|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:1-32 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.
Verse 1. - Then Eliashib the high priest rose up. It is satisfactory to find Eliashib the high priest taking the part which befitted him on this occasion. Subsequently we find him "allied by marriage to Tobiah (Nehemiah 13:4), and guilty of a profanation of the temple (ibid. ver. 5). By the line of high priests given in Nehemiah 12:10, 11, it appears that Eliashib was the son of Joiakim, and the grandson of the Jeshua who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:2; Ezra 3:2). With his brethren. The priests generally. Compare ver. 28, which shows that the priests undertook a portion of the eastern wall, besides the work here mentioned. Builded the sheep gate. The "sheep gate" appears to have been a gate in the eastern wall, the προβατική of St. John (John %;2), which was close to the pool of Bethesda. By this gate were brought in the sheep needed for sacrifice, which were then washed in the adjoining pool, and conveyed from it into the temple area, whereon the pool abuts. The priests dwelt principally in this portion of the city. They sanctified it. This appears to have been a dedication quite distinct from that which is described in Nehemiah 12:27-43. The priests, having completed the rebuilding of the sheep gate, and of the wall extending from it northwards as far as the tower of Hananeel, anticipated the general dedication by a special one, which "sanctified," or consecrated, their own portion of the wall Thus a sacred character was impressed on the work at the earliest possible moment, and it was placed under the protection of the Almighty. The tower of Meah (or rather Hammeah, i.e. "the Hundred") and the tower of Hananeel appear to have been situated almost at the same point of the wall. Perhaps they were opposite each other, like the towers in the walls of Babylon (Herod., 1:179).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests,.... This was the grandson of Jeshua or Joshua the high priest, his father's name was Joiakim, Nehemiah 12:10, being high priest, and rising first, he set a good example both to the priests and to the people, and served no doubt greatly to animate and encourage them:
and they built the sheep gate; so called, because the sheep were led through it to the temple, and near it was the sheep market, where they were sold, and the sheep pool, where the sacrifices were washed; and this being near the temple, and for the service of it, the priests undertook that; not that they laboured with their hands at it, though it is possible some of them might; but they were at the expense of it, employed labourers, and paid them, and directed them, and had the oversight of them: this gate was to the south of the city; and Rauwolff (u) says, it was still standing by Moriah, the mountain of the temple, which the Turks have taken to themselves, and built on it a Turkish mosque or temple. Near the gate you see still, he says, the sheep pond, which is large and deep, wherein the Nethinims used to wash the beasts, and then gave them to the priests; it is said (w) to lead to the mount of Olives, to Bethany, to Jericho, the desert, and all the east country to Jordan:
they sanctified it; this being for sacred use, and they sacred persons; and this the first part of the building, they prayed for a blessing on it, and in it on the whole work undertaken, of which this was the firstfruits:
and set up the doors of it; and so finished it:
even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel; so far they built, and what they built they sanctified. The tower of Meah, or a "hundred", as the word signifies, might be so called, either because it was one hundred cubits from the sheep gate on one side, and as many from the tower of Hananeel on the other side, standing between both; or because it was one hundred cubits high: these two towers, perhaps, were firm and strong, and needed no repair, since no mention is made of any; though they seem to me to be one and the same tower; see Jeremiah 31:38.
(u) Travels, par. 3. c. 3. p. 226, 228. (w) Vid. Quistorp. in loc.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ne 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 (Joh 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.
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