusalem, which had possibly grown up subsequently since the previous wall was built. ‘They’ may indicate the perfumers, or it may indicate a number of those previously mentioned.

‘Even to the broad wall.’ This suggests that there was a section of Jerusalem which was left outside the walls going ‘as far as the broad wall’, a no doubt recognisable landmark. If this omitted section had never previously been included within the walls of Jerusalem we can understand why they would not want to build a new wall enclosing it due to time pressure. Rather they repaired the old one which left it outside. The work had to be done quickly. We do not know why the broad wall was called ‘the broad wall’. It may have been because it was at the widest part of the city, or it may have been because it had previously had to be rebuilt and had been made broader in order to increase its strength. Sites on the western hill (outside the wall) have been found to contain iron age remains, which would tie in with what we find here.


Verse 9

‘And next to them repaired Rephaiah the son of Hur, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem.’

‘Them’ refers to the perfumers. Next to the perfumers repaired Rephaiah, and the residents of half the district of Jerusalem over whom he was ruler. Rephaiah is a common Jewish name used elsewhere of a member of David's family (1 Chronicles 3:21); of a captain of Simeon (1 Chronicles 4:42); of a grandson of Issachar (1 Chronicles 7:2), and of a descendant of Saul (1 Chronicles 9:43; in 1 Chronicles 8:37 called "Raphah").

‘The ruler (plch, an unusual word for ruler, possibly cognate with Akkadian pilku = region) of half the district (‘circle’) of Jerusalem.’ This district would include land outside the city of Jerusalem as well as in it. The mention of five rulers of districts in the passage is a reminder of the fact that Judah was split up into administrative districts. (The others mentioned are Beth-hakkerrem (Nehemiah 3:14 - 5 kilometres (3 miles) north of Bethlehem), Mizpah (Nehemiah 3:15 - 7 kilometres (4 miles) south of Bethel), Beth-zur (Nehemiah 3:16 - 6 kilometres (4 miles) north of Hebron), and Keilah (Nehemiah 3:17 - in the Shephelah, 16 kilometres (10 miles) north east of Lachish). The non-mention of other such rulers of districts may either suggest that their rulers were not sympathetic to the returnees, or that they were simply not sympathetic towards the rebuilding of the wall.


Verse 10

‘And next to them repaired Jedaiah the son of Harumaph, and over against his house.’

This suggests that Jedaiah was an important man who had a large house in that part of Jerusalem. It confirms that where possible those who had residences in Jerusalem built the section of the wall in which they were most interested (as with the goldsmiths and the perfumers). This may, of course, have been at their own suggestion, but it would certainly encourage them to ensure that the work was done properly.

Jedaiah, which means ‘Yah knows’, was another popular name. ‘Sons of Jedaiah’ had previously arrived with the first batch of exiles a hundred years earlier (Nehemiah 7:39; Ezra 2:36). Thus Jedaiah was a family name. It was the name of a priest in Jerusalem after the Exile (1 Chronicles 9:10; 1 Chronicles 24:7); a Jedaiah was found among the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 11:10; Nehemiah 12:6; Nehemiah 12:19), and another priest was also called Jedaiah ( Nehemiah 12:7; Nehemiah 12:21). A Jedaiah was one of those previously called on by Zechariah to fashion a crown for the symbolic crowning of Joshua the High Priest as ‘the Branch’ (Zechariah 6:10; Zechariah 6:14).

Nehemiah 3:10

‘And next to him repaired Hattush the son of Hashabneiah.’

Next to the household of Jedaiah, repaired Hattush, son of Hashabneiah, and his household. Here was another prominent man, made responsible for the repair of this part of the wall.

A Hattush was one of those who signed the covenant with Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:4), but that may have been the prominent Hattush of the sons of David who had returned with Ezra (Ezra 8:2). A Hattush, the son of Shemaiah, of the sons of David, is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:22. These are probably not connected with this Hattush, who was a son of Hashabneiah. Hashabneiah was the name of a Levite mentioned in connection with the prayer preceding the signing of the covenant (Nehemiah 9:5), but again there was probably no connection.


Verse 11

‘Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab, repaired another portion, and the tower of the furnaces.’

Two further prominent men and their households, Malchijah and Hasshub, repaired the next section. This included the tower of the furnaces (or ‘ovens’). This was possibly the quarters occupied by the bakers. The tower of the furnaces is also mentioned in Nehemiah 12:38, lying between the Valley Gate and the broad wall. The sons of Harim and the sons of Pahath-moab were listed with the returnees (Ezra 2:6; Ezra 2:32).

