Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
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.Ch. Nehemiah 3:1-32. The Distribution of the Work
The Rebuilding of the Wall. The present chapter mentions 42 portions of the work. But the description is clearly incomplete; and we may suppose that Nehemiah’s list either has been only partially reproduced by the Compiler or had been preserved in a mutilated copy. See notes on Nehemiah 3:7; Nehemiah 3:25-28.
Eliashib the high priest] Eliashib was the son of Joiakim, and the grandson of Jeshua (Ezra 3:2; Nehemiah 12:10). Though he co-operated in the work of rebuilding the walls, his close connexion with Tobiah, as described in chap. Nehemiah 13:4, shows that he did not sympathize with the policy of Ezra and Nehemiah in separating the Jews from any alliance or combination with other nations.
The technical title ‘the high-priest,’ literally ‘the great priest,’ which is used here and in Nehemiah 3:20, Nehemiah 13:28, is found in Leviticus 21:10; Numbers 35:25; Numbers 35:28; Joshua 20:6; 2 Kings 12:10; 2 Kings 22:4; 2 Chronicles 34:9; Haggai 1:1; Haggai 1:12; Haggai 1:14; Haggai 2:2; Haggai 2:4; Zechariah 3:1; Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:11. Elsewhere we find him called ‘the chief priest,’ e.g. 2 Kings 25:18; 2 Chronicles 24:11; 2 Chronicles 26:20; Ezra 7:5; Ezra 8:17; Jeremiah 52:24.
the sheep gate] This gate is also referred to in Nehemiah 3:32 and Nehemiah 12:39. There can be little doubt that it is the same gate as that mentioned by St John 5:2, ‘Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda.’ The fact that the priests restored it suggests its proximity to the Temple. This is confirmed by the reference to it in chap. Nehemiah 12:39. Its position was in the N.E. portion of the city, and corresponded to the modern St Stephen’s gate, so far as the change in walls and ground-level permits of comparison. We may suppose that the name was taken from a sheep-market in the immediate neighbourhood. Large numbers of sheep would be required for the Temple sacrifices. The chief supplies of sheep would come from Eastern Palestine and the land of Moab. Their arrival through this eastern gate, whether a market stood near or not, was sufficient to account for the name.
Socin (Baedeker, Palestine and Syria, p. 151) says ‘As the pool of Bethesda is now believed to have been near the present ‘Ain esh-Shifâ,’ and not at the place assigned to it by tradition, we must inter that the sheep gate led from the industrial quarter of the Tyropœon into the Temple precincts.’ Comparing, however, this passage with Zechariah 14:10, it is tempting to identify ‘the sheep gate’ with ‘the gate of Benjamin,’ which is not mentioned in our chapter, but which clearly stood at the N.E. of the city (cf. Jeremiah 37:13).
they sanctified it] The same Hebrew word occurs in connexion with the completion of a building in 1 Kings 8:64, ‘The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court.’ It does not anticipate the solemn dedication of the walls in chap. 12. The completion of the priests’ work was signalised by a special sacred function. (See note on the word ‘sanctify’ in Nehemiah 12:47.)
set up the doors] This was the final act. See 1 Kings 16:34, where ‘gates’ is kept by the R.V. as the rendering of the same word.
unto the tower of Meah] R.V. unto the tower of Hammeah. Marg., unto the tower of ‘The hundred.’ What is intended by ‘the tower of Hammeah,’ we have no means of determining. The alternative rendering ‘the tower of The hundred,’ supposes either that the tower was approached by 100 steps, or that it required 100 men to defend it. It is possible that there has been some early defect in the reading.
they sanctified it] The repetition of these words shows that the wall running from the sheep gate to the tower is here intended. But the omission of the object to the verb creates a difficulty.
unto the tower of Hananeel] R.V. Hananel. This was a well-known building, which is mentioned also in chap. Nehemiah 12:39; Jeremiah 31:38; Zechariah 14:10. From the first of these passages we gather that the tower stood midway between the sheep gate and the fish gate. From the two others, that it stood at the N.E. corner of the city. Probably from this point the wall, which had run N.W., now turned due W. It may have owed its name to its builder.
The way in which it is mentioned here occasions some difficulty. If it is the same as the tower of Hammeah, there seems no reason why the writer should first of all have designated the well-known tower of Hananel by the name of Hammeah. If it is a different tower, how does it happen that two towers are mentioned as the limit of the priests’ restoration of the wall?
Supposing the text to be correct, the tower of Hammeah may have been the Eastern tower of the same stronghold which is also called Hananel. From the emphatic way in which it is mentioned this fortress probably represented an important strategic point. Now ‘the castle (or bîrah) which appertaineth to the house’ may have stood on high ground near this point. And the conjecture is plausible that the tower of Hananel was the name given to an outwork of the great fortress at the point where the city wall ran into it.
According to this theory, Eliashib and the priests restored the city wall between the sheep gate and a portion of the great fortress which commanded the Temple. It does not appear from this chapter that these towers had been pulled down. They had possibly been left to receive a garrison or were not so easily dismantled as the walls.
And next unto him builded the men of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri.2. next unto him] i.e. next to Eliashib and the priests. The description passing northward from the Temple, now turns west.
the men of Jericho] Some suppose that this section of the wall lay sufficiently on the N.E. quarter to offer to ‘men of Jericho’ a convenient piece of work.
On the other hand, the term may only denote a clan of fellow-townsmen, who had held together during the exile and were known by this name after they had settled in Jerusalem. See Ezra 2:34.
to them] R.V. marg. Heb. to him. Perhaps the Hebrew indicates here an abbreviation of or omission from the list. ‘Next to,’ here and in Nehemiah 3:19 should have been rendered ‘next unto’ as elsewhere.
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.3. But the fish gate] R.V. And the fish gate. This gate is referred to in chap. Nehemiah 12:39; 2 Chronicles 33:14; Zephaniah 1:10. It was on the northern or north-western wall; how far distant from the ‘tower of Hananel’ we cannot tell. But the two sections of wall-building undertaken by ‘the men of Jericho’ and ‘Zaccur the son of Imri’ intervened.
