“When the wall had been built, I had set up the doors. I set up the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites that had been appointed. I gave my brother Hanani charge over Jerusalem. I made Hananiah the commander of the citadel. Hananiah was a more faithful man as he feared God more than many. I said to them. ‘The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their watch posts and others before their own houses.’ The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few. No houses had been built.”
The last things to be built were the doors by the gates. Once they were set up, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites took over. The command of Jerusalem went to Nehemiah’s brother Hanani. It seems like Hananiah is also his brother but it is not clear. He certainly was a God-fearing man. Nehemiah gave them orders not to open the gate until the sun was hot, either late morning of midday. Even then he wanted a guard to keep the doors shut and bars on the door. He wanted people from Jerusalem to be the guards. Then he realized that not many people lived in Jerusalem. Very few houses, rather than no houses had been built in Jerusalem. After all, some people had restored the wall opposite their homes. Even here it says that they posted watches by their own houses. All in all, this was a lot of activity for less than 2 months time. Notice there was not any big celebration when it was completed.
“It was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and to the rest of our enemies that I had built the wall. There was no gap left in it, although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates. Sanballat and Geshem sent to me. ‘Come and let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono.’ But they intended to do me harm. I sent messengers to them, saying. ‘I am doing a great work. I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?’ They sent to me this message four times. Each time I answered them in the same manner. In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. In it was written. ‘It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel. That is why you are building the wall. According to this report, you wish to become their king. You have also set up prophets in Jerusalem concerning you who say. ‘There is a king in Judah.’ Now it will be reported to the king according to these words. So come, therefore! Let us confer together.’ Then I sent to him, saying. ‘No such things as you say, has been done. You are inventing them out of your own mind.’ They all wanted to frighten us. They were thinking. ‘Their hands will drop from the work. It will not be done. But now, O God, strengthen my hands.’”
Once again, we pick up on the intrigues of Sanballat and Tobiah that we saw earlier in chapter 4. Geshem, the Arab, also was in chapter 2 of this work. This time they intended to do more than mock the Jews in Jerusalem. They knew that there were no more gaps in the wall, even though not all the doors on the gates were complete. They invited Nehemiah to the plains of Odo to harm him. 4 different times they tried to persuade him to come to Odo. Each time, Nehemiah said no. On the 5th time, they said that building the wall was like an act of rebellion. They thought that Nehemiah wanted to be the king of Judah. Nehemiah responded that they were inventing things out of their own minds. They just wanted to frighten him. They thought that the Jerusalem Jews would drop from the work, which did not happen. Nehemiah ended with a prayer to God to strengthen his hands.
“Then the high priest Eliashib set to work with his fellow priests. They rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it. They set up its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred and as far as the Tower of Hananel. The men of Jericho built next to him. Next to them Zaccur son of Imri built.”
Eliashib was the current high priest in Jerusalem, the grandson of Zerubbabel, whose group first came to Jerusalem over a hundred years before this time. He and his fellow priest went to work on the Sheep Gate. They finished it and the walls to the 2 towers, of the Hundred and Hananel. The Tower of Hananel was on the north side of town. This Sheep Gate must have been the gate where they brought sheep into Jerusalem. It might have been near the Temple. It seems to be between the tower of Hundred and the tower of Hananel, on the northeast side of Jerusalem. The 100 tower may have been about 100 cubits from the Temple, about 150 feet from the Temple. This was the gate between the 2 towers. It does not say how long they took to build this gate and the adjoining walls. They had some help from the men of Jericho and Zaccur. Jericho was about 12 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Why they came is not clear since this was in Benjamin territory not Judah. There were 5 or 6 other people with the name of Zaccur.
“King Solomon made all the things that were in the house of God. He made the golden altar, the tables for the bread of the Presence, the lamp stands, and their lamps of pure gold to burn before the inner sanctuary, as prescribed. He made the flowers, the lamps, and the tongs of purest gold. He made the snuffers, basins, dishes for incense, and fire pans of pure gold. As for the entrance to the temple, the inner doors to the most holy place and the doors of the nave of the temple were of gold.”
As in 1 Kings, chapter 7, almost word for word, King Solomon made all the golden vessels. This is very reminiscent of Exodus, chapter 25, when they got ready the sanctuary for the Ark of the Covenant. Everything had to be gold plated, the altars, the lamp stands, and all the small utensils. He made the golden altar for the bread as well as the golden lamp stands. All the utensils were gold. Everything was gold plated including the doors.
“King Solomon made ten golden lamp stands as prescribed. He set them in the temple, five on the south side and five on the north side. He also made ten tables. He placed them in the temple, five on the right side and five on the left side. He made a hundred basins of gold. He made the court of the priests, and the great court, and doors for the court. He overlaid their doors with bronze. He set the sea at the southeast corner of the house.”
This is a summary of the work in 1 Kings, chapter 7, about furnishing the Temple. The 10 golden lamp stands are the same with 5 on the south side and 5 on the north side. The 10 other tables are to the right and left rather than south and north. However, there was no mention of 100 golden basins since most of the basins were made of bronze in 1 Kings. The court of the priests was in the interior of the Temple reserved for priests only. The doors were overlaid with bronze. The bronze sea with its 12 bulls holding it up was on the southeast corner of the Temple.