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Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
The Building of the Walls and Gates of Jerusalem - Nehemiah 3:1
In these two chapters is described the building of the walls and gates of Jerusalem: the individuals and families who performed the work, and the portion of wall and the gates on which different families were respectively employed, being specified in Nehemiah 3; while the attempts of Sanballat and his associates to obstruct the building and the defensive measures resorted to by Nehemiah follow, 4:1-17.
Verses 1-32. The enumeration of the builders, and of the gates and portions of wall built, begins with the sheep-gate and the portion of the wall adjoining it, built by the priests (Nehemiah 3:1 and Nehemiah 3:2), and concludes with the goldsmiths and merchants who built up to the sheep-gate (Nehemiah 3:32). Throughout it is almost constantly said of the several parties of builders that they built ידו על, by the side of, next to, the party previously named. Hence we are justified in inferring that the course of the wall is adhered to in this statement, and that the gates are mentioned in the actual order in which they were found in the walls.
(Note: This description of the walls of Jerusalem, together with the short statements in Nehemiah 2:13-15 and Nehemiah 12:27-40, forms the chief authority for the topography of ancient Jerusalem (before the captivity), and has been frequently discussed and explained. Comp. a summary of recent topographical investigations on this subject by Arnold in Herzog's Realencycl. xviii. p. 620f. Among the numerous plans of ancient Jerusalem, the best is: A plan of the town and environs of Jerusalem, constructed by C. W. M. Van de Velde; with Memoir by Dr. Titus Tobler, 1858, Gotha.)
1Then 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.
The narrative of the building is connected with what precedes by ויּקם, which alludes to the carrying out of the resolve, נקוּם, Nehemiah 2:18. The enumeration begins with Eliashib the high priest and his brethren, i.e., the ordinary priests. These built the sheep-gate, rightly sought by modern topographers in the eastern wall north of Haram, the site of the ancient temple, i.e., in the position or neighbourhood of the present St. Stephen's gate, through which the Bedouins to this day drive sheep into the town for sale (Tobler, Topogr. i. p. 149). "Although," as Bertheau remarks, "we are not generally justified, after the lapse of so many centuries, during which great changes have been made in the positions of the gates and walls, and in face of the fact that the present walls and gates were not erected till the years 1536, 1537, and 1539, in determining the direction and extent of the walls between the several gates, and the locality of the gates in this description, by the direction and extent of the wall and the locality of the gates in modern Jerusalem (Tobl. Topogr. Dritte Wanderung, p. 265), yet in the present instance valid arguments exist in favour of this view. The very neighbourhood of the temple and the nature of the soil bear witness that from ancient times a gate was placed here which took its name from the circumstance that sheep were driven in by it, whether for sale in the market or for sacrificial purposes."
(Note: In the neighbourhood of this gate was the pool of Bethesda (John 5:2), i.e., either the present Birket Israel or Birket es Serain, south of St. Stephen's gate (Tobler, Denkbltter, p. 53f., and Dritte Wanderung, p. 221), or the Struthion pool mentioned by Josephus, bell. Jud. v. 11. 4, κολυμβήθρα τοῦ στρουθίου; Krafft, Topographie von Jerusalem, p. 127f.)
They sanctified it and set up its doors: and to the tower Hammeah they sanctified it unto the tower Hananeel. קדּשׁ, to sanctify, to dedicate (comp. 1 Kings 8:64), can here only mean that the priests dedicated that portion of building on which they were engaged, as soon as they had finished it, for the purpose of sanctifying the whole work by this preliminary consecration; the solemn dedication of the whole wall not taking place till afterwards, and being related Nehemiah 12:27. The setting up of the doors in the gates did not, according to Nehemiah 6:1, take place till after all the breaches in the wall had been repaired, i.e., till the building of the wall was completed. It is, however, mentioned here, and in Nehemiah 3:3, Nehemiah 3:6, etc., contemporaneously with the wall-building; because the builders of the several gates, undertaking also the construction and setting up of the doors, the intention is to give a summary of the work executed by the respective building parties. המּאה ועד־מגּדּל is still dependent on יבנוּ, that is to say, this verb must be mentally repeated before the words: they built to the tower Hammeah, they sanctified it (the suffix in קדּשׁוּהוּ can only relate to מגּדּל). יבנוּ must also be repeated before חננאל מגּדּל עד: and they built further, unto the tower Hananeel. The tower המּאה (the hundred) is only mentioned here and Nehemiah 12:39, but the tower Hananeel is likewise spoken of Jeremiah 31:38 and Zechariah 14:10. From these passages it appears that the two towers were so situated, that any one going from west to east along the north wall of the city, and thence southward, would first come to the tower Hananeel, and afterwards to the tower Hammeah, and that both were between the fish-gate and the sheep-gate. From the passages in Jeremiah and Zechariah especially, it is evident that the tower Hananeel stood at the north-east corner of the wall. Hence the statement in this verse, that the portion of wall built by the priests extended to the north-east corner of the wall; and the tower Hammeah must be sought between the sheep-gate and the north-east corner of the wall. Whence the names of these towers were derived is unknown.
2And next unto him builded the men of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri.
Next to him built the men of Jericho (comp. Ezra 2:24); and next to them built Zaccur the son of Imri. The suffix of the first ידו על, though in the singular number, refers to Eliashib and the priests (Nehemiah 3:1), and that of the second to the men of Jericho, while in Nehemiah 3:4 and Nehemiah 3:9, on the contrary, a singular noun is followed by ידם על; both ידו על and ידם על expressing merely the notion beside, next to, and builders of the respective portions being at one time regarded as in a plural, at another in a singular sense (as a company). The portion built by the men of Jericho and Zaccur the son of Imri, the head of a family, not mentioned elsewhere, let between the tower Hananeel and the fish-gate in the north wall. When individuals are, like Zaccur, mentioned in the following description, e.g., Nehemiah 3:4, Nehemiah 3:6, as builders or repairers of portions of wall, they are heads of houses who engaged in the work of building at the head of the fathers of families and individuals who were dependent on them.
3But 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.
The fish-gate did the sons of Senaah build (see rem. on Ezra 2:35); they laid its beams, and set up its doors, bolts, and bars. The fish-gate probably received its name from the fish-market in its neighbourhood, to which the Syrians brought sea-fish (Nehemiah 3:13, Nehemiah 3:16); it is also mentioned in Nehemiah 12:39; 2 Chronicles 33:14, and Zephaniah 1:10. It was not situated, as Thenius has represented it in his plan of Jerusalem, close to the corner tower of Hananeel, but somewhat to the west of it in the north wall; two lengths of wall being, according to Nehemiah 3:2, built between this tower and the gate in question. With respect to קרוּהוּ, see rem. on Nehemiah 2:8. Besides the doors for the gate, מנעוּיו and בּריחיו are mentioned, as also Nehemiah 3:6, Nehemiah 3:13-15. Both words denote bars for closing doors. בּרחים are, to judge from the use of this word in the description of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:26. and elsewhere), longer bars, therefore cross-bars, used on the inner side of the door; and מנעוּלים the brackets into which they were inserted.
