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Nehemiah Contemporary English Version (CEV)
1I am Nehemiah son of Hacaliah, and in this book I tell what I have done.
During the month of Chislev in the twentieth year that Artaxerxes ruled Persia, I was in his fortress city of Susa, 2when my brother Hanani came with some men from Judah. So I asked them about the Jews who had escaped from being captives in Babylonia. I also asked them about the city of Jerusalem. 3They told me, " Those captives who have come back are having all kinds of troubles. They are terribly disgraced, Jerusalem's walls are broken down, and its gates have been burned."
4When I heard this, I sat down and cried. Then for several days, I mourned; I went without eating to show my sorrow, and I prayed:
5LORD God of heaven, you are great and fearsome. And you faithfully keep your promises to everyone who loves you and obeys your commands. 6I am your servant, so please have mercy on me and answer the prayer that I make day and night for these people of Israel who serve you. I, my family, and the rest of your people have sinned 7by choosing to disobey you and the laws and teachings you gave to your servant Moses.
8Please remember the promise you made to Moses. You told him that if we were unfaithful, you would scatter us among foreign nations. 9But you also said that no matter how far away we were, we could turn to you and start obeying your laws. Then you would bring us back to the place where you have chosen to be worshiped.
10Our LORD, I am praying for your servants--those you rescued by your great strength and mighty power. 11Please answer my prayer and the prayer of your other servants who gladly honor your name. When I serve the king his wine today, make him pleased with me and have him do what I ask.
Nehemiah Goes to Jerusalem
1During the month of Nisan in the twentieth year that Artaxerxes was king, I served him his wine, as I had done before. But this was the first time I had ever looked depressed. 2So the king said, " Why do you look so sad? You're not sick. Something must be bothering you." Even though I was frightened, 3I answered, " Your Majesty, I hope you live forever! I feel sad because the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and its gates have been burned down."
4The king asked, " What do you want me to do?"
I prayed to the God who rules from heaven. 5Then I told the king, " Sir, if it's all right with you, please send me back to Judah, so that I can rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried."
6The queen was sitting beside the king when he asked me, " How long will it take, and when will you be back?" The king agreed to let me go, and I told him when I would return.
7Then I asked, " Your Majesty, would you be willing to give me letters to the governors of the provinces west of the Euphrates River, so that I can travel safely to Judah? 8I will need timber to rebuild the gates of the fortress near the temple and more timber to construct the city wall and to build a place for me to live. And so, I would appreciate a letter to Asaph, who is in charge of the royal forest." God was good to me, and the king did everything I asked.
9The king sent some army officers and cavalry troops along with me, and as I traveled through the Western Provinces, I gave the letters to the governors. 10But when Sanballat from Horon and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about what had happened, they became very angry, because they didn't want anyone to help the people of Israel.
Nehemiah Inspects the Wall of Jerusalem
11Three days after arriving in Jerusalem, 12I got up during the night and left my house. I took some men with me, without telling anyone what I thought God wanted me to do for the city. The only animal I took was the donkey I rode on. 13I went through Valley Gate on the west, then south past Dragon Spring, before coming to Garbage Gate. As I rode along, I took a good look at the crumbled walls of the city and the gates that had been torn down and burned. 14On the east side of the city, I headed north to Fountain Gate and King's Pool, but then the trail became too narrow for my donkey. 15So I went down to Kidron Valley and looked at the wall from there. Then before daylight I returned to the city through Valley Gate.
16None of the city officials knew what I had in mind. And I had not even told any of the Jews--not the priests, the leaders, the officials, or any other Jews who would be helping in the work. 17But when I got back, I said to them, " Jerusalem is truly in a mess! The gates have been torn down and burned, and everything is in ruins. We must rebuild the city wall so that we can again take pride in our city."
18Then I told them how kind God had been and what the king had said.
Immediately, they replied, " Let's start building now!" So they got everything ready.
19When Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard about our plans, they started insulting us and saying, " Just look at you! Do you plan to rebuild the walls of the city and rebel against the king?"
20I answered, " We are servants of the God who rules from heaven, and he will make our work succeed. So we will start rebuilding Jerusalem, but you have no right to any of its property, because you have had no part in its history."
Rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem
1These are the people who helped rebuild the wall and gates of Jerusalem:
The high priest Eliashib and the other priests rebuilt Sheep Gate and hung its doors. Then they dedicated Sheep Gate and the section of the wall as far as Hundred Tower and Hananel Tower.
2The people of Jericho rebuilt the next section of the wall, and Zaccur son of Imri rebuilt the section after that.
3The family of Hassenaah built Fish Gate. They put the beams in place and hung the doors, then they added metal bolts and wooden beams as locks.
4Meremoth, son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz, completed the next section of the wall.
Meshullam, son of Berechiah and grandson of Meshezabel, rebuilt the next section, and Zadok son of Baana rebuilt the section beside that.
5The next section was to be repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their town leaders refused to do the hard work they were assigned. 6Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah restored Ancient Gate. They put the beams in place, hung the doors, and added metal bolts and wooden beams as locks. 7Melatiah from Gibeon, Jadon from Meronoth, and the men from Gibeon and Mizpah rebuilt the next section of the wall. This section reached as far as the house of the governor of West Euphrates Province. 8Uzziel son of Harhaiah the goldsmith rebuilt the next section.
