Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Nehemiah 3

Verse 1

Eliashib (compare the marginal reference) was the grandson of Joshua, the high priest contemporary with Zerubbabel.

The sheep gate - This was a gate in the eastern wall, not far from the pool of Bethesda, marginal reference, which was perhaps originally a sheep-pool.

The exact line which the writer follows in describing the circuit of the wall will probably be always a matter of dispute. According to the view here taken, the line described commences near the pool of Bethesda, on the east of the city, and is traced thence, first, northward, then westward, then southward, and finally eastward, as far as the pool of Siloam Nehemiah 3:15. From this point, it seems to the writer of this note that the line of the outer wall is not followed, but, instead of this, the inner wall of the “city of David,” which included the temple, is traced. This wall is followed northward from the pool of Siloam, past the “sepulchres of David” and Hezekiah’s pool to the “armoury” Nehemiah 3:19 at its northwest corner; it is then followed eastward to “the tower which lieth out from the king’s house” Nehemiah 3:25; from this it is carried southward, along the western edge of the Kidron valley to the “great tower which lieth out” Nehemiah 3:27, and then southwestward to the point at which it commenced near Siloam Nehemiah 3:27. The special wall of the “city of David” being thus completed, the writer finishes his entire account by filling up the small interval between the northeast angle of this fortification and the “sheep-gate” Nehemiah 3:28-32, from which he started.

They sanctified it - The priests commenced the work with a formal ceremony of consecration. When the work was completed, there was a solemn dedication of the entire circuit (see Nehemiah 12:27-43).

The tower of Hananeel is often mentioned; that of Meah, or rather Hammeah, or “the Hundred,” in Nehemiah only. Both towers must have been situated toward the northeastern corner of the city.

Verse 2

The people of each provincial town were set to work for the most part on the portion of the wall nearest their city. Thus, “the men of Jericho,” were employed at the northeast corner of Jerusalem.

Verse 3

The fish gate - The gate through which fish from the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee entered Jerusalem; a gate in the north wall, a little to the east of the modern Damascus gate.

Locks - The word used (here and in Nehemiah 3:6, Nehemiah 3:13-15) is thought to mean rather a “cross-bar” than a lock, while that translated “bars” is regarded as denoting the “hooks” or “catches” which held the cross-bar at its two ends.

Verse 5

Tekoites - See 2 Samuel 14:2 note.

Verse 6

The old gate - Either the modern Damascus gate, the main entrance to the city on the north side; or a gate a little further eastward.

Verse 7

Unto the throne ... - The meaning is thought to be “the men of Gibeon and Mizpah, who, though they worked for Nehemiah, were not under his government, but belonged to the jurisdiction of the governor on this side the river.”

Verse 11

The other piece - Rather, “another piece” (as in Nehemiah 3:19, Nehemiah 3:21, Nehemiah 3:27, Nehemiah 3:30). It is conjectured that a verse has fallen out in which Malchijah’s and Hashub’s “first piece” was mentioned.

The tower of the furnaces - Either a tower at the northwestern angle of the city; or, midway in the western wall. The origin of the name is uncertain.

Verse 13

Zanoah lay west of Jerusalem, at the distance of about 10 miles (Joshua 15:34 note).

Verse 15

The “pool of Siloah” lies at the southwestern foot of the temple hill, near the lower end of the Tyropoeon. It appears to have been at all times beyond the line of the city wall, but was perhaps joined to the city by a fortification of its own.

The king’s gardens - See 2 Kings 25:4 note.

The stairs - A flight of steps, still to be seen, led from the low valley of the Tyropoeon up the steep sides of Ophel to the “city of David,” which it reached probably at a point not far south of the temple.

Verse 16

Beth-zur - Now Beit-sur, on the road from Jerusalem to Hebron Joshua 15:58.

By “the sepulchres of David” must be understood the burial place in which David and the kings his descendants to the time of Hezekiah were interred. This was an excavation in the rock, in the near vicinity of the temple Ezekiel 43:7-9, and on its western side. The position of the burial-place was well known until the destruction of the city by Titus; but modern research has not yet discovered it.

The pool - Probably that made by Hezekiah in the Tyropoeon valley, west of the temple area (marginal reference).

Verses 17-30

“The horse gate” was on the east side of the city, overlooking the Kidron valley. It seems to have been a gate by which horses approached and left the old palace, that of David, which lay north of the temple Nehemiah 3:25.

Verse 31

The gate Miphkad - Not elsewhere mentioned. It must have been in the east, or northeast, wall, a little to the south of the “sheep-gate”

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Nehemiah 3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.