When I was a kid, the Pioneer Times used to publish just about anything. Our hometown post-mistress doubled as on-site reporter for the town’s news, and there were weeks during the news-desert of mid-January when your second cousin’s baby shower was ink-worthy, right down to the least-of-these who attended, ” . . . and her Aunt Fannie cut the cake.”
At first glance, Nehemiah 3 reads a little bit like a slow news week in the Jerusalem Times: the goldsmith’s son worked next to the perfumer, and next to him was the selectman’s son, and so on. Then, it seems as if Baruch and Meremoth had arrived (vv. 20, 21) Amish barn-raising style to make repairs near the home of Eliashib the high priest. Verse one reveals that Eliashib was fulfilling his high priestly duties by consecrating the Sheep Gate, and was, therefore, unable to make repairs near his own dwelling. Baruch and Meremoth were serving God by serving Eliashib.
The use of an adverb (certainly the most unsung part of speech) focuses laser attention on the work of Baruch: [kaw-raw’] in Hebrew, and variously rendered carefully, earnestly, zealously, or diligently in English Old Testament parlance. According to Strong’s Exhaust
ingive Concordance, its literal meaning is to glow or grow warm; to blaze up or burn.
I pray for this heat.
I pray for it because so much of what I do gets only half my heart. In the rush of repetition and the mindless monotony, I hear myself murmuring, “This is just not my thing.”
Baruch’s occupation is not mentioned in the tedious catalog of names that comprise Chapter 3 of Nehemiah. However, it’s safe to speculate that rubble removal and wall building are just a side-line for him. I wonder how he was managing to pay the bills during this 52-day building marathon? I doubt if he had a vacation-time bank available . . .
Not every re-builder got an adverb, and so the list of multisyllabic names scrolls on through thirty-two verses which might begin to look like long-ago yearbook pages and newspaper articles of “name comma name comma name” under a blurry black and white group shot — unless. Unless one of the faces in the picture belongs to someone you love. Then you search for the face (third row, second from the left); you find the name; and you smile.
Whenever I read a list of names in Scripture, I try to imagine the eyes of God tracking with mine as they run down the page, His with pleasure and in-depth knowledge (omniscience between the lines), loving the individual who wore the name, and knowing what his diligence cost.
Baruch’s earnest offering of back-breaking labor — it’s enough to warm your heart on a January day.
This is Number 8 in my study of “Just One Thing” per week from the book of Nehemiah. These are a spin off from my Sunday School Class at Spruce Head Community Church where we meet every week to let the Word of God change us. Posts from previous weeks are available at this link: https://michelemorin.wordpress.com/tag/nehemiah/