Saying and doing are often two things: many are ready to say, "Let us
rise up and build," who sit still and do nothing, like that fair-spoken
son who said,"I go, Sir, but went not." The undertakers here were none
of those. As soon as they had resolved to build the wall about
Jerusalem they lost no time, but set about it presently, as we find in
this chapter. Let it never be said that we left that good work to be
done to-morrow which we might as well have done to-day. This chapter
gives an account of two things:--
I. The names of the builders, which are recorded here to their honour,
for they were such as herein discovered a great zeal for God and their
country, both a pious and a public spirit, a great degree both of
industry and courage; and what they did was fit to be thus largely
registered, both for their praise and for the encouragement of others
to follow their example.
II. The order of the building; they took it before them, and ended
where they began. They repaired,
1. From the sheep-gate to the fish-gate,
2. Thence to the old-gate,
3. Thence to the valley-gate,
4. Thence to the dung-gate,
5. Thence to the gate of the fountain,
6. Thence to the water-gate,
7. Thence by the horse-gate to the sheep-gate again, where they began
and so they brought their work quite round the city.
|The Rebuilding of the Wall.
||B. C. 445.|
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.
2 And next unto him builded the men of Jericho. And next to
them builded Zaccur the son of Imri.
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.
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.
5 And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles
put not their necks to the work of their Lord.
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
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.
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
9 And next unto them repaired Rephaiah the son of Hur, the
ruler of the half part of Jerusalem.
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.
11 Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hashub the son of
Pahathmoab, repaired the other piece, and the tower of the
12 And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the
ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.
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.
14 But the dung gate repaired Malchiah the son of Rechab, the
ruler of part of Beth-haccerem; he built it, and set up the doors
thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.
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.
16 After him repaired Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of
the half part of Beth-zur, unto the place over against the
sepulchres of David, and to the pool that was made, and unto the
house of the mighty.
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.
18 After him repaired their brethren, Bavai the son of Henadad,
the ruler of the half part of Keilah.
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.
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.
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.
22 And after him repaired the priests, the men of the plain.
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.
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.
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
26 Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over
against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth
27 After them the Tekoites repaired another piece, over against
the great tower that lieth out, even unto the wall of Ophel.
28 From above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one
over against his house.
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.
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.
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.
32 And between the going up of the corner unto the sheep gate
repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.
The best way to know how to divide this chapter is to observe how the
work was divided among the undertakers, that every one might know what
he had to do, and mind it accordingly with a holy emulation, and desire
to excel, yet without any contention, animosity, or separate interest.
No strife appears among them but which should do most for the public
good. Several things are observable in the account here given of the
building of the wall about Jerusalem:--
I. That Eliashib the high priest, with his brethren the priests, led
the van in this troop of builders,
Ministers should be foremost in every good work; for their office
obliges them to teach and quicken by their example, as well as by their
doctrine. If there be labour in it, who so fit as they to work? if
danger, who so fit as they to venture? The dignity of the high priest
was very great, and obliged him to signalize himself in this service.
The priests repaired the sheep-gate, so called because through
it were brought the sheep that were to be sacrificed in the temple; and
therefore the priests undertook the repair of it because the
offerings of the Lord made by fire were their inheritance. And of
this gate only it is said that they sanctified it with the word
and prayer, and perhaps with sacrifices perhaps,
1. Because it led to the temple; or,
2. Because with this the building of the wall began, and it is probable
(though they were at work in all parts of the wall at the same time)
that this was first finished, and therefore at this gate they solemnly
committed their city and the walls of it to the divine protection; or,
3. Because the priests were the builders of it; and it becomes
ministers above others, being themselves in a peculiar manner
sanctified to God, to sanctify to him all their performances, and to do
even their common actions after a godly sort.