Hananiah the perfume maker rebuilt the section next after that, and it went as far as Broad Wall.
9Rephaiah son of Hur ruled half of the Jerusalem District, and he rebuilt the next section of the wall.
10The section after that was close to the home of Jedaiah son of Harumaph, and he rebuilt it.
Hattush son of Hashabneiah constructed the next section of the wall.
11Malchijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath Moab rebuilt the section after that, and they also built Oven Tower.
12Shallum son of Hallohesh ruled the other half of the Jerusalem District, and he rebuilt the next section of the wall. Shallum's daughters also worked with him.
13Hanun and the people who lived in the town of Zanoah rebuilt Valley Gate. They hung the doors and added metal bolts and wooden beams as locks. They also rebuilt the wall for fifteen hundred feet, all the way to Garbage Gate.
14Malchijah son of Rechab ruled the district of Beth-Haccherem, and he rebuilt Garbage Gate. He hung the doors and added metal bolts and wooden beams as locks.
15Shallum son of Colhozeh ruled the district of Mizpah, and he rebuilt Fountain Gate. He put a cover over the gateway, then hung the doors and added metal bolts and wooden beams as locks. He also rebuilt the wall at Shelah Pool. This section was next to the king's garden and went as far as the stairs leading down from David's City. 16Nehemiah son of Azbuk ruled half of the district of Beth-Zur, and he rebuilt the next section of the wall. It went as far as the royal cemetery, the artificial pool, and the army barracks.
Levites Who Worked on the Wall
17The Levites who worked on the next sections of the wall were Rehum son of Bani; Hashabiah, who ruled half of the district of Keilah and did this work for his district; 18Binnui son of Henadad, who ruled the other half of the district of Keilah; 19Ezer son of Jeshua, who ruled Mizpah, rebuilt the section of the wall that was in front of the armory and reached to the corner of the wall; 20Baruch son of Zabbai eagerly rebuilt the section of the wall that went all the way to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest; 21Meremoth, son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz, built up to the far end of Eliashib's house.
Priests Who Worked on the Wall
22Here is a list of the priests who worked on the wall:
Priests from the region around Jerusalem rebuilt the next section of the wall.
23Benjamin and Hasshub rebuilt the wall in front of their own houses.
Azariah, who was the son of Maaseiah and the grandson of Ananiah, rebuilt the section in front of his house.
24Binnui son of Henadad rebuilt the section of the wall from Azariah's house to the corner of the wall.
25Palal son of Uzai rebuilt the next section, which began at the corner of the wall and the tower of the upper palace near the court of the guard.
Pedaiah son of Parosh rebuilt the next section of the wall. 26He stopped at a place near the Water Gate on the east and the tower guarding the temple. This was close to a section in the city called Ophel, where the temple workers lived.
Other Builders Who Worked on the Wall
27The men from Tekoa rebuilt the next section of the wall, and it was their second section. It started at a place across from the large tower that guarded the Temple, and it went all the way to the wall near Ophel. 28Some priests rebuilt the next section of the wall. They began working north of Horse Gate, and each one worked on a section in front of his own house.
29Zadok son of Immer rebuilt the wall in front of his house.
Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, who looked after the East Gate, rebuilt the section after that.
30Hananiah and Hanun rebuilt the next section, which was the second section for them. Meshullam son of Berechiah rebuilt the next section, which happened to be in front of his house.
31Malchijah, a goldsmith, rebuilt the next section, as far as the house used by the temple workers and merchants. This area was across from Gathering Gate, near the room on top of the wall at the northeast corner.
32The goldsmiths and merchants rebuilt the last section of the wall, which went from the corner room all the way to Sheep Gate.
1When Sanballat, the governor of Samaria, heard that we were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, he became angry and started insulting our people. 2In front of his friends and the Samaritan army he said, " What is this feeble bunch of Jews trying to do? Are they going to rebuild the wall and offer sacrifices all in one day? Do they think they can make something out of this pile of scorched stones?"
3Tobiah from Ammon was standing beside Sanballat and said, " Look at the wall they are building! Why, even a fox could knock over this pile of stones."
4But I prayed, " Our God, these people hate us and have wished horrible things for us. Please answer our prayers and make their insults fall on them! Let them be the ones to be dragged away as prisoners of war. 5Don't forgive the mean and evil way they have insulted the builders."
6The people worked hard, and we built the walls of Jerusalem halfway up again. 7But Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the people from the city of Ashdod saw the walls going up and the holes being repaired. So they became angry 8and decided to stir up trouble, and to fight against the people of Jerusalem. 9But we kept on praying to our God, and we also stationed guards day and night.
10Meanwhile, the people of Judah were singing a sorrowful song:
" So much rubble for us to haul!
Worn out and weary,
will we ever finish this wall?"
11Our enemies were saying, " Before those Jews know what has happened, we will sneak up and kill them and put an end to their work."
12On at least ten different occasions, the Jews living near our enemies warned us against attacks from every side, 13and so I sent people to guard the wall at its lowest places and where there were still holes in it. I placed them according to families, and they stood guard with swords and spears and with bows and arrows. 14Then I looked things over and told the leaders, the officials, and the rest of the people, " Don't be afraid of your enemies! The Lord is great and fearsome. So think of him and fight for your relatives and children, your wives and homes!" 15Our enemies found out that we knew about their plot against us, but God kept them from doing what they had planned. So we went back to work on the wall.
