William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Then 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.Nehemiah Chapter 3
But this is not all. This next chapter shows us the names and the work of those that took part in the building of the walls. "Then 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. And next unto him builded the men of Jericho" (Nehemiah 3:1).
Let me call your attention to the grace of God here noticing the work of everyone; and, further, in showing the distinctive character, for this was an important thing to remember. There is not one of you, beloved friends, who has not a work to do for the Lord. Are you doing it? Further, there is a work that you can do better than any other.
It is a very great mistake to suppose that the work of God depends upon great powers. I do not deny that there is such a thing as God giving a man gift according to his ability, because the Lord Himself says so. And I do not mean that the same gift is to be in a man of small ability as in a man of large ability. Certainly not; but I still say that there is a work that is suitable even where the ability may be ever so small, and a work that can be done better by that man of small ability than by the man of larger; for that very fact shows him his own proper work, whereas another work can be done not only as well, but better, by another. In short, there is no place where the right person in the right place is more important than in the church of God, and the Holy Ghost fills and fits the servants. I do not mean, now, merely those that preach, and those that teach, for there is no greater blunder than to suppose that this, and this only is the work of the Lord.
Indeed, what is called "ministry" is distinguished from "preaching," as you will find in Romans 12. The apostle speaks about the teacher giving himself to his teaching, but he that ministereth to his ministry; now-a-days people call "ministry" - merely preaching or teaching. But that is not the language of the Holy Ghost. There is a great deal of serving - saints' serving - that is done by persons who have no such power. And hence you find a phrase that is very common among us, that is, of people saying, "I was ministering such a day. I was ministering," or something of that kind; or, "Some other person was ministering." Well, now, this is only a mistake. The fact is, perhaps, that it would be no great loss if there was less ministering in that way, and more ministering in a real way.
In short, that which God calls us to is simply to do His will, but we are apt to prefer that which falls in with our own thoughts and our own feelings and our own notions, instead of finding that in which God blesses us most. Now, the caring for souls - the binding up of those that are broken in spirit - the interesting ourselves in the troubles and trials and difficulties of the saints of God - is of great price with Him, and there is that kind of ministering that, I am afraid, is very imperfectly performed amongst us. This is really the meaning of ministry - not so much speaking. I do not wish to depreciate what is said. It would not become me; it would not become anyone. But I affirm that Scripture distinguishes ministry from mere speaking, and that is what I refer to.
Ministry, properly, and according to the word of God, is a much more practical work of helping the saints of God. I do not mean merely with money. Here is another misapprehension. People think that the only way to help the saints of God is by giving them money. That is falling into the snare of the devil, because money is what governs the world, and it makes the saints of God to be the slaves of money. No, beloved friends, we have to raise our eyes to the Lord. We know the ruined state, or we ought to know the ruined state, of that which God has brought us into, and, truly, we should not have to correct such mistakes as these if there were not as true a ruin now as there was in Nehemiah's time, as far as the object of his affections was concerned.
Well, then, God marks here His appreciation of the various services performed by the different saints of God - the different members, at any rate, of God's people. I am only applying it now to the saints, of course. We find, then, that they come before us in their order. The fish gate builded some; and, again, others repaired, as we are told, this or that. The old gate repaired Jehoiada, but we are told further that, while the Tekoites repaired, their nobles put not their necks to the work of the Lord. Oh, what a solemn rebuke this is - that the men who ought to have been most of all at the head, most of all encouraging, the men who had the means to do it best - they attained the painful and unenviable notoriety, and the solemn rebuke in the word of God that they put not their necks to the work of their Lord. God is not indifferent. God notices, and no excuses will set aside His rebuke. "And next unto them," we are told, "repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite." But this is not all. "The son of Hur, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem," is found. If, therefore, there were those - and there were a few who held back - we find that there is noble service on the part of some, real devotedness.
