In the month of Kislev in the 20th year I, Nehemiah, was in the capital city of Susa. My brother, Hanani, came from Judah with other men. I asked them about Jerusalem and the Judean people who returned from exile. They answered; “Those who survived exile and returned to Judah are troubled and distressed. The wall around Jerusalem is shattered and its gates burned.”
When I heard this, I mourned for several days while fasting in sadness. I prayed to Yahva of heaven, “O Yahva, you are the great God to be honored. You keep your agreement with those who love you while obeying your commands. Hear the prayer of your servant for your children, the Judeans. I confess the sins we have committed. My father’s family and I have sinned against you. We have been wicked disobeying the commands, rules, and laws you gave to Moses.
Remember what you taught your servant Moses; “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me obeying my commands, I will gather your people from the ends of the earth. I will bring them from exile to my chosen place of worship.”
They are your servants and people, whom you saved with your great power. Lord, heed the prayer of your servants who love and honor you. Give your servant success today. Let this king show kindness to me. I had the honor of serving wine to the king.
It was the month of Nisan in the 20th year that Artaxerxes was king. He wanted some wine so I gave some to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before. The king said; “Why does your face look sad even though you are not sick? Your heart must be sad.”
Then I was very afraid. I said to the king; “May the king live forever! My face is sad because the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire.” Then the king said to me; “What do you want?”
First I prayed to the Yahva, then answered the king, “If you are willing and I have pleased you, send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so I can rebuild it.”
The queen was sitting next to the king. He asked me; “How long will your trip take and when will you return?” It pleased the king to send me, so I set a time.
I also said to him; “If you are willing, give me letters for the governors of Trans-Euphrates. Tell them to let me pass safely through their lands on my way to Judah. May I also have a letter for Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, telling him to give me timber? I will need it to make boards for the gates of the palace near the temple, the city wall, and the house where I will live.”
The king gave me the letters by the grace of Yahva and sent army officers and mounted soldiers with me. I went to the governor of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite heard this, they were upset that help had come to the Israelites.
I went to Jerusalem and stayed there three days. On that night I started inspecting with a few men. I did not tell anyone what Yahva had ordered me to do in Jerusalem. I took no animals except the one I was riding.
At night, I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Dragon Well and the Trash Gate, inspecting the broken walls of Jerusalem and the burnt gates. Then I continued toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to pass. I walked up the valley, inspecting the wall. I returned through the Valley Gate. The guards did not know that I had gone or what I did. I had not yet informed the Judeans, priests, important men, officers, or others who would do the work.
I said to them; “You can see the trouble we have here. Jerusalem is a pile of rubble, and its gates have been burnt. Come, we must rebuild the wall so we are n0t humiliated any longer.” I also told them how Yahva had been kind to me and what the king had said to me. Then they answered; “We will start rebuilding now.” So they began the hard work.
When Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem heard about it, they ridiculed us and laughed, saying; “What are you doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” I answered; “We will succeed through Yahva. We are his servants who are rebuilding, but you have no share, claim, or memorial in Jerusalem.”
Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it to Yahva and set its doors in place. They worked as far as the Tower of the Hundred and dedicated it to the Lord’s service. Then they went on to the Tower of Hananel. Adjacent to them, the people of Jericho built part of the wall, and Zaccur son of Imri built the next section. The sons of Hassenaah rebuilt the Fish Gate, laying its boards and setting its doors, bolts, and bars in place. Meremoth son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz, made repairs next to them. Meshullam son of Berekiah, son of Meshezabel, worked next to Meremoth. Zadok son of Baana repaired the next section. The people from Tekoa worked next to them, but some of the leaders of Tekoa would not perform the tasked assigned by their supervisors.
Joiada, son of Paseah and Meshullam, son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate. They laid its boards and set its doors, bolts, and bars in place. Next to them, Melatiah and other men from Gibeon and Mizpah, and Jadon from Meronoth repaired the walls. These places were ruled by the governor of Trans-Euphrates. Adjacent to them, Uzziel, son of Harhaiah, a goldsmith, made repairs. Next to him, Hananiah, a perfume maker, made repairs. These men rebuilt Jerusalem to the Broad Wall. The next part of the wall was repaired by Rephaiah, son of Hur, ruler of half of the district of Jerusalem. Next to him, Jedaiah, son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his own house. Next to him, Hattush, son of Hashabneiah made repairs. Malkijah, son of Harim and Hasshub, son of Pahath-Moab repaired another part of the wall as well as the Tower of the Ovens. Next to them Shallum, son of Hallohesh, the ruler of half of the district of Jerusalem, and his daughters made repairs.