4And 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.
Next to these, Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Hakkoz, Meshullam the son of Berechiah, Zadok the son of Baana, and the Tekoites, repaired in the above order, each a portion of wall. החזיק, to strengthen, means here to repair the gaps and holes in the wall; comp. Nehemiah 3:9, Nehemiah 3:27. Meremoth ben Urijah repaired, according to Nehemiah 3:21, another portion besides. Meshullam ben Berechiah was, according to Nehemiah 6:18, a person of consideration in Jerusalem. The men of Tekoa, who do not occur among those who returned with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2), also repaired a second portion. "But their nobles brought not their neck to the service of their Lord." The expression "to bring the neck to service" is, according to Jeremiah 27:11, to be understood as meaning: to bring the neck under the yoke of any one, i.e., to subject oneself to the service of another. צוּרם stands for צוּארם. It is questionable whether אדניהם is to be taken as the plural of excellence, and understood of God, as in Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 135:3; Malachi 1:6; or of earthly lords or rulers, as in Genesis 40:1; 2 Samuel 10:3; 1 Kings 12:27. The former view seems to us decidedly correct, for it cannot be discerned how the suffix should (according to Bertheau's opinion) prevent our thinking of the service of God, if the repairing of the wall of Jerusalem may be regarded as a service required by God and rendered to Him. Besides, the fact that אדנים is only used of kings, and is inapplicable whether to the authorities in Jerusalem or to Nehemiah, speaks against referring it to secular rulers or authorities.
5And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.
6Moreover 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.
From the gate of the old wall to the valley gate. - Nehemiah 3:6 הישׁנה שׁער does not mean the old gate, for הישׁנה is genitive. Schultz (Jerus. p. 90), Thenius, and Bertheau supply העיר, gate of the old town, and explain the name from the fact that Bezetha, the new town, already existed as a suburb or village in front of the gate, which was named after the contrast. To this Arnold rightly objects (in Herzog's Realencycl. xviii. p. 628) that it is by no means proved that there was at that time any contrast between the old and new towns, and as well as Hupfeld (die topograph. Streitfragen ber Jerus., in the morgenl. Zeitschrift, xv. p. 231) supplies חומה: gate of the old wall. He does not, however, derive this designation from the remark (vv. Nehemiah 3:8), "They fortified Jerusalem unto the broad wall," as though this old wall received its name from having been left undestroyed by the Chaldeans, which is irreconcilable with the fact (4-8) that both the gate of the old wall and the portions of wall adjoining it on each side were now built, but understands the term "old wall" as used in contrast to the "broad wall," which had indeed been rebuilt after the destruction by Joash (2 Kings 14:13). This view we esteem to be correct. The individuals specified as the builders of this gate are not further known. That two principes were employed in the rebuilding of this gate is explained by Ramb. as arising vel quod penitus disturbata a Chaldaeis, vel quod magnis sumtibus reparanda fuit, quos unus princeps ferre non potuit.
7And 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.
Next unto them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite, and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah. If Melatiah is to be regarded as the superintendent of the men of Gibeon, Jadon the Meronothite must be equally esteemed that of the men of Mizpah. Meronoth, mentioned only here and 1 Chronicles 27:30, must have been some small place near Mizpah. Mizpah (המּצפּה, the watch-tower) is probably the modern Nebi Samwil, two leagues to the north-east of Jerusalem; see rem. on Joshua 19:26. The meaning of the words next following, וגו פּחת לכּסּא, is questionable. Bertheau, together with Osiander, Cler., de Wette, and others, understands them as more precisely defining the men before named, as men of Gibeon and Mizpah, of the throne or belonging to the throne of the Pechah of Eber hannahar. This addition brings to light the fact that Jews who were not under the jurisdiction of Nehemiah, nevertheless took part in the restoration of the wall. It also distinguishes these men of Mizpah from those mentioned Nehemiah 3:15 and Nehemiah 3:19, who were certainly not under the Pechah of Eber hannahar. Finally, the boundary of the little territory of the returned Jewish community must have been at about Mizpah and Gibeon; and a statement that certain inhabitants of this district were not under the Pechah of Jerusalem, but under the Pechah of the province west of Euphrates, would agree with the position of Gibeon and Mizpah. None, however, of these reasons are of much force. For if, according to Nehemiah 3:5 and Nehemiah 3:27, the Tekoites repaired two different lengths of wall, without this fact implying any distinction between these two parties of Tekoite builders, the same may be the case with the men of Gibeon and Mizpah. Besides, neither in this verse nor in Nehemiah 3:15 and Nehemiah 3:19 are the men of Mizpah in general spoken of, so as to make a distinction necessary; for in this verse two chiefs, Melatiah and Jadon, are designated as men of Gibeon and Mizpah, and in Nehemiah 3:15 and Nehemiah 3:19 two rulers of the district of Mizpah are specified by name. Hence the view that part of the inhabitants of Mizpah were under the jurisdiction of the Pechah of the province west of Euphrates, and part under that of the Pechah of Jerusalem, is devoid of probability. Finally, there is no adequate analogy for the metonomy set up in support of this view, viz., that כּסּא, a seat, a throne, stands for jurisdiction. The words in question can have only a local signification. כּסּא may indeed by metonomy be used for the official residence, but not for the official or judicial district, or jurisdiction of the Pechah. לכּסּא does not state the point to which, but the direction or locality in which, these persons repaired the wall: "towards the seat of the Pechah," i.e., at the place where the court or tribunal of the governor placed over the province on this side Euphrates was held when he came to Jerusalem to administer justice, or to perform any other official duties required of him. This being so, it appears from this verse that this court was within the northern wall, and undoubtedly near a gate.
8Next 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.