16From then on, I let half of the young men work while the other half stood guard. They wore armor and had spears and shields, as well as bows and arrows. The leaders helped the workers 17who were rebuilding the wall. Everyone who hauled building materials kept one hand free to carry a weapon. 18Even the workers who were rebuilding the wall strapped on a sword. The worker who was to blow the signal trumpet stayed with me.
19I told the people and their officials and leaders, " Our work is so spread out, that we are a long way from one another. 20If you hear the sound of the trumpet, come quickly and gather around me. Our God will help us fight."
21Every day from dawn to dark, half of the workers rebuilt the walls, while the rest stood guard with their spears.
22I asked the men in charge and their workers to stay inside Jerusalem and stand guard at night. So they guarded the city at night and worked during the day. 23I even slept in my work clothes at night; my children, the workers, and the guards slept in theirs as well. And we always kept our weapons close by.
Nehemiah's Concern for the Poor
1Some of the men and their wives complained about the Jews in power 2and said, " We have large families, and it takes a lot of grain merely to keep them alive."
3Others said, " During the famine we even had to mortgage our fields, vineyards, and homes to them in order to buy grain."
4Then others said, " We had to borrow money from those in power to pay the government tax on our fields and vineyards. 5We are Jews just as they are, and our children are as good as theirs. But we still have to sell our children as slaves, and some of our daughters have already been raped. We are completely helpless; our fields and vineyards have even been taken from us."
6When I heard their complaints and their charges, I became very angry. 7So I thought it over and said to the leaders and officials, " How can you charge your own people interest?"
Then I called a public meeting and accused the leaders 8by saying, " We have tried to buy back all of our people who were sold into exile. But here you are, selling more of them for us to buy back!" The officials and leaders did not say a word, because they knew this was true.
9I continued, " What you have done is wrong! We must honor our God by the way we live, so the Gentiles can't find fault with us. 10My relatives, my friends, and I are also lending money and grain, but we must no longer demand payment in return. 11Now give back the fields, vineyards, olive orchards, and houses you have taken and also the interest you have been paid."
12The leaders answered, " We will do whatever you say and return their property, without asking to be repaid."
So I made the leaders promise in front of the priests to give back the property. 13Then I emptied my pockets and said, " If you don't keep your promise, that's what God will do to you. He will empty out everything you own, even taking away your houses."
The people answered, " We will keep our promise." Then they praised the LORD and did as they had promised.
Nehemiah Is Generous
14I was governor of Judah from the twentieth year that Artaxerxes was king until the thirty-second year. And during these entire twelve years, my relatives and I refused to accept the food that I was allowed. 15Each governor before me had been a burden to the people by making them pay for his food and wine and by demanding forty silver coins a day. Even their officials had been a burden to the people. But I respected God, and I didn't think it was right to be so hard on them. 16I spent all my time getting the wall rebuilt and did not buy any property. Everyone working for me did the same thing. 17I usually fed a hundred fifty of our own Jewish people and their leaders, as well as foreign visitors from surrounding lands. 18Each day one ox, six of the best sheep, and lots of chickens were prepared. Then every ten days, a large supply of wine was brought in. I knew what a heavy burden this would have been for the people, and so I did not ask for my food allowance as governor. 19I pray that God will bless me for everything I have done for my people.
Plots against Nehemiah
1Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem, and our other enemies learned that I had completely rebuilt the wall. All I lacked was hanging the doors in the gates. 2Then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message, asking me to meet with them in one of the villages in Ono Valley. I knew they were planning to harm me in some way. 3So I sent messengers to tell them, " My work is too important to stop now and go there. I can't afford to slow down the work just to visit with you." 4They invited me four times, but each time I refused to go.
5Finally, Sanballat sent an official to me with an unsealed letter, 6which said:
A rumor is going around among the nations that you and the other Jews are rebuilding the wall and planning to rebel, because you want to be their king. And Geshem says it's true! 7You even have prophets in Jerusalem, claiming you are now the king of Judah. You know the Persian king will hear about this, so let's get together and talk it over. 8I sent a message back to Sanballat, saying, " None of this is true! You are making it all up."
9Our enemies were trying to frighten us and to keep us from our work. But I asked God to give me strength.
10One day I went to visit Shemaiah. He was looking very worried, and he said, " Let's hurry to the holy place of the temple and hide there. We will lock the temple doors, because your enemies are planning to kill you tonight." 11I answered, " Why should someone like me have to run and hide in the temple to save my life? I won't go!"
12Suddenly I realized that God had not given Shemaiah this message. But Tobiah and Sanballat had paid him to trick me 13and to frighten me into doing something wrong, because they wanted to ruin my good name.
14Then I asked God to punish Tobiah and Sanballat for what they had done. I prayed that God would punish the prophet Noadiah and the other prophets who, together with her, had tried to frighten me.
The Work Is Finished
15On the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, the wall was completely rebuilt. It had taken fifty-two days. 16When our enemies in the surrounding nations learned that the work was finished, they felt helpless, because they knew that our God had helped us rebuild the wall. 17All this time the Jewish leaders and Tobiah had been writing letters back and forth. 18Many people in Judah were loyal to Tobiah for two reasons: Shecaniah son of Arah was his father-in-law, and Tobiah's son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah. 19The people would always tell me about the good things Tobiah had done, and then they would tell Tobiah everything I had said. So Tobiah kept sending letters, trying to frighten me.
