“Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel.

The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zakkur son of Imri built next to them.The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam son of Berekiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs, and next to him Zadok son of Baana also made repairs. The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.”NIV


Starting with the ‘’Sheep Gate’’ (1) the list of ‘work stations’ takes us round the walls anti-clockwise. The ‘’Fish Gate’’ was used by merchants bringing in their fish from the Med. There may have been a fish market close by. It was a key entrance to the city.

We now run into the word ‘’next.’’ We will become familiar with its use as we work through chapter 3. Also, we will repeatedly bump into the phrase ‘’next to Him’’ (or ‘’next to them’’, or ‘’the next section’’). It is a reminder that the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls was a huge collaborative effort. People pulled together to get the job done, showing a willingness to work. (Thankfully, ‘’the nobles’’ (5), with their lazy attitudes, were not in the majority.)

During this pandemic, when the church can’t meet in large numbers, make sure you get ‘’next’’ to someone. This starts at home. If you are married, or live as part of a family unit, you can do many things to help and encourage one another spiritually. You can provide all kinds of practical support.

But thinking beyond your own home, who can you get ‘’next’’ to? It might be by calling or texting or emailing, Skyping or zooming, writing or sending a card. At the moment, you might be able to meet someone, at a safe distance – especially in a garden. Obviously, please maintain safe guidelines. But make sure the church is a place ‘where no-one stands alone.’

Then, beyond the church family, who in your wider circle might need you to come alongside them, and how might it be best to do this?

We need each other. We all need to be ‘’next’’ to others, and to have others who are ‘’next’’ to us. In God’s Kingdom, great works are done in team. What we could not do alone becomes possible when the skills, talents and gifts of many are brought to the building site.

‘Thirty-eight individual workers are named in this chapter, and fourty-two different groups are identified. There were also many workers whom Nehemiah did not name whose labours were important, and each worker – named and anonymous – was assigned a place and a task.’ Warren W. Wiersbe: OT Commentary, p.759.

PRAYER: Lord, please show me who I need to reach out to today, and just how I should encourage and help them.