The name of the gate may have been derived from the proximity of the fish market. It has been suggested that the fish brought by the Tyrian traders (Nehemiah 13:16) and by the fishermen of Lake Galilee would arrive by this gate. From Zephaniah 1:10-11, it appears that this gate adjoined the merchant quarter of Jerusalem.
Hassenaah] cf. Ezra 2:35; Nehemiah 7:38, Senaah.
who also] R.V. they.
the locks thereof] R.V. the bolts thereof. The details of the fully completed gate are repeated in Nehemiah 3:6; Nehemiah 3:13-15. What the ‘bolts’ (A.V. ‘locks’) were, is not certain (LXX. κλεῖθρα, Vulg. valvas). The word occurs again in Song of Solomon 5:5.
Some suppose them to be the ‘sockets’ or ‘supports’ into which the ‘bars’ and ‘stanchions’ of the gate filled; others the ‘bolts’ which held the cross-bars firm. The city gates of ancient times turned upon pivots in sockets instead of upon hinges; and we may conjecture that the word rendered ‘locks’ denoted that which held a gate in its place, while ‘the bars’ fastened it to the side-posts.
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.4. repaired] Literally ‘made strong.’ The word in the Hebrew is used of ‘calking’ a ship in Ezekiel 27:9; Ezekiel 27:27. In this chapter it is used of making good the defects and filling up the breaches in the wall. In Nehemiah 3:19 the same verb is used with a different shade of meaning.
Meremoth the son of Uriah, the son of Koz] R.V. Meremoth the son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz. The children of Hakkoz are mentioned in Ezra 2:61.
We hear of a further piece of restoration undertaken by this Meremoth in Nehemiah 3:21.
Meshullam … Meshezabeel] R.V. Meshezabel. Meshullam the son of Berechiah appears from Nehemiah 6:18 to have been one of the leading nobles, but, like Eliashib the high-priest, though he cooperated in the restoration of the walls, to have been also a close ally of Tobiah, whose son, Jehohanan, married Meshullam’s daughter. He was therefore probably opposed to Nehemiah in general policy.
The identity of name with one of the sons of Zerubbabel (1 Chronicles 3:19) suggests the possibility that this noble was of David’s line and that connexion with the royal family may have been a successful piece in the diplomacy of Tobiah.
Zadok the son of Baana] This may be the same as the Baanah who came up with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:2; Nehemiah 7:7; Nehemiah 10:27).
And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.5. the Tekoites] Tekoa was a town about 10 miles due S. of Jerusalem on the edge of the ‘Wilderness.’ It is well known as the home of the prophet Amos (Amos 1:1; Amos 7:14), and as the dwelling-place of ‘the wise woman’ of 2 Samuel 14:2. The absence of the name of Tekoa from the list of towns in Ezra 2. is remarkable. Perhaps the Jews in Zerubbabel’s time could not extend so far south. Here the mention of the Tekoites implies that the town was now occupied by Jews, or that old dwellers in Tekoa still formed a distinct community (cf. Nehemiah 3:2) in Jerusalem. Their ardour in restoring the walls of Jerusalem receives further confirmation from Nehemiah 3:27.
but their nobles] ‘Nobles’ (addirim = LXX. ἀδωρὶμ, Vulg. optimates), the same word is thus rendered in Nehemiah 10:29; 2 Chronicles 23:20; it differs from that used in Nehemiah 2:16, Nehemiah 4:14, Nehemiah 5:7, Nehemiah 6:17, Nehemiah 7:5, Nehemiah 13:17.
put not their necks] The metaphor is taken from the ox ploughing with its neck in the yoke, cf. Jeremiah 27:12.
the work of their Lord] R.V. of their lord. Marg. ‘Or lords or Lord’. There are here three alternative renderings. (1) A.V. ‘of their Lord.’ The somewhat unusual phrase ‘the work of their Lord’ (Adonai) instead of ‘the work of the Lord (Jehovah),’ or ‘the work of their God,’ has been defended on the ground that it carries out the metaphor of the clause. This is the traditional Jewish interpretation. But the word is not common in these books as a Divine name (see note on Nehemiah 1:11), and the use of the pronoun ‘their’ makes the interpretation improbable (Vulg. in opere Domini sui). The use of this title for God in plain narrative is most improbable.
(2) R.V. marg. ‘their lords,’ namely, the leaders of the Jews; but this would not be at all a suitable word to describe the relation of the ‘nobles’ of a town to the ‘rulers’ of Jerusalem.
(3) ‘their lord.’ This rendering of the R.V. seems the most natural, and is best understood to mean a reference to Nehemiah himself (cf. Ezra 10:3). He was ‘the lord’ of the Jews, appointed by the king, and ‘the nobles’ of the Jewish towns as well as of Jerusalem owed him service and assistance in his great work.
The hostility of Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem to Nehemiah would make itself felt on the towns upon the borders of the neighbouring races. The nobles of ‘Tekoa,’ which lay on the outskirts of the wilderness, may very possibly have sympathised with the Arabian chiefs represented by Geshem, or have had intimate relations with the outlying peoples.
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 thereof.6. Moreover the old gate] R.V. And the old gate. Marg. ‘Or, the gate of the old city or, of the old wall.’ Literally rendered the words are ‘And the gate of the old,’ so that there is some uncertainty which word we should supply. From the mention of the same gate elsewhere (Nehemiah 12:39) we gather that it stood between the ‘fish gate’ and the ‘gate of Ephraim,’ and is possibly the same as the ‘corner gate’ (2 Kings 14:13) which Zechariah calls ‘the first gate’ (Zechariah 14:10). On the N. side the ground being more level the city would naturally extend itself in this direction. The gate possibly derived its name from being the entrance to the old city. Prof. Robertson Smith (Art. Jerusalem, Enc. Brit.) says: ‘For obvious engineering reasons the eminence at the N.W. of the Haram area must always have been a principal point in the fortifications, and here the old gate may very well have been placed.’ The ‘gate of the old wall’ is a less likely appellation. In one sense every gate that was restored was a gate of the old wall. If ‘the old wall’ was a part of an ancient or disused rampart, it would not have been a portion included in this description. When the fortifications coincided with an earlier and thicker wall, it was called ‘the broad wall’ (Nehemiah 3:8).
Jehoiada] R.V. Joiada.
they laid the beams, &c.] See on Nehemiah 3:3.
