Nehemiah 12:39
And from above the gate of Ephraim, and above the old gate, and above the fish gate, and the tower of Hananeel, and the tower of Meah, even to the sheep gate: and they stood still in the prison gate.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(39) The gate of Ephraim.—Not mentioned in the process of repairing, as having remained comparatively intact with part of the “broad wall.”

Nehemiah 12:39-40. They stood still in the prison-gate — Waiting, as also their brethren did, that they might go together in due order into God’s house, there to perfect the solemnity. So stood the two companies, &c. — That is, they met together at the temple, and gave thanks in the courts of it. And I and the half of the rulers with me — And Ezra and the other half with him, as appears by comparing this with Nehemiah 12:35-36. The order wherein they marched in this pompous manner round about the city seems a little obscure; but the sense of the whole description is this: that they being met together in the same place, half of the rulers went upon the wall on the right hand, accompanied with several priests and Levites, and Ezra the scribe at the head of them, Nehemiah 12:36; and the other half took the left hand, and walked upon the wall in the same order, accompanied with Nehemiah, who brought up the rear of them, Nehemiah 12:38. And, at length, both parts of this chorus met in the temple, and there they stood still and completed their praises and thanksgivings, and offered sacrifices, as mentioned Nehemiah 12:43.12:27-43 All our cities, all our houses, must have holiness to the Lord written upon them. The believer should undertake nothing which he does not dedicate to the Lord. We are concerned to cleanse our hands, and purify our hearts, when any work for God is to pass through them. Those that would be employed to sanctify others, must sanctify themselves, and set themselves apart for God. To those who are sanctified, all their creature-comforts and enjoyments are made holy. The people greatly rejoiced. All that share in public mercies, ought to join in public thanksgivings.Above the house of David - This choir or procession went above (or beyond) the old palace of David, following the line described in Nehemiah 3:16-26, on their way to the eastern wall. 27-43. at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem—This ceremony of consecrating the wall and gates of the city was an act of piety on the part of Nehemiah, not merely to thank God in a general way for having been enabled to bring the building to a happy completion, but especially because that city was the place which He had chosen. It also contained the temple which was hallowed by the manifestation of His presence, and anew set apart to His service. It was on these accounts that Jerusalem was called "the holy city," and by this public and solemn act of religious observance, after a long period of neglect and desecration, it was, as it were, restored to its rightful proprietor. The dedication consisted in a solemn ceremonial, in which the leading authorities, accompanied by the Levitical singers, summoned from all parts of the country, and by a vast concourse of people, marched in imposing procession round the city walls, and, pausing at intervals to engage in united praises, prayer, and sacrifices, supplicated the continued presence, favor, and blessing on "the holy city." "The assembly convened near Jaffa Gate, where the procession commences. Then (Ne 12:31) I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall (near the Valley Gate), and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall towards the dung gate (through Bethzo). And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah. And (Ne 12:37) at the fountain gate, which was over against them, they (descending by the Tower of Siloam on the interior, and then reascending) went up by the stairs of the city of David, at the going up of the wall, above the house of David, even unto the water gate eastward (by the staircase of the rampart, having descended to dedicate the fountain structures). And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them (both parties having started from the junction of the first and second walls), and I after them, and the half of the people upon the wall, from beyond the tower of the furnaces even unto the broad wall (beyond the corner gate). And from above the gate of Ephraim, and above the old gate (and the gate of Benjamin), and above the fish gate, and the tower of Hananeel, and the tower of Meah, even unto the sheep gate; and they stood still in the prison gate (or high gate, at the east end of the bridge). So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and half of the rulers with me (having thus performed the circuit of the investing walls), and arrived in the courts of the temple" [Barclay, City of the Great King]. Waiting, as also their brethren did, that they might go together in due order into God’s house, there to perfect the solemnity. And from above the gate of Ephraim,.... The gate which led to the tribe of Ephraim, where that tribe formerly dwelt, see Nehemiah 8:16

and above the old gate; of which mention is made, Nehemiah 3:6

and above the fish gate, and the tower of Hananeel, and the tower of Meah, even unto the sheep gate; of all which see Nehemiah 3:1, and they stood still in the prison gate; which was not a gate of the city, but of the court of the prison, Nehemiah 3:25, which was near both the king's palace and the temple, see Jeremiah 20:1.

And from above the gate of Ephraim, and above the old gate, and above the fish gate, and the tower of Hananeel, and the tower of Meah, even unto the sheep gate: and they stood still in the prison gate.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
39. from above] R.V. above.

the gate of Ephraim] This gate is not mentioned in chap. 3. It was situated probably at about the centre of the northern wall, and was so called because through it passed the main road to Ephraim.

above the old gate] R.V. by the old gate. Cf. Nehemiah 3:6.

above (R.V. by) the fish gate] Cf. Nehemiah 3:3.

39. Cf. Nehemiah 3:2Hananeel] R.V. Hananel.

Meah] R.V. Hammeah. Marg. Or, The hundred.

the sheep gate] Cf. Nehemiah 3:1.

the prison gate] R.V. the gate of the guard. In Nehemiah 3:25, we have mention of ‘the court of the guard.’ The gate here mentioned we should expect to be one of the gates of the Temple precincts, leading from the north side into the open space to the east of the Temple. It is an objection that from the mention of ‘the court of the guard’ (Nehemiah 3:25) we should infer that it lay on the south side of the Temple; and if so (which is very unlikely), that the procession led by Nehemiah would have marched past the halting-place of the other company.