Malchijah, the son of Harim, is mentioned elsewhere as having taken a foreign wife, and having to put her away at the behest of Ezra because of her idolatry (Ezra 10:31). She was probably from a prominent family and the affair no doubt caused some resentment against the returnees. This confirms that Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries (compare also on Nehemiah 3:4 a). Two other Malchijahs, besides the son of Harim, had also taken foreign wives (Ezra 10:25)

Malchijah (Yah is my king) was a prominent Israelite name. Two other Malchijahs were involved in the building of the wall, one the son of Rechab, ruler of Bethhecceram (Nehemiah 3:14), and the other a goldsmith (Nehemiah 3:31). A Malchijah is mentioned as one of those at Ezra’s left hand during the reading of the Law (Nehemiah 8:4), and a Malchijah was a signatory of Nehemiah’s covenant (Nehemiah 10:3). Identification of who was who is impossible.

The name was also that of a Levite, descendant of Gershom, who was one of those whom David set over the "service of song" in worship (1 Chronicles 6:40). It was that of the head of the 5th course of priests (1 Chronicles 24:9). It was that of the father of Pashhur (Nehemiah 11:12; Jeremiah 21:1; Jeremiah 38:1), an ancestor of Adaiah, the latter being one of those who took up his dwelling in Jerusalem at the behest of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 11:12). It was that of a priest, who was a singer at the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 12:42).

Hasshub was also a prominent name. It was the name of another prominent builder of the wall (Nehemiah 3:23), and of one of the signatories to Nehemiah’s covenant who was one of ‘the chiefs of the people’. It was also the name of a Levite chief (Nehemiah 11:15; 1 Chronicles 9:14).


Verse 12

‘And next to him repaired Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.’

In charge of the repairing of the next section of the wall were Shallum, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem (compare Nehemiah 3:9 for the ruler of the other half), ‘and his daughters’. The daughters no doubt took oversight rather than doing the actual building, (they were chief’s daughters). They would inherit his name and property, and can be compared with the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 36:1-8). They are the only women described as involving themselves in the work. It is, however, extremely probable that others played their part in some way in a more humble fashion.

Shallum was such a popular name that it is hard to know where to begin. It was the name of the youngest son of Naphtali (1 Chronicles 7:13), called "Shillem" in Genesis 46:24; Numbers 26:49, who went into Egypt with Jacob. It was the name of a descendant of Simeon, being the son of Shaul and the father of Mibsam (1 Chronicles 4:25). He lived in the mid-second millennium BC. It was the name of a son of Sismai, descended through the female line from Sheshan of the tribe of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:34; 1 Chronicles 2:40-41), who lived later in the second millennium BC. It was the name of a son of Kore, a porter of the sanctuary during the reign of David (1 Chronicles 9:17; 1 Chronicles 9:19; 1 Chronicles 9:31; compare Ezra 2:42; Nehemiah 7:45). The name is also written as "Me-shullam" in Nehemiah 12:25, "Me-shelem-iah" in 1 Chronicles 26:1-2; 1 Chronicles 26:9, and "Shelemiah" in 1 Chronicles 26:14. He lived about 1050 BC.

It was the name of a son of Zadok, who as such was the father of Hilkiah, a high priest and ancestor of Ezra the scribe (1 Chronicles 6:12-13; Ezra 7:2). It was the name of the fifteenth king of Israel, the son of Josiah (Jeremiah 22:11; 2 Chronicles 34:22) who took the throne name of Jehoahaz II (2 Chronicles 36:1). It was the name of a son of Bani, a priest who had taken a foreign wife and was compelled by Ezra the scribe to put her away (Ezra 10:42). It was the name of the father of Jehizkiah, an Ephraimite in the time of Ahaz king of Israel (2 Chronicles 28:12). It was the name of the husband of the prophetess Huldah (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22). He was the keeper of the sacred wardrobe and was probably the uncle of Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 32:7; compare Jeremiah 35:4). It was the name of a Levite who was a porter at the time of Ezra (Ezra 10:24).


Verse 13

‘Hanun, and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the valley gate. They built it, and set up its doors, its bolts and its bars, and a thousand cubits of the wall to the dung gate.’