Hanun and the people of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate, rebuilding it and setting its doors, bolts, and bars in place. They also repaired the five hundred yards of the wall to the Trash Gate.
Malkijah son of Recab, the ruler of the district of Beth Hakkerem, repaired the Trash Gate. He rebuilt that gate and set its doors, bolts, and bars in place.
Shallun son of Col-Hozeh, the ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it, put a roof over it, and set its doors, bolts, and bars in place. He also repaired the wall of the Pool of Siloam next to the King’s Garden all the way to the steps that went down from the older part of the city. Next to Shallun was Nehemiah son of Azbuk, ruler of half of the district of Beth Zur. He made repairs opposite the tombs of David and as far as the man-made pool and the House of the Heroes.
Next to him, the Levites made repairs, working under Rehum son of Bani. Next to him, Hashabiah, ruler of half of the district of Keilah, for his district. Next to him, Binnui son of Henadad and his relatives made repairs. Binnui was ruler of the other half of the district of Keilah. Next to them, Ezer son of Yeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another part of the wall. He worked across from the way to the armory, as far as the bend. Next to him, Baruch son of Zabbai worked hard on the wall that went from the bend to the entrance to the house of Eliashib, the high priest. Next to him, Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the wall that went from the entrance to Eliashib’s house to the far end of it.
Next to him worked the priests from the surrounding area. Next to them, Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs in front of their own house. Next to them, Azariah son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs beside his own house. Next to him, Binnui son of Henadad repaired the wall that went from Azariah’s house to the bend and on to the corner. Palal son of Uzai worked across from the bend and by the tower on the upper palace, which is near the courtyard of the king’s guard. Next to Palal, Pedaiah son of Parosh made repairs. The temple servants who lived on the hill of Ophel made repairs as far as a point opposite the Water Gate. They worked toward the east and the tower that extends from the palace. Next to them, the people of Tekoa repaired the wall from the great tower that extends from the palace to the wall of Ophel.
The priests made repairs above the Horse Gate, each working in front of his own house. Next to them, Zadok son of Immer made repairs across from his own house. Next to him, Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, guard of the East Gate, made repairs. Next to him, Hananiah son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, made repairs on another part of the wall. Next to them, Meshullam son of Berekiah made repairs across from where he lived. Next to him, Malkijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. He worked as far as the house of the temple servants and the traders, which is across from the Inspection Gate, and as far as the room above the corner of the wall. The goldsmiths and the traders made repairs between the room above the corner of the wall and the Sheep Gate.
When Sanballat heard we were rebuilding the wall, he was very angry, even furious. He ridiculed the Judeans. He asked his friends and those with power in Samaria; “What are these weak Judeans doing? Will they rebuild the wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Can they finish it in one day? Can they bring stones back to life from piles of trash and ashes?” Tobiah, who was with Sanballat, said; “If a fox climbed over the stone wall they are building, it would crumble.”
I prayed; “Hear us, O God! We are hated. Turn the insults of Sanballat and Tobiah back on themselves. May they be captured and stolen like valuables. Do not conceal their guilt or forgive their sins; they have insulted your builders.” We rebuilt the wall to half its original height, because the people were willing to work.
But Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, Ammonites, and people from Ashdod were very angry when they heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls were continuing and that the holes in the wall were being closed. They planned to come to Jerusalem cause trouble. But we prayed to Yahva and appointed guards to watch for them day and night.
The people of Judah said; “The workers are getting tired. There is so much trash we cannot rebuild the wall.”
Our enemies said; “The Judeans won’t know or see anything until we are among them, killing them to stop the work.”
Then the Judeans people who lived near our enemies told us ten times; “Everywhere you turn, the enemy will attack us.” So I put people behind the lowest places along the wall—the open places—and I put families together with their swords, spears, and bows. Then I looked around and stood up and said to the important men, the leaders, and the rest of the people; “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and powerful. Fight for your brothers, your sons and daughters, your wives, and your homes.”
Our enemies heard that we knew their plans and that Yahva had ruined their plans. So we all went back to the wall, each to his own work.
From that day, half my people worked on the wall. The other half was ready with spears, shields, bows, and armor. The officers stood in back of the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and carried a weapon with the other. Each builder wore his sword at his side as he worked. The man who blew the trumpet to warn the people stayed with me.
Then I said to the important people, leaders, and everyone else; “This is a very big job. We are spreading out along the wall so that we are far apart. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, assemble there. Yahva will fight for us.”
We continued to work with half the men holding spears from sunrise till the stars came out. At that time I also said to the people; “Let every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night. They can be our guards at night and workmen during the day.” Neither I, my brothers, my workers, nor the guards with me ever took off our clothes. Each person carried his weapon even when he went for water.