II. That the undertakers were very many, who each took his share, some
more and some less, in this work, according as their ability was. Note,
What is to be done for the public good every one should assist in, and
further, to the utmost of his place and power. United force will
conquer that which no individual dares venture on. Many hands will make
III. That many were active in this work who were not themselves
inhabitants of Jerusalem, and therefore consulted purely the public
welfare and not any private interest or advantage of their own. Here
are the men of Jericho with the first
the men of Gibeon and Mizpah
Every Israelite should lend a hand towards the building up of
IV. That several rulers, both of Jerusalem and of other cities, were
active in this work, thinking themselves bound in honour to do the
utmost that their wealth and power enabled them to do for the
furtherance of this good work. But it is observable that they are
called rulers of part, or the half part, of their
respective cities. One was ruler of the half part of Jerusalem
another of part of Beth-haccerem
another of part of Mizpah
another of the half part of Beth-zur
one was ruler of one half part, and another of the other half
part, of Keilah,
Perhaps the Persian government would not entrust any one with a strong
city, but appointed two to be a watch upon each other. Rome had two
V. Here is a just reproach fastened upon the nobles of Tekoa, that they
put not their necks to the work of their Lord
that is, they would not come under the yoke of an obligation to this
service; as if the dignity and liberty of their peerage were their
discharge from serving God and doing good, which are indeed the highest
honour and the truest freedom. Let not nobles think any thing below
them by which they may advance the interests of their country; for what
else is their nobility good for but that it puts them in a higher and
larger sphere of usefulness than that in which inferior persons
VI. Two persons joined in repairing the old gate
and so were co-founders, and shared the honour of it between them. The
good work which we cannot compass ourselves we must be thankful to
those that will go partners with us in. Some think that this is called
the old gate because it belonged to the ancient Salem, which was
said to be first built by Melchizedek.
VII. Several good honest tradesmen, as well as priests and rulers, were
active in this work--goldsmiths, apothecaries, merchants,
They did not think their callings excused them, nor plead that they
could not leave their shops to attend the public business, knowing that
what they lost would certainly be made up to them by the blessing of
God upon their callings.
VIII. Some ladies are spoken of as helping forward this work--Shallum
and his daughters
who, though not capable of personal service, yet having their portions
in their own hands, or being rich widows, contributed money for buying
materials and paying workmen. St. Paul speaks of some good women that
laboured with him in the gospel,
IX. Of some it is said that they repaired over against their
and of one (who, it is likely, was only a lodger) that he repaired
over against his chamber,
When a general good work is to be done each should apply himself to
that part of it that falls nearest to him and 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 be all mended. If he that has but a
chamber will repair before that, he does his part.
X. Of one it is said that he earnestly repaired that which fell
to his share
he did it with an inflamed zeal; not that others were cold or
indifferent, but he was the most vigorous of any of them and
consequently made himself remarkable. It is good to be thus
zealously affected in a good thin; and it is probable that this
good man's zeal provoked very many to take the more pains and make the
XI. Of one of these builders it is observed that he was the sixth
son of his father,
His five elder brethren, it seems, laid not their hand to this work,
but he did. In doing that which is good we need not stay to see our
elders go before us; if they decline it, it does not therefore follow
that we must. Thus the younger brother, if he be the better man, and
does God and his generation better service, is indeed the better
gentleman; those are most honourable that are most useful.
XII. Some of those that had first done helped their fellows, and
undertook another share where they saw there was most need. Meremoth
And the Tekoites, besides the piece they repaired
undertook another piece
which is the more remarkable because their nobles set them a bad
example by withdrawing from the service, which, instead of serving them
for an excuse to sit still, perhaps made them the more forward to do
double work, that by their zeal they might either shame or atone for
the covetousness and carelessness of their nobles.
Lastly, Here is no mention of any particular share that Nehemiah
himself had in this work. A name-sake of his is mentioned,
But did he do nothing? Yes, though he undertook not any particular
piece of the wall, yet he did more than any of them, for he had the
oversight of them all; half of his servants worked where there was most
need, and the other half stood sentinel, as we find afterwards
while he himself in his own person walked the rounds, directed and
encouraged the builders, set his hand to the work where he saw
occasion, and kept a watchful eye upon the motions of the enemy, as we
shall find in the next chapter. The pilot needs not haul at a rope: it
is enough for him to steer.