Next to Shallum and his daughters were Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah. They repaired the Valley Gate (from which Nehemiah initially went out to view the walls. See Nehemiah 2:13; 2 Chronicles 26:9), and the wall for the next fifteen hundred feet (almost five hundred metres), going as far as the Dung Gate, which was at the southernmost part of the walls. The Dung Gate was the gate through which rubbish was taken out in order to be flung into the valley below. It was by the Pool of Siloam, and may well be the Potsherd Gate of Jeremiah 19:2. Responsibility for such a large section may suggest that the wall in that section was in a fairly good state of repair.

Hanun, which means ‘favoured’ or ‘pitied’, was also the name of one of the six sons of Zalaph who assisted in repairing the East wall (Nehemiah 3:30), as well as being the name of a son and successor of Nahash, king of Ammon, who dishonoured David’s messengers and rued the consequences (2 Samuel 10:1 ff; 1 Chronicles 19:1 ff).

Zanoah was a town in the Judean Shephelah (lowlands), grouped with Eshtaol, Zorah and Ashnah (Joshua 15:34). It was 3 kilometres (2 miles) south of Bethshemesh and was reoccupied by Jews after the Exile (Nehemiah 11:30). Along with Jericho it indicates something of the area in which the returnees settled (from Jericho to the Shephelah).


Verse 14

‘And Malchijah, the son of Rechab, the ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem, repaired the Dung Gate. He built it, and set up its doors its bolts and its bars.’

The Dung Gate itself was repaired by a second Malchijah, who was the son of Rechab, and was ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem. He and his helpers rebuilt the whole gatehouse, making it ready to receive the doors, bars and bolts which were later put in place. It must be seen as possible that the short length of wall between the Dung Gate and the Fountain Gate, going round the southernmost point, had been left standing, thus not requiring repair.


Verse 15

‘And Shallun the son of Col-hozeh, the ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the fountain gate. He built it, and covered it, and set up its doors, its bolts and its bar, and the wall of the pool of Shelah by the king’s garden, even to the stairs that go down from the city of David.’

The section after the Dung Gate was repaired by Shallun, ruler of the district of Mizpah, along with his helpers. This included the Fountain or Spring Gate which was fairly close to the Dung Gate, and was fully repaired. Also within his responsibility was the wall of the Pool of Shelah by the King’s Garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the city of David. Two gates close together (the Dung Gate and the Fountain Gate) were necessary because one was for the disposal of rubbish, whilst the other was by the King’s Garden, and led down to a water supply, possibly the King’s Pool (Nehemiah 2:14).

The Pool of Shelah may well be the same as the Pool of Shiloah (Isaiah 8:6; the consonants are the same), possibly also the Pool of Siloam, and ‘the upper pool’ (2 Kings 18:17; Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 36:2). It was within the walls, and supplied by Hezekiah’s tunnel (2 Kings 20:20), but watered the King’s Garden, possibly situated on the hillside leading down from the gate, by means of a conduit as the water also supplied the King’s Pool. It was by this conduit that the Assyrian generals stood as they addressed the inhabitants of the city (2 Kings 18:17), possibly on the stairs that go down from the city of David, which may have led to this pool. The geography is not, however, certain.

‘Ruler of Mizpah.’ Compare Nehemiah 3:19 where Ezer is also ruler of Mizpah. But this is not difficult to understand for there were a number of Mizpahs, which simply means ‘watchtower’. The main Mizpah was a Benjamite city north of Jerusalem, near Gibeon and Ramah and it was where Gedaliah, the governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar after the destruction of Jerusalem, ruled and was assassinated (2 Kings 25:22-26; Jeremiah 40:6; Jeremiah 41:1-2). There was another Mizpah in the Shephelah not far from Lachish (see Joshua 15:38-39). Alternately one may have ruled the city of Mizpah, while the other ruled the surrounding district, also called Mizpah.


Verse 16

‘After him repaired Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, up to the place over against the sepulchres of David, and up to the pool that was made (or the artificial pool, i.e. man-made), and up to the house of the mighty men (warriors).’

From now on we have ‘after him’ (Nehemiah 3:16-31) in contrast with ‘next to him’ (Nehemiah 3:2-12). But see Nehemiah 3:17; Nehemiah 3:19. ‘Next to him’ is used mainly on the northern and western wall, ‘after him’ on the eastern wall, with neither being used going round the southernmost point from the Valley Gate to the Fountain Gate. This may simply be for literary reasons.