The men and their wives complained loudly against their fellow Judeans. Some of them were saying; “We have many sons and daughters in our families. To eat and stay alive, we need grain.”
Others were saying; “We are borrowing money against our fields, vineyards, and homes to get grain because there is not much food.”
Still others were saying; “We are borrowing money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. We are just like our fellow Judeans, and our sons are like their sons. But we have to sell our sons and daughters as slaves. Some of our daughters have already been sold. But there is nothing we can do, because our fields and vineyards already belong to other people.”
When I heard their complaints about these things, I was very angry. After I thought about it, I accused the important people and the leaders; “You are charging your own brothers too much interest.” So I called a large meeting to deal with them. I said to them; “As much as possible, we have bought freedom for our fellow Judeans who had been sold to foreigners. Now you are selling your fellow Judeans to us!” The leaders were quiet and had nothing to say.
Then I said; “What you are doing is not right. Don’t you fear Yavha? Don’t let our foreign enemies shame us. I, my brothers, and my men are also lending money and grain to the people. But stop charging them so much for this. Give back their fields, vineyards, olive trees, and houses right now. Also give back the extra amount you charged—the hundredth part of the money, grain, new wine, and oil.”
They said; “We will give it back and not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.”
Then I called for the priests and made the important people and leaders take an oath to do what they had said. Also I shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out everyone who does not keep his promise. May God shake him out of his house and out of the things that he has. Let that person be shaken and emptied!”
The whole group said; “Amen,” and praised the Lord. The people did what they had promised.
I was appointed governor in the land of Judah in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes’ rule. I was governor of Judah for 12 years, until his 32nd year. During that time neither my brothers nor I ate the food that was allowed for a governor. The governors before me had placed a heavy burden on the people. They took about a pound of silver from each person, along with food and wine. The governors’ helpers before me also controlled the people. I did not do that because I feared God. I worked on the wall, as did all my men who were gathered there. We did not buy any fields.
I fed 150 Judean people and officers at my table, as well as those who came from the nations around us. This is what was prepared every day: one ox, six good sheep, and birds. Every ten days there were all kinds of wine. But I never demanded the food that was due a governor, because the people were already working very hard.
Remember to be kind to me, Yahva, for all the good I have done for these people.
Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and our other enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that there was not one gap in it. But I had not yet set the doors in the gates. Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message; “Come, Nehemiah, let’s meet together in Kephirim on the plain of Ono.” They were planning to harm me so I sent messengers to them; “I am doing a great work and can’t come. I don’t want the work to stop while I meet you.” Sanballat and Geshem sent the same message four times, and each time I sent back the same answer.
The fifth time Sanballat sent his helper to me with the message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter. This is what was written: A report is going around to all the nations, and Geshem says it is true, that you and the Judean people are planning to turn against the king and that you are rebuilding the wall. They say you are going to be their king and that you have appointed prophets to announce in Jerusalem; “There is a king of Judah!” The king will hear about this. So, let’s discuss this together.
I sent him back this answer; “Nothing you are saying is really happening. It is only your imagination.” Our enemies were trying to scare us, thinking; “They will be too weak to work then the wall will not be finished.” But I prayed; “Yahva, make me strong.”
One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel. Shemaiah had to stay at home. He said; “Nehemiah, let’s meet in Yahva’s temple. Let’s go inside and close the doors, because men are coming kill you.” I said; “Should a man like me run away? Should I run for my life into the temple? I will not go.” I knew that Yahva had not sent him but that Tobiah and Sanballat had paid him to prophesy against me. They paid him to frighten me into this sin. Then they could give me a bad name to shame me.
I prayed; “Yahva, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, and what they have done. Remember the prophetess Noadiah and other prophets who have tried to frighten me.”
The wall of Jerusalem was completed on the 25th day of the month of Elul. It took 52 days to rebuild. When our enemies heard it and the nations around saw it, they were shamed. They then understood that the work had been done with the help of our God.
Important people of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah which he answered. Many Judean people had promised to be faithful to Tobiah, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah son of Arah. Tobiah’s son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah. These important people kept telling me the good things Tobiah was doing. Then, they would tell Tobiah what I said about him so Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.
After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites were chosen. I put my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah, the commander of the palace, in charge of Jerusalem. Hananiah was honest and feared Yahva more than most people. I said to them; “The gates of Jerusalem should not be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut and bolt the doors. Appoint people who live in Jerusalem as guards, Put some at guard posts and others near their own houses.”