1After the wall had been rebuilt and the gates hung, then the temple guards, the singers, and the other Levites were assigned their work. 2I put my brother Hanani in charge of Jerusalem, along with Hananiah, the commander of the fortress, because Hananiah could be trusted, and he respected God more than most people did. 3I said to them, " Don't let the gates to the city be opened until the sun has been up for a while. And make sure that they are closed and barred before the guards go off duty at sunset. Choose people from Jerusalem to stand guard at different places around the wall and others to stand guard near their own houses."
A List of Exiles Who Returned
4Although Jerusalem covered a large area, not many people lived there, and no new houses had been built. 5-6So God gave me the idea to bring together the people, their leaders, and officials and to check the family records of those who had returned from captivity in Babylonia, after having been taken there by King Nebuchadnezzar. About this same time, I found records of those who had been the first to return to Jerusalem from Babylon Province. By reading these records, I learned that they settled in their own hometowns, 7and that they had come with Zerubbabel, Joshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah. 8-25Here is how many had returned from each family group: 2,172 from Parosh; 372 from Shephatiah; 652 from Arah; 2,818 from Pahath Moab, who were all descendants of Jeshua and Joab; 1,254 from Elam; 845 from Zattu; 760 from Zaccai; 648 from Binnui; 628 from Bebai; 2,322 from Azgad; 667 from Adonikam; 2,067 from Bigvai; 655 from Adin; 98 from Ater, also known as Hezekiah; 328 from Hashum; 324 from Bezai; 112 from Hariph; and 95 from Gibeon.
26-38Here is how many people returned whose ancestors had come from the following towns: 188 from Bethlehem and Netophah; 128 from Anathoth; 42 from Beth-Azmaveth; 743 from Kiriath-Jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth; 621 from Ramah and Geba; 122 from Michmas; 123 from Bethel and Ai; 52 from Nebo; 1,254 from Elam; 320 from Harim; 345 from Jericho; 721 from Lod, Hadid, and Ono; and 3,930 from Senaah. 39-42Here is how many returned from each family of priests: 973 descendants of Jeshua from Jedaiah; 1,052 from Immer; 1,247 from Pashhur; and 1,017 from Harim.
43-45Here is how many returned from the families of Levites: 74 descendants of Hodevah from the families of Jeshua and Kadmiel; 148 descendants of Asaph from the temple musicians; and 138 descendants of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita, and Shobai from the temple guards.
46-56Here are the names of the families of temple workers whose descendants returned: Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth, Keros, Sia, Padon, Lebana, Hagaba, Shalmai, Hanan, Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam, Uzza, Paseah, Besai, Meunim, Nephushesim, Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur, Bazlith, Mehida, Harsha, Barkos, Sisera, Temah, Neziah, and Hatipha.
57-59Here are the names of Solomon's servants whose descendants returned: Sotai, Sophereth, Perida, Jaala, Darkon, Giddel, Shephatiah, Hattil, Pochereth Hazzebaim, and Amon.
60A total of 392 descendants of temple workers and of Solomon's servants returned.
61-62There were 642 who returned from the families of Delaiah, Tobiah, and Nekoda, though they could not prove they were Israelites. They had lived in the Babylonian towns of Tel-Melah, Tel-Harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer.
63-64The families of Hobaiah, Hakkoz, and Barzillai could not prove they were priests. The ancestor of the family of Barzillai had married the daughter of Barzillai from Gilead and had taken his wife's family name. But the records of these three families could not be found, and none of them were allowed to serve as priests. 65In fact, the governor told them, " You cannot eat the food offered to God until he lets us know if you really are priests." 66-69There were 42,360 who returned, in addition to 7,337 servants, and 245 musicians. Altogether, they brought with them 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys. 70-72Many people gave gifts to help pay for the materials to rebuild the temple. The governor himself gave 17 pounds of gold, 50 bowls to be used in the temple, and 530 robes for the priests. Family leaders gave 337 pounds of gold and 3,215 pounds of silver. The rest of the people gave 337 pounds of gold, 2,923 pounds of silver, and 67 robes for the priests.
73And so, by the seventh month, 7.73; 8.1,2 seventh month: Tishri(also called Ethanim,) the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-September to mid-October.[ishri(also] / priests, Levites, temple guar
Ezra Reads God's Law to the People
1-2On the first day of the seventh month, the people came together in the open area in front of the Water Gate. Then they asked Ezra, who was a teacher of the Law of Moses, to read to them from this Law that the LORD had given his people. Ezra the priest came with the Law and stood before the crowd of men, women, and the children who were old enough to understand. 3From early morning till noon, he read the Law of Moses to them, and they listened carefully. 4Ezra stood on a high wooden platform that had been built for this occasion. Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah were standing to his right, while Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash Baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam were standing to his left.
5Ezra was up on the high platform, where he could be seen by everyone, and when he opened the book, they all stood up. 6Ezra praised the great LORD God, and the people shouted, " Amen! Amen!" Then they bowed with their faces to the ground and worshiped the LORD.
7-8After this, the Levites Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah went among the people, explaining the meaning of what Ezra had read.