It is noticeable that the concluding clause is not found in the best text of the LXX. It may possibly represent a later insertion on the part of a scribe who wished to assign a halting-place to this company.Nehemiah brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies of those who gave thanks, and two processions. These went each upon the wall in different directions, and stopped opposite each other at the house of God. The princes of Judah are the princes of the whole community, - Judah being used in the sense of יהוּדים, Nehemiah 4:2. לחומה מעל, upwards to the wall, so that they stood upon the wall. העמיד, to place, i.e., to cause to take up a position, so that those assembled formed two companies or processions. תודה, acknowledgement, praise, thanks, and then thankofferings, accompanied by the singing of psalms and thanksgivings. Hence is derived the meaning: companies of those who gave thanks, in Nehemiah 12:31, Nehemiah 12:38, Nehemiah 12:40. ותהלכת, et processiones, solemn processions, is added more closely to define תודה. The company of those who gave thanks consisted of a number of Levitical singers, behind whom walked the princes of the people, the priests, and Levites. At the head of one procession went Ezra the scribe (Nehemiah 12:36), with one half of the nobles; at the head of the second, Nehemiah with the other half (Nehemiah 12:38). The one company and procession went to the right upon the wall. Before ליּמין we must supply, "one band went" (הולכת האחת התּודה), as is evident partly from the context of the present verse, partly from Nehemiah 12:38. These words were probably omitted by a clerical error caused by the similarity of תּהלכת to הולכת. Thus the first procession went to the right, i.e., in a southerly direction, upon the wall towards the dung-gate (see rem. on Nehemiah 3:14); the second, Nehemiah 12:38, went over against the first (למאל), i.e., in an opposite direction, and therefore northwards, past the tower of the furnaces, etc. The starting-point of both companies and processions is not expressly stated, but may be easily inferred from the points mentioned, and can have been none other than the valley-gate, the present Jaffa gate (see rem. on Nehemiah 2:13). Before a further description of the route taken by the first company, the individuals composing the procession which followed it are enumerated in Nehemiah 12:32-36. After them, i.e., after the first company of them that gave thanks, went Hoshaiah and half of the princes of Judah. Hoshaiah was probably the chief of the one half of these princes. The seven names in Nehemiah 12:33 and Nehemiah 12:34 are undoubtedly the names of the princes, and the ו before עזריה is explicative: even, namely. Bertheau's remark, "After the princes came the orders of priests, Azariah," etc., is incorrect. It is true that of these seven names, five occur as names of priests, and heads of priestly houses, viz.: Azariah, Nehemiah 10:2; Nehemiah 12:1; Meshullam, Nehemiah 10:7; Shemaiah, Nehemiah 10:8 and Nehemiah 12:6; and Jeremiah, Nehemiah 12:1. But even if these individuals were heads of priestly orders, their names do not here stand for their orders. Still less do Judah and Benjamin denote the half of the laity of Judah and Benjamin, as Bertheau supposes, and thence infers that first after the princes came two or three orders of priests, then half of the laity of Judah and Benjamin, and then two more orders of priests. Nehemiah 12:38, which is said to give rise to this view, by no means confirms it. It is true that in this verse העם חצי, besides Nehemiah, are stated to have followed the company of those who gave thanks; but that העם in this verse is not used to designate the people as such, but is only a general expression for the individuals following the company of singers, is placed beyond doubt by Nehemiah 12:40, where העם is replaced by הסּגנים חצי; while, beside the half of the rulers, with Nehemiah, only priests with trumpets and Levites with stringed instruments (Nehemiah 12:41) are enumerated as composing the second procession. Since, then, the priests with trumpets and Levites with musical instruments are mentioned in the first procession (Nehemiah 12:35 and Nehemiah 12:36), the names enumerated in Nehemiah 12:33 and Nehemiah 12:34 can be only those of the one half of the סגנים of the people, i.e., the one half of the princes of Judah. The princes of Judah, i.e., of the Jewish community, consisted not only of laymen, but included also the princes, i.e., heads of priestly and Levitical orders; and hence priestly and Levitical princes might also be among the seven whose names are given in Nehemiah 12:33 and Nehemiah 12:34. A strict severance, moreover, between lay and priestly princes cannot be made by the names alone; for these five names, which may designate priestly orders, pertain in other passages to laymen, viz.: Azariah, in Nehemiah 3:23; Ezra, as of the tribe of Judah, 1 Chronicles 4:17; Meshullam, Nehemiah 3:4; Nehemiah 10:21, and elsewhere; Shemaiah, Ezra 6:13; Ezra 10:31; 1 Chronicles 3:22; 1 Chronicles 4:37 (of Judah), 1 Chronicles 5:4 (a Reubenite), and other passages (this name being very usual; comp. Simonis Onomast. p. 546); Jeremiah, 1 Chronicles 5:24 (a Manassite), Nehemiah 12:4 (a Benjamite), Nehemiah 12:10 (a Gadite). Even the name Judah is met with among the priests (Nehemiah 12:36), and among the Levites, Nehemiah 12:8, comp. also Nehemiah 11:9, and that of Benjamin, Nehemiah 3:23 and Ezra 10:32. In the present verses, the two names are not those of tribes, but of individuals, nomina duorum principum (R. Sal.).
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