The city was large and roomy but there were few people in it since the houses had not been rebuilt. Yahva caused me to gather the important people, the leaders, and the common people so I could register them by families. I found the family history of those who had returned first. This is what I found written there:
These are the people of the area who returned from exile, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken away. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each going back to his own town.
People returned with Zerubbabel
|Pahath-Moab (through the family of Yeshua and Joab)||2,818|
|Ater (through Hezekiah)||98|
There are 74 Levites: the descendants of Yeshua (through Kadmiel through the family of Hodaviah).
There are 148 singers: descendants of Asaph.
There are 138 gatekeepers: the descendants of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita, and Shobai.
Some people came to Jerusalem from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not prove that their ancestors came from Israel. Their names and their number are: the descendants of Delaiah, Tobiah, and Nekoda—642.
Hobaiah, Hakkoz, and Barzillai could not prove that their ancestors came from Israel: the descendants of.Israel (He had married a daughter of Barzillai from Gilead and was called by her family name.)
Descendants of the servants of Solomon:
Descendants of the temple servants:
|Bethlehem and Netophah||188|
|Kiriath, Jearim, Kephirah, and Beeroth||743|
|Ramah and Geba||621|
|Bethel and Ai||123|
|The other Nebo||52|
|The other Elam||1,234|
|Lod, Hadid, and Ono||721|
The temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon totaled 392 people.
These are the priests: the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Yeshua)—973; the descendants of Immer—1,052; the descendants of Pashhur—1,247; the descendants of Harim—1,017.
These people searched for their family records, but they could not find them. So they could not be priests, because they were thought to be unclean. The governor ordered them not to eat any of the holy food until a priest settled this matter by using the Urim and Thummim.
The total number of those who returned was 42,360. This is not counting their 7,337 male and female slaves and the 245 male and female singers with them. They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys.
Some of the family leaders gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury about 19 pounds of gold, 50 bowls, and 530 pieces of clothing for the priests. Some of the family leaders gave about 375 pounds of gold and about 2,660 pounds of silver to the treasury for the work. The total of what the other people gave was about 375 pounds of gold, about 2,250 pounds of silver, and 67 pieces of clothing for the priests. So these people all settled in their own towns: the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all the other people of Israel. By the seventh month the Israelites were settled in their own towns.
All the people of Israel gathered together in the square by the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the teacher to bring out the Book of the Teachings of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel.
So on the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought out the Teachings for the crowd. Men, women, and all who could listen and understand had gathered. At the square by the Water Gate Ezra read the Teachings aloud from early morning until noon to the men, women, and everyone who could listen and understand. All the people listened carefully to the Book of the Teachings.
Ezra stood on a high wooden platform that had been built just for this time. On his right were Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah. And on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
Ezra opened the book in full view of everyone, because he was above them. As he opened it, all the people stood up. Ezra praised Yahva, their God, and all the people held up their hands, saying; “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed and worshiped with their faces to the ground.
These Levites explained the Teachings to the people as they stood there: Yeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah. They read from the Book of the Teachings of God and explained what it meant so the people understood what was being read.
Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher, and the Levites who were teaching said to all the people; “This is a holy day to the Yahva. Don’t be sad or cry.” All the people had been crying as they listened to the words of the Teachings.
Nehemiah said; “Enjoy good food and sweet drinks. Send some to people who have none because today is a holy day to the Lord. Don’t be sad, because the joy of the Lord will make you strong.”
The Levites helped calm the people, saying, “Be quiet, because this is a holy day. Don’t be sad.”
Then all the people went to eat and drink, and send some of their food to others, celebrating with great joy. They finally understood what they had been taught.
On the second day of the month, the leaders of the families, priests, and Levites met with Ezra. They gathered to study the words of the Teachings. This is what they found written in the Teachings: The Lord commanded through Moses that the people of Israel were to live in huts during the feast of the seventh month. The people were supposed to preach this message and spread it through all their towns and in Jerusalem; “Go into the mountains, and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, myrtle trees, palms, and shade trees. Make huts with them, as it is written.”
So the people gathered tree branches. They built huts on their roofs, in their courtyards, in the courtyards of the temple, in the square by the Water Gate, and in the square next to the Gate of Ephraim. The whole group that had come back from captivity built shelters and lived in them. The Israelites had not done this since the time of Joshua son of Nun. They were very happy.
Ezra read to them every day from the Book of the Teachings, from the first day to the last. The people of Israel celebrated the feast for seven days, and then on the eighth day the people gathered as the law said.