Next to him repaired Uzziel the son of Harhaiah of the goldsmiths, and next to him repaired Hananiah, a son of the apothecaries. צורפים is in explanatory apposition to the name Uzziel, and the plural is used to denote that his fellow-artisans worked with him under his direction. Hananiah is called בּן־הרקּחים, son of the apothecaries, i.e., belonging to the guild of apothecaries. The obscure words, וגו ויּעזבוּ, "and they left Jerusalem unto the broad wall," have been variously interpreted. From Nehemiah 12:38, where the broad wall is also mentioned, it appears that a length of wall between the tower of the furnaces and the gate of Ephraim was thus named, and not merely a place in the wall distinguished for its breadth, either because it stood out or formed a corner, as Bertheau supposes; for the reason adduced for this opinion, viz., that it is not said that the procession went along the broad wall, depends upon a mistaken interpretation of the passage cited. The expression "the broad wall" denotes a further length of wall; and as this lay, according to Nehemiah 12:38, west of the gate of Ephraim, the conjecture forces itself upon us, that the broad wall was that 400 cubits of the wall of Jerusalem, broken down by the Israelite king Joash, from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate (2 Kings 14:13), and afterwards rebuilt by Uzziel of a greater breadth, and consequently of increased strength (Joseph. Antiq. ix. 10. 3). Now the gate of Ephraim not being mentioned among the rebuilt gates, and this gate nevertheless existing (according to Nehemiah 8:16) in the days of Nehemiah, the reason of this omission must be the circumstance that it was left standing when the wall of Jerusalem was destroyed. The remark, then, in this verse seems to say the same concerning the broad wall, whether we understand it to mean: the builders left Jerusalem untouched as far as the broad wall, because this place as well as the adjoining gate of Ephraim needed no restoration; or: the Chaldeans had here left Jerusalem, i.e., either the town or town-wall, standing. So Hupfeld in his above-cited work, p. 231; Arnold; and even older expositors.
(Note: Bertheau's interpretation of this statement, viz., that at the rebuilding and re-fortification of the town after the captivity, the part of the town extending to the broad wall was left, i.e., was not rebuilt, but delayed for the present, answers neither to the verbal sense of the passage nor to the particular mentioned Nehemiah 12:38, that at the dedication of the wall the second company of them that gave thanks went upon the wall from beyond the tower of the furnaces even unto the broad wall, and over from beyond the gate of Ephraim, etc. Haneberg (in Reusch's theol. Literaturbl. 1869, No. 12) supports this view, but understands by "the broad wall" the wall which had a broad circuit, i.e., the wall previous to the captivity, and hence infers that the Jerusalem now rebuilt was not equal in extent to the old city. But if a portion of the former city had here been left outside the new wall, the gate of Ephraim would have been displaced, and must have been rebuilt elsewhere in a position to the south of the old gate. Still less can the attempt of the elder Buxtorf (Lexic. talm. rabb. s. v. עזב), now revived by Ewald (Gesch. iv. p. 174), to force upon the word עזב the meaning restaurare, or fortify, be justified.)
9And next unto them repaired Rephaiah the son of Hur, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem.
Further lengths of wall were built by Rephaiah ben Hur, the ruler of the half district of Jerusalem, i.e., of the district of country belonging to Jerusalem (comp. Nehemiah 3:19 with Nehemiah 3:15, where Mizpah and the district of Mizpah are distinguished); by Jedaiah ben Harumaph, בּיתו ונגד, and indeed before (opposite) his house, i.e., the portion of wall which lay opposite his own dwelling; and by Hattush the son of Hashabniah. Whether Hattush is to be identified with the priest of this name (Nehemiah 10:5), or with the similarly named descendant of David (Ezra 8:2), or with neither, cannot be determined.
10And next unto them repaired Jedaiah the son of Harumaph, even over against his house. And next unto him repaired Hattush the son of Hashabniah.
11Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hashub the son of Pahathmoab, repaired the other piece, and the tower of the furnaces.
A second section of wall was repaired by Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hashshub ben Pahath-Moab, two families who came up with Zerubbabel, Ezra 2:6 and Ezra 2:32. Bertheau understands שׁנית מדּה of a second section of wall added to a first already repaired by the same builders. So, too, he says, did Meremoth ben Urijah build one portion, Nehemiah 3:4, and a second, Nehemiah 3:21; comp. Nehemiah 3:5 and Nehemiah 3:27, Nehemiah 3:15 and Nehemiah 3:19, Nehemiah 3:8 and Nehemiah 3:30. This first portion, however, which this mention of a second presupposes, not being named, he infers that our present text has not preserved its original completeness, and thinks it probable, from Nehemiah 12:38 and Nehemiah 12:39, that certain statements, in this description, relating to the gate of Ephraim and its neighbourhood, which once stood before Nehemiah 3:8, have been omitted. This inference is unfounded. The non-mention of the gate of Ephraim is to be ascribed, as we have already remarked on Nehemiah 3:8, to other reasons than the incompleteness of the text; and the assertion that שׁנית מדּה assumes that a former portion was repaired by the same builders, receives no support from a comparison of Nehemiah 3:5 with Nehemiah 3:27, Nehemiah 3:15 with Nehemiah 3:19, and Nehemiah 3:8 with Nehemiah 3:30. Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, who, according to Nehemiah 3:30, built שׁני מדּה, are not identical with Hananiah the son of the apothecaries, Nehemiah 3:8. The same remark applies to Ezer the son of Jeshua, the ruler of Mizpah (Nehemiah 3:19), and Shallum the ruler of the district of Mizpah (Nehemiah 3:15). Only in Nehemiah 3:5 and Nehemiah 3:27, and Nehemiah 3:4 and Nehemiah 3:21, are the names of the builders the same. Moreover, besides Nehemiah 3:21 and Nehemiah 3:27, שׁנית מדּה occurs five times more (Nehemiah 3:11, Nehemiah 3:19, Nehemiah 3:20, Nehemiah 3:24, and Nehemiah 3:30) with respect to builders not previously (nor subsequently) mentioned in this list. Hence, in five different places, the names of the building parties, and the notices of the portions of wall built by them respectively, must have been lost, - a circumstance priori incredible. When, however, we consider the verses, in which שׁנית מדּה occurs, more closely, the second length is, in Nehemiah 3:19, Nehemiah 3:20, Nehemiah 3:21, Nehemiah 3:24, and Nehemiah 3:27, more nearly defined by a statement of locality: thus, in Nehemiah 3:19, we have a second piece over against the ascent to the arsenal at the angle; in Nehemiah 3:20, a second piece from the angle to the door of the house of Eliashib; in Nehemiah 3:21, a second piece from the door of the house of Eliashib to ... ; in Nehemiah 3:24, a second piece from the house of Azariah to ... , who, according to Nehemiah 3:23, built near his own house; in Nehemiah 3:27, a second piece over against the great projecting tower ... , as far as which, according to Nehemiah 3:26, the Nethinim dwelt in Ophel. From all this, it is evident that שׁנית מדּה in these verses, always denotes a second portion of that length of wall previously spoken of, or a portion next to that of which the building was previously mentioned. And so must שׁנית מדּה be understood in the present Nehemiah 3:11, where it is used because Malchiah and Hashshub repaired or built the tower of the furnaces, besides the portion of wall. שׁנית מדּה may be rendered, "another or a further piece." the word שׁנית is chosen, because that previously mentioned is regarded as a first. The tower of the furnaces lay, according to this verse and Nehemiah 12:38, where alone it is again mentioned, between the broad wall and the valley-gate. Now, since there was between the gate of Ephraim and the corner-gate a portion of wall four hundred cubits long (see 2 Kings 14:13), which, as has been above remarked, went by the name of the broad wall, it is plain that the tower of the furnaces must be sought for in the neighbourhood of the corner-gate, or perhaps even identified with it. This is the simplest way of accounting for the omission of any notice in the present description of this gate, which is mentioned not merely before (2 Chronicles 26:9; Jeremiah 31:38; and 2 Kings 14:13), but also after, the captivity (Zechariah 14:10). It is probable that the tower of the furnaces served as a defence for the corner-gate at the north-western corner of the town, where now lie, upon an earlier building of large stones with morticed edges, probably a fragment of the old Jewish wall, the ruins of the ancient Kal'at el Dshalud (tower of Goliath), which might, at the time of the Crusades, have formed the corner bastion of the city: comp. Rob. Palestine, ii. p. 114; Biblical Researches, p. 252; and Tobler, Topogr. i. p. 67f.