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.7. Melatiah the Gibeonite, and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon, and of Mizpah] In this arrangement of names it is natural to see the names of two leaders followed by the description of their respective followers. Melatiah is thus at the head of the Gibeonites, Jadon at the head of the men of Mizpah. But as the latter is called ‘the Meronothite’ (see also 1 Chronicles 27:30), we conclude that Meronoth, his native place, must have been a village in the immediate neighbourhood of Mizpah.
The men of Gibeon are included in Nehemiah 7:25 among those who returned with Zerubbabel (see the parallel passage, Ezra 2:20).
Mizpah, about 3½ miles N. of Jerusalem, the modern Nebi-Samwil. Rulers of Mizpah are further on mentioned as concerned in the restoration of other portions of the wall (Nehemiah 3:15; Nehemiah 3:19). The men of Mizpah referred to in this verse may have been under different control (see next note).
unto the throne of the governor on this side the river] R.V. which appertained to the throne of the governor beyond the river.
This obscure clause has occasioned great difficulty. (a) According to the rendering of the A.V., it denotes the limit of the restoration undertaken by the men mentioned in this verse. ‘The throne of the governor, &c.’ will then be the official residence of the Persian satrap or the actual throne in which he sate dispensing justice. The preposition ‘unto’ may be understood to mean, either that the governor’s house was built on the wall, and that the restoration mentioned in this verse reached this point; or that the governor’s ‘throne’ was in the vicinity, and the restoration was carried on to a point over against it.
The chief objection to this rendering is the use of the word ‘throne.’ But it is more simple than the alternative rendering given below. And the supposition is very natural, that an official spot, close to the chief northern gate of the city (Nehemiah 3:6), should become a recognised landmark. The visit of the satrap of the country W. of the Euphrates to the provincial capitals would be a rare event; and the spot which symbolised his dignity would receive a distinctive name.
(b) According to the rendering of the R.V., the clause is added by way of limitation after the mention of Mizpah. Mizpah it is supposed was partly under Jewish rulers (Nehemiah 3:15; Nehemiah 3:19), partly under the rule of the Persian provincial governor. The boundary passed through the district of Mizpah. ‘The men of Mizpah,’ mentioned here, represented the portion under Persian rule, in which perhaps the village of Maronoth was included. By the indulgence of the Persian rulers (cf. Nehemiah 2:7) a contingent was permitted to render aid to their brethren.
The phrase ‘the throne of the governor beyond the river’ will then be a technical term of authority in vogue among the Jews during the Persian supremacy. ‘Throne’ in the sense of ‘rule’ is poetical, cf. Psalm 89:29; Psalm 89:36.
There is nothing to be said in favour of another proposed rendering ‘in the name of the governor, &c.’ The Vulgate renders ‘pro duce,’ the LXX. ἕως θρόνου τοῦ ἄρχοντος.
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 wall.8. Uzziel … of the goldsmiths] R.V. Uzziel …, goldsmiths. The R.V. gives the literal rendering. The meaning of course is that a guild or the guild of goldsmiths, who were represented by Uzziel, undertook the next piece of the wall. The wealth of ‘the goldsmiths’ is shown by the large portion undertaken by the members of their ‘guild.’ Cf. Nehemiah 3:31-32.
Next unto him also] R.V. And next unto him.
Hananiah the son of one of the apothecaries] R.V. Hananiah, one of the apothecaries. Marg. ‘perfumers’. The R.V. gives the meaning of the Hebrew, which is literally ‘Hananiah, a son of the apothecaries or perfumers.’ This Hananiah, possibly ‘the son of Shelemiah’ mentioned as engaged in restoring another portion of the wall, represented the guild of ‘perfumers.’
The word ‘apothecary,’ which appears in the A.V. in Exodus 30:25; Exodus 30:35; Exodus 37:29; 2 Chronicles 16:14; Ecclesiastes 10:1, is not used in the sense of a vendor of medicines. The context in each passage shows that a dealer in ointments, spices, and perfumes is intended. The same word in the feminine is rendered ‘confectionaries’ in 1 Samuel 8:13, where the R.V. marg. ‘perfumers’ is to be preferred.
This was a most important industry in Eastern countries, combining provision for the comforts of the poor and the luxuries of the rich (Song of Solomon 3:6), with the elaborate arts of embalming the dead.
In hot climates the anointing of head or feet with ointment and perfumes was a recognised courtesy offered a distinguished guest (Luke 7:38; Luke 7:46; John 12:3). Anointing with sweet oil was an act of cleansing or purification (Ezekiel 16:9; Ruth 3:3; Jdt 10:3). With women cosmetics constituted a considerable part of personal adornment (Song of Solomon 4:10).
and they fortified Jerusalem unto (R.V. even unto) the broad wall] R.V. marg. ‘Or, left’ for ‘fortified,’ giving the usual sense of the Hebrew verb.
The LXX. has καὶ κατέλιπον Ἱερουσαλὴμ ἕως τοῦ τείχους τοῦ πλατέος: the Vulgate ‘dimiserunt Ierusalem usque ad murum plateæ latioris.’
The difficulty occasioned by the verb has given rise to very different interpretations of the passage:
(1) The A.V. following ancient Jewish interpretation renders ‘fortified Jerusalem;’ and it appears to be the case that the word occurs in Talmudic Hebrew with a meaning connected with building operations (Buxtorf, sub voce, ‘pavimentarunt’). But even if this meaning be accepted, it is not easy to account for the occurrence of the words ‘fortified Jerusalem’ in the middle of a description, the whole of which deals with the fortification of Jerusalem.
(2) Accepting the usual rendering ‘left,’ the following explanations have been given:
(a) ‘And they’, i.e. the Babylonian troops, at the destruction of Jerusalem, had left this portion untouched. This translation introduces an imaginary subject, i.e. the Babylonians. It fails to explain the introduction of the reference to Jerusalem. It makes ‘left’ equivalent to ‘left undestroyed.’
(b) The Jews who were engaged upon the work of restoration ‘left untouched’ this portion of the wall, which happened not to require rebuilding. This again gives an arbitrary meaning to the word ‘left,’ and the mention of ‘Jerusalem’ remains unexplained.
