|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 5. - The Tekoites are the people of Tekoah, whence came the "wise woman" whom Joab sent to incline David to fetch home Absalom (2 Kings 14:2, 3). It was a small place, and does not appear, either in the catalogue of those who returned with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:20-35; Nehemiah 7:25-38), or in the census list of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 11:25-35). Their nobles put not their necks to the work. This imputation of blame has been thought out of harmony with the general narrative contained in the chapter, and various emendations have been proposed to remove the so-called difficulty. But it has really first to be shown that a difficulty exists. Surely it would have been more strange if there had been no opposition to Nehemiah's wishes - no withdrawal from the work, than if there were the amount of opposition that is recorded. And supposing opposition to be made, why should Nehemiah not notice it? In music, the force and value of harmonious notes is brought out by an occasional discord. A desire to do honour to those who deserved it would be quite compatible with a determination to brand with disgrace the undeserving. And the contrast would enhance the value of the praise. Thus, there is no reason for disturbing the existing text, nor for questioning its plain meaning. The upper classes at Tekoah, the adirim or "exalted, withdrew from the work, like oxen withdrawing their necks from the yoke, and stood aloof, leaving it to the common people to engage in it, or not, as they pleased. The common people were perhaps moved to the greater zeal by the defection of their natural leaders. They were among those who accomplished a double task, repairing a second portion of the wall (ver. 27) after having finished their first.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And next unto them the Tekoites repaired,.... The inhabitants of Tekoa, a city in the tribe of Judah; see Amos 1:1
but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord; either of Nehemiah, as some, or rather of the lord and prince appointed over their families, as Aben Ezra, to whom they would not be subject; though it seems best, with Jarchi, to understand it of the Lord their God, by whose command this work was begun; but they refused to give any assistance to it with their purses or presence, but withdrew from it, as refractory oxen withdraw their necks from the yoke. This is observed to their disgrace, when the common people of their city were ready to work, and did.
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