This is a general description of the section repaired by Nehemiah, the son of Azbuk, who was ruler of the half district of Beth-zur. Here we have one of two other Nehemiahs (compare Nehemiah 7:7; Ezra 2:2). He was clearly a man of importance. Beth-zur was six kilometres (four miles) north of Hebron, identified as the mound of Khirbet et-Tubeiqah. Occupied and fortified by the Hyksos, it was destroyed by the Egyptians and left deserted and it was thus not mentioned by Joshua. But shortly thereafter it was rebuilt and became a flourishing Israelite city. It was occupied throughout the monarchy but suffered at the hands of the Babylonians and was mainly abandoned until being occupied by the returnees. This Nehemiah was ruler of half of the district around Beth-zur.

The section of the wall repaired by this Nehemiah and his helpers is identified by three apparently well known landmarks (although sadly not known to us), the sepulchres of David, the Man-made Pool, and the House of the Mighty Men/warriors. Many see it as a wholly new section of the wall, built higher up the slope because the wall at this point had been so thoroughly demolished that its rubble made building on the old line impossible. Compare how Nehemiah had been hindered in his examination of the wall at this point, being unable to pass along because of the rubble (Nehemiah 2:14-15). This claim gains some support from archaeology.

The sepulchres of David (compare 2 Chronicles 32:33) are unidentified. David was ‘buried in (by) the city of David’ (1 Kings 2:10) a description which places the sepulchres in this part of Jerusalem, the ‘city of David’ being the ancient Jebusite fortress (which was inside the walls at this time but was outside the walls existing in the time of Jesus and the present walls). But whether the sepulchres were within the walls, or on the slopes outside we cannot be sure. Long, horizontal tunnels have been discovered in the area, but they may have had other uses, and some would argue that Semitic practise, and especially Israelite practise, is against the sepulchres being within the actual city. Such would render it ‘unclean’. Josephus tells us that they were plundered by the Hasmoneans and by Herod. Then they were desecrated and destroyed in the time of Bar Kochba, being thereafter lost to sight. Other identifications can be rejected. They are in the wrong area.

Unless ‘the Man-made Pool’ was the King’s Pool we have no way of identifying it, whilst the situation of ‘the house of the Mighty Men’ (the Barracks) is unknown. It may have originally been utilised by David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:8 ff.).


Verse 17

‘After him repaired the Levites:

It would appear that this next section of the wall, up to Nehemiah 3:19 (or 20) was repaired by Levites who had become involved in administration. This may have been because they were looked to for leadership after the devastation of the land by the Babylonians. Note the recurrence of ‘next to him’ twice, probably indicating their close relationship, and the reference to ‘their brothers’.

Nehemiah 3:17

‘Rehum the son of Bani.’

Rehum, son of Bani, was clearly a man of importance needing no further introduction. He and his household repaired a part of the wall beyond the Barracks, a section of the wall which led up to the High Priest’s palace (Nehemiah 3:20). He may well have been a descendant of the Rehum mentioned in Ezra 2:2 as one of the ten important men who returned with Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel. (Although that Rehum may have been one of the chief priests who arrived with Zerubbabel - Nehemiah 12:2). A Rehum was a signatory to Nehemiah’s covenant (Nehemiah 10:25).

Bani was also the name of a Levite who signed Nehemiah’s covenant (Nehemiah 10:13), and it was in fact the name of two Levites who are mentioned in connection with Temple worship in Ezra’s time (Nehemiah 9:4-5). Uzzi, son of Bani, would later be an overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:22).

The name Bani was also given to a Gadite, who was one of David's mighty men (2 Samuel 23:36); to a Levite whose son was appointed for service in the tabernacle in David's time (1 Chronicles 6:46); to a Judahite whose son lived in Jerusalem after the exile (1 Chronicles 9:4); to a family head whose descendants came back with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:10) and had taken idolatrous foreign wives (Ezra 10:29); to a man who had taken an idolatrous foreign wife (Ezra 10:38), whose brothers ‘the sons of Bani’ had also taken idolatrous foreign wives; to a leader of the people who signed Nehemiah’s covenant (Nehemiah 10:14). It was thus a very common name making identifications difficult.

Nehemiah 3:17

‘Next to him repaired Hashabiah, the ruler of half the district of Keilah, for his district.’

