Nehemiah 3:26
Moreover the Nethinims dwelled in Ophel, to the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lies out.
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(26) The Nethinims dwelt in Ophel.—It has been proposed to insert “who” before dwelt (following the Syriac); but this is not necessary. Ophel was the long rounded spur running out south of the Temple, on the sides of which the ancient “temple servants” still dwelt, separated from others, on a tract of land reaching from the “water-gate toward the east” to the outlying tower of the king’s citadel in the west. Nothing is said of their part in the general labour.

Nehemiah 3:26. The Nethinims dwelt in Ophel — Or, who dwelt in Ophel. For this seems to be only a description of the persons whose work follows. Not only the priests and Levites, but the meanest persons that belonged to the house of God, inferior officers, contributed to this work. Over against the water-gate — So called, because by that gate water was brought in, either by the people, for the use of that part of the city, or rather, by these Nethinims, who were Gibeonites, for the uses of the temple, for which they were drawers of water, Joshua 9:21.3:1-32 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.The marginal reading is better. On the Nethinims see 1 Chronicles 9:2 note.

Ophel was the slope south of the temple (see the marginal reference "y" note); and the water-gate, a gate in the eastern wall, either for the escape of the superfluous water from the temple reservoirs, or for the introduction of water from the Kidron valley when the reservoirs were low.

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]. Dwelt in Ophel, or, who dwelt in Ophel; for this seems to be only a description of the persons, whose work follows.

The water-gate; so called because by that gate water was brought in, either by the people for the use of that part of the city, or rather by these Nethinims, who were Gibeonites, for the uses of the temple, for which they were drawers of water, Joshua 9:21. Moreover, the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel,.... An high tower upon the wait, in this part of it, see 2 Chronicles 27:3, these were servants to the Levites, and repaired here, where their dwellings were:

unto the place over against the water gate toward the east: and as one part of their work was to fetch water for the temple, they were here very properly situated; it led to the king's garden, the valley of Jehoshaphat, and from thence a plain way to Bethany:

and the tower that lieth out; from the wall.

Moreover the {f} Nethinims dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth out.

(f) Read Ezr 2:43.

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.Verse 26. - The Nethinims dwelt in Ophel. Ophel was "the long, narrowish, rounded spur or promontory which intervenes between the central valley of Jerusalem (the Tyropoeon) and the Kidron, or Valley of Jehoshaphat" (Grove). The Nethinims, who had their dwellings on this spur, were set to fortify a portion of the eastern circuit, but apparently restored not so much their own wall as that which lay north of it, at the edge of the present Haram area. Here must have been the water gate, which carried off the superfluous water from the temple reservoirs; and here was the great tower that lieth out, whose foundations have been recently discovered. It stood at the southeastern angle of the great platform on which the temple was built. The wall from the angle to the place of the court of the prison by the king's upper house. - Nehemiah 3:20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai emulously repaired a second length of wall, from the angle to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. Bertheau objects to the reading החרה, and conjectures that it should be ההרה, "up the hill." But the reason he adduces, viz., that often as the word החזיק occurs in this description, a further definition is nowhere else added to it, speaks as much against, as for his proposed alteration; definitions of locality never, throughout the entire narrative, preceding החזיק, but uniformly standing after it, as also in the present verse. Certainly החרה cannot here mean either to be angry, or to be incensed, but may without difficulty be taken, in the sense of the Tiphal תּחרה, to emulate, to contend (Jeremiah 22:15; Jeremiah 12:5), and the perfect adverbially subordinated to the following verb (comp. Gesen. Gramm. 142, 3, a). The Keri offers זכּי instead of זבּי, probably from Ezra 2:9, but on insufficient grounds, the name זבּי occurring also Ezra 10:28. Of the position of the house of Eliashib the high priest, we know nothing further than what appears from these Ezra 10:20 and Ezra 10:21, viz., that it stood at the northern part of the eastern side of Zion (not at the south-western angle of the temple area, as Bertheau supposes), and extended some considerable distance from south to north, the second length of wall built by Meremoth reaching from the door at its southern end to the תּכלית, termination, at its northern end. On Meremoth, see rem. on Nehemiah 3:4.
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