12And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.
Next repaired Shallum, ruler of the other (comp. Nehemiah 3:9) half district of Jerusalem, he and his daughters. הוּא can only refer to Shallum, not to הוּא, which would make the daughters signify the daughters of the district, of the villages and places in the district.
13The 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.
From the valley-gate to the dung-gate. The valley-gate lay in the west, in the neighbourhood of the present Jaffa gate (see rem. on Nehemiah 2:13), "where," as Tobler, Topogr. i. p. 163, expresses it, "we may conclude there must almost always have been, on the ridge near the present citadel, the site in the time of Titus of the water-gate also (Joseph. bell. Jud. v. 7. 3), an entrance provided with gates." Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah are here connected, probably because Hanun was the chief or ruler of the inhabitants of this place. Zanoah, now Zanna, is in the Wady Ismail, west of Jerusalem; see rem. on Joshua 15:34. They built and set up its doors, etc.; comp. Nehemiah 3:6. The further statement, "and a thousand cubits on the wall unto the dung-gate," still depends on החזיק, the principal verb of the verse. It is incomprehensible how Bertheau can say that this statement does not refer to the repairing of the wall, but only declares that the distance from the valley-gate to the dung-gate amounted to one thousand cubits. For the remark, that a section of such a length is, in comparison with the other sections, far too extensive, naturally proves nothing more than that the wall in this part had suffered less damage, and therefore needed less repair. The number one thousand cubits is certainly stated in round numbers. The length from the present Jaffa gate to the supposed site of the dung-gate, on the south-western edge of Zion, is above two thousand five hundred feet. The dung-gate may, however, have been placed at a greater distance from the road leading to Baher. השׁפות is only another form for האשׁפּות (without א prosthetic). Malchiah ben Rechab, perhaps a Rechabite, built and fortified the dung-gate; for though the Rechabites were forbidden to build themselves houses (Jeremiah 35:7), they might, without transgressing this paternal injunction, take part in building the fortifications of Jerusalem (Berth.). This conjecture is, however, devoid of probability, for a Rechabite would hardly be a prince or ruler of the district of Beth-haccerem. The name Rechab occurs as early as the days of David, 2 Samuel 4:5. בּית־הכּרם, i.e., the garden or vineyard-house, where, according to Jeremiah 6:1, the children of Benjamin were wont to set up a banner, and to blow the trumpet in Tekoa, is placed by Jerome (Comm. Jeremiah 6) upon a hill between Jerusalem and Tekoa; on which account Pococke (Reise, ii. p. 63) thinks Beth-Cherem must be sought for on the eminence now known as the Frank mountain, the Dshebel Fureidis, upon which was the Herodium of Josephus. This opinion is embraced with some hesitation by Robinson (Pal. ii. p. 397), and unreservedly by Wilson (The Holy City, i. p. 396) and v. de Velde, because "when we consider that this hill is the highest point in the whole district, and is by reason of its isolated position and conical shape very conspicuous, we shall find that no other locality better corresponds with the passage cited.
14But 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.
15But 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.
The fountain-gate and a portion of wall adjoining it was repaired by Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, the ruler of the district of Mizpah. כּל־חזה occurs again, Nehemiah 11:5, apparently as the name of another individual. To יבננּוּ is added יטללנּוּ, he covered it, from טלל, to shade, to cover, answering to the קרוּהוּ of Nehemiah 3:3 and Nehemiah 3:6, probably to cover with a layer of beams. The position of the fountain-gate is apparent from the description of the adjoining length of wall which Shallum also repaired. This was "the wall of the pool of Shelach (Siloah) by the king's garden, and unto the stairs that go down from the city of David." The word שׁלח recalls שׁלּוח; the pool of Shelach can be none other than the pool which received its water through the שׁלח, i.e., mission (aquae). By the researches of Robinson (Pal. ii. p. 148f.) and Tobler (Die Siloahquelle u. der Oelberg, p. 6f.), it has been shown that the pool of Siloah receives its water from a subterranean conduit 1750 feet long, cut through the rock from the Fountain of the Virgin, Ain Sitti Miriam, on the eastern slope of Ophel. Near to the pool of Siloah, on the eastern declivity of Zion, just where the Tyropoean valley opens into the vale of Kidron, is found an old and larger pool (Birket el Hamra), now covered with grass and trees, and choked with earth, called by Tobler the lower pool of Siloah, to distinguish it from the one still existing, which, because it lies north-west of the former, he calls the upper pool of Siloah. One of these pools of Siloah, probably the lower and larger, is certainly the king's pool mentioned Nehemiah 2:14, in the neighbourhood of which lay, towards the east and south-east, the king's garden. The wall of the pool of Shelach need not have reached quite up to the pool, but may have gone along the edge of the south-eastern slope of Zion, at some distance therefrom. In considering the next particular following, "unto the stairs that go down from the city of David," we must turn our thoughts towards a locality somewhat to the north of this pool, the description now proceeding from the south-eastern corner of the wall northward. These stairs are not yet pointed out with certainty, unless perhaps some remains of them are preserved in the "length of rocky escarpment," which Robinson (Pal. ii. p. 102, and Biblical Researches, p. 247) remarked on the narrow ridge of the eastern slope of the hill of Zion, north of Siloam, at a distance of 960 feet from the present wall of the city, "apparently the foundations of a wall or of some similar piece of building."
