The call of Nehemiah: his mission to Judah

1:1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. In the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,[*a] when I was in the citadel of Susa,

1:2 one of my kinsmen, Hanani, arrived with some men from Judah. I asked them about the Jews-the remnant rescued from captivity-and about Jerusalem.

1:3 ‘Those who escaped from captivity,’ they replied ‘who are back there in the province, are in great trouble and humiliation: the walls of Jerusalem are in ruins and its gates burnt down.’

1:4 On hearing this I sank down and wept; for several days I mourned, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

1:5 And I said, ‘Yahweh, God of heaven, great God who must be feared, maintaining covenant and kindness with those who love you and obey your commandments,

1:6 let your ear be listening, and your eyes open, to hear your servant’s prayer. I am making this to you now day and night on behalf of the sons of Israel, your servants; and I confess the sins of the sons of Israel which we have committed against you: I and my father’s House have sinned.

1:7 We have acted very wickedly towards you: we have not kept the commandments, laws and customs you laid down for Moses your servant.

1:8 Remember, I beg you, the charge you gave to Moses your servant: “If you prove faithless, I will scatter you among the peoples;

1:9 but if you come back to me and keep my commandments and practise them, even if your outcasts were at the very sky’s end, I would gather them from there and bring them back to the place I have chosen for my name to dwell in”.

1:10 Now these are your servants, your own people: you have redeemed them with your mighty power and outstretched arm.

1:11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to your servant’s prayer and to the prayer of your servants who delight to reverence your name. I beg you, let your servant be successful today; make him acceptable to this man.’ At that time I was cupbearer to the king.


2:1 In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,[*a] the wine being my concern, I took up the wine and offered it to the king. Now I had never been downcast before.

2:2 So the king said, ‘Why is your face so sad? You are not sick, surely? This must be a sadness of the heart.’ A great fear came over me

2:3 and I said to the king, ‘May the king live for ever! How could my face be other than sad when the city where the tombs of my ancestors are lies in ruins, and its gates have been burnt down?’

2:4 ‘What’ the king asked ‘is your request?’ I called on the God of heaven

2:5 and made this reply to the king, ‘If it pleases the king, and if you are satisfied with your servant, give me leave to go to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ tombs, and rebuild it’.

2:6 The king, with the queen sitting there beside him, said, ‘How long will your journey take, and when will you return?’ So I named a date that seemed acceptable to the king and he gave me leave to go.

2:7 I spoke to the king once more, ‘If it please the king, could letters be given me for the governors of Transeuphrates to allow me to pass through to Judah?

2:8 And also a letter for Asaph, keeper of the king’s park, to supply me with timber for the gates of the citadel of the Temple, for the city walls and for the house I am to occupy?’ This the king granted me, for the kindly favour of my God was with me.

2:9 So I travelled to the governors of Transeuphrates, and handed them the king’s letters. The king had given me an escort of army officers and cavalry.

2:10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite slave[*b] came to know of this, they were much displeased that anyone should come to promote the welfare of the sons of Israel.

The decision to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem

2:11 And so I reached Jerusalem and stayed there for three days.

2:12 Then I rose in the night, with a few other men, not having told anyone what work God had inspired me to do for Jerusalem, and having no animal with me but my own mount.

2:13 At night, therefore, leaving by the Valley Gate, I went by way of the Well of the Dragon to the Dung Gate; I examined the walls of Jerusalem with their gaps and burnt-out gates.

2:14 I went on to the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but found no further path for my mount.

2:15 So I returned, in the dark, through the wadi, still examining the walls, and came in again by the Valley Gate. And so I returned

2:16 without the officials knowing where I had gone or what I was doing. So far I had said nothing to the Jews: either to the priests, the authorities, the officials or any other responsible persons.

2:17 Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem is in ruins, its gates have been burnt down. Come, let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and suffer this indignity no longer.’