On the 24th day of that same month, the people of Israel gathered. They fasted, wore rough cloth and put dust on their heads to show their sadness. Those people whose ancestors were from Israel had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood and confessed their sins and their ancestors’ sins. For a quarter of the day they stood where they were and read from the Book of the Teachings of the Lord. For another quarter of the day they confessed their sins and worshiped Yahva. These Levites were standing on the stairs: Yeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Kenani. They called out to Yahva with loud voices. Then these Levites spoke: Yeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah. They said; “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who lives forever and ever.”
Blessed be your wonderful name.
It is more wonderful than all blessing and praise.
You are the only God.
You made the skies, even the highest skies with all the stars.
You made the earth and everything on it,
The seas and everything in them; you give life to everything.
The heavenly army worships you.
You are Yahva, the God who chose Abram
And brought him from Ur naming him Abraham.
You found him faithful so you made an agreement with him
To give his descendants the land of the
Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites.
You have kept your promise because you do what is right.
You saw our ancestors suffering in Egypt
And heard them cry out at the Red Sea.
You did signs and miracles against the king of Egypt,
Against all his officers and all his people,
Because you knew how proud they were.
You became as famous as you are today.
You divided the sea in front of our ancestors;
They walked through on dry ground.
But you threw the people chasing them into the deep water,
Like a stone thrown into mighty waters.
You led our ancestors with a cloud pillar by day
And with a pillar of fire at night.
It lit the way they were supposed to go.
You came down to Mount Sinai
Speaking from heaven to our ancestors.
You gave them fair, good orders, and commands.
You told them about your holy Sabbath
Giving them commands, orders, and teachings
Through Moses, your servant.
When they were hungry, you gave them bread from heaven.
When they were thirsty, you brought them water from the rock.
You told them to enter and take the land promised to them.
But our ancestors were proud and stubborn
Not obeying your commands.
They refused to listen forgetting your miracles.
So they became stubborn and turned against you,
Choosing a leader to take them back to slavery.
But you are a forgiving God.
You are kind and full of mercy.
You do not become angry quickly and you have great love.
So you did not leave them.
Our ancestors even made an idol of a calf for themselves.
They said; "This is your god, Israel, who rescued you from Egypt.”
They spoke against you.
You have great mercy to not leave them in the desert.
The pillar of cloud guided them by day,
And the pillar of fire led them at night,
Lighting the way they were to go.
You gave your good Spirit to teach them.
You gave them manna to eat and water to drink.
You cared for them for forty years
In the desert they needed nothing.
Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.
You gave them kingdoms and nations;
You gave them more land.
They took the country of Sihon king of Heshbon
And the country of Og king of Bashan.
You made their children as many as the stars in the sky,
And brought them into the land
You told their ancestors to enter and occupy.
So their children went into the land and took over.
The Canaanites lived there but you defeated them for our ancestors.
You handed over to them the Canaanites,
Their kings, and the people of the land.
Our ancestors could do what they wanted with them.
They captured strong, walled cities and fertile land.
They took over houses full of good things,
Wells that were already dug,
Vineyards, olive trees, and many fruit trees.
They ate until they were full and grew fat.
They enjoyed your great goodness.
But they were disobedient and turned against you
And ignored your teachings.
Your prophets warned them to come back to you,
They killed those prophets and disputed you.
You gave them to their enemies,
Their enemies treated them badly.
In our time of distress our ancestors cried to you,
You heard from heaven.
With great mercy and you gave them saviors
Who saved them from their enemies.
As soon as they were comfortable, they again did evil.
You again abandoned them to enemies who ruled them.
When they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven.
With mercy, you saved them again and again.
You warned them to return to your teachings,
But they were proud, not obeying your commands.
If anyone obeys your laws, he shall live,
But they continued to sin against your laws.
They were stubborn, arrogant, and disobedient.
You were patient with them for many years.
You warned them by your essence through the prophets,
But they did not pay attention.
So you gave them to other nations.
In your mercy, you did not kill all of them or leave them.
You are a kind and merciful God.
Yahva, you are the mighty and wonderful God.
You keep your agreement of love.
Do not let all our trouble seem worthless to you.
This trouble has come to us, our kings, leaders,
Priests, ancestors and people,
From the time of the kings of Assyria until today.
You have been fair in everything that has happened to us;
You have been loyal, but we have been wicked.
Our kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors did not obey you;
They did not heed your commands and warnings.
Even when our ancestors were living in their kingdom,
Enjoying all the good things you had given them,
Enjoying the land that was fertile and full of room,
They did not stop their evil ways.
We are slaves today in the land you gave our ancestors.
They were to enjoy its harvest, but we are slaves here.
The land’s great harvest belongs to the kings
You have put over us because of our sins.