(c) They carried on the fortification at some distance from the dwelling-places of Jerusalem. The city wall extended further north than the houses. The builders ‘left the city,’ i.e. the neighbourhood of the houses, in order to complete the circumvallation included in the plan.
(d) ‘And the Jews had abandoned Jerusalem,’ i.e. Jerusalem was at this point not occupied by the Jews returned from the Captivity. The northern limit of the inhabited quarter did not extend so far as it had done in the Monarchy.
(e) It is possible that the builders at this point ‘left’ some portion of Jerusalem outside their wall. The circumference of the old city was larger than was now needed. In the course of the restoration of the wall the builders abandoned at some point the old outer wall and the uninhabited portion of Jerusalem which it included.
The exact meaning lies hid in the topographical allusion, which we cannot hope to understand. It seems most natural, (1) that the subject to the verb ‘left’ should be the builders just previously mentioned; (2) that ‘Jerusalem’ should imply the inhabited city. The solution offered by (e) seems to be the most probable. The new circumvallation was, as a rule, larger than the old. Here only where the builders went inside and left the old wall, it is expressly mentioned.
the broad wall] The broad wall is mentioned again in chap. Nehemiah 12:38 as between ‘the tower of the furnaces’ and ‘the gate of Ephraim.’ The name was probably given to a portion of the wall where the thickness and strength of the structure indicated the strategic importance of this point in the fortifications. It is possible that this was the portion of 400 cubits which Amaziah pulled down (see 2 Kings 14:13; 2 Chronicles 25:23) with the view of rendering Jerusalem defenceless on the N., and that this was the portion which Hezekiah took pains to strengthen and renew (2 Chronicles 32:5).
And next unto them repaired Rephaiah the son of Hur, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem.9. the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem] R.V. the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem. Rephaiah was ruler not of the city but of one of the districts into which Jerusalem was divided. The ruler of the other half is Shallum, mentioned in Nehemiah 3:12. Compare the different positions of ‘the ruler of Mizpah’ (Nehemiah 3:19) and ‘the ruler of the district of Mizpah’ (Nehemiah 3:5). By comparison of this expression with 2 Kings 22:14; Zephaniah 1:10, it would appear that some such division, necessitated by the growth of the Capital, had taken place during the Monarchy in the interests of urban administration. The district here referred to would be the commercial quarter of the city.
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.10. And next unto them] i.e. next unto those who were represented by Rephaiah.
Hattush …] Possibly a priest belonging to the family of this name mentioned in Nehemiah 10:4, or a Levite the son of the Hashabneiah mentioned in Nehemiah 9:5.
Hashabniah] R.V. Hashabneiah.
Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hashub the son of Pahathmoab, repaired the other piece, and the tower of the furnaces.11. Harim … Pahath-moab] See on Ezra 2:6; Ezra 2:32.
the other piece] R.V. another portion. This phrase, which occurs again in this chapter in Nehemiah 3:19-21; Nehemiah 3:24; Nehemiah 3:27; Nehemiah 3:30, has been explained, (1) (as the A.V.), as equivalent to ‘a further portion’ of the same section of wall, (2) as ‘a second portion’ of restoration-work undertaken by those mentioned in the verse. The latter is the more natural interpretation. There is this difficulty: whereas in Nehemiah 3:21; Nehemiah 3:27 we find the recurrence of names which have occurred earlier in the chapter (Nehemiah 3:4-5), in this verse and in 19, 20, 24, 30 the names of those who are said to repair ‘another portion’ are not mentioned again. Accordingly some commentators, laying stress on the point that in Nehemiah 3:19-21; Nehemiah 3:24; Nehemiah 3:27 the phrase is accompanied by a minute topographical notice, maintain that the words do not imply a second piece of work, but a special continuation of the work just mentioned.
On the other hand, it should be observed that (1) Malchijah’s name at any rate recurs in Nehemiah 3:31; (2) in this portion of Nehemiah’s description ‘the gate of Ephraim’ is strangely altogether omitted, in spite of its great importance (cf. Nehemiah 8:16, Nehemiah 12:39): (3) it is on other grounds very probable that the complete list of those engaged on the work of restoration has not been preserved, and that numerous names have been lost. A recognition of the incompleteness of the list will fully meet the difficulty presented in this verse, and in Nehemiah 3:19-20; Nehemiah 3:24; Nehemiah 3:30.
the tower of the furnaces] This tower lay between the gate of Ephraim and the gate of the valley (see Nehemiah 12:38). It may have stood a little to the N. of the modern citadel. It was the fortress of the N.W. angle of the city, and probably constituted the chief fortification in connexion with the corner gate (2 Kings 14:13; 2 Chronicles 26:9; Jeremiah 31:38; Zechariah 14:10.
And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.12. the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem] R.V. the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem. See note on Nehemiah 3:9. This was the ‘Zion’ half of the city.
he and his daughters] The mention of ‘his daughters’ is strange. Some consider that the word ‘daughters’ is here used in its technical sense of ‘villages’ and ‘country towns’ (cf. Nehemiah 11:25; Nehemiah 11:27), the inhabitants of which placed workers under the command of the ruler of the whole district. Others again accepting this rendering of ‘daughters’ = ‘villages,’ refer the pronoun ‘he’ to ‘the district,’ i.e. ‘the district and the villages adjacent to that quarter of Jerusalem.’
But the most simple and literal explanation is probably the best. The whole chronicle of the restoration of the walls is a register of personal effort. The exceptional mention of women does not justify us in excluding the possibility of their useful cooperation, not only by sympathy and exhortation, but also by gifts of money, by contributions of food, and by the labour of their servants and retainers.
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.13. The valley gate] See note on Nehemiah 2:13; Nehemiah 2:15. This was the main entrance on the western side.
Zanoah] This town, mentioned in Nehemiah 11:30; Joshua 15:34, is probably the modern Zanuah, some 13 miles W. of Jerusalem.
the doors thereof, &c.] See note on Nehemiah 3:3.
and a thousand cubits on the wall unto the dung gate] R.V. of the wall. Some who have thought that this would be too great a distance of wall to be restored by a single section of the community regard the clause as a topographical parenthesis, = ‘There were a thousand cubits between the two gates.’ But if we may suppose little restoration was here needed, no further details would be recorded of this section of the wall. This very reason, however, would enable us to accept the repairing of ‘the thousand cubits’ as the work of ‘Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah.’ Comparatively little work was here needed, and a small party could undertake a long stretch.
