In our study of Nehemiah chapter three, we take a tour around the city of Jerusalem. There were ten gates in Jerusalem and this chapter takes us on a tour around the city. This tour of the gates and their meaning tell the story of the gospel. We get to see how God's people work together to bring Him glory. In this chapter, Nehemiah lists the sections of the wall, the gates, the towers, and tells us who did the work on that section. The story can be an inspiration as we see what God can and will do when all His people work for Him. What an awesome God we serve as He is in control of even the smallest of details.
Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel.
The rebuilding starts with the Sheep Gate which was the gate where the animals were brought into the city for the sacrifice. This was the most important of the gates as, without the sacrifices, there could be no healing of the relationship between God and man. The name Eliashib means "God restores" and it is just amazing how God is in charge of even the smallest of details. The priests worked in this area between the Tower of the Hundred (also known as the Tower of Hammeah which meant "which see") and the Tower of Hananel (which meant "God is gracious"). We get a beautiful picture of Jesus in this verse as John the Baptist called Him the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". The Tower of the Hundred reminds us of the parable that Jesus told in Luke 15 about leaving the ninety nine to go find the one that is lost. On most occasions when Jesus entered Jerusalem, He entered through this gate but the final time He entered the city He did not go through this gate. Jesus our "Sheep Gate" shows us that "God is gracious" to all "which see" that He is the Son of God and He paid for our sins. It is also interesting to note that the priests (even the high priest) were involved in the physical labor of rebuilding the wall.
The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zaccur son of Imri built next to them.
This verse tells us who built the other sections of this part of the wall leading to the next gate. It is interesting to note that Nehemiah gave their names. We might ask ourselves why. Well, this is a beautiful picture of the judgment of the saints as described in Revelation. You see, just as the people here are named with the work they did for the Kingdom, all saints will be rewarded for their works for God. God knows our actions and He is taking note of them!
The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place.
The second gate that we come to in our tour of the walls of Jerusalem is the Fish Gate. Through this gate, the fish for food was brought into the city. Now, if you have ever been to a fish market, you will recall that there is a smell and you could probably find it with your eyes closed. So, around this gate, there would have been a constant fishy smell. This gate reminds us that Jesus is not just our Savior but He is also our Lord. If He is our Lord then we are called to serve Him. Jesus, when He called the disciples, told them that He would make them "fishers of men". When the Lord called for them to serve, they immediately dropped what they were doing and obeyed. We are called to do the same thing.
Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam son of Berekiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs, and next to him Zadok son of Baana also made repairs.
Next, we are told the names of those that rebuilt the sections of the wall between the Fish Gate and the next gate. The name Uriah means "my light is God". This list is different in the fact that not only does Nehemiah list the name of the supervisor and his father but he also gives the name of the grandfather. What a picture of teaching your children to serve the Lord. You see these people, who rebuilt near the Fish Gate (gate of service) must have been carrying on with the godly example that was set by their fathers and grandfathers. Are you teaching your children to serve the Lord? The last man listed is Zadok whose name means "just". We are told that he was the son of Baana which was one of the twelve district governors under King Solomon. Therefore, we would consider him to be almost like a prince yet we see that he is still working.
The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.
The last section in this part of the wall was repaired by the men of Tekoa. Tekoa was a city that was strengthened to defend the land of Judah from the land of Israel when the kingdom was divided. What we see here is that the leaders of this town that was supposed to defend Judah will not work to rebuild the wall. This was hard physical work as the wall was built out of huge stones that had to be carried and lifted. These nobles were near the gate of service but were unwilling to do what God had called them to do. (They were saved but not serving.) This is a picture of some "Christian leaders" today as they are not willing to get into the trenches alongside the common men and work for the kingdom. Instead of listening to God and doing what He calls them to do, they choose to do what they think is best for the kingdom.
The Jeshanah Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place.
The next stop in our tour of the walls of Jerusalem takes us to the Jeshanah Gate. Jeshanah means "old" and speaks of the old path to God. As people in this world, it seems that we are constantly looking for the latest and greatest things but this gate reminds us that the path to a right relationship with God does not change. There has always been only one path and God does not just change His mind and make a new path available. As we saw in verse 4, it is a responsibility of our fathers and grandfathers to tell us of this old path. It is also a chance for our fathers and mothers to tell us of what God has done in their lives and how he has sustained them. Just as the Israelites were told to remember the Passover and to tell the story to their children, we are called to share our stories of faith with others (especially our children). The Jeshanah Gate also reminds us that, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are a new creation and the old self is gone (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is important to note that Jesus does not repair the old man in us; He replaces the old with a new man!