Those kings rule over us and our livestock as they please,
Thus we are in much trouble.
Because of all this, we are making an agreement in writing,
And our leaders, Levites, and priests are sealing it
These men sealed the agreement:
Nehemiah the governor, son of Hacaliah.
These priests sealed it:
These Levites sealed it:
Yeshua son of Azaniah
Binnui of the sons of Henadad
These are the leaders of the people who sealed the agreement:
The rest of the people took an oath; priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants, and all those who separated themselves from foreigners to obey the laws of Yahva; also their wives and children who could understand. They joined their fellow Judeans and their leading men in taking an oath, which was tied to a curse if they broke the oath. They promised to follow the laws of Yahva, given through Moses, and obey the commands, rules, and laws of Yahva.
We promise not to let our daughters marry foreigners, nor let our sons marry their daughters. Foreigners may sell goods or grain on the Sabbath, but we will not buy on any holy day. Every seventh year we will not plant. That year we will forgive all that people owe us.
We will respect the commands to pay for the service of Yahva’s temple. We will give a third of a silver shekel each year for the work of the temple including: the bread that is set on the table; the regular grain and burnt offerings; the offerings on the Sabbaths, New Moon festivals, and special feasts; the holy offerings; the offerings to remove the sins of the Israelites so they will belong to Yahva.
We, the priests, Levites, and people, have thrown lots to decide at what time of year each family must bring wood to the temple. The wood is for burning on the altar of Yahva, and we will do written in the laws.
We will bring the first fruits from our crops and the first fruits of every tree to the temple each year.
We will bring to the temple our firstborn sons and livestock and the firstborn of our herds and flocks, as it is written in the laws. We will bring them to the priests who are serving in the temple.
We will bring to the priests at the storerooms of the temple the first of our ground meal, our offerings, the fruit from all our trees, and our new wine and oil. We will bring a tenth of our crops to the Levites, who will collect them in the towns where we work. A priest of Aaron’s family must be with the Levites when they receive the tenth of the crops. The Levites must bring a tenth of all they receive to the temple storerooms. The people of Israel and the Levites are to bring to the storerooms the gifts of grain, new wine, and oil where the utensils for the temple are kept and where the priests who are serving, the gatekeepers, and singers stay.
We will not ignore Yahva’s temple.
The leaders of Israel lived in Jerusalem. Yhe rest of the people threw lots to choose one person out of every ten to live in Jerusalem. The other nine could stay in their own cities. The people blessed those who chose to live in Jerusalem.
These are the area leaders who lived in Jerusalem. (Some people lived on their own land in the cities of Judah. These included Israelites, priests, Levites, temple servants, and descendants of Solomon’s servants. Others from the families of Judah and Benjamin lived in Jerusalem.)
These are the descendants of Judah who moved into Jerusalem:
Athaiah son of Uzziah, son of Zechariah, son of Amariah, son of Shephatiah, son of Mahalalel, descendant of Perez.)
Masseiah son of Baruch, son of Col-Hozeh, son of Hazaiah, son of Adaiah, son of Joiarib, son of Zechariah, descendant of Shelah.
All the descendants of Perez who lived in Jerusalem totaled 468 men. They were soldiers.
These are descendants of Benjamin who moved into Jerusalem:
Sallu son of Meshullam, son of Joed, son of Pedaiah, son of Kolaiah, son of Maaseiah, Maaseiah son of Ithiel, son of Jeshaiah, descendant 0f Gabbai and Sallai, for a total of 928 men.
Joel son of Zicri was appointed over them and Judah son of Hassenuah was second in charge of the new area of the city.
These are the priests who moved into Jerusalem:
Jedaiah son of Joiarib, Jakin, and Seraiah son of Hilkiah, (supervisor in the temple) son of Meshullam, son of Zadok, son of Meraioth, son of Ahitub.
There were others with them who worked for the temple. All together there were 822 men.
Adaiah son of Jeroham, son of Pelaliah, son of Amzi, son of Zechariah, the son of Pashhur, son of Malkijah. And there were family heads with him. All together there were 242 men.
Amashsai son of Azarel, son of Ahzai, son of Meshillemoth, son of Immer.
There were brave men with Amashsai. All together there were 128 men. Zabdiel son of Haggedolim was appointed over them.
These are the Levites who moved into Jerusalem:
Shemaiah son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, son of Bunni.
Abda son of Shammua, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun.
Mattaniah son of Mica, son of Zabdi, son of Asaph.
Shabbethai and Jozabad, two of the leaders of the Levites, were in charge of the work outside the temple. Mattaniah led the people in thanksgiving and prayer. There was Bakbukiah, who was second in charge over his fellow Levites. All together 284 Levites lived in Jerusalem.