(Note: Bertheau's view, that these stairs were situated where Mount Zion, upon which stood the city of David, descends abruptly towards the east, and therefore on the precipice running from south to north, which still rises ninety-one feet above the ground northwards of the now so-called Bab el Mogharibeh or dung-gate, opposite the southern part of the west wall of the temple area, is decidedly incorrect. For this place is two thousand feet, i.e., more than one thousand cubits, distant from the pool of Siloah, while our text places them immediately after the length of wall by this pool. The transposition of these "steps" to a position within the present wall of the city is, in Bertheau's case, connected with the erroneous notion that the fountain-gate (Nehemiah 3:15 and Nehemiah 2:14) stood on the site of the present dung-gate (Bab el Mogharibeh), for which no other reason appears than the assumption that the southern wall of the city of David, before the captivity, went over Zion, in the same direction as the southern wall of modern Jerusalem, only perhaps in a rather more southerly direction, - an assumption shown to be erroneous, even by the circumstance that in this case the sepulchres of David, Solomon, and the kings of Judah would have stood outside the city wall, on the southern part of Zion; while, according to the Scripture narrative, David, Solomon, and the kings of Judah were buried in the city of David (1 Kings 2:10; 1 Kings 11:42; 1 Kings 14:31; 1 Kings 15:8, and elsewhere). But apart from this consideration, this hypothesis is shattered by the statements of this fifteenth verse, which Bertheau cannot explain so inconsistently with the other statements concerning the building of the wall, as to make them say that any one coming from the west and going round by the south of the city towards the east, would first arrive at the fountain-gate, and then at the portion of wall in question; but is obliged to explain, so that the chief work, the building of the fountain-gate, is mentioned first; then the slighter work, the reparation of a length of wall as supplementary; and this makes the localities enumerated in Nehemiah 3:13 succeed each other in the following order, in a direction from the west by south and east towards the north: "Valley-gate - one thousand cubits of wall as far as the dung-gate; dung-gate - the wall of the conduit towards the king's garden, as far as the stairs which lead from the city of David - fountain-gate." No adequate reason for this transposition of the text is afforded by the circumstance that no portion of wall is mentioned (Nehemiah 3:14 and Nehemiah 3:15) as being repaired between the dung-gate and the valley-gate. For how do we know that this portion on the southern side of Zion was broken down and needing repair? Might not the length between these two gates have been left standing when the city was burnt by the Chaldeans?)
16After 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.
The wall from the steps leading from the city of David to the angle opposite the armoury. From Nehemiah 3:16 onwards we find for the most part אחריו, after him, instead of ידו על, which only occurs again in Nehemiah 3:17 and Nehemiah 3:19. Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of half the district of Beth-zur (see rem. on 2 Chronicles 11:7), repaired the wall as far as "opposite the sepulchres of David, and unto the pool that was made, and to the house of the heroes." The sepulchres of David are the sepulchres of the house of David in the city of David (comp. 2 Chronicles 32:33). "Opposite the sepulchres of David" is the length of wall on the eastern side of Zion, where was probably, as Thenius endeavours to show in the Zeitschr. of the deutsch morgenl. Gesellsch. xxi. p. 495f., an entrance to the burying-place of the house of David, which was within the city. The "pool that was made" must be sought at no great distance, in the Tyropoean valley, but has not yet been discovered. The view of Krafft (Topographie von Jerusalem, p. 152), that it was the reservoir artificially constructed by Hezekiah, between the two walls for the water of the old pool (Isaiah 22:11), rests upon incorrect combinations. "The house of the heroes" is also unknown. In Nehemiah 3:17 and Nehemiah 3:18, the lengths of wall repaired by the three building parties there mentioned are not stated. "The Levites, Rehum the son of Bani," stands for: the Levites under Rehum the son of Bani. There was a Rehum among those who returned with Zerubbabel, Nehemiah 12:3; Ezra 2:2; and a Bani occurs among the Levites in Nehemiah 9:5. After him repaired Hashabiah, the ruler of half the district of Keilah, for his district. Keilah, situate, according to Joshua 15:44 and 1 Samuel 23:1, in the hill region, is probably the village of Kila, discovered by Tobler (vol. iii. p. 151), eastward of Beit Dshibrin. By the addition לפלכּו, for his district, i.e., that half of the whole district which was under his rule, "it is expressly stated that the two halves of the district of Keilah worked apart one from the other" (Bertheau). The other half is mentioned in the verse next following.
17After 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.
18After him repaired their brethren, Bavai the son of Henadad, the ruler of the half part of Keilah.
"Their brethren" are the inhabitants of the second half, who were under the rule of Bavai the son of Henadad.
19And 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.
Next to these repaired Ezer the son of Jeshua, the ruler of Mizpah, another piece (on שׁנית מדּה, see rem. on Nehemiah 3:11) opposite the ascent to the armoury of the angle. הנּשׁק or הנּשׁק (in most editions) is probably an abbreviation of בּית־הנּשׁק, arsenal, armoury; and המּקצוע is, notwithstanding the article in הנּשׁק, genitive; for to combine it as an accusative with עלותּ, and read, "the going up of the armoury upon the angle," gives no suitable meaning. The locality itself cannot indeed be more precisely stated. The armoury was probably situate on the east side of Zion, at a place where the wall of the city formed an angle; or it occupied an angle within the city itself, no other buildings adjoining it on the south. The opinion of Bertheau, that the armoury stood where the tower described by Tobler (Dritte Wand. p. 228) stands, viz., about midway between the modern Zion gate and the dung-gate, and of which he says that "its lower strata of stones are undoubtedly of a remoter date than the rebuilding of the wall in the sixteenth century," coincides with the assumption already refuted, that the old wall of the city of David passed, like the southern wall of modern Jerusalem, over Mount Zion.
20After 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.
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.
21After 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.
22And after him repaired the priests, the men of the plain.
Farther northwards repaired the priests, the men of the district of Jordan. כּכּר does not, as Bertheau infers from Nehemiah 12:28, signify the country round Jerusalem, but here, as there, the valley of the Jordan. See rem. on Nehemiah 12:28 and on Genesis 13:10. Hence this verse informs us that priests were then dwelling in the valley of the Jordan, probably in the neighbourhood of Jericho. The length of wall built by these priests is not further particularized.
23After him repaired Benjamin and Hashub over against their house. After him repaired Azariah the son of Maaseiah the son of Ananiah by his house.
Further on repaired Benjamin and Hashub over against their house, and Azariah the son of Maaseiah, by his house. Nothing further is known of these individuals.
24After him repaired Binnui the son of Henadad another piece, from the house of Azariah unto the turning of the wall, even unto the corner.