9The people started crying when God's Law was read to them. Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher, and the Levites who had been teaching the people all said, " This is a special day for the LORD your God. So don't be sad and don't cry!"
10Nehemiah told the people, " Enjoy your good food and wine and share some with those who didn't have anything to bring. Don't be sad! This is a special day for the LORD, and he will make you happy and strong."
11The Levites encouraged the people by saying, " This is a sacred day, so don't worry or mourn!" 12When the people returned to their homes, they celebrated by eating and drinking and by sharing their food with those in need, because they had understood what had been read to them.
Celebrating the Festival of Shelters
13On the second day of the seventh month, the leaders of all the family groups came together with the priests and the Levites, so Ezra could teach them the Law 14that the LORD had given to Moses. They learned from the Law that the people of Israel were to live in shelters when they celebrated the festival in the seventh month of the year. 15They also learned that they were to go into the woods and gather branches of leafy trees such as olives, myrtles, and palms for making these shelters. 16So the people gathered branches and made shelters on the flat roofs of their houses, in their yards, in the courtyard of the temple, and in the open areas around the Water Gate and Ephraim Gate. 17Everyone who had returned from Babylonia built shelters. They lived in them and joyfully celebrated the Festival of Shelters for the first time since the days of Joshua son of Nun. 18On each of the first seven days of the festival, Ezra read to the people from God's Law. Then on the eighth day, everyone gathered for worship, just as the Law had said they must.
The People Confess Their Sins
1On the twenty-fourth day of the seventh month, the people of Israel went without eating, and they dressed in sackcloth and threw dirt on their heads to show their sorrow. 2They refused to let foreigners join them, as they met to confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors. 3For three hours they stood and listened to the Law of the LORD their God, and then for the next three hours they confessed their sins and worshiped the LORD.
4Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the special platform for the Levites and prayed aloud to the LORD their God. 5Then the Levites Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah said:
" Stand and shout praises
to your LORD,
the eternal God!
Praise his wonderful name,
though he is greater
than words can express."
The People Pray
6You alone are the LORD,
Creator of the heavens
and all the stars,
Creator of the earth
and those who live on it,
Creator of the ocean
and all its creatures.
You are the source of life,
praised by the stars
that fill the heavens.
7You are the LORD our God,
the one who chose Abram--
you brought him from Ur
and named him Abraham.
8Because he was faithful,
you made an agreement
to give his descendants
the land of the Canaanites
of the Amorites and Perizzites,
and of the Jebusites
Now you have kept your promise,
just as you always do.
9When our ancestors
were in Egypt,
you saw their suffering;
when they were at the Red Sea, you heard their cry for help.
10You knew that the King of Egypt
and his officials and his nation
had mistreated your people.
So you worked fearsome miracles
against the Egyptians
and earned a reputation
that still remains.
11You divided the deep sea,
and your people walked through
on dry land.
But you tossed their enemies in,
and they sank down
like a heavy stone.
12Each day you led your people
with a thick cloud,
and at night you showed the way
with a flaming fire.
13At Sinai you came down
and you gave your people
good laws and teachings
that are fair and honest.
14You commanded them to respect
your holy Sabbath,
and you instructed
your servant Moses
to teach them your laws.
15When they were hungry,
you sent bread from heaven,
and when they were thirsty,
you let water flow
from a rock.
Then you commanded them
to capture the land
that you had solemnly promised.
16Our stubborn ancestors
refused to obey--
they forgot about the miracles
you had worked for them,
and they were determined
to return to Egypt
and become slaves again.
17But, our God, you are merciful
and quick to forgive;
you are loving, kind,
and very patient.
So you never turned away
18not even when they made
an idol shaped like a calf
and insulted you by claiming,
" This is the god who rescued us
19Because of your great mercy,
you never abandoned them
in the desert.
And you always guided them
with a cloud by day
and a fire at night.
20Your gentle Spirit
instructed them, and you gave them manna to eat and water to drink.
21You took good care of them,
and for forty years
they never lacked a thing.
Their shoes didn't wear out,
and their feet were never swollen.
22You let them conquer kings
and take their land,
including King Sihon of Heshbon
and King Og of Bashan. 23You brought them into the land
that you had promised
and you blessed their nation
the stars in the sky.
24Then their descendants
conquered the land.
You helped them defeat
the kings and nations
and treat their enemies
however they wished.
25They captured strong cities
and rich farmland;
they took furnished houses,
as well as cisterns, vineyards, olive orchards,
and numerous fruit trees.
They ate till they were satisfied,
and they celebrated
your abundant blessings.
26In spite of this, they rebelled
and disobeyed your laws.
They killed your prophets,
who warned them
to turn back to you,
and they cursed your name.
27So you handed them over
to their enemies,
who treated them terribly.
But in their sufferings,
they begged you to help.
From heaven you listened
to their prayers
and because of your great mercy,
you sent leaders to rescue them.
28But when they were at peace,
they would turn against you,
and you would hand them over
to their enemies.
Then they would beg for help,
and because you are merciful,
you rescued them
over and over again.
29You warned them to turn back
and discover true life
by obeying your laws.
But they stubbornly refused
and continued to sin.
30For years, you were patient,
and your Spirit warned them with messages spoken
by your prophets.
Still they refused to listen,
and you handed them over
to their enemies.