The gatekeepers who moved into Jerusalem were Akkub, Talmon, and others with them. There was a total of 172 men who guarded the city gates.
The other Israelites, priests, and Levites lived on their own land in all the cities of Judah.
The temple servants lived on the hill of Ophel. Ziha and Gishpa were in charge of them.
Uzzi son of Bani was appointed over the Levites in Jerusalem. (Bani was son of Hashabiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Mica.) Uzzi was one of Asaph’s descendants, who were the singers responsible for the service of the temple. The singers were under the king’s orders, which regulated them day by day.
Pethahiah son of Meshezabel was the king’s spokesman. (Meshezabel was a descendant of Zerah, son of Judah.)
Some of the people of Judah lived in villages with their surrounding fields. They lived in Kiriath Arba with its surroundings, in Dibon with its surroundings, in Jekabzeel wityh its surroundings, in Yeshua, Moladah, Beth Pelet, Hazar Shual, Beersheba and their surroundings, in Ziklag and Meconah with its surroundings, in En Rimmon, Zorah, Jarmuth, Zanoah, Adullam and their villages, in Lachish with the fields around it, and in Azekah with its surroundings. They settled from Beersheba all the way to the Valley of Hinnom.
The descendants of the Benjaminites from Geba lived in Micmash, Aija, Bethel and its surroundings, in Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah, Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim, Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat, Lod, Ono, and in the Valley of the Craftsmen.
Some groups of Levites from Judah settled in the land of Benjamin.
These are the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Yeshua:
They were the leaders of the priests and their relatives in the days of Yeshua.
The Levites were Yeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah. Mattaniah and his relatives were in charge of the songs of thanksgiving. Bakbukiah and Unni, their relatives, stood across from them in the services.
Yeshua was the father of Joiakim. Joiakim was the father of Eliashib. Eliashib was the father of Joiada. Joiada was the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan was the father of Jaddua.
In the days of Joiakim, these priests were the leaders of the families of priests:
Meraiah, from Seraiah’s family
Hananiah, from Jeremiah’s family
Meshullam, from Ezra’s family
Jehohanan, from Amariah’s family
Jonathan, from Malluch’s family
Joseph, from Shecaniah’s family
Adna, from Harim’s family
Helkai, from Meremoth’s family
Zechariah, from Iddo’s family
Meshullam, from Ginnethon’s family
Zicri, from Abijah’s family
Piltai, from Miniamin’s and Moadiah’s families
Shammua, from Bilgah’s family;
Jehonathan, from Shemaiah’s family
Mattenai, from Joiarib’s family
Uzzi, from Jedaiah’s family
Kallai, from Sallu’s family
Eber, from Amok’s family
Hashabiah, from Hilkiah’s family
Nethanel, from Jedaiah’s family
The leaders of the families of the Levites and the priests were written down in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, while Darius the Persian was king. The family leaders among the Levites were written down in the history book, but only up to the time of Johanan son of Eliashib. The leaders of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Yeshua son of Kadmiel, and their relatives. Their relatives stood across from them and gave praise and thanksgiving to God. One group answered the other group as David had commanded.
These were the gatekeepers who guarded the storerooms next to the gates: Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub. They served in the days of Joiakim son of Yeshua, the son of Jozadak. They also served in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra.
When the wall of Jerusalem was offered as a gift to God, they asked the Levites to come from wherever they lived to Jerusalem to celebrate with joy the gift of the wall. They were to celebrate with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps, and lyres. They also brought singers from around Jerusalem, from the Netophathite villages, from Beth Gilgal, and from the areas of Geba and Azmaveth. The singers had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. The priests and Levites made themselves pure, and they also made the people, the gates, and the wall of Jerusalem pure.
I had the leaders of Judah go to top of the wall, and I appointed two large choruses to give thanks. One chorus went to the right toward the Trash Gate. Behind them went Hoshaiah and half the leaders of Judah. Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah also went. Some priests with trumpets also went along with Zechariah son of Jonathan. (Jonathan was son of Shemaiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Micaiah, son of Zaccur, son of Asaph.) Zechariah’s relatives also went. They were Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani. These men played the musical instruments of David while Ezra walked in front of them. They went from the Fountain Gate straight up the steps to the highest part of the wall by the older part of the city. They went above the house of David to the Water Gate on the east.
The second chorus went to the left, while I followed them on top of the wall with half the people. We went from the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, over the Gate of Ephraim to the Old Gate and the Fish Gate, to the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred. We went as far as the Sheep Gate and stopped at the Gate of the Guard.