Next to Rehum operated Hashabiah along with men from Keilah, the district over half of which Hashabiah was ruler. This may be the Hashabiah who signed Nehemiah’s covenant (Nehemiah 10:11), and was one of the chiefs of the Levites mentioned in Nehemiah 12:24. The other half of Keilah was ruled over by his fellow-Levite, Bavvai, who was repairing the next section (Nehemiah 3:18).

The name Hashabiah also applied to a Levite who dwelt in Jerusalem at the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 11:15); to a Levite whom Ezra induced to return from exile with him (Ezra 8:19); to one of the twelve priests set apart by Ezra to take care of the gold, the silver, and the vessels of the temple on their return from exile (Ezra 8:24); to a Levite who was the grandfather of Uzzi, an overseer of Levites in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:22); and to a priest who was head of a father’s house in the days of Joiakim, son of Joshua the High Priest (Nehemiah 12:21). Any connection of any of these with Hashabiah the ruler is tentative in the extreme.

More generally the name applied to two Levites of the family of Merari (1 Chronicles 6:45; 1 Chronicles 9:14); to a son of Jeduthun (1 Chronicles 25:3); to a Hebronite chief of a clan of warriors who had charge of West Jordan in the interests of YHWH and the king of Israel in the time of David (1 Chronicles 26:30); to a Levite who was a "ruler" (1 Chronicles 27:17); and to one of the Levite chiefs in the time of Josiah, who gave liberally toward the sacrifices (2 Chronicles 35:9).

Keilah was a town in the Shephelah (Joshua 15:43), possibly the Kelti of the Amarna letters. David relieved it from the pressure of the Philistines in Saul’s time, but having done so had to leave because he could not trust the inhabitants not to hand him over to Saul (1 Samuel 23:1-13). It is probably now Khirbet Qila which is on a hill commanding the ascent to Hebron south from Socoh.


Verse 18

‘After him repaired their brothers, Bavvai the son of Henadad, the ruler of half the district of Keilah.’

The next section of the wall was repaired by ‘their brothers’, that is the remainder of the men of Keilah, under Bavvai the son of Henadad, ruler of the half district of Keilah. It may well have been his brother Binnui and his household who repaired the wall further on (Nehemiah 3:24).

Henadad was a Levite family name (Ezra 3:9). Binnui of the sons of Henadad signed Nehemiah’s covenant (Nehemiah 10:9).


Verse 19

‘And next to him repaired Ezer the son of Jeshua, the ruler of Mizpah, another portion, opposite the ascent to the armoury at the turning (of the wall).’

‘Next to him’, as in Nehemiah 3:17, may be intended to indicate the close relationship between the Levites as they worked in association.

Thus next to Bavvai and the men of Keilah repaired Ezer and the men of Mizpeh. They repaired the portion opposite the ascent to the armoury ‘at the turning’ or ‘at the angle’ or ‘by the buttress’ or ‘by the escarpment’. The meaning of the word is uncertain and probably means ‘a place where something is cut off or ends abruptly’. It was no doubt easily identifiable at the time. The same word occurs in Nehemiah 3:20; Nehemiah 3:24-25. The armoury would be within the walls at the point where there was an angle. A further ‘angle’ to the wall is mentioned in Nehemiah 3:24. Perhaps the wall angled outwards, and then back in again.

Ezer was ruler of Mizpah. See on Nehemiah 3:15. An Ezer (meaning ‘help’) was also a musician in one of the large companies appointed by Nehemiah to give thanks at the dedication of the wall (Nehemiah 12:42). Elsewhere it is the name of a Horite chief (Genesis 36:21; 1 Chronicles 1:38); a Judahite (1 Chronicles 4:4); an Ephraimite, slain by men from Gath (1 Chronicles 7:21); and a Gadite who followed David while in exile as a result of the wrath of Saul (1 Chronicles 12:9). It was a regular Jewish name.


Verse 20

‘After him Baruch the son of Zabbai earnestly (strivingly) repaired another portion, from the turning (of the wall) to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest.’

It is an open question as to whether Baruch is the last of the list of ‘the Levites’ (Nehemiah 3:17) or is in fact introducing groups of priests responsible for the wall which was by the house of Eliashib the High Priest. Eliashib himself had take responsibility for the part of the northern wall near the Temple area (Nehemiah 3:1) and was not therefore available to work here. Compare how in Nehemiah 3:21 Meremoth is a priest, and how in Nehemiah 3:22 ‘the priests, the men of the Plain (countryside)’ operated. Note also that a priest named Baruch signed Nehemiah’s covenant (Nehemiah 10:6). In view of the close connection with the house/palace of the High Priest all this may suggest that it is most likely that Baruch was a priest. From this point on the line of the wall is defined mainly in terms of people’s houses. So Baruch and his helpers repaired the portion from the ‘turning’ or buttress, to the High Priest’s palace.

