COMMENTARY ON NEHEMIAH
“ 3:21 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 of Parosh. 26 Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth out.” (Nehemiah 3:21-26)
With this passage, thirty-four sections of the wall have been repaired. This has been done under the sectioned leadership of thirty-one different men. Different classes of people have worked on the wall, including the high priest, priests, a goldsmith, an apothecary, and eight different rulers. Workers have included inhabitants of Jericho, Tekoa, Meronoth, Gibeon, Mizpah, and Zanoah. Six different gates have been repaired, and twenty-three different reference points have been identified included towers, houses, a pool, an armory, ovens, a garden, stairs, tombs, barracks, etc. Many leaders, different people, varied occupations, four miles of wall, and complex requirements. Yet, there is perfect harmony among the workers. The work blends together, fortifying the city of Jerusalem. There are four miles of wall, with structural complications and varied requirements. Yet, the work is being done orderly and peacefully. We thus have a most precise and beautiful picture of “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Here is an example of work being accomplished without divisions, and while possessing one mind and spirit.
MEREMOTH AND THE PRIESTS FROM THE PLAIN
“ 3:21 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. ” The work continues after the assignment of Baruch the son of Zabbai, who did his work “earnestly.” Throughout this narrative it is important to note the total absence of dissension or friction among the workers. There is a spirit of unity among them. Even though there is a wide variety of responsibilities, and differing kinds of work, yet “the wall” is the focus. No one is working to achieve fame for themselves, but to restore the fortifying wall of the holy city. There is a Kingdom mentality that must be noted in all of this. We are seeing the phrase “laborers together with God” (1 Cor 3:9) lived out in a single project. One work, many people. One wall, different parts.
MEREMOTH. This is the second time this particular individual is mentioned. His identity is very specific: “Meremoth the son of Urijah the son of Koz.” He was first mentioned in verse four, where he worked on a section of the wall next to the “fish gate.” Now, having completed his first work, he has moved on down the wall, and is working on yet “another piece” of the project. Three things should be noted about this man.
First, Meremoth did not complete his work and go home. He had accomplished his first responsibility, yet was not satisfied to conclude his involvement in the project. There was more work to be done, and thus he engaged in another aspect of the operation.
Second, his work was versatile. His first assignment was next to the fish gate, which had required extensive repairs. That was a place where people entered in and exited from the holy city. The part of the wall he now works on is by the house of the high priest, which must have differed significantly from a gate. He had to repair the wall from the door of the high priest’s house to the end of it. No doubt much precision was associated with this work.
Third, Meremoth is one of a number of people who were the third generation of the devoted people of God: “the son of Urijah, the son of Koz.” To this point, of the thirty-one leading men in this project, only three are said to be of the third generation. (1) “Meremoth son of Urijah, the son of Koz,” 3:4 (2) “Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabeel,”3:4 and (3) “Azariah the son of Maaseiah the son of Ananiah.”3:23
In fact, after this text, there is no mention of third generation Jews working on the wall. It is most unusual when faithful leaders continue through a third generation! So far as Scripture is concerned, this was not achieved in the families of such notables as Moses, Aaron, David, and the holy Prophets. The premier example of three successive godly generations is found in Abraham. It is only those three generations with which God particularly identified Himself: “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3:6,15,16; 4:6; Matt 22:32; Mark 12:26). A most remarkable reality!
It seems to me that this is a blessing to be coveted by the people of God, and one in which God will be honored as well. The children of godly parents do well to aspire to take up the work of God where their parents left off. I myself am the second generation of a devout kingdom laborer. One of my sons, Michael, is presently laboring in the kingdom, both preaching and writing the truth of God. Two more of my sons, Benjamin and Jonathan, are developing in these matters, and learning to express their faith.
When Jacob came into Egypt to be with Joseph, it is written that “all his seed” came with him, “his sons, and his sons' sons with him” (Gen 46:6-7). Under the Law, Israel was commanded to “teach them [the statutes of the Law] thy sons, and thy sons' sons” (Deut 4:9). Before righteous Job died, it is written that he saw four of his own generations. “After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations” (Job 42:16). A notable desire, indeed – to have succeeding generations working with God.