The two choruses took their places at the temple. Half of the leaders and I did also. These priests were there with their trumpets: Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah. These people were also there: Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam, and Ezer. The choruses sang, led by Jezrahiah. The people offered many sacrifices that day and were happy because Yahva had given them great joy. The women and children were happy. The sound of happiness in Jerusalem could be heard far away.
The leaders appointed men to be in charge of the storerooms. These rooms were for the gifts, the first fruits, and the ten percent that the people brought. The Teachings said they should bring a share for the priests and Levites from the fields around the towns. The people of Judah were happy to do this for the priests and Levites who served. They performed the service of their God in making things pure. The singers and gatekeepers also did their jobs, as David had commanded his son Solomon. Earlier, in the time of David and Asaph, there was a leader of the singers and of the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. So it was in the days of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah. All the people of Israel gave something to the singers and gatekeepers, and they also set aside part for the Levites. The Levites set aside part for the descendants of Aaron.
On that day they read the Book of Moses to the people, and they found that it said no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be allowed in the meeting to worship. The Ammonites and Moabites had not welcomed the Israelites with food and water. Instead, they had hired Balaam to put a curse on Israel. But Yahva turned the curse into a blessing. When the people heard this teaching, they separated all foreigners from Israel.
Before that happened, Eliashib the priest, who was in charge of the temple storerooms, was friendly with Tobiah. Eliashib let Tobiah use one of the large storerooms. Earlier it had been used for grain offerings, incense, the utensils, and the tenth offerings of grain, new wine, and olive oil that belonged to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers. It had also been used for gifts for the priests.
I was not in Jerusalem when this happened. I had gone back to Artaxerxes king of Babylon in the thirty-second year he was king. Finally I asked the king to let me leave. When I returned to Jerusalem, I found out the evil Eliashib had done by letting Tobiah have a room in the temple courtyard. I was very upset at this, so I threw all of Tobiah’s goods out of the room. I ordered the rooms to be purified. I returned the utensils for Yahva’s temple, the grain offerings, and the incense.
I learned that the people were not giving the Levites their shares. So the Levites and singers who served had gone back to their own farms. I argued with the officers, saying, “Why haven’t you taken care of the temple?” Then I gathered the Levites and singers and put them back at their places.
All the people of Judah then brought to the storerooms a tenth of their crops, new wine, and olive oil. I put these men in charge of the storerooms: Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the teacher, and Pedaiah a Levite.
I made Hanan son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, their helper. Everyone knew they were honest. They gave out the portions that went to their relatives.
Remember me, O Yahva, for this. Do not ignore my love for the temple and its service.
In those days I saw people in Judah working in the winepresses on the Sabbath day. They were bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys. They were bringing loads of wine, grapes, and figs into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. I warned them about selling food on that day. People from the city of Tyre who were living in Jerusalem brought in fish and other things selling them there on the Sabbath day to the people of Judah. I argued with the important men of Judah, saying to them; “What is this evil thing you are doing? You are ruining the Sabbath day. This is what your ancestors did, so Yahva did terrible things to us and this city. Now you are making him angrier by ruining the Sabbath.”
I ordered that the doors be shut at sunset before the Sabbath and not be opened until the Sabbath was over. I put my servants at the gates so no load could come in on the Sabbath. Once or twice traders and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem. So I warned them; “Why are you spending the night by the wall? If you do it again, I will force you away.” After that, they did not come back on the Sabbath. I ordered the Levites to purify themselves and guard the city gates to make sure the Sabbath remained holy.
Remember me, O Yahva, for this. Have mercy on me because of your great love.
I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. Half their children were speaking the language of Ashdod or some other place. They couldn’t speak the language of Judah. I argued with those people, put curses on them, hit some of them, and pulled out their hair. I forced them to make a promise to Yahva; “Do not let your daughters marry the sons of foreigners, and do not take the daughters of foreigners as wives for your sons or yourselves. Foreign women made King Solomon of Israel sin. There was never a king like him in any of the nations. Yahva loved Solomon and made him king over all Israel but foreign women made him sin. Now you are not obedient when you do this. You are unfaithful to Yahva when you marry foreign wives.”
Joiada was the son of Eliashib the high priest. One of Joiada’s sons married a daughter of Sanballat the Horonite so I sent him away from me.
Remember them, O Yahva, because they made the priesthood unclean and the agreement of the priests and Levites unclean.
I purified them of everything that was foreign. I appointed duties for the priests and Levites, giving each man his own job. I also made sure wood was brought for the altar at regular times and that the first fruits were brought.
Remember me, O Yahva. Be kind to me.
© Copyright 2015-2016 D E Pauley