The ‘dung gate’ was probably at the S.W. angle of the wall. The wall having passed due S. from the ‘valley gate’ to the ‘dung gate,’ turned thence in an easterly direction.
But the dung gate repaired Malchiah the son of Rechab, the ruler of part of Bethhaccerem; he built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.14. But] R.V. And.
Malchiah] R.V. Malchijah. It is the same spelling as the ‘Malchijah’ in Nehemiah 3:11. ‘the son of Rechab.’ Not necessarily a Rechabite. The Rechabites were forbidden to dwell in houses (Jeremiah 35:7).
of part of Beth-haccerem] R.V. of the district of Beth-haccherem. Beth-haccherem (the house of the vineyard) is mentioned in Jeremiah 6:1. It seems to have been due S. of Jerusalem, between Bethlehem and Tekoa. It is frequently identified with a well-known spot 6 or 7 miles S. of Jerusalem, the Frank Mountain (Arab. Jebel Ferdis = Hill of Paradise or Orchard), where are to be seen the remains of the Herodium, the castle built by Herod the Great. It is called ‘the Frank Mountain’ because tradition connects it with the stubborn resistance of the Crusaders against the Moslems. It commands one of the most beautiful views over the Dead Sea to be obtained near Jerusalem.
doors thereof, &c.] Cf. note on Nehemiah 3:3.
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.15. But the gate of the fountain] R.V. And the fountain gate. See Nehemiah 2:14. According to the old view, Nehemiah’s description here passes over a considerable space (nearly half a mile in straight line) between the ‘dung gate’ and the ‘fountain gate.’ The omission is capable of being explained as due either to the omission of certain details, cf. Nehemiah 3:11, or to the fact that the precipitous nature of the ground rendered little work necessary upon the southern wall. But it can hardly be accidental that a similar omission has to be understood in the other description of the wall’s circuit (ch. Nehemiah 12:31; Nehemiah 12:37). It seems reasonable to incline to the recent suggestion, that, ‘the valley’ of Nehemiah 3:13, being the Tyropœon, the circuit of the fortification wall did not include the Western Hill, but ran directly S. down the E. side of ‘the valley’ as far as ‘the dung gate’, when it began to deflect eastward.
Shallun] The A.V. (1611) spelling ‘Shallum’ is perhaps due to Nehemiah 3:12.
the ruler of part of Mizpah] R.V. the ruler of the district of Mizpah. A distinction is drawn between the town of Mizpah and the adjacent district. Cf. ‘the district of Jerusalem,’ Nehemiah 3:9; Nehemiah 3:12. ‘The ruler of Mizpah’ itself is mentioned in Nehemiah 3:19. See also on Nehemiah 3:7.
covered it] The word so rendered does not occur elsewhere in the Bible. The LXX. renders ἐστέγασεν. It seems to correspond to the expression ‘laid the beams thereof’ in Nehemiah 3:3; Nehemiah 3:6.
and the wall of the pool of Siloah by the king’s garden] R.V. And the wall of the pool of Shelah by the king’s garden. Marg. ‘In Isaiah 8:6, Shiloah’. On Siloam (= Birket Silwân), cf. John 9:7. ‘The pool of Shelah,’ or of ‘leading,’ is fed by a subterranean channel leading from the Virgin’s Spring, distant 1708 feet, through the Ophel rock. The connexion was discovered by Sir Charles Warren. The tunnel is a remarkable piece of engineering. On the very ancient inscription describing its construction which was found in 1880, see Sayce’s Fresh Lights.
The pool here mentioned is probably the same as the lower pool, the modern ‘Birket el Hamra.’ The water from the pool flowed through ‘the king’s garden.’ The old city wall extended much further south than the modern city. The pool was formed by a heavy dam of masonry, probably part of the city wall. ‘The king’s garden’ is mentioned also in 2 Kings 25:4; Jeremiah 39:4; Jeremiah 52:7. We cannot conclude for certain from this verse that it was included within the walls. But the water supply of the town depending largely upon the pool, the pool was probably enclosed by the wall. The double walls mentioned in 2 Kings 25:4 probably protected both pool and gardens.
and unto the stairs, &c.] R.V. even unto the stairs, &c. These ‘stairs’ mark the limit of Shallum’s work in a northerly direction. The ‘stairs’ were the steps ascending the steep declivity of the ‘Ophel’ or southern spur of Mt. Zion, on the eastern side of the city, and leading to the ‘water gate’ mentioned in Nehemiah 8:1; Nehemiah 8:16, above ‘the house of David’ (see Nehemiah 12:37). See Sayce, p. 87. ‘Remains of these stairs have been discovered by Schick and Guthe a little to the east of the Pool of Siloam, as well as a little to the south of the Virgin’s Spring (but within the line of the old wall), so that they must have run up the eastern slope of Zion, and ended not very far from the square in front of the watergate.’
from the city of David] The ‘city of David’ was the name given to the fortress captured by David, known as Zion. Its locality has been much disputed. (1) General tradition has identified it with the southern extremity of the western hill; (2) recently Conder and Warren have assigned it to the northern elevated portion of the same hill; (3) there is, however, good reason for identifying it with ‘the Temple hill.’ This last view is favoured by the language of the O. T. associating Zion with the dwelling or Temple of Jehovah. The present context almost conclusively proves that the ‘city of David’ lay on the eastern or Temple Hill.
After him repaired Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of the half part of Bethzur, unto the place over against the sepulchres of David, and to the pool that was made, and unto the house of the mighty.16. the ruler of the half part of Beth-zur] R.V. the ruler of half the district of Beth-Zur. Beth-Zur (Joshua 15:58), the modern Beitsur, was about 13 miles S. of Jerusalem. It commanded the road to Hebron and was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:7). From the mention of it in this verse we may gather that it ranked as an important town on the Southern frontier. In the Maccabean Wars it appears as a strongly fortified place and the scene of three of the bloodiest conflicts (cf. 1Ma 4:29; 1Ma 11:65-66; 1Ma 14:7.
unto the place over against the sepulchres of David] This must have been a well-known spot opposite the tombs of the former kings of Judah. From the way in which these are mentioned in 2 Chronicles 32:33 ‘they buried (Hezekiah) in the ascent of the sepulchres of the sons of David,’ they were probably on the side of the south-east or east cliff of Mt. Ophel. We may expect interesting discoveries to result from investigations instituted at this spot for the sake of identifying the royal sepulchres.
and to the pool that was made] R.V. and unto &c. From this description of ‘the pool’ some have supposed that Nehemiah regarded it as a recent construction in his own time. Others identify it with the pool constructed by Hezekiah mentioned in Isaiah 22:9-11.