Next repaired Binnui the son of Henadad, a second portion from the house of Azariah, to the angle and to the corner; and further on (Nehemiah 3:25) Palal the son of Uzzai, from opposite the angle and the high tower which stands out from the king's house by the court of the prison. We join העליון to המּגדּל, though it is also verbally admissible to combine it with המּלך בּית, "the tower which stands out from the king's upper house," because nothing is known of an upper and lower king's house. It would be more natural to assume (with Bertheau) that there was an upper and a lower tower at the court of the prison, but this is not implied by העליון. The word means first, high, elevated, and its use does not assume the existence of a lower tower; while the circumstance that the same tower is in Nehemiah 3:27 called the great (הגּדול) tells in favour of the meaning high in the present case. The court of the prison was, according to Jeremiah 32:2, in or near the king's house; it is also mentioned Jeremiah 32:8, Jeremiah 32:12; Jeremiah 33:1; Jeremiah 37:21; Jeremiah 38:6, Jeremiah 38:13, Jeremiah 38:28, and Jeremiah 39:14. But from none of these passages can it be inferred, as by Bertheau, that it was situate in the neighbourhood of the temple. His further remark, too, that the king's house is not the royal palace in the city of David, but an official edifice standing upon or near the temple area, and including the court of the prison with its towers, is entirely without foundation.
(Note: Equally devoid of proof is the view of Ewald, Diestel (in Herzog's Realencycl. xiii. p. 325), Arnold, and others, that the royal palace stood upon Moriah or Ophel on the south side of the temple, in support of which Diestel adduces Nehemiah 3:25. See the refutation of this view in the commentary on 1 Kings 7:12 (Note).)
The royal palace lay, according to Josephus, Ant. viii. 5. 2, opposite the temple (ἀντικρὺς ἔχων ναόν), i.e., on the north-eastern side of Zion, and this is quite in accordance with the statements of this verse; for as it is not till Nehemiah 3:27 that the description of the wall-building reaches the walls of Ophel, all the localities and buildings spoken of in Nehemiah 3:24-27 must be sought for on the east side of Zion. The court of the prison formed, according to Eastern custom, part of the royal fortress upon Zion. The citadel had, moreover, a high tower. This is obvious from Sol 4:4, though the tower of David there mentioned, on which hung a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men, may not be identical with the tower of the king's house in this passage; from Micah 4:8, where the tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, is the tower of the royal citadel; and from Isaiah 32:14, where citadel and tower (בּחן, properly watch-tower) answer to the ארמון of the royal citadel, which lay with its forts upon the hill of Zion. This high tower of the king's house, i.e., of the royal citadel, stood, according to our verses, in the immediate neighbourhood of the angle and the corner (הפּנּה); for the section of wall which reached to the פּנּה lay opposite the angle and the high tower of the king's house. The wall here evidently formed a corner, running no longer from south to north, but turning eastwards, and passing over Ophel, the southern spur of Moriah. A length from this corner onwards was built by Pedaiah the son of Parosh; comp. Ezra 2:3.
25Palal 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.
26Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth out.
Having now reached the place where the wall encloses Ophel, a remark is inserted, Nehemiah 3:26, on the dwellings of Nethinim, i.e., of the temple servants. The Nethinim dwelt in Ophel as far as (the place) before the water-gate toward the east, and the tower that standeth out. הי המּגדּל still depends upon נגד עד. The water-gate towards the east, judging from Nehemiah 12:37, lay beyond the south-eastern corner of the temple area. Bertheau, reasoning upon the view that the open space of the house of God, where Ezra spoke to the assembled people (Ezra 10:9), is identical with the open place before the water-gate mentioned Nehemiah 8:1, Nehemiah 8:3, Nehemiah 8:16, places it on the east side of the temple area, near where the golden gate (Rab er Rahme) now stands. This identity, however, cannot be proved; and even if it could, it would by no means follow that this open space lay on the east side of the temple area. And as little does it follow from Nehemiah 12:37, as we shall show when we reach this passage. היּוצא המּגדּל is said by Bertheau to have belonged perhaps to the water-gate towards the east, since, by reason of the statements contained in Nehemiah 3:31 and Nehemiah 3:32, we must not seek it so far northwards on the east side of the temple area, as to combine it with the remains of a tower projecting seven and a half feet from the line of wall at the north-east corner, and described by Robinson (Biblical Researches, p. 226). But even if the tower in question must not be identified with these remains, it by no means follows that it stood in the neighbourhood of the golden gate. Even Arnold, in his work already cited, p. 636, remarks, in opposition to Bertheau's view, that "it is evident from the whole statement that the tower standing out from the king's house, in Nehemiah 3:25, Nehemiah 3:26, and Nehemiah 3:27, is one and the same, and that Bertheau's view of our having here three separate towers can hardly be maintained," although he, as well as Bertheau, transposes both the king's house and the court of the prison to the south of the Temple area. The similar appellation of this tower as היּוצא in the three verses speaks so decidedly for its identity, that very forcible reasons must be adduced before the opposite view can be adopted. In Nehemiah 3:26 it is not a locality near the water-gate in the east which is indicted by היּוצא המּגדּל, but the western boundary of the dwellings of the Nethinim lying opposite. They dwelt, that is, upon Ophel, southwards of the temple area, on a tract of land reaching from the water-gate in the east to opposite the outstanding tower of the royal citadel in the west, i.e., from the eastern slope of the ridge of Ophel down to the Tyropoean valley.
27After them the Tekoites repaired another piece, over against the great tower that lieth out, even unto the wall of Ophel.
After them the Tekoites repaired a second piece from opposite the great tower that standeth out to the wall of Ophel. The great (high) tower of the king's house within the city wall being some distance removed therefrom, the portion of wall on the eastern ridge of Zion from south to north, reaching as far as the turning and the corner, and the commencement of the wall running from this corner eastwards, might both be designated as lying opposite to this tower. The portion mentioned in our verse passed along the Tyropoean valley as far as the wall of Ophel. King Jotham had built much on the wall of Ophel (2 Chronicles 27:3); and Manasseh had surrounded Ophel with a very high wall (2 Chronicles 33:14), i.e., carried the wall round its western, southern, and eastern sides. On the north no wall was needed, Ophel being protected on this side by the southern wall of the temple area.
28From above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one over against his house.