The word translated ‘earnestly’ usually indicates ‘burning with anger’. It may indicate ‘passionately, burning with zeal’, or it may suggest a particularly difficult part of the wall which required huge effort and resulted in some exasperation, something well remembered.

Baruch’s namesake was scribe to Jeremiah and greatly assisted him in his work (Jeremiah 32:12; Jeremiah 36:4 ff.; Jeremiah 36:10 ff.). Another Baruch is also mentioned in Nehemiah 11:5 as father of Maaseiah, and son of Colhozeh, a descendant of Perez, the son of Judah. Maaseiah willingly took up residence in a sparsely populated Jerusalem at Nehemiah’s request.


Verse 21

‘After him repaired Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz another portion, from the door of the house of Eliashib even to the end of the house of Eliashib.’

This Meremoth was also responsible for another section of the wall in Nehemiah 3:4, which see for details about him. But the section mentioned here does not appear to have been very large (it was the length of the High Priest’s house/palace). Meremoth was clearly seen by the High Priest as very reliable.


Verse 22

‘And after him repaired the priests, the men of the countryside.’

Finishing off the section of the wall near the High Priest’s house were ‘the priests, the men of the countryside’ (literally ‘of the circle’. This could refer to ‘the circle of the Jordan’ compare Genesis 13:10; but see Nehemiah 12:28). We do not know how these were distinguished from the priests involved on the northern wall, but there would appear to have been a difference.


Verse 23

‘After them repaired Benjamin and Hasshub over against their house.’

The next part of the wall was repaired by Benjamin and Hasshub. Benjamin and Hasshub may have had two houses one close to the other (i.e. each over against their house), or they may have been related and have thus shared the one large house. This is a different Hasshub from the one mentioned in Nehemiah 3:11. This would appear to be been a wealthy part of Jerusalem which had large houses.

The suffix is in fact singular (literally after ‘him’ or ‘it’), referring to the priests as one group.

Nehemiah 3:23

‘After them repaired Azariah the son of Maaseiah the son of Ananiah beside his own house.’

The next part of the wall, which was by his house, was repaired by Azariah, the son of Maaseiah and his household. The naming of two elements among his forebears suggest his importance, and probably the importance of Ananiah. Azariah was a popular Jewish name. His house must have been a large one for it is mentioned in Nehemiah 3:24 as a landmark. Three other Azariahs are mentioned in the Book of Nehemiah. A Levite who assisted Ezra to expound the Law (Nehemiah 8:7); a priest who sealed Nehemiah’s covenant (Nehemiah 10:2), and a prince of Judah mentioned in connection with the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 12:32 ff). Ananiah (Yah has dealt graciously) was the name of a town of Benjamin mentioned in connection with Nob and Hazor (Nehemiah 11:32), which may have been named after Ananiah. It is commonly identified with Beit Hanina, between three and four miles (six kilometres) North-Northwest from Jerusalem.


Verse 24

After him repaired Binnui the son of Henadad another portion, from the house of Azariah to the turning (of the wall), and to the corner.’

Binnui the son of Henadad (and brother of Bavvai - Nehemiah 3:18) repaired the part of the wall between the end of the house of Azariah to the next angle in the wall and then on to the corner. All this would be familiar to the early readers. Bavvai in Nehemiah 3:18 would appear to have been his brother.

This Binnui was also a signatory to Nehemiah’s covenant (Nehemiah 10:9) where he is revealed as a Levite. It may be his son, who as one of the two Levites selected, aided in the reception of the gold and silver for the Temple when Ezra arrived (Ezra 8:33). By now Henadad may have been dead, or too old to work on the wall. Sons of a Henadad who were Levites (Ezra 3:9), and who was presumably a forebear of this Henadad, had arrived with Zerubbabel and helped with the building of the Temple (Ezra 3:9). It was common for names to pass down in a family.

The sons of a former Binnui had arrived with Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 7:15; compare Ezra 2:10 where he is called Bani) but they were ‘men of Israel’ not ‘Levites’. A Binnui who was of the sons of Pachath-moab had married an idolatrous foreign wife (Ezra 10:30) as had another Binnui (Ezra 10:38). Thus it was a common name among the Jews.