It clearly lay north of the pool of Shelah, and was fed perhaps by the same conduit from the Virgin’s Well. Cf. Sayce, ‘Traces of this have been found by Dr Guthe, close to the so-called tree of Isaiah; and since the city wall here formed one of the walls of the reservoir, the latter must have been constructed after the walls had been built.’
the house of the mighty] R.V. the house of the mighty men. This name was probably given to the traditional site (or building on the site) of the former royal barracks erected by David for his ‘body-guard of mighty men’ (2 Samuel 16:6; 2 Samuel 23:8). That it denotes the residence of the Temple guard (cf. 1 Chronicles 9:26; 1 Chronicles 26:6), is a less probable explanation of the name.
Rabbi Saadiah understands by the expression ‘the Sanhedrin,’ who were mighty in the Law, and compares Psalm 103:20, ‘ye mighty in strength that fulfil his word.’
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.17. the Levites, Rehum the son of Bani] Here it may be noticed that the community is mentioned first, its representative afterwards. This variation from the usage in Nehemiah 3:7-8 is perhaps intended to give prominence to the work of the Levites or of a particular band of them.
Rehum, whose name is the same as that of one of the chief colleagues of Zerubbabel at the Return from Exile (Ezra 2:2), is perhaps to be identified with the Rehum in Nehemiah 10:25. Bani is mentioned in Nehemiah 9:5.
the ruler of the half part of Keilah] R.V. the ruler of half the district of Keilah. This is in all probability to be identified with the Keilah of Joshua 15:44; 1 Samuel 23:1, a town about 15 miles S. W. of Jerusalem.
in his part] R.V. for his part, i.e. for the district which he represented, in distinction from the district mentioned in the verse following.
After him repaired their brethren, Bavai the son of Henadad, the ruler of the half part of Keilah.18. their brethren] i.e. the men of the other half of the same district.
Bavai, the son of Henadad] This can hardly be different from the ‘Binnui, the son of Henadad’ mentioned in Nehemiah 3:24. So the LXX. which reads Βενεΐ.
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.19. Ezer … the ruler of Mizpah, another piece] R.V. portion. ‘The ruler of Mizpah’ as distinguished from ‘the ruler of the district of Mizpah’ (Nehemiah 3:15).
over against the going up to the armoury at the turning of the wall]. A much-disputed piece of topography. There is nothing to show in which direction the wall turned.
The ‘armoury’ will naturally be connected with the mention of ‘the house of the mighty men’ of Nehemiah 3:16; to the N. of which the present description seems to place it. The ‘armoury’ is mentioned in 1 Kings 10:17; 1 Kings 10:21; 1 Kings 14:26; Isaiah 22:8.
‘the turning of the wall.’ This spot is referred to in 2 Chronicles 26:9; ‘Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the corner gate, and at the valley gate, and at the turning of the wall, and fortified them.’ It was clearly then strategically one of the most important points in the fortifications of the city.
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.20. Baruch the son of Zabbai] R.V. marg. ‘Another reading is, Zaccai.’ Zabbai (so Ezra 10:28) is the reading of C’thib and LXX., Zaccai of K’ri and Vulg.
earnestly repaired] The word rendered ‘earnestly’ calls for remark. (a) In the original it appears as an unusual causative of a verb meaning ‘to be angry,’ which in this exact form is only elsewhere found in Job 19:11. ‘He hath also kindled his wrath against me. The word occurs also in Jeremiah 12:5 = ‘contend,’ Jeremiah 22:15 = ‘strivest to excel.’ (b) A causative verb in the past tense immediately preceding the finite verb ‘repaired,’ may be idiomatic Hebrew, but is not to be expected in narrative prose. (c) The word ‘repaired’ is found nowhere else in this list with any qualification. If the reading is correct, the word will denote the ardour or the emulous spirit with which Baruch undertook his work.
The same word differently pointed is capable of meaning ‘towards the hill,’ being then the same as that rendered in Genesis 14:10 ‘to the mountain.’ This must have been the reading of the Vulgate ‘in monte ædificavit Baruch.’
If this is the right reading, it refers to the summit of the Ophel, where the high-priest’s house would have stood immediately S. of the Temple.
the other piece] R.V. another portion. See note on Nehemiah 3:11. Here these words, as Baruch’s name has not occurred before, suggest the incompleteness of the description.
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.21. Urijah the son of Koz] R.V. Uriah the son of Hakkoz.
another piece] R.V. another portion. Meremoth was also concerned in the repair of the Northern wall. See on Nehemiah 3:4.
even to the end] This description seems to imply that the high-priest’s house was a building of considerable extent, and that it was built upon the city wall. The word rendered ‘end’ (taclîth) seems only to occur in this sense twice elsewhere in the O.T., Job 26:10, ‘confines,’ Job 28:3, ‘end.’ Elsewhere e.g. Psalm 139:22 it is used to denote ‘perfection,’ ‘completeness.’ The words proved a difficulty to the versions, e.g. LXX. ἕως ἐκλείψεως, Vulg. donec extenderetur.
And after him repaired the priests, the men of the plain.22. the priests, the men of the plain] R.V. the men of the Plain. R.V. marg. ‘Or, Circuit’. Literally, ‘the men of the Ciccar,’ LXX. Ἐκχεχάρ, Vulg. ‘de campestribus Jordanis.’
Some have explained the term to refer to the neighbourhood of Jerusalem according to its use in Nehemiah 12:28 ‘the Plain (or Circuit) round about Jerusalem.’ Others have explained its use in this passage by its technical application to the Jordan plain, Genesis 13:10; Genesis 19:17; 2 Samuel 18:23. As in Nehemiah 12:28 the reference to Jerusalem is carefully expressed, the absolute use of the word here may be thought to favour the latter signification. If so, the priests mentioned came from Jericho and the other cities of ‘the Plain,’ ἡ περίχωρος τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, Matthew 3:5.
