Eliashib is the first guy mentioned in the wall rebuild, in the days of Nehemiah. He and his priestly brothers risked their lives to build the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem at an extremely perilous moment in Israel’s history. And the crazy thing is, most people would be hasty (and probably pretty sloppy) if they had to work amidst the hazards and high-risks Eliashib and his friends faced; but Eliashib and his buddies were committed to the highest level of quality in their work, consecrating the gate and setting its doors with the utmost care. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t just the caliber of their work, but the scope was extremely impressive as well; they consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel (Nehemiah 3:1). So considering Eliashib’s courage, leadership, and hard work it would seem we can trust him.
On top of Eliashib’s work ethic, we should also recognize that his living arrangement is valiant and daring. The city of Jerusalem is under fire in Eliashib’s days (the relentless attacks of Tobiah, Sanballat, Geshem, the Arabs, and the Ammonites was frightening and demoralizing), and to show up for work in a dangerous environment is one thing, but to reside in such an environment is extraordinarily laudable! And that’s what we see in the life of Eliashib; his primary residence is in Jerusalem. The historical records indicate that Baruch (son of Zabbai), and Meremoth (son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz) repaired sections of the Jerusalem wall from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib (Nehemiah 3:20-21)! Eliashib lives right there in the thick of the drama, hostility, and peril.
Moreover, Eliashib has a bonafide family tree! Eliashib’s dad was Joiakim! Joiakim!! And his grandpappy was Jeshua! Jeshua!!! (Nehemiah 12:10). Eliashib’s family was to the priesthood what the Mannings are to NCAA and NFL football! And Eliashib has sterling records of his rich family history. For instance, in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, the Levites were recorded as heads of fathers’ houses; so too were the priests in the reign of Darius the Persian. As for the sons of Levi, their heads of fathers’ houses were written in the Book of the Chronicles until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib (Nehemiah 12:22-23).
So, again, considering Eliashib’s courage, hard work, and his pedigree it would certainly seem like we ought to trust him.
Here’s the thing, Eliashib is related to Tobiah. Yep, you heard correctly, Tobiah! Tobiah the bad guy! Tobiah, the ringleader of the antagonists and adversaries of the reconstruction of Jerusalem!
But surely Eliashib wouldn’t try to pull any shady business just because Tobiah is his relative!? Surely Eliashib’s loyatly to Nehemiah and the sundry workmen putting their lives on the line to rebuilt Jerusalem will prevent him from having anything to do with someone as nefarious as Tobiah!?
I’m sorry to say it, but while Nehemiah was back in Babylon (fulfilling his duties and responsibilities as the cupbearer of King Artaxerxes), Eliashib let Tobiah move into a large chamber of the house of God! In order to provide the foe Tobiah with this chamber, Eliashib actually evicted the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests (i.e. while Tobiah was occupying this large chamber in the house of God, the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers were denied the resources God has designated for them). As you can imagine, when Nehemiah got back from Babylon and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, he was very angry. Nehemiah threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber! And then Nehemiah gave orders to have the chambers cleansed, and he brought back the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense (Nehemiah 13:4-9).
And I wish I could say that was the end of the drama and dysfunction kindled by Clan Eliashib, but sadly one of Eliashib’s grandsons ended up marrying the daughter of Sanballat the Horonite! This would be like if Dick Grayson (a.k.a. Robin) maintained intimate connections with Ra’s Al Ghul and the Joker; and Dick’s progeny intermarried with the descendants of Joker and Al Ghul. How anguished and aggrieved would Bruce Wayne be if his right-hand-man hung out with Joker and gave him a furnished chamber in The Batcave!? Anyways, Nehemiah was having none of these shenanigans, and he chased the grandson of Eliashib away and prayed to God telling Him that Eliashib’s family had desecrated the preisthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites (Nehemiah 13:28-29).
So, at the end of the day, I don’t trust Eliashib.