31But you are merciful and kind,
and so you never forgot them
or let them be destroyed.
32Our God, you are powerful,
fearsome, and faithful,
always true to your word.
So please keep in mind
the terrible sufferings
of our people, kings, leaders,
priests, and prophets,
from the time Assyria ruled
until this very day.
33You have always been fair
when you punished us
for our sins.
34Our kings, leaders, and priests
have never obeyed your commands
or heeded your warnings.
35You blessed them with a kingdom
and with an abundance
of rich, fertile land,
but they refused to worship you
or turn from their evil.
36Now we are slaves
in this fruitful land
you gave to our ancestors.
37Its plentiful harvest is taken
by kings you placed over us
because of our sins.
Our suffering is unbearable,
because they do as they wish
to us and our livestock.
The People Make an Agreement
38And so, a firm agreement was made that had the official approval of the leaders, the Levites, and priests.
1As governor, I signed the agreement together with Zedekiah and the following priests: 2-8Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaiah. 9The Levites who signed were: Jeshua son of Azaniah, Binnui from the clan of Henadad, Kadmiel, 10Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, 11Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, 12Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, 13Hodiah, Bani, and Beninu.
14The leaders who signed were: Parosh, Pahath Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, 15Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, 16Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, 17Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, 18Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, 19Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, 20Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, 21Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, 22Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, 23Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, 24Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, 25Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, 26Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, 27Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.
28-29All of us, including priests, Levites, temple guards, singers, temple workers and leaders, together with our wives and children, have separated ourselves from the foreigners in this land and now enter into an agreement with a complete understanding of what we are doing. And so, we now place ourselves under the curse of the LORD our God, if we fail to obey his laws and teachings that were given to us by his servant Moses.
30We won't let our sons and daughters marry foreigners.
31We won't buy goods or grain on the Sabbath or on any other sacred day, not even from foreigners.
Every seven years we will let our fields rest, and we will cancel all debts.
32Once a year we will each donate a small amount of silver to the temple of our God. 33This is to pay for the sacred bread, as well as for the daily sacrifices and special sacrifices such as those offered on the Sabbath and during the New Moon Festival and the other festivals. It will also pay for the sacrifices to forgive our sins and for all expenses connected with the worship of God in the temple.
34We have decided that the families of priests, Levites, and ordinary people will supply firewood for the temple each year, so that sacrifices can be offered on the altar, just as the LORD our God has commanded. 35Each year we will bring to the temple the first part of our harvest of grain and fruit.
36We will bring our first-born sons and the first-born males of our herds and flocks and offer them to the priests who serve in the temple, because this is what is written in God's Law. 37To the priests in the temple of our God, we will bring the bread dough from the first harvest, together with our best fruit, and an offering of new wine and olive oil.
We will bring ten percent of our grain harvest to those Levites who are responsible for collecting it in our towns. 38A priest from the family of Aaron must be there when we give this to the Levites. Then the Levites will put one tenth of this part in the temple storeroom, 39which is also the place for the sacred objects used by the priests, the temple guards, and the singers.
Levites and everyone else must bring their gifts of grain, wine, and olive oil to this room.
We will not neglect the temple of our God.
People Who Settled in Jerusalem
1The nation's leaders and their families settled in Jerusalem. But there was room for only one out of every ten of the remaining families, and so they asked God to show them who would live there. 2Then everyone else asked God to bless those who were willing to live in Jerusalem. 3Some of the people of Israel, the priests, the Levites, the temple workers, and the descendants of Solomon's servants lived on their own property in the towns of Judah. But the leaders of the province lived in Jerusalem with their families.
The Judah Tribe
4-6From the Judah tribe, two leaders settled in Jerusalem with their relatives. One of them was Athaiah son of Uzziah. His ancestors were Zechariah, Amariah, Shephatiah, Mahalalel, and Perez, the son of Judah. From the descendants of Perez, four hundred sixty-eight of the best men lived in Jerusalem.
The other leader from Judah was Maaseiah the son of Baruch. His ancestors were Colhozeh, Hazaiah, Adaiah, Joiarib, Zechariah, and Shelah, the son of Judah.
The Benjamin Tribe
7-8From the Benjamin tribe, three leaders settled in Jerusalem. The first was Sallu son of Meshullam, and the others were Gabbai and Sallai. Sallu's ancestors were Joed, Pedaiah, Kolaiah, Maaseiah, Ithiel, and Jeshaiah. Altogether, there were nine hundred twenty-eight men of the Benjamin tribe living in Jerusalem. 9Joel son of Zichri was their leader, and Judah son of Hassenuah was second in command.
10Four priests settled in Jerusalem. The first was Jedaiah; he was the son of Joiarib and the uncle of Jachin. 11The second priest to settle there was Seraiah son of Hilkiah. His ancestors were Meshullam, Zadok, Meraioth, and Ahitub, who had been a high priest. 12Altogether, there were eight hundred twenty-two from his clan who served in the temple.
The third priest to settle there was Adaiah son of Jeroham. His ancestors were Pelaliah, Amzi, Zechariah, Pashhur, and Malchijah. 13Altogether, there were two hundred forty-two clan leaders among his relatives.
The fourth priest to settle there was Amashsai son of Azarel. His ancestors were Ahzai, Meshillemoth, and Immer. 14Altogether, there were one hundred twenty-eight brave warriors from their clans, and their leader was Zabdiel son of Haggedolim.