Next to them, repairs were made by men from Gibeon and Mizpah- Melatiah of Gibeon and Jadon of Merenoth- places under the authority of the governor of Trans-Eurphrates. Uzziel son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the next section; and Hananiah, one of the perfume-makers, made repairs next to that. They restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall.
We are told, in this passage, that the work was done by a goldsmith and a perfume-maker. The perfume-maker would have been the equivalent of our pharmacists. They were used to working with small pills and the goldsmith would have worked with small stones of gold. Even though it would have been out of the ordinary for them, they worked here with very large stones to rebuild these sections. The Broad Wall was built to protect the city of Jerusalem and was in fact a very broad wall as it was about 24 feet wide and 24 feet tall. This passage is a great reminder for us today that God probably will ask each one of us to step out of our comfort zone as we serve Him.
Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section. Adjoining this, Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house, and Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs next to him. Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens.
We see once again that it wasn't just the common folks that did the work on the walls. Here we see that several rulers of half-districts did as well. The Tower of Ovens refers to a part of the city where the baker's shops were and where there probably would have been large ovens for the baking of bread.
Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters.
In this verse, we see not only another ruler laboring but we are told that his daughters helped him. This is just another reminder to us that God uses all kinds of people for Kingdom work. He can equip a woman just as well as He can a man and it is not what we can do but what He can do through us.
The Valley Gate was repaired by Hanun and the residents of Zanoah. They rebuilt it and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. They also repaired five hundred yards of the wall as far as the Dung Gate.
This gate led to the Valley of Rephaim which is mentioned in other parts of the Bible as a fertile valley for growing grain, as a place that was raided by the Philistines, and as a place where the Philistines camped as they prepared to attack Jerusalem. The Valley Gate tells us of sorrow, trials, and humbling experiences. Just as more plants grow in a fertile valley than on top of a mountain, so it is with us in our walk with the Lord. This humility (realizing that we cannot do anything on our own but everything through Christ) is a fruit of the Spirit. This growth is usually more rapid in difficult times than in times when we feel like we are on top of the world.
The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Recab, ruler of the district of Beth Hakkerem. He rebuilt it and put its doors and bolts and bars in place.
The next stop on our tour around the walls of Jerusalem is the Dung Gate which led into the valley of Hinnom. In Greek, the name is Gehenna which has come to symbolize burning hell. In ancient times, pagans used the valley for all kinds of evil even burning children alive as sacrifices. After the return from captivity in Babylon, the valley was turned into a sort of city dump where all of the garbage was taken out of the city (through the Dung Gate) and burned. A fire was constantly burning there and the stench was very bad. This gate can serve to remind us to continually work at getting the garbage out of our lives and becoming more like our Lord and Savior.
The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallun son of Col-Hozeth, ruler of the district of Mizpah. He rebuilt it, roofing it over and putting its doors and bolts and bars in place. He also repaired the wall of the Pool of Siloam, by the King's Garden, as far as the steps going down from the City of David.
This next stop takes us to the Fountain Gate which tells us of the very power of God that lives in us. At the previous gate, we talked about taking out the garbage (sin) from our lives and this gate tells us that we have been given the power to be transformed through the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are able to live a Holy and pure life through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us! We are also told that Shallun repaired the wall at the Pool of Siloam (sent). This is the same pool that Jesus sent the blind man to wash in and he received his sight (John 9:7). This pool is also called Siloah or Shelach and it received its water through an underground tunnel (Hezekiah's Tunnel) from the Fountain of the Virgin. This water was called Chay Mayim which means "living water". This pool foretold the coming of our new life in Jesus Christ. We notice that the Living Water was at the pool and not at the Fountain of the Virgin which speaks of the Virgin Mary.
Beyond him, Nehemiah son of Azbuk, ruler of a half-district of Beth Zur, made repairs up to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool and the House of Heroes.
Here we are given some places that not too much is known about. The "tombs of David" refers to a rock tomb on the West side of the Temple where King David was buried. The "artificial pool" could possibly refer to a pool that was constructed by Hezekiah to store water when Jerusalem was under siege by Sennacherib. The "House of Heroes" probably refers to a place where the guards for the city were housed. All of these places are inside the walls and can serve to remind us that, when we are close to our Lord, He will take care of us. (We have the promise of Romans 8:28)
Next to him, the repairs were made by the Levites under Rehum son of Bani. Beside him, Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, carried out repairs for his district.