The wall of Ophel and the eastern side of the temple area. - Nehemiah 3:28 Above the horse-gate repaired the priests, each opposite his own house. The site of the horse-gate appears, from 2 Chronicles 23:15 compared with 2 Kings 11:6, to have been not far distant from the temple and the royal palace; while according to the present verse, compared with Nehemiah 3:27, it stood in the neighbourhood of the wall of Ophel, and might well be regarded as even belonging to it. Hence we have, with Thenius, to seek it in the wall running over the Tyropoean valley, and uniting the eastern edge of Zion with the western edge of Ophel in the position of the present dung-gate (Bab el Mogharibeh). This accords with Jeremiah 31:40, where it is also mentioned; and from which passage Bertheau infers that it stood at the western side of the valley of Kidron, below the east corner of the temple area. The particular מעל, "from over," that is, above, is not to be understood of a point northwards of the horse-gate, but denotes the place where the wall, passing up from Zion to Ophel, ascended the side of Ophel east of the horse-gate. If, then, the priests here repaired each opposite his house, it is evident that a row of priests' dwellings were built on the western side of Ophel, south of the south-western extremity of the temple area.
29After 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.
Zadok ben Immer (Ezra 2:37) was probably the head of the priestly order of Immer. Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the east gate, can hardly be the same as the Shemaiah of the sons of Shecaniah entered among the descendants of David in 1 Chronicles 3:22. He might rather be regarded as a descendant of the Shemaiah of 1 Chronicles 26:6., if the latter had not been enumerated among the sons of Obed-Edom, whose duty was to guard the south side of the temple. The east gate is undoubtedly the east gate of the temple, and not to be identified, as by Bertheau, with the water-gate towards the east (Nehemiah 3:26). The place where Shemaiah repaired is not more precisely defined; nor can we infer, with Bertheau, from the circumstance of his being the keeper of the east gate, that he, together with his subordinate keepers, laboured at the fortification of this gate and its adjoining section of wall. Such a view is opposed to the order of the description, which passes on to a portion of the wall of Ophel; see rem. on Nehemiah 3:31.
30After 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.
אחרי here and in Nehemiah 3:31 gives no appropriate sense, and is certainly only an error of transcription arising from the scriptio defect. אחרו. Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, are not further known. The name of Meshullam the son of Berechiah occurs previously in Nehemiah 3:4; but the same individual can hardly be intended in the two verses, the one mentioned in Nehemiah 3:4 being distinguished from others of the same name by the addition ben Meshezabeel. שׁני for שׁנית (Nehemiah 3:27, Nehemiah 3:24, and elsewhere) is grammatically incorrect, if not a mere error of transcription. נשׁכּתו נגד, before his dwelling. נשׁכּה occurs only here and Nehemiah 13:7, and in the plural הנּשׁכות, Nehemiah 12:44; it seems, judging from the latter passage, only another form for לשׁכּה, chamber; while in Nehemiah 13:7, on the contrary, נשׁכּה is distinguished from לשׁכּה, Nehemiah 13:4-5. Its etymology is obscure. In Nehemiah 13:7 it seems to signify dwelling.
31After 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.
הצּרפי is not a proper name, but an appellative, son of the goldsmith, or perhaps better, member of the goldsmiths' guild, according to which הצּרפי does not stand for hatsoreep, but designates those belonging to the goldsmiths. The statements, (he repaired) unto the house of the Nethinim, and of the merchants opposite the gate המּפקד, and to the upper chamber of the corner, are obscure. This rendering is according to the Masoretic punctuation; while the lxx, on the contrary, translate according to a different division of the words: Malchiah repaired as far as the house of the Nethinim, and the spice-merchants (repaired) opposite the gate Miphkad, and as far as the ascent of the corner. This translation is preferred by Bertheau, but upon questionable grounds. For the objection made by him, that if the other be adopted, either the same termination would be stated twice in different forms, or that two different terminations are intended, in which case it does not appear why one only should first be mentioned, and then the other also, is not of much importance. In Nehemiah 3:24 also two terminations are mentioned, while in Nehemiah 3:16 we have even three together. And why should not this occur here also? Of more weight is the consideration, that to follow the Masoretic punctuation is to make the house of the Nethinim and of the merchants but one building. Since, however, we know nothing further concerning the edifice in question, the subject is not one for discussion. The rendering of the lxx, on the other hand, is opposed by the weighty objection that there is a total absence of analogy for supplying החזיקוּ ואחריו; for throughout this long enumeration of forty-two sections of wall, the verb החזיק or החזיקוּ, or some corresponding verb, always stands either before or after every name of the builders, and even the אחריו is omitted only once (Nehemiah 3:25). To the statement, "as far as the house of the Nethinim and the merchants," is appended the further definition: before (opposite) the gate המּפקד. This word is reproduced in the lxx as a proper name (τοῦ Μαφεκάδ), as is also הנּתינים בּית, ἕως Βετηὰν Νατηινίμ); in the Vulgate it is rendered appellatively: contra portam judicialem; and hence by Luther, Rathsthor. Thenius translates (Stadt, p. 9): the muster or punishment gate. מפקד does not, however, signify punishment, although the view may be correct that the gate took the name המּפקד from the הבּית מפקד mentioned Ezekiel 43:21, where the bullock of the sin-offering was to be burnt without the sanctuary; and it may be inferred from this passage that near the temple of Solomon also there was an appointed place for burning the flesh of the sin-offering without the sanctuary. In Ezekiel's temple vision, this הבּית מפקד is probably to be sought in the space behind the sanctuary, i.e., at the western end of the great square of five hundred cubits, set apart for the temple, and designated the Gizra, or separate place. In the temples of Solomon and Zerubbabel, however, the place in question could not have been situate at the west side of the temple, between the temple and the city, which lay opposite, but only on the south side of the temple area, outside the court, upon Ophel, where Thenius has delineated it in his plan of Jerusalem before the captivity. Whether it lay, however, at the south-western corner of the temple space (Thenius), or in the middle, or near the east end of the southern side of the external wall of the temple or temple court, can be determined neither from the present passage nor from Ezekiel's vision. Not from Ezekiel 43:21, because the temple vision of this prophet is of an ideal character, differing in many points from the actual temple; not from the present passage, because the position of the house of the Nethinim and the merchants is unknown, and the definition נגד, (before) opposite the gate Miphkad, admits of several explanations. Thus much only is certain concerning this Miphkad gate, - on the one hand, from the circumstance that the wall was built before (נגד) or opposite this gate, on the other, from its omission in Nehemiah 12:39, where the prison-gate is mentioned as being in this neighbourhood in its stead, - that it was not a gate of the city, but a gate through which the מפקד was reached. Again, it is evident that the עליּה of the corner which is mentioned as the length of wall next following, must be sought for at the south-eastern corner of the temple area. Hence the house of the temple servants and the merchants must have been situate south of this, on the eastern side of Ophel, where it descends into the valley of Kidron. הפּנּה עליּת, the upper chamber of the corner, was perhaps a ὑπερῷον of a corner tower, not at the north-eastern corner of the external circumvallation of the temple area (Bertheau), but at the south-eastern corner, which was formed by the junction at this point of the wall of Ophel with the eastern wall of the temple area. If these views are correct, all the sections mentioned from Nehemiah 3:28 to Nehemiah 3:31 belong to the wall surrounding Ophel. This must have been of considerable length, for Ophel extended almost to the pool of Siloam, and was walled round on its western, southern, and eastern sides.
