The rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.
- The work was divided, so that every one might know what he had to do, and mind it, with a desire to excel; yet without contention, or separate interests. No strife appears among them, but which should do most for the public good. Every Israelite should lend a hand toward the building up of Jerusalem. Let not nobles think any thing below them, by which they may advance the good of their country. Even some females helped forward the work. Some repaired over against their houses, and one repaired over against his chamber. When a general good work is to be done, each should apply himself to that part which is within his reach. If every one will sweep before his own door, the street will be clean; if every one will mend one, we shall all be mended. Some that had first done helped their fellows. The walls of Jerusalem, in heaps of rubbish, represent the desperate state of the world around, while the number and malice of those who hindered the building, give some faint idea of the enemies we have to contend with, while executing the work of God. Every one must begin at home; for it is by getting the work of God advanced in our own souls that we shall best contribute to the good of the church of Christ. May the Lord thus stir up the hearts of his people, to lay aside their petty disputes, and to disregard their worldly interests, compared with building the walls of Jerusalem, and defending the cause of truth and godliness against the assaults of avowed enemies.
Nehemiah 3:1-32 . THE NAMES AND ORDER OF THEM THAT BUILDED THE WALL OF JERUSALEM.
1. Then Eliashib the high priest--the grandson of Jeshua, and the first high priest after the return from Babylon.
rose up with his brethren the priests--that is, set an example by commencing the work, their labors being confined to the sacred localities.
and they builded the sheep gate--close to the temple. Its name arose either from the sheep market, or from the pool of Bethesda, which was there ( John 5:2 ). There the sheep were washed and then taken to the temple for sacrifice.
they sanctified it, and set up the doors--Being the common entrance into the temple, and the first part of the building repaired, it is probable that some religious ceremonies were observed in gratitude for its completion. "It was the first-fruits, and therefore, in the sanctification of it, the whole lump and building was sanctified" [POOLE].
the tower of Meah--This word is improperly considered, in our version, as the name of a tower; it is the Hebrew word for "a hundred," so that the meaning is: they not only rebuilt the sheep gate, but also a hundred cubits of the wall, which extended as far as the tower of Hananeel.
2. next unto him builded the men of Jericho, &c.--The wall was divided into portions, one of which was assigned respectively to each of the great families which had returned from the captivity. This distribution, by which the building was carried on in all parts simultaneously with great energy, was eminently favorable to despatch. "The villages where the restorers resided being mostly mentioned, it will be seen that this circumstance affords a general indication of the part of the wall upon which they labored, such places being on that side of the city nearest their place of abode; the only apparent exception being, perhaps, where they repaired more than their piece. Having completed their first undertaking (if they worked any more), there being no more work to be done on the side next their residence, or having arrived after the repairs on that part of the city nearest them under operation were completed, they would go wherever their services would be required" [BARCLAY, City of the Great King].
8. they fortified Jerusalem unto the broad wall--or, "double wall," extending from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundred cubits in length, formerly broken down by Joash, king of Israel [ 2 Chronicles 25:23 ], but afterwards rebuilt by Uzziah [ 2 Chronicles 26:9 ], who made it so strong that the Chaldeans, finding it difficult to demolish, had left it standing.
12. Shallum . . . he and his daughters--who were either heiresses or rich widows. They undertook to defray the expenses of a part of the wall next them.
13. the inhabitants of Zanoah--There were two towns so called in the territory of Judah ( Joshua 15:34 Joshua 15:56 ).
14. Beth-haccerem--a city of Judah, supposed to be now occupied by Bethulia, on a hill of the same name, which is sometimes called also the mountain of the Franks, between Jerusalem and Tekoa.
16. the sepulchres of David, and to the pool that was made, and unto the house of the mighty--that is, along the precipitous cliffs of Zion [BARCLAY].
19. at the turning of the wall--that is, the wall across the Tyropoeon, being a continuation of the first wall, connecting Mount Zion with the temple wall [BARCLAY].
25. the tower which lieth out from the king's high house--that is, watchtower by the royal palace [BARCLAY].
26. the Nethinims--Not only the priests and the Levites, but the common persons that belonged to the house of God, contributed to the work. The names of those who repaired the walls of Jerusalem are commemorated because it was a work of piety and patriotism to repair the holy city. It was an instance of religion and courage to defend the true worshippers of God, that they might serve Him in quietness and safety, and, in the midst of so many enemies, go on with this work, piously confiding in the power of God to support them [BISHOP PATRICK].