Next, we see that even the Levites took part in the physical labor of stacking the stones in the wall. The Levites were the tribe that the priests came from and they were set aside for service to God. They humbled themselves and worked on the wall and it would be a good lesson for Christian leaders today. Many pastors treat the "church" like a business where they are the CEO and so they do not get their hands dirty with ministry to those in need. This is nothing new but is simply a modern form of Nicolaitanism which Jesus condemned (see Revelation 2).
Next to him, the repairs were made by their countrymen under Binnui son of Henadad, ruler of the other half-district of Keilah. Next to him, Ezer son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section, from a point facing the ascent to the armory as far as the angle. Next to him, Baruch son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the angle to the entrance of the house of Eliashib the high priest. Next to him, Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired another section, from the entrance of Eliashib's house to the end of it.
In this passage we get a list of people that worked on sections of the wall. This can remind us, once again, of the fact that we, as the Body of Christ, are designed to work together. It is also good to note that Baruch "zealously repaired another section". It is good to be zealous (eager) as long as it is focused on the proper thing.
The repairs next to him were made by priests from the surrounding region. Beyond them, Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs in front of their house, and next to them, Azariah son of Masseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs beside his house.
It is interesting to note here that the "priests from the surrounding region" joined in to protect the city of God. These priests left their own homes and went to Jerusalem to repair a section of the wall.
Next to him, Binnui son of Henadad repaired another section, from Azariah's house to the angle and the corner, and Palal son of Uzai worked opposite the angle and the tower projecting from the upper palace near the court of the guard.
This passage tells of a section of the wall that is built at an angle. The city was not built in the shape of a square and it is in this area where the city became wider. This section of the wall describes the time in which God promised to pour out His Spirit on all people (see Acts 2:17). This describes the preparation of God's army of believers for the coming spiritual battles. In our individual lives, as Christians, we are prepared through the Word and the Spirit for the individual spiritual battles we face in our daily lives.
Next to him, Pedaiah son of Parosh and the temple servants living on the hill of Ophel made repairs up to a point opposite the Water Gate toward the east and the projecting tower. Next to them, the men of Tekoa repaired another section, from the great projecting tower to the wall of Ophel.
Now we come to the hill of Ophel which was a fortified hill to protect the city. It is very close to the Water Gate and so was able to protect that gate. This gate is the one near where the water was brought into the city. This gate is a symbol of our practical life in the Spirit. The Word of God is described as living water and it contains the guidance that we need for our daily lives. The Spirit helps us to understand it and even gives us the desire to read and follow the Word. It is also interesting to note that this gate did not need repair and it reminds us of the fact that God's Word has been from the very beginning and has not changed or needed correction (repair).
Above the Horse gate, the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house.
The next stop in our tour of the walls of Old Jerusalem is the Horse Gate. This is the gate where the soldiers went in and out of the city. We should note that only soldiers rode horses as throughout the Bible they were only used in wars against enemies. It reminds us that, as Christians, we are to expect to go to war, especially spiritual warfare. We are going to ride into battle with Jesus when He comes back (Revelation 19:11-16).
Next to them, Zadok son of Immer made repairs opposite his house. Next to him, Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, the guard at the East Gate, made repairs.
Next, we come to the East Gate which was the first gate opened each morning. It is the place where the Messiah of Israel arrives according to Jewish tradition. The gate is sealed up today as it was sealed by the Muslims to prevent this arrival. This gate reminds us that Jesus is coming back for His own people just as He promised. We may go through spiritual battles (Horse Gate) but, after those battles, we will be victorious and with our Lord.
Next to him, Hananiah son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. Next to them, Meshullam son of Berekiah made repairs opposite his living quarters. Next to him, Malkijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and the merchants, opposite the Inspection Gate, and as far as the room above the corner;
The final gate that we come to in our tour of the walls is the Inspection Gate. Other names for it are the Gate of Miphkad and the Gate of Judgement. This was the gate of review and was the appointed place for registering for the census. (Miphkad means numbering.) This final gate reminds us of the rewards for faithfully following the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only will we have eternal life with God but there will be judgement of our words and actions which will be the basis for other rewards.
and between the room above the corner and the sheep gate the goldsmiths and merchants made repairs.
This final verse of Nehemiah chapter three brings to a close our tour of the walls and gates of Jerusalem. We have returned back to the Sheep Gate and our return reminds us that our faith begins and ends with Jesus Christ. In John 14:6, Jesus said: 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' We see the truth in these words as we conclude our tour.