“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.”
Last time we looked in as the first gate, Sheep Gate, was built by the brotherhood of priests. Today we see the next gate undertaken by Hassenaah’s family: The Fish Gate.
Let’s check out our map:
The Tower of the Hundred and Tower of Hananel were tackled in last week’s section, so the Fish Gate is up next in our counter-clockwise order. This gate served as one of Jerusalem’s main entrances, through which fish from Tyre or the Sea of Galilee came.
Three men are also listed taking on the next sections: Meremoth, Meshullam & Zadok, strengthening themselves for the work side by side. But the final group sticks out most because of the last sentence in our verses: The men of Tekoa took up the task, but for all time it will be noted that their nobles didn’t.
“Next were the people from Tekoa, though their leaders refused to work with the construction supervisors (NLT)…but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord (ESV)…next to him the Tekoites (except for their nobles, who wouldn’t work with their master and refused to get their hands dirty with such work). (MSG)
What a horrible way to be remembered. To have the title and power and fame but to not use it on behalf of others or the common good. To not step up with integrity knowing “to whom much is given much will be required.”
As one commentator put it, “Let not nobles think any thing beneath them, by which they may benefit their country. What is their nobility good for, but that it places them in a higher and larger sphere of usefulness?”
An interesting thing about this section is the Hebrew for “stooping…to shoulder the work” is tsavvar, meaning back of the neck, and abodah, meaning labor, service, construction. It is referring to an ox who will pull back from the yoke put upon him. And it’s where we get the term “back sliding.”
Anything you’re not shouldering? Unwilling to do because it doesn’t seem to affect you? Let’s step up together with humility. Those of us in positions to lead should be first in line to serve. And His yoke is always easy and His burden always light. There is no straining when following our Master.
Speaking of master, there is a variety of commentary about the Hebrew used for “lord, master, supervisor.” What the nobles of Tekoa were not shouldering was the work of adon – lord, master. Some say this is referring to God Himself. Others think it refers to Nehemiah.
I think it’s both.
The praying and fasting for his people, which resulted in Nehemiah’s approval from the Persian King to return to rebuild the City of God, was the doing of capital-L Lord. It was Adonay’s work.
But this God had put Nehemiah in charge of making sure the work was done. He was the governor with the king’s authority behind him. So it was adon’s work. Common work under a common leader – but any such work done with integrity honors the Leader.
Believers, it is rough out there. The temptation to argue more than serve is real. The desire to feel right is a legit drug we can get high on. We must honor and pray for authority He has placed in our lives. But we also must honor one another and serve the common good.
Church, what we are facing will refine us. Discipleship in the Word with feet-on-the-ground obedience is what it’s going to take. May we never be caught thinking we are above serving fellow human beings.
Because nothing could be further from our Master’s heart.