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.23. After him] R.V. After them. Marg. Heb. him, see on Nehemiah 3:2.
by his house] R.V. beside his own house. Judging from the marked manner in which it is mentioned in Nehemiah 3:24, Azariah’s house must have been conspicuous for its size or its position near the wall. A difference of aspect is implied by ‘over against’ and ‘beside.’
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.24. Binnui the son of Henadad another piece] R.V. portion. In all probability the same as ‘Bavvai the son of Henadad’ mentioned in Nehemiah 3:18. ‘Binnui’ is mentioned in Nehemiah 10:9 as one of the Levites.
We have either to suppose that ‘Bavvai’ in Nehemiah 3:18 is a corruption for Binnui, or as some have held, that Binnui is the name of the Levitical house of which Bavvai was the chief representative. Of these alternatives the former is preferable. For (1) the reading in Nehemiah 3:18 is doubtful; (2) the names in these verses are clearly those of priests and Levites; (3) ‘Binnui’ is mentioned in Nehemiah 10:9 as a leading Levite. He may very well have assisted in one portion of the restoration as a leading citizen of Keilah, in another as a chief Levite.
even unto the corner] R.V. and unto the corner.
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 of Parosh.25. Palal the son of Uzai] R.V. Palal the son of Uzai repaired.
the tower which lieth out from the king’s high house, that was by the court of the prison] R.V. the tower that standeth out from the upper house of the king, which is by the court of the guard, R.V. marg. ‘Or, the upper tower … from the house of the king’.
It is not easy to determine the meaning of this description. The adjective ‘upper’ may be applied either to the king’s house or to the tower; and the clause ‘which is by the court of the guard’ follows it as a further description either of house or tower. In Jeremiah 32:2 ‘the court of the guard’ is in ‘the king’s house’ (cf. Jeremiah 33:1; Jeremiah 37:21; Jeremiah 38:6; Jeremiah 38:13; Jeremiah 38:28; Jeremiah 39:14-15). In the present passage we have either ‘the king’s upper house,’ so called to distinguish it from the king’s house, in which was the court of the guard; or, as seems more probable, seeing that the passage is a description of the city wall, ‘the upper tower,’ which is identified as the one projecting from the king’s palace and close to the ‘court of the guard.’ In the vicinity of the royal palace and Temple there would probably be several towers. The LXX. ὁ πύργος … ὁ ἀνώτερος accepted the latter explanation.
It is very probable that the base of ‘the tower’ here spoken of was reached by Sir Charles Warren. ‘A great wall still exists, though buried in rubbish, joining the Haram wall at the south-east angle. It was evidently built for purposes of fortification, for it is fourteen feet thick.… There are several towers projecting from the wall, one of which is very remarkable, as it projects more than any of the rest, standing upon scarped rock, and having another wall leading from it going down towards the Kedron.’ (Harper, The Bible and Modern Discoveries, P. 509.)
‘the upper house of the king’. This building, erected upon the site of the old palace of the kings of Judah and perhaps at this time occupied by the chief officials of the city, stood apparently on the ‘Ophel’ summit, immediately S. of the Temple precincts.
Pedaiah the son of Parosh] R.V. Pedaiah the son of Parosh repaired. R.V. marg. ‘Pedaiah the son of Parosh (now … Ophel) repaired unto, &c.’ See note on Nehemiah 3:26. On Parosh see Ezra 2:3. As in the earlier part of the verse the verb ‘repaired’ has to be understood.
Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth out.26. Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel … lieth out] R.V. (Now the Nethinim dwelt in Ophel … standeth out). The parenthesis probably includes the whole verse. We prefer the R.V. translation to that of the margin of the R.V., which limits the parenthesis to the first clause, and connects the second clause with the previous verse.
(1) The omission of the verb at the close of Nehemiah 3:25 creates no real difficulty; for we have had a similar omission at the beginning of the verse.
(2) We should not expect that a parenthetical clause relating to the dwellingplace of the Nethinim would, in the midst of so much detailed topography, describe it in such brief and general terms as ‘in Ophel.’ (In Nehemiah 11:21, where the same words occur, they are possibly based on this passage.)
(3) The reference to ‘the tower that standeth out’ is an allusion to the same tower as that mentioned in the previous verse. The parenthesis seems to be introduced in order to connect the dwelling of the Nethinim with the tower just spoken of.
-4Nehemiah 3:27 opens with (R.V.) ‘After him:’ and although in view of Nehemiah 3:2; Nehemiah 3:23; Nehemiah 3:29 this is not conclusive, it certainly favours the R.V. treatment of the parenthesis.
in Ophel] This may possibly mean on the brow of the Ophel hill to the east of the Temple. The wall of ‘Ophel’ was built on by Jotham (2 Chronicles 27:3). And the ‘hill’ was surrounded by a wall in Manasseh’s reign, 2 Chronicles 33:14. ‘Ophel’ means ‘a mound,’ and was the name applied to the S. continuance of the Temple hill.
over against the water gate toward the east] Between the Temple and the water gate there seems to have been a large open space in which the people could assemble (see Nehemiah 8:1; Nehemiah 8:3; Nehemiah 8:16, Nehemiah 12:37; Nehemiah 12:39; Ezra 10:9). The houses of the Nethinim approached or abutted on the city wall at this point.
The ‘water gate’ was obviously so called because the path leading from the spring of Gihon, the Virgin’s Spring, entered the city here. Water-carriers passing in and out gave the gate its name. On Gihon, cf. 1 Kings 1:33; 1 Kings 1:38. It is “the one spring of Jerusalem, known as the Virgin’s Fountain to Christians, and as ‘the Mother of Steps’ to Moslems, because of the steps which lead down into the vault from the present surface of the valley” (Conder’s Palestine, p. 26).
From here the wall led northward or north-eastward to ‘the corner’ (Nehemiah 3:31).
the tower that lieth out] Probably the same as that mentioned in Nehemiah 3:25. Perhaps the tower was intended especially to protect ‘the water gate,’ in connexion with which it is here mentioned.