THE HOUSE OF ELIASHIB. The house of Eliashib the high priest was especially noted. No part of it was disassociated with the wall: “from the door of the house of Eliashib even to the end of the house of Eliashib.” Surely you can see the importance of those who stand in the service of the Lord having every part of their house by the “walls and bulwarks” of the salvation of God (Isa 26:1; 60:18). Thus, the whole house of Eliashib was protected by the wall.
THE PRIESTS. These are priests who lived in the flat-lands around Jerusalem. This area is called “the plain country round about Jerusalem” (Neh 12:28). Note, these priests, although the city had been devastated, still lived close to it. They also remained together, clustered in the plain, where the city and its walls could be plainly seen.
BENJAMIN, HASHUB, AZARIAH,AND BINNUI
“ 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. ” The work persists without interruption. The priests continued the work from where Meremoth left off. Now the work continues next to another house. This is now the third personal dwelling that has been mentioned (house of Jediah–v 10, house of Eliashib–v 20, and the house of Benjamin and Hashub).
BENJAMIN AND HASHUB. We do not know if others worked with these two men or not. They repaired the wall next to their house, being responsible for the wall that projected across the full length of their house.
There are at least four men in Scripture with the name “Benjamin.” One was Jacob’s youngest son (Gen 35:18,24). Another was a son of Bilhah, who himself was a Benjamite (1 Chron 7:10). Another was the son of Harim, and was associated with the Ezra’s work in Jerusalem (Ezra 10:31-32). The “Benjamin” of this text may be the priest mentioned later in Nehemiah (12:34). We know nothing more of this man.
The name “Hashub” is only mentioned in the book of Nehemiah. There was a Hashub who worked with Malchijah in repairing a section of the wall next to the tower of the furnaces, or ovens (3:11). There was also a Hashub who signed the covenant the people made with God following the project (10:23). Nehemiah later mentions “Hashub, the son of Azrikam” (11:15). The thing distinguishing this Hashub is that he lived in the same house with Benjamin. These men not only lived in the same house, they also worked together in repairing and fortifying wall “over against their house,” or “in front of their house.” NASB We do not know if these men were related. It was their unified work on the wall that caused their names to be mentioned. How wise it was to build their house next to the wall!
AZARIAH. Here is another third-generation believer. Twenty-eight men of Scripture have this name. This one is distinguished by his lineage and his house. He was “the son of Maaseiah the son of Ananiah.” We assume his father (Maaseiah) was the priest mentioned by Nehemiah (8:4,7; 12:41-42). There is no other mention of his grandfather, “Ananiah.”
The house of of Azariah is the fourth personal dwelling associated with the wall. The wall was said to “over against,” or “in front” of the houses of Jedaiah and Benjamin and Hashub (3:10,23) The house of Eliashib is said to have had its entrance next to the wall (3:20). This wall is said to be “by,” or “beside” NASB the house of Azariah. The NAB reads, he “made the repairs alongside his house.”
It becomes apparent from the repairs made next to these personal houses that a renewed interest had been kindled in things pertaining to God. You may remember that Haggai, during the earlier work under Zerubbabel, had upbraided the people for giving attention to their own dwellings, while allowing the house of God to remain in shambles. “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins? Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways!” NKJV (Hab 1:4-5). Now, under the godly leadership of Nehemiah, the interest of the people has been turned from their own dwellings to the city of God and the wall that surrounded it. Many of them had been living right next to a wall that lay in ruin. Now, they repaired the section of the wall that was by their dwelling. Their hearts had been turned away from themselves to the Lord. It is not coincidence that the names of those repairing the wall next to their houses are commemorated in the Scriptures.
BINNUI. There are five men in Scripture bearing this name. They are all mentioned in Ezra and Nehemiah (Ezra 8:33–a Levite; 10:30,38–son of Pahathmoab; Neh 3:24–son of Henadad; 7:15;12:8–a Levite). This one is distinguished as “the son of Henadad,” whose descendants helped to repair and fortify the wall (Neh 10:9).
Binnui repaired “another section” of the wall that led from Azariah’s house to another turning, or angle, in the wall. Judging from the tower that is mentioned in the next verse, this angle of the wall was at the Northeast corner. Ezer and Baruch had worked on another turning point of the wall that related to the armory and the house of Eliashib (3:19-20). This man repaired the wall right up the corner, where the wall took another direction. Once again, the necessity of precise work is seen. He did not repair the entire angle, but only up “the corner.” The next worker must complete the angle, leaving the wall strong and without interruption. It is, therefore, possible for one person to begin the work of God precisely where another leaves off – like watering the very seed another has planted (1 Cor 3:6).
