Context of the Passage:
In this passage, we see Nehemiah and the people getting organized to work. The people have heard and responded to the challenge of Nehemiah. Now, they begin to organize around family break down the task into manageable units and also to put the people to work in areas where they are most motivated to succeed – in my own backyard!
Note that Nehemiah explains that the work began with the Priests (3:1). The leaders took the first step in the completion of the task
Exegesis of the Passage
The passage emphasizes the work of administration. Someone had to coordinate all of the work that needed to be done. It also reveals that a great task can be accomplished with coordinated effort. The is the heart of the Southern Baptist Conventions Cooperative Missions efforts through the Cooperative Program.
The purpose of the work was obvious – to make the city secure. Perhaps during the mundane work of organization and repair, Nehemiah needed to remind them of the importance of the task. We must never grow weary of doing mundane things in a great way! The Bible tells us in 1 Cor. 10:31 that we are to do all things to the glory of God.
The key words in this chapter are the words, “repair” and “built.” The word, “repair” occurs 27 times. The word “built” occurs 13 times. It is the common work to which all of the people committed themselves.
The word, “leader” occurs 8 times. The text suggests that they were leaders by virtue of their service.
Note the use of the phrase, “next to” (lit. “by their hand”). This suggests the organization of the task. But, it also suggests that the people were working side by side, priests with people (cf. 3:1 and 3:2)
The phrases: “next to him,” “next to them,” “after him,” and “after them” are recorded 28 times in this chapter!
In this passage, 44 different groups are given assignments.
Sermon on the Passage
- The wisdom of the plan
- Motivation to work
- Coordination of the people
- The leaders were the first to lead out (3:1) – Leaders who set the pace (priests, leaders)
- Those who did not lead were noted (3:5)
- Leaders led throughout the project (3:9, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19)
- Some were especially noted for the extent of their work (3:8, 13, 15)
- One was noted for the special care that he demonstrated in his work (3:20)
- I like the testimony of Baruch – 3:20 – “Carefully repaired”
- He worked with care – word suggests the idea of “burning with passion”
- Those who did MORE (Those who completed their own task and took on another
- 3:21 – Meremoth completed another section (cf. 3:4)
- 3:24 – Stipulates that Binnui another section (though a previous section that he worked on is not specified)
- 3:27 – Tekoites (cf. 3:5) repaired another section
- 3:31 – Meshallum (cf. 3:4) repaired another section
- Side by side (see phrase, “next to”)
- Priests and leaders side by side with people
- Apparently, the people were encouraged to make repairs along their own property
- So, they worked on the wall in the area most important to them (their property)
- Those also worked within family units: (3:3, 3:10, 12, 23, 28, 30)
- Note 3:17 – Hashabiah made repairs within his own district