After them the Tekoites repaired another piece, over against the great tower that lieth out, even unto the wall of Ophel.27. After them] R.V. After him, i.e. after Pedaiah the son of Parosh (Nehemiah 3:25).
the Tekoites] See note on Nehemiah 3:5.
another piece] R.V. another portion.
the great tower that lieth out] R.V. standeth out.
The adjective ‘great’ is perhaps intended to distinguish this tower from that similarly mentioned in Nehemiah 3:25-26. It may have been one of the defences on the eastern side of the Temple.
even unto the wall of Ophel] R.V. and unto the wall of Ophel. This is clearly the same wall as that mentioned in 2 Chronicles 27:3; 2 Chronicles 33:14.
From above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one over against his house.28. From above] R.V. Above. The word implies that the dwellingplaces of the priests stood on higher ground.
the horse gate] This gate is mentioned 2 Kings 11:16; 2 Chronicles 23:15; Jeremiah 31:40, where it seems to be described as the easternmost portion of Jerusalem overlooking the valley of Kedron. It must have led to the S.E. corner of the Temple courts. It has been suggested that its name is derived from the horses dedicated to the sun by idolatrous kings of Judah (2 Kings 23:11). It was probably a little south of the modern ‘golden gate.’
over against his house] R.V. over against his own house, as in Nehemiah 3:29.
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.29. After them] R.V. marg. ‘Heb. him’. See note on Nehemiah 3:3.
Zadok the son of Immer] The head of the priestly family of Immer. See Ezra 2:37.
After him] R.V. And after him.
the keeper of the east gate] This has sometimes been identified with ‘the water gate’ of Nehemiah 3:26. But it is very improbable that, in a topographical chapter such as this, the same gate should be mentioned by two different names without any word of explanation.
Considering that the previous name is that of a priest, it is natural to suppose that Shemaiah, ‘the keeper of the east gate,’ was a Levite, and the east gate was the eastern approach to the Temple precincts.
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.30. Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, … piece] R.V. portion. This particular mention of Hanun as ‘the sixth son’ of Zalaph is noteworthy, since the mention of other names in this chapter is unaccompanied with any detail of description. It is not mentioned in Nehemiah 3:13, where Hanun’s name first occurs; but in this passage it has the support of all the versions. If therefore the word is, as some suppose, a corruption for ‘and the inhabitants of Zanoah’ (Nehemiah 3:13), or a numerical gloss that has accidentally found its way into the text, the error must have arisen in very early times.
Meshullam the son of Berechiah] His name has occurred in Nehemiah 3:4 and it is strange that the words ‘another portion’ are not added in connexion with this second mention of his work. We should naturally expect this tribute to be applied to him rather than to Hanun.
over against his chamber] The word for ‘chamber’ is an unusual form—occurring elsewhere in the O.T. only in Nehemiah 12:44, Nehemiah 13:7—for the ordinary word occurring in Ezra 8:29, where see note. Perhaps it is used here to denote some official residence (LXX. γαζοφυλάκιον, Vulg. gazophylacium). The mention of Meshullam’s ‘chamber’ increases the probability that he was a priest of eminence, if, as the context somewhat suggests, ‘the chamber’ was within the Temple precincts.
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.31. Malchiah the goldsmith’s son] R.V. Malchijah one of the goldsmiths. See note on Nehemiah 3:8. Malchiah belonged to the guild of the goldsmiths.
unto the place of the Nethinims] R.V. unto the house of the Nethinim. The Nethinim were stated (Nehemiah 3:26) to have their dwelling ‘in Ophel.’ Here a house belonging to their number is described as on the wall, probably N.E. of the Temple precincts. This we may presume was the official residence of those engaged in the service of the Temple.
and of the merchants] LXX. οἱ ῥωποπῶλαι. The tradesmen of the same class generally lived near to one another, cf. Jeremiah 37:21.
It is at first sight strange to find a house belonging to a mixed body of Nethinim and merchants. But the needs and equipment of the Temple services and of those who took part in them were sufficiently varied to account for this combination. We should think of an Oriental bazaar rather than of a modern house. The open spaces near the Temple would be thronged with money-changers and sellers of animals for sacrifice and of articles for offerings. On the later abuse of this custom cf. Matthew 21:12; John 2:14. Some who have found a difficulty in this combination disregard the tradition of the accents, and divide the verse differently, stopping at ‘Nethinim,’ and making a new clause of which ‘the merchants’ are the subject, i.e. ‘and the merchants repaired, &c.’ We should however certainly expect the phrase ‘after him’ at the beginning of such a clause.
over against the gate Miphkad] R.V. over against the gate of Hammiphkad. The word ‘Miphkad’ occurs in Ezekiel 43:21, ‘Thou shalt also take the bullock of the sin offering, and he shall burn it in the appointed place (miphkad) of the house, without the sanctuary.’ It has hence been often supposed to be the gate through which the bullock of the sin offering was led ‘without the sanctuary.’
The words ‘over against’ seem to imply that the gate of Hammiphkad was not on but opposite the city wall. Some identify it with the modern ‘golden gate.’
The LXX. Μαφεκάδ and the Vulg. ‘porta judicialis’ fail to throw light upon its position or purpose.
and to the going up of the corner] R.V. and to the ascent (marg. ‘Or, upper chamber’) of the corner. We seem here to have the junction point of two walls, where the elevation was greater than elsewhere, or where there was a well-known ‘upper chamber’ used for look-out purposes or as a place of public gathering.
And between the going up of the corner unto the sheep gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.32. the going up, &c.] see Nehemiah 3:31.
unto the sheep gate] R.V. and the sheep gate. This was the starting place of the description (Nehemiah 3:1).
the goldsmiths] see Nehemiah 3:8-31.
the merchants] see Nehemiah 3:31.
The proximity of their work of restoration suggests that both goldsmiths and merchants represented communities largely and closely interested in the transactions connected with Temple offerings. For, apart from the supply and repair of vessels, furniture, and dress, required for the daily ministration, the dedication of precious things would create a constant traffic close to the Temple. The merchants would establish themselves at the main approaches to the Temple and expose their wares to the throngs of worshippers and sacrificers who collected about this spot.