PALAL, PEDIAH, AND THE NETHENIUMS
“ 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 of Parosh. 26 Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth out.” We must not miss the emphasis on the wall! Numerous repairers and builders have been mentioned. Cities, geographical areas, groups of people, and rulers have been named. Yet, the Spirit has not lingered on any of them. There is no more than fifteen words said about any one person or group of persons. Most comments are under ten words in length. The point is the wall, not the people who worked on it! No personal houses were repaired in this project – only the part of the wall that was next to them. Whatever the people of God have been called to do must take the precedence over their own persons and possessions.
PALAL. This is the only place in the Bible, and the only time, where this man is mentioned. He is distinguished as “the son of Uzai,” of whom absolutely nothing is said in Scripture. An unknown son of an unknown father, yet recorded in the Holy Scriptures because, and only because, he worked on the wall! He repaired the other side of “the corner” up to which Binnui worked. His work had to be precise, else the city would not be fortified. Because of the importance of “the corner,” it is also called “the buttress,” NKJV which also means “bulwark or pinnacle.”
THE TOWER WHICH LIETH OUT FROM THE KING’S HOUSE. Other versions read “the tower which projects from the king's upper house,” NKJV and “the tower projecting from the upper palace.” NIV This tower may be the one referenced by Solomon: “the tower of David, builded for an armory” (Song of Sol 4:4). There it is written that a “thousand bucklers,” or shields, were hung: all shields of mighty men, or great warriors. The words “lieth out from the king’s house,” means the tower came out of the highest part of the King’s residence, which itself was on a hill. Thus, this was an exceedingly high point.
Jewish historians consider “the king’s house” to be David’s palace, which was on the Temple hill. This was distinguished from Solomon’s house, which was on the opposite and western hill. This house was built by “carpenters and masons,” sent with messengers from Hiram king of Tyre (2 Sam 5:11). He was especially appreciative of David (1 Kgs 5:1), and was quite prominent in the building of Solomon’s temple (1 Kgs 5:1-10; 7:13,40-45). The predominant wood in David’s house was “cedar” (2 Sam 7:2).
THE COURT OF THE PRISON. This phrase refers to the area occupied by the guard, and is translated “court of the guard” in the NASB. It was a place where special prisoners were guarded. This court was by the king’s house, and is were the prophet Jeremiah was kept years earlier. As it is written, “Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah's house” (Jer 32:2). I wonder if some of the workers recalled how Jeremiah was retained there for prophesying the Babylonian captivity, from which they were now recovering.
PEDAIAH. All we know of this man is that he made some repairs after Palal. There are seven men with this name in Scripture. This one is distinguished as “the son of Parosh,” who was probably the man who returned from the captivity with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:3). We do not know the type of repairs this man made, how long the section was, or anything else about his work. However, his name is mentioned because he put his hand to a noble work. That is enough to gain the attention of heaven!
THE NETHINIMS. These were the lowest order of Temple servants. They are mentioned by this name eighteen times (1 Chron 9:2; Ezra 2:43,58,70; 7:7,24; 8:17,20; Neh 3:26,31; 7:46,60,73). Their role was to assist the Levites. Moses first appointed men as servants of the Levites (Num 31:47). It is understood that Joshua reduced the Gibeonites to this class of servants: “hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God” (Josh 9:23). David is also said to have appointed Nethinims “for the service of the Levites” (Ezra 8:20). These dwelt in Ophel, which was on a slope of the Temple hill, known as the ridge of Jerusalem. There was a wall around Ophel, on which David is said to have “built much” (2 Chron 27:3). These servants lived together in this area, close to the Temple.
THE WATER GATE. The Nethinims “made repairs as far as the place in front of the Water Gate.” NKJV This is the first mentioning of the “water gate.” The wall passed in front of this gate, which was in the Eastern part of it. No doubt the Nethinims brought water through this gate for Temple service. Thus we have the high priest, the priests, the Levites, and the Temple servants working together on the wall. A beautiful picture, indeed!