“The memory of Nehemiah
Also is lasting.
He raised our fallen walls.
He set up the gates.
He set up the bars.
He rebuilt our ruined houses.”
Sirach continues his list of holy men with Nehemiah who rebuilt the fallen walls, gates, and doors around Jerusalem. Nehemiah also restored many of the old ruined houses in the city of Jerusalem as recounted in Nehemiah, chapters 2-3.
“Then Jonathan, with his men and Simon, withdrew to Bethbasi in the wilderness. He rebuilt the parts of it that had been demolished. Then they fortified it. When General Bacchides learned of this, he assembled all his forces. He sent orders to the men of Judea. Then he came and encamped against Bethbasi. He fought against it for many days as he made machines of war.”
Jonathan and his men went southeast of Bethlehem to Bethbasi in the wilderness marshes along the Jordan River, near Tekoa. They rebuilt their stronghold and fortified it. When General Bacchides heard of this, he assembled his forces and camped out against the forces of Jonathan for many days. He kept building his war machines.
“When the gentiles all around heard that the altar had been rebuilt and the sanctuary dedicated as it was before, they became very angry. They determined to destroy the descendants of Jacob who lived among them. So they began to kill and destroy them among the people.”
There is no indication why the gentiles around Israel were angry about the rebuilt altar and sanctuary. However, they seem to be. Notice it is the descendents of Jacob and not Israel who are the object to this dislike. These gentiles then turned on the Jews who lived in their countries as they begin to kill and destroy them.
“They also rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the temple. They consecrated the courts. They made new holy vessels. They brought the lamp stand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. Then they offered incense on the altar. They lit the lamps on the lamp stand so that they gave light in the temple. They placed the bread on the table. They hung up the curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken.”
Then they rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the Temple. They consecrated the courts, and make new vessels. They brought in the lamp stand, the incense table, and the table for the bread. They also hung the curtains. With the lamp stands burning, they had light in the Temple. They finished refurnishing the Temple.
“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.
“This is a record. In the first year of his reign, King Cyrus issued a decree. Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt, the place where sacrifices are offered and burnt offerings are brought. Its height shall be sixty cubits and its breadth sixty cubits, with three courses of hewn stones and one course of timber. Let the cost be paid from the royal treasury. Moreover, let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which King Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and brought back to the temple which is in Jerusalem, each to its place. You shall put them in the house of God.”
However, the scroll is very specific as to the size, length, and materials to be used in the building of this Temple in Jerusalem. It is different from the edict of King Cyrus in chapter 1 of this book. This new Temple In Jerusalem was to be 90 feet by 90 feet or 30 square yards, a third the size of an American football size, quite small. The cost of this rebuilding project should come from the royal treasury. Thus Persia was paying for the rebuilding of the Temple. There would be no need for free will offerings. This may have been the kicker causing the dispute between Samaria and Jerusalem. King Cyrus clearly stated that the golden vessels taken by King Nebuchadnezzar should be returned to the Temple of God in Jerusalem. There is no ambiguity here.