(1-32) The memorial of the builders: to succeeding generations of dwellers in Jerusalem a deeply interesting chapter. It contains also a very important topographical account of the ancient city, since repeatedly destroyed. But no amount of ingenuity will avail to remove every difficulty. The text is in some places defective. It must, further, be remembered that the record does not so much describe the process as sum up the result. Much of the work of the gates must have required time, but all is described here as if everything was finished at once.
The sheep gate was in the neighbourhood of the priests’ quarter. Through it the victims passed for sacrifice, first being washed in the neighbouring pool of Bethesda. This being built, “they sanctified it,” as an earnest of the subsequent consecration of the entire wall. Their work and the sanctification of it extended to two towns near each other at the north-east corner.
The men of Jericho.—At the point, it will be observed, opposite their own city.
The sons of Hassenaah.—Contrary to custom, their names are not mentioned.
The locks thereof, and the bars thereof.—The crossbars thereof, and the catches thereof, the latter holding the former at the two ends. Similarly in several other verses.
Part of Beth-haccerem.—The district around that place.
The pool of Siloah.—Called before “the king’s pool,” which received its water as “sent” through a long subterranean conduit, and supplied the king’s gardens.
The stairs.—Down the steep sides of Ophel, of which traces are thought still to remain. From this point it is very hard to trace the exact course.
The pool that was made.—This may have been the reservoir of Hezekiah (Isaiah 22:11); and “the house of the mighty” may have been the barracks of David’s elect troops (1 Chronicles 11:10).
Rehum the son of Bani.—The Levites were under him as a body.
In his part.—The other part of the Keilah district (now Kila) is in the next verse.
That was by the court of the prison.—The palace generally had its prison, and near this was the “prison-gate” of Nehemiah 12:39.
And of the merchants.—Possibly there is some connection between the traders, who brought their doves and so forth for the worshippers, and the Nethinim to whoso house or depôt they brought them. Near the sheep gate was the “going up of the corner,” or an ascent to the gate Miphkad, about which nothing is known.