32And between the going up of the corner unto the sheep gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.
The last section, between the upper chamber of the corner and the sheep-gate, was repaired by the goldsmiths and the merchants. This is the whole length of the east wall of the temple as far as the sheep-gate, at which this description began (Nehemiah 3:1). The eastern wall of the temple area might have suffered less than the rest of the wall at the demolition of the city by the Chaldeans, or perhaps have been partly repaired at the time the temple was rebuilt, so that less restoration was now needed.
A survey of the whole enumeration of the gates and lengths of wall now restored and fortified, commencing and terminating as it does at the sheep-gate, and connecting almost always the several portions either built or repaired by the words (ידם) ידו על or אחריו, gives good grounds for inferring that in the forty-two sections, including the gates, particularized vv. 1-32, we have a description of the entire fortified wall surrounding the city, without a single gap. In Nehemiah 3:7, indeed, as we learn by comparing it with Nehemiah 12:29, the mention of the gate of Ephraim is omitted, and in Nehemiah 3:30 or Nehemiah 3:31, to judge by Nehemiah 12:39, the prison-gate; while the wall lying between the dung-gate and the fountain-gate is not mentioned between Nehemiah 3:14 and Nehemiah 3:15. The non-mention, however, of these gates and this portion of wall may be explained by the circumstance, that these parts of the fortification, having remained unharmed, were in need of no restoration. We read, it is true, in 2 Kings 25:10 and 2 Kings 25:11, that Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard of Nebuchadnezzar, burnt the king's house and all the great houses of the city, and that the army of the Chaldees broke down or destroyed (נתץ) the walls of Jerusalem round about; but these words must not be so pressed as to make them express a total levelling of the surrounding wall. The wall was only so far demolished as to be incapable of any longer serving as a defence to the city. And this end was fully accomplished when it was partially demolished in several places, because the portions of wall, and even the towers and gates, still perhaps left standing, could then no longer afford any protection to the city. The danger that the Jews might easily refortify the city unless the fortifications were entirely demolished, was sufficiently obviated by the carrying away into captivity of the great part of the population. This explains the fact that nothing is said in this description of the restoration of the towers of Hananeel and Hammeah (Nehemiah 3:11), and that certain building parties repaired very long lengths of wall, as e.g., the 1000 cubits between the fountain-gate and the dung-gate, while others had very short portions appointed them. The latter was especially the case with those who built on the east side of Zion, because this being the part at which King Zedekiah fled from the city, the wall may here have been levelled to the ground.
From the consideration of the course of the wall, so far as the description in the present chapter enables us to determine it with tolerable certainty, and a comparison with the procession of the two bands of singers round the restored wall in Nehemiah 12:31-40, which agrees in the chief points with this description, it appears that the wall on the northern side of the city, before the captivity, coincided in the main with the northern wall of modern Jerusalem, being only somewhat shorter at the north-eastern and north-western corners; and that it ran from the valley (or Jaffa) gate by the tower of furnaces, the gate of Ephraim, the old gate, and the fish-gate to the sheep-gate, maintaining, on the whole, the same direction as the second wall described by Josephus (bell. Jud. v. 4. 2). In many places remains of this wall, which bear testimony to their existence at a period long prior to Josephus, have recently been discovered. In an angle of the present wall near the Latin monastery are found "remains of a wall built of mortice-edged stones, near which lie blocks so large that we are first took them for portions of the natural rock, but found them on closer inspection to be morticed stones removed from their place. A comparatively large number of stones, both in the present wall between the north-west corner of the tower and the Damascus gate, and in the adjoining buildings, are morticed and hewn out of ancient material, and we can scarcely resist the impression that this must have been about the direction of an older wall." So Wolcott and Tipping in Robinson's New Biblical Researches. Still nearer to the gate, about three hundred feet west of it, Dr. Wilson remarks (Lands of the Bible, i. p. 421), "that the wall, to some considerable height above its foundation, bears evidence, by the size and peculiarity of its stones, to its high antiquity," and attributes this portion to the old second wall (see Robinson). "Eastward, too, near the Damascus gate, and even near the eastern tower, are found very remarkable remains of Jewish antiquity. The similarity of these remains of wall to those surrounding the site of the temple is most surprising" (Tobler, Dritte Wand. p. 339). From these remains, and the intimations of Josephus concerning the second wall, Robinson justly infers that the ancient wall must have run from the Damascus gate to a place in the neighbourhood of the Latin monastery, and that its course thence must have been nearly along the road leading northwards from the citadel to the Latin monastery, while between the monastery and the Damascus gate it nearly coincided with the present wall. Of the length from the Damascus gate to the sheep-gate no certain indications have as yet been found. According to Robinson's ideas, it probably went from the Damascus gate, at first eastwards in the direction of the present wall, and onwards to the highest point of Bezetha; but then bent, as Bertheau supposes, in a south-easterly direction, and ran to a point in the present wall lying north-east of the Church of St. Anne, and thence directly south towards the north-east corner of the temple area. On the south side, on the contrary, the whole of the hill of Zion belonged to the ancient city; and the wall did not, like the modern, pass across the middle of Zion, thus excluding the southern half of this hill from the city, but went on the west, south, and south-east, round the edge of Zion, so that the city of Zion was as large again as that portion of modern Jerusalem lying on the hill of Zion, and included the sepulchres of David and of the kings of Judah, which are now outside the city wall. Tobler (Dritte Wand. p. 336) believes that a trace of the course of the ancient wall has been discovered in the cutting in the rock recently uncovered outside the city, where, at the building of the Anglican Episcopal school, which lies two hundred paces westward under En-Nebi-Dad, and the levelling of the garden and cemetery, were found edged stones lying scattered about, and "remarkable artificial walls of rock," whose direction shows that they must have supported the oldest or first wall of the city; for they are just so far distant from the level of the valley, that the wall could, or rather must, have stood there. "And," continues Tobler, "not only so, but the course of the wall of rock is also to a certain extent parallel with that of the valley, as must be supposed to be the case with a rocky foundation to a city wall." Finally, the city was bounded on its western and eastern sides by the valleys of Gihon and Jehoshaphat respectively.