Verse 25

Palal the son of Uzai (repaired) over against the turning (of the wall), and the tower that stands out from the upper house of the king, which is by the court of the guard.’

The next section, which was repaired (the verb is read in) by Palal the son of Uzai, was either near, or contained, a tower which was a part of the Davidic palace complex. The palace probably had a number of towers and this one is identified by its position ‘by the court of the guard’ (compare Jeremiah 32:2). This tower ‘stood out from the upper house of the king’, possibly at the southernmost end of the palace. (The palace was situated near the Temple. The complex must have been very widespread).

Nehemiah 3:25

‘After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh (repaired), and the Nethinim dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that stands out (the projecting tower).’

The writer probably assumes that the reader will realise that where Pedaiah was repairing was the southern point of Ophel (the rising ground leading up to the Temple), and was thus where the Nephinim dwelt. His initial readers would know where the former Water Gate, and the Projecting Tower, were. Note the continuing reference to Ophel in the following verse.

The idea here may be that Pedaiah, with the Nethinim (Temple servants) who dwelt in Ophel (see Isaiah 32:14; Micah 4:8), were the ones who repaired this section. Alternatively it may simply be indicating that Pedaiah repaired the section which was adjacent to the houses of the Nethinim in Ophel. Either way he repaired as far as the place which was adjacent to the Water Gate towards the east, and as far as the projecting tower. The Water Gate gave access to the Gihon spring. It may not have been rebuilt at this stage as a consequence of the fact that access to the spring at this point was prevented by the build up of rubble from the previous destruction of the walls. This would have been mid-way up the eastern wall.

Pedaiah was the name of a man who stood by Ezra at the reading of the Torah (Nehemiah 8:4), and he may well be identical with this man. It was also the name of a Levite appointed over the treasuries of YHWH’s house (Nehemiah 13:13). A further Pedaiah ben Koliah was a Benjamite, who was forefather of one of the rulers ruling in Jerusalem as a result of its repopulation by Nehemiah (Nehemiah 11:7).

Others who were named Pedaiah were, 1) the father of Joel, who was a ruler of Western Manasseh in David’s day (1 Chronicles 27:20); 2) Pedaiah of Rumah (2 Kings 23:36), who was the father of Zebudah, Jehoiakim's mother; 3) a son of Jechoniah (Jehoiachin) while in captivity, whose sons were Zerubbabel and Shimei (1 Chronicles 3:18-19). Zerubbabel is elsewhere called the son of Shealtiel (Jechoniah’s first son) but the relationship may have been by Levirate marriage, or by adoption as heir to the throne.

The Ophel (‘swelling, rising’) was the rising ground rising up eventually to the Temple, and was a convenient place for the humbler ‘Temple Servants’ (Nethinim - see Ezra 2:43-54) to live so as to be near the Temple. The Nethinim were descended from foreigners (often prisoners of war) who had been enslaved and given by kings to serve in the Temple in a humble capacity. But their returning to Jerusalem with the returnees confirms their present pride in their position and the fact that they saw themselves as genuine Yahwists.


Verse 27

‘After him the Tekoites repaired another (a second) portion, over against the great tower that stands out (projecting tower), and unto the wall of Ophel.’

The Tekoites were also involved in Nehemiah 3:5, which see. This is thus the second portion for which they were responsible. It was adjacent to the Projecting Tower. They repaired ‘unto the wall of Ophel’ (compare 2 Chronicles 27:3 where Jotham ‘built much on the wall of Ophel). The wall of Ophel would appear to have been an inner wall running east-west (but see 2 Chronicles 33:14).


Verse 28

‘Above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one over against his own house.’

As we have seen the Nethinim (Temple Servants) dwelt at the low point of the Ophel (the ground rising towards the Temple). Now we have reached the point where the priests dwelt in Jerusalem. The portion of the wall by their houses was ‘above the Horse Gate’ (mentioned in Jeremiah 31:40), and each took responsibility for the portion adjacent to his own house.

As the Horse Gate is not said to be repaired it may well have been a part of the old devastated wall which was not being rebuilt, with the new wall being built on the higher ridge. This would explain why the new wall was ‘above the Horse Gate’, no gate now being included.


Verse 29

‘After them repaired Zadok the son of Immer over against his own house.’

