Nehemiah 3 Name Game

What does it mean to take local responsibility for a global problem? How does leadership make a difference? Why do some people still not participate? Does one person matter? Is this how revolutions happen? “Read More” to pursue answers in Nehemiah.

Lord, speak to me through your Spirit and your Word, your Body and your Blood;
that I might know you as you are, and manifest the image of Christ in this world,
and the world to come. Amen.

Nehemiah 3:1-32

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate ; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel.

One of the many things I (and other people) admire about Nehemiah’s leadership style is how generously he honors others. There’s an old saying in business, “There’s no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” While as a reader I get a little tired of all these names, I’m sure the people working on the gate appreciated Nehemiah’s recognition.

Also, there are a few noteworthy items. Chief among them is the first verse, which implies (at least to me) that Eliashib the high priest set the example, demonstrating their approval of Nehemiah’s plan by building the Sheep Gate. Certainly having one high-ranking official go along would have been a huge morale booster. Especially considering that not all did:

And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.

I wonder: did the nobles disapprove of the project, or just not want to risk their pretty necks by doing real work?

And next unto them repaired Jedaiah the son of Harumaph, even over against his house.

I love this picture — of a man building the wall that protects his house, as part of a larger wall. Isn’t that the way the family holds society together, as each man builds his piece of the wall?

And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.

Good for Shallum — a ruler who not only puts his own neck into the work, but allows his daughters to share in the glory.

After him repaired Meremoth the son of Urijah the son of Koz another piece, from the door of the house of Eliashib even to the end of the house of Eliashib.

Even as Eliashib takes care of the Sheep Gate, someone else takes care of him. I suspect that is how God wants us to take care of our pastors. Not that they are allowed to neglect their own:

From above the horse gate repaired the priests, every one over against his house.

After a while, the endless repetition makes my eyes glaze over. Yet, placed in context, that very tediousness is miraculous. Something that once seemed impossibly wonderful — the rebuilding of the walls — was now so commonplace as to become boring. It had tipped .

And that’s how revolutions occur. At least the kind that stick.


God, its hard for me to imagine — living in a city without walls, where despair and shame flood the airways, lacking leadership and direction — that change is even possible. Yet one man — in the right place at the right time — who was willing to humble himself before you, somehow turned an entire city right side up. Maybe not everyone followed with their whole heart, but enough did to start an “epidemic” of building. Father, I long to start that kind of epidemic myself. Teach me how to humble myself before you in a way that builds up others — and walls. In the name of Jesus our refuge, Amen.

About the Title:

Today’s title is intended as a counterpoint to the phrase “Blame Game”