15Several Levites settled in Jerusalem. First, there was Shemaiah son of Hasshub. His ancestors were Azrikam, Hashabiah, and Bunni.
16Next, there were Shabbethai and Jozabad, who were in charge of the work outside the temple.
17Then there was Mattaniah son of Mica. His ancestors were Zabdi and Asaph. Mattaniah led the temple choir in the prayer of praise. Bakbukiah, who also settled in Jerusalem, was his assistant.
Finally, there was Abda son of Shammua; his grandfather was Galal, and his great-grandfather was Jeduthun.
18Altogether, two hundred eighty-four Levites settled in the holy city.
Temple Guards and Others
19One hundred seventy-two temple guards settled in Jerusalem; their leaders were Akkub and Talmon.
20The rest of the Israelites, including priests and Levites, lived on their own property in the other towns of Judah. 21But the temple workers lived in the section of Jerusalem known as Ophel, and the two men in charge of them were Ziha and Gishpa.
22Uzzi son of Bani was the leader of the Levites in Jerusalem. His grandfather was Hashabiah, his great-grandfather was Mattaniah, and his great-great-grandfather was Mica. He belonged to the Asaph clan that was in charge of the music for the temple services, 23though the daily choice of music and musicians was decided by royal decree of the Persian king.
24The people of Israel were represented at the Persian court by Pethahiah son of Meshezabel from the Zerah clan of the Judah tribe.
The People in the Other Towns and Villages
25Some of the people of Judah lived in the following towns near their farms: Kiriath-Arba, Dibon, Jekabzeel, 26Jeshua, Moladah, Beth-Pelet, 27Hazar-Shual, Beersheba, 28Ziklag, Meconah, 29Enrimmon, Zorah, Jarmuth, 30Zanoah, Adullam, Lachish, and Azekah. In fact, they settled the towns from Beersheba in the south to Hinnom Valley in the north.
31The people of Benjamin lived in the towns of Geba, Michmash, Aija, Bethel with its nearby villages, 32Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah, 33Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim, 34Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat, 35Lod, and Ono, as well as in Craft Valley. 36Several groups of Levites from the territory of Judah were sent to live among the people of Benjamin.
A List of Priests and Levites
1Many priests and Levites had returned from Babylonia with Zerubbabel and Joshua as their leaders. Those priests were Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, 2Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, 3Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, 4Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, 5Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, 6Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, 7Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and another Jedaiah. These were the leading priests and their assistants during the time of Joshua. 8The Levites who returned were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah. They and their assistants were responsible for the songs of praise, 9while Bakbukiah and Unno, together with their assistants, were responsible for the choral responses.
Descendants of Joshua the High Priest
10Joshua was the father of Joiakim, the grandfather of Eliashib, and the great-grandfather of Joiada. 11Joiada was the father of Jonathan and the grandfather of Jaddua.
Leaders of the Priestly Clans
12When Joiakim was high priest, the following priests were leaders of their clans: Meraiah of the Seraiah clan, Hananiah of Jeremiah, 13Meshullam of Ezra, Jehohanan of Amariah, 14Jonathan of Malluchi, Joseph of Shebaniah, 15Adna of Harim, Helkai of Meraioth, 16Zechariah of Iddo, Meshullam of Ginnethon, 17Zichri of Abijah, Piltai of Moadiah, 18Shammua of Bilgah, Jehonathan of Shemaiah, 19Mattenai of Joiarib, Uzzi of Jedaiah, 20Kallai of Sallai, Eber of Amok, 21Hashabiah of Hilkiah, and Nethanel of Jedaiah.
The Priestly and Levite Families
22During the time of the high priests Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, and including the time that Darius was king of Persia, a record was kept of the heads of the Levite and priestly families. 23However, no official record was kept of the heads of the Levite clans after the death of Johanan, the grandson of Eliashib. 24Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua son of Kadmiel, and their assistants organized two choirs of Levites to offer praises to God, just as King David, the man of God, had commanded. 25Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were responsible for guarding the storerooms near the temple gates.
26All of these men lived during the time of Joiakim and during the time that I was governor and Ezra, a teacher of the Law of Moses, was priest.
Nehemiah Dedicates the City Wall
27When the city wall was dedicated, Levites from everywhere in Judah were invited to join in the celebration with songs of praise and with the music of cymbals, small harps, and other stringed instruments. 28-29The Levite singers lived in villages around Jerusalem, and so they came from there, as well as from the villages around Netophah, Beth-Gilgal, Geba, and Azmaveth. 30The priests and Levites held special ceremonies to make themselves holy, and then they did the same for the rest of the people and for the gates and walls of the city.
31I brought the leaders of Judah to the top of the city wall and put them in charge of the two groups that were to march around on top of the wall, singing praises to God. One group marched to the right in the direction of Garbage Gate. 32Hoshaiah and half of the leaders followed them. 33Then came the priests Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, 35all of them blowing trumpets. Next, there was Zechariah of the Asaph clan 36and his relatives, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani. They played musical instruments like those that had been played by David, the man of God. And they marched behind Ezra, the teacher of the Law. 37When they reached Fountain Gate, they climbed the steps to David's City and went past his palace, before stopping at the Water Gate near the eastern wall of the city. 38The second group of singers marched along the wall in the opposite direction, and I followed them, together with the other half of the leaders of Judah. We went past Oven Tower, Broad Wall, 39Ephraim Gate, Old Gate, Fish Gate, Hananel Tower, Hundred Tower, and on to Sheep Gate. Finally, we stopped at Gate of the Guard, 40where we stood in front of the temple with the other group, praising God. In the group with me were half of the leaders, 41as well as the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, who were blowing trumpets. 42Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer also stood there, as Jezrahiah led the singers. 43God had made the people very happy, and so on that day they celebrated and offered many sacrifices. The women and children joined in the festivities, and joyful shouts could be heard far from the city of Jerusalem.