The next section was repaired by Zadok the son of Immer and his household, adjacent to his own house. Contrast Nehemiah 3:4 c where Zadok the son of Baana had been involved. Being a ‘son of Immer’ may indicate his priestly descent.

Immer was the name of one of priestly courses in the time of David (1 Chronicles 24:14 compare Nehemiah 7:40; Ezra 2:37). ‘Sons of Immer’ had married idolatrous foreign wives (Ezra 10:20). See also Nehemiah 11:13. In all these cases priestly descent was involved.

Nehemiah 3:29

‘And after him repaired Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the east gate.’

The next section was repaired by ‘Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the east gate.’ This was probably the east gate in the Temple, indicating that Shemaiah was a prominent Levite and a temple gate-keeper. This distinguishes him from the Shemaiah, son of Shechaniah, who was a post-exilic Davidide (1 Chronicles 3:22).


Verse 30

‘After him repaired Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, a second portion.’

The next section was the responsibility of Hananiah and Hanun. This may well have been the Hananiah, the governor of the fortress, who was placed in charge of the whole of Jerusalem by Nehemiah because he was ‘a faithful man who feared God above many’ (Nehemiah 7:2). Alternately if ‘a second portion’ also applies to him this may be the Hananiah who was prominent among the perfumers in Nehemiah 3:8.

A prominent Levite named Hananiah sealed Nehemiah’s covenant (Nehemiah 10:23), whilst it is also the name of a priest who was present at the dedication of the walls (Nehemiah 12:41), and one who was head of his father’s house in the days of Joiakim, the father of Eliashib the High Priest (Nehemiah 12:12).

Hanun is described as ‘the sixth son of Zalaph’. He may be identifiable with the Hanun who repaired along with the inhabitants of Zanoah in Nehemiah 3:13, which would explain why this is ‘a second portion’. We do not know why he is unusually distinguished as ‘a sixth son’, although it may emphasise his personal worth in that he is prominent in spite of being only a sixth son..

Nehemiah 3:30

‘After him repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah over against his chamber.’

Meshullam the son of Berechiah has already been mentioned as active in the rebuilding in Nehemiah 3:4. Here he now also has responsibility for the wall ‘over against his chamber’, probably in the Temple complex (compare Nehemiah 12:44; Nehemiah 13:4-9; Ezra 10:6). This brings out his religious importance. His daughter in fact married the son of Tobiah the Servant (Nehemiah 6:18), and he may well have been influential in Tobiah also later having a chamber in the Temple (Nehemiah 13:4-9).


Verse 31

‘After him repaired Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, unto the house of the Nethinim, and of the merchants, over against the gate of Hammiphkad, and to the ascent of the corner.’

The next section was that which led up to the north east corner. It was repaired by Malchijah who was a goldsmith. It was adjacent to ‘the house of the Nethinim’, probably the large house they lived in when actually on duty in the Temple, in contrast with their normal dwellingplaces at the commencement of the Ophel (Nehemiah 3:26). It was seemingly large enough to also be used by merchants, presumably those who were involved in trade connected with the Temple It was probably this connection which resulted in a goldsmith being involved in the oversight of the building. The Gate of Hammiphkad (the miphkad) is of unknown meaning (‘muster, inspection, appointed place’ have been suggested). It may have been where animals for sacrifice were gathered and inspected.


Verse 32

‘And between the ascent of the corner and the sheep gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.’

In Nehemiah 3:1 the description of the building works had commenced with the building of the Sheep Gate in the northern wall by the priests. Now the final section of the building work, that between the north east corner and the Sheep Gate, is described. This involved the activity of the goldsmiths and the merchants, probably because they had a thriving religious market in that area connected with the Temple. Thus the goldsmiths and merchants worked on the wall side by side with the priests (Nehemiah 3:1). It was an indication of the unity of purpose of all God’s people, both spiritual and secular, as they worked together on the wall.

But it is also a vivid reminder of how Temple worship and purity was always in danger of becoming mixed up with, and polluted by, secular greed, something which had clearly been in Zechariah’s mind in Zechariah 14:21, where some decades previously he had declared that in the coming age ‘there shall no more be a trafficker in the house of YHWH of Hosts’. It was a theme which Jesus took up when He ‘cleansed’ the Temple and declared, ‘do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise’ (John 2:16). This was what they were in grave danger doing. It can also become a great danger for us.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Nehemiah 3:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/nehemiah-3.html. 2013.

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Monday, May 25th, 2020
the Seventh Week after Easter
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