2:18 And I told them how the kindly favour of God had been with me, and also repeated the words the king had said to me. ‘Let us start!’ they exclaimed ‘Let us build’; and with willing hands they set about the good work.

2:19 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite slave, and Geshem the Arab came to know of this, they ridiculed us, and came and asked, ‘What are you doing? Are you planning to revolt against the king?’

2:20 But I gave them this answer, ‘The God of heaven will give us success. We, his servants, are going to build; you have neither share nor rights nor memorial in Jerusalem.’


The volunteer builders

3:1 Eliashib the high priest and his brother priests set about building the Sheep Gate; they constructed its framework and set its doors, bolts and bars in place, and proceeded as far as the Tower of Hananel.

3:2 The men of Jericho built next to them; Zaccur son of Imri built next to them.

3:3 The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they constructed its framework and set its doors, bolts and bars in place.

3:4 Meremoth son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz carried out repairs next to them; Meshullam son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel carried out repairs next to him.

3:5 The men of Tekoa carried out repairs next to him, though their chiefs refused to bow their necks and work for their lords.

3:6 Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah repaired the gate of the new quarter: they constructed its framework and set its doors, bolts and bars in place.

3:7 Next to them repairs were carried out by Melatiah of Gibeon and Jadon of Meronoth, and also by the men of Gibeon and Mizpah, on behalf of the governors of Transeuphrates.

3:8 Next to them repairs were carried out by Uzziel, a member of the goldsmiths’ guild, and next to him repairs were carried out by Hananiah, of the perfumers’ guild: they strengthened Jerusalem as far as the Wall of the Square.

3:9 Next to them repairs were carried out by Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem.

3:10 Next to them Jedaiah son of Harumaph carried out repairs opposite his own house; next to him repairs were carried out by Hattush son of Hashabneiah.

3:11 Malchijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-moab repaired the next section as far as the Tower of the Furnaces.

3:12 Next to them repairs were carried out by Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, by him and his sons.

3:13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate; they restored it, constructed its framework and set its doors, bolts and bars in place, and repaired a thousand cubits of wall up to the Dung Gate.

3:14 Malchijah son of Rechab, ruler of the district of Beth-hac-cherem, repaired the Dung Gate, he and his sons: he set its doors, bolts and bars in place.

3:15 Shallum son of Col-hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate; he restored it, covered it, and set its doors, bolts and bars in place. He also rebuilt the wall of the conduit cistern, adjoining the king’s garden, as far as the steps coming down from the Citadel of David.

3:16 Next to him, Nehemiah son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, carried out repairs up to a point opposite the tombs of David, the artificial pool and the House of Heroes.

3:17 Next to him repairs were carried out by the Levites: Rehum son of Bani; next to him Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, carried out repairs for his own district.

3:18 Next to him repairs were carried out by their brothers: Binnui son of Henadad, ruler of half the district of Keilah;

3:19 next to him, Ezer son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the slope up to the Armoury, towards the Angle.

3:20 Next to him Baruch son of Zabbai repaired another section from the Angle as far as the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest.

3:21 Next to him Meremoth son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired another section from the door of Eliashib’s house to its farther end.

3:22 Next to him repairs were carried out by the priests who lived locally in the country.

3:23 Next to them repairs were carried out by Benjamin and Hasshub, opposite their own houses. Next to them repairs were carried out by Azariah son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah, beside his own house.

3:24 Next to him Binnui son of Henadad repaired another section from the house of Azariah as far as the Angle.

3:25 Next to him Palal son of Uzai carried out repairs opposite the corner of the tower jutting out over the upper palace of the king and standing in the prison courtyard. Next to him Pedaiah son of Parosh carried out repairs

3:26 as far as the Water Gate, in an easterly direction and up to a point opposite the projecting tower.

3:27 Next to him the men of Tekoa repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel.

3:28 From the Horse Gate onwards repairs were carried out by the priests, each opposite his own house.

