Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They built as far as the Tower of the Hundred, and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of Hananel … After him Baruch the son of Zabbai carefully repaired … to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. After him Meremoth … repaired another section, from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib. (Nehemiah 3:1, 20-21)


After praying earnestly and at his request, Nehemiah, the king of Persia’s cupbearer, had been permitted by his royal master to go to Jerusalem to rebuild its wall and gates. After surveying the situation he had encouraged the people at Jerusalem, telling them of what God had done for them through the king.

Though their enemies despised them and opposed, the work began. The high priest Eliashib along with other priests took the lead, building the Sheep Gate and a large section beyond it. They consecrated it too, something done with no other gate. No doubt this looked impressive, but it had one fatal flaw. While they had hung the doors, they failed to install locks and bars on the gate. A gate that could not be locked might look impressive, but would be useless to keep enemies out of the city.

Many builders repaired or rebuilt the wall opposite their houses. Not so Eliashib! Two other builders labored to repair the wall in front of his house. One of them is noted as having done this carefully, doubtless by contrast with Eliashib’s negligence.

Do we try to impress others with our activity in things of the Lord? Are we carefully trying to protect ourselves and our fellow believers against the inroads of the world? God’s Word says, “Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord deceitfully” (negligently—jnd). May we rather work for His commendation!

Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.