Preparation for Worship
44On that same day, some leaders were appointed to be responsible for the safekeeping of gifts for the temple and to be in charge of receiving the first part of the harvest and the ten percent of the crops and livestock that was offered to God. These same leaders also collected the part of crops that the Law of Moses taught was to be given to the Levites.
Everyone was pleased with the work of the priests and Levites, 45when they performed the ceremonies to make people acceptable to worship God. And the singers and the temple guards did their jobs according to the instructions given by David and his son Solomon. 46In fact, ever since the days of David and Asaph, there had been song leaders and songs of praise and worship. 47During the time that Zerubbabel and I were in charge, everyone in Israel gave what they were supposed to give for the daily needs of the singers and temple guards from the Levi tribe. Then the Levites would give the priests their share from what they had received.
Foreigners Are Sent Away
1On that day when the Law of Moses was read aloud to everyone, it was discovered that Ammonites and Moabites were forbidden to belong to the people of God. 2This was because they had refused to give food and water to Israel and had hired Balaam to call down a curse on them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing. 3Following the reading of the Law of Moses, the people of Israel started sending away anyone who had any foreign ancestors.
Nehemiah Makes Other Changes
4The priest Eliashib was a relative of Tobiah and had earlier been put in charge of the temple storerooms. 5So he let Tobiah live in one of these rooms, where all kinds of things had been stored--the grain offerings, incense, utensils for the temple, as well as the tenth of the grain, wine, and olive oil that had been given for the use of the Levites, singers, and temple guards, and the gifts for the priests.
6This happened in the thirty-second year that Artaxerxes ruled Babylonia. I was away from Jerusalem at the time, because I was visiting him. Later I received permission from the king 7to return to Jerusalem. Only then did I find out that Eliashib had done this terrible thing of letting Tobiah have a room in the temple. 8It upset me so much that I threw out every bit of Tobiah's furniture. 9Then I ordered the room to be cleaned and the temple utensils, the grain offerings, and the incense to be brought back into the room. 10I also found out that the temple singers and several other Levites had returned to work on their farms, because they had not been given their share of the harvest. 11I called the leaders together and angrily asked them, " Why is the temple neglected?" Then I told them to start doing their jobs. 12After this, everyone in Judah brought a tenth of their grain, wine, and olive oil to the temple storeroom. 13Finally, I appointed three men with good reputations to be in charge of what was brought there and to distribute it to the others. They were Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the teacher of the Law, and Pedaiah the Levite. Their assistant was Hanan, the son of Zaccur and the grandson of Mattaniah.
14I pray that my God will remember these good things that I have done for his temple and for those who worship there.
15I also noticed what the people of Judah were doing on the Sabbath. Not only were they trampling grapes to make wine, but they were harvesting their grain, grapes, figs, and other crops, and then loading these on donkeys to sell in Jerusalem. So I warned them not to sell food on the Sabbath. 16People who had moved to Jerusalem from the city of Tyre were bringing in fish and other things to sell there on the Sabbath. 17I got angry and said to the leaders of Judah, " This evil you are doing is an insult to the Sabbath! 18Didn't God punish us and this city because our ancestors did these very same things? And here you are, about to make God furious again by disgracing the Sabbath!"
19I ordered the gates of Jerusalem to be closed on the eve of the Sabbath and not to be opened until after the Sabbath had ended. Then I put some of my own men in charge of the gates to make certain that nothing was brought in on the Sabbath. 20Once or twice some merchants spent the night outside Jerusalem with their goods. 21But I warned them, " If you do this again, I'll have you arrested." From then on, they did not come on the Sabbath. 22I ordered the Levites to make themselves holy and to guard the gates on the Sabbath, so that it would be kept holy. God is truly merciful, and I pray that he will treat me with kindness and bless me for doing this.
23I discovered that some Jewish men had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24About half of their children could not speak Hebrew--they spoke only the language of Ashdod or some other foreign language. 25So in my anger, I called down curses on those men. I had them beaten and even pulled out the hair of some of them. Then I made them promise:
In the name of God we solemnly promise not to let our sons and daughters marry foreigners. 26God dearly loved King Solomon of Israel and made him the greatest king on earth, but Solomon's foreign wives led him into sin. 27So we will obey you and not rebel against our God by marrying foreign women.
28Jehoiada, the son of the high priest Eliashib, had a son who had married a daughter of Sanballat from Horon, and I forced his son to leave. 29I pray that God will punish them for breaking their priestly vows and disgracing the Levi tribe.
30Then I made sure that the people were free from every foreign influence, and I assigned duties for the priests and Levites. 31I also arranged for the people to bring firewood to the altar each day and for them to bring the first part of their harvest to the temple.
I pray that God will bless me for the good I have done.