3:29 Next to them repairs were carried out by Zadok son of Immer opposite his own house. Next to him repairs were carried out by Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, keeper of the East Gate.

3:30 Next to him Hananiah son of Shelemiah and Hanun sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. Next to him repairs were carried out by Meshullam son of Berechiah opposite where he lived.

3:31 Next to him Malchijah, of the goldsmiths’ guild, repaired as far as the quarters of the oblates and of the merchants, opposite the Watch Gate as far as the high chamber of the corner.

3:32 And between the high chamber of the corner and the Sheep Gate repairs were carried out by the goldsmiths and the merchants.

The effect on the Jews’ opponents

3:33 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the walls he flew into a rage, beside himself with anger. He ridiculed the Jews

3:34 and in front of his kinsmen and the wealthy men of Samaria he exclaimed, ‘What are these pathetic Jews trying to do?… Do they expect to finish in one day? Do they think they can put new life into these charred stones, salvaged from the heaps of rubble?’

3:35 Tobiah the Ammonite was standing beside him. ‘Let them build,’ he said ‘a jackal jumping on their wall will soon knock the stones down again.’

3:36 See, our God, how we are despised! Make their sneers fall back on their own heads. Give them over to shame in a land of exile.

3:37 Do not hide their guilt or let their sin be blotted out before you, for heaping insults on the builders.

3:38 Meanwhile we were rebuilding the wall which was soon finished all the way round to mid-height, since the people put their hearts into the work.

3:3a. Called ‘the gate of Ephraim’ in Ne 12:39. b. Once the barracks of the king’s bodyguard.


4:1 When news reached Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites, that repairs to the walls of Jerusalem were going forward-since the gaps were beginning to be made good-they were furious,

4:2 and conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and upset my plans.

4:3 Then we called on our God and set a watch against them, day and night, to guard the city.

4:4 Judah, however, was saying, ‘The strength of the carriers is failing and the amount of rubble enormous; we shall never finish the wall’.

4:5 And our enemies were saying, ‘We will appear among them before they know or see anything; then we will cut them down and put an end to the business’.

4:6 Now on ten occasions Jews who lived near them gave us warning, ‘They are coming up against us from every place they live in’.

4:7 So we took up positions down behind the wall where the place was clear; I posted the people by families with their swords, spears and bows.

4:8 I had seen their fear and I stood up and addressed the authorities, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Keep your minds on the Lord, who is great and to be feared, and fight for your kinsmen, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your homes.’

4:9 Learning, however, that we were forewarned, and that God had thwarted their plan, our enemies withdrew, and we all went back, everyone to his work on the wall.

4:10 But from that day onwards only half of my men continued the work; the rest, with spears, shields, bows and breastplates, stood behind all the House of Judah

4:11 who were building the wall. The carriers, too, were armed so that each did his work with one hand while gripping his weapon with the other.

4:12 And as each builder worked, he wore his sword at his side. Beside me stood a trumpeter.

4:13 I addressed the authorities, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘The work is important and extensive, and we are deployed along the wall at some distance from each other.

4:14 Rally round us wherever you hear the trumpet sounding, and our God will fight for us.’

4:15 So we went on with the work from break of day till the stars appeared.

4:16 Then I spoke to the people again, ‘Let each man, with his servant, spend the night inside Jerusalem: in this way we can employ the night in watching and the day in working’.

4:17 But none of us, neither myself, my kinsmen, my servants, nor the members of my personal guard, ever took off our clothes; every man kept his weapon to hand.


The social problems of Nehemiah. He vindicates his administration

5:1 The ordinary people and their wives began complaining loudly against their brother Jews.

5:2 Some said, ‘We are having to barter our sons and daughters to get enough corn to eat and keep us alive’.

5:3 Others said, ‘We are having to mortgage our fields, our vineyards, our houses to get corn during the famine’.

5:4 Still others said, ‘We have had to borrow money on our fields and our vineyards to pay the king’s tax;

5:5 and