Then. in the twelfth verse we read: "Next unto him repaired Shallum - the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters." This is an important thing, too. It is a very great mistake to suppose that women have not a seemly and a weighty place in the work of the Lord. Indeed they have, and the apostle Paul takes good care to show it. Let me refer to Philippians for a few moments, just to show where they can help and where not. The fourth chapter of Philippians gives us a beautiful picture, not without sorrow, but, nevertheless, full of profit. "I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord." The work of the Lord very often brings difficulties, and the reason is not that it ought not to be carried on with a pure mind, but, alas! that will so often mingles with it. These two women, both of them valued by the apostle, were at variance more or less. "And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow" - Epaphroditus, I suppose he refers to - "help those women" (referring to these very ones) "which laboured with me in the gospel."
It would be wrong to suppose from this, that they had been preaching the gospel along with the apostle Paul: it does not mean that. I dare say many persons have drawn that inference from it - that Paul recognised them as fellow-preachers of the gospel with himself; but that is not the case. The meaning of the word, the proper and true meaning - and it is important to bring it out here - is this: that they shared the trials of the gospel when the gospel went there, and when it was in a time of trial. These noble-hearted women joined themselves in all the conflicts of the gospel. They bore the reproach of it. They were acting in every possible means - perhaps, in opening their houses - perhaps in hospitality to those that went there with the word, perhaps in seeking souls, praying with them, inviting them - a thousand things that women can do a great deal better than men. And accordingly, the apostle shows that he was very sensible of this. He tells Epaphroditus to help those women. It is very likely the brethren rather slighted them, and that Epaphroditus, being a person of much fellowship of mind with the apostle, would enter into his thought and feeling. "I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me - shared with me the trials of the gospel" - that is the thought. It is no question about preaching, but of sharing the trials of the gospel - "with Clement also, and with other my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life."
We do not find any such thing in Scripture as women preaching, any more than women teaching - in public. There are women that had a gift, even of prophecy. I am not in the least denying that, and if a gift is given it is meant to be used; but then it must be used according to the mind of God. We hear of four daughters of Philip that prophesied: no doubt they exercised the gift in a proper way. Women can help women. Women need not think that that is too slight a thing for their gift. It does not become women, surely, to despise women, and, therefore, to complain of labouring in that sphere would be uncomely, particularly in a woman; but there are proprieties that God never forgets in His work; and as even in the church of God it was forbidden for a woman to speak, so much more before the world. The fact is that to preach before the world would not have entered into a woman's head in those days. It is in later times, and in these lands, where notions of liberty have spread very much, that women now almost forget that they are women - that is their danger - so much is the line broken down between men and women in the world now. And this thing is going on rapidly to the very greatest injury of both men and women. However that may be, God gives the blaze of true honour to the women doing the true work of the Lord that becomes them. We have it here, then, signalised.
Further, we are told of other persons that helped in the most interesting way in various parts, but this would clearly occupy me longer than I wish to-night, for I wish to take a survey of the book, so that I can only commend the matter to yourselves to look into various details of the chapter. You will see how carefully God registers the varied services of the different members of His people.
And next unto him builded the men of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri.
But 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.
And 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.
And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.
Moreover 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.
And 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 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.
And next unto them repaired Rephaiah the son of Hur, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem.
And next unto them repaired Jedaiah the son of Harumaph, even over against his house. And next unto him repaired Hattush the son of Hashabniah.
Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hashub the son of Pahathmoab, repaired the other piece, and the tower of the furnaces.
And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.
The 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.
But 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.
But 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.
After 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.
After 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.
After him repaired their brethren, Bavai the son of Henadad, the ruler of the half part of Keilah.
And 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.
After 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.
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.
And after him repaired the priests, the men of the plain.
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.
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.
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.
Moreover the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel, unto the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that lieth out.
After them the Tekoites repaired another piece, over against the great tower that lieth out, even unto the wall of Ophel.
From above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one over against his house.
After 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.
After 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.
After 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.
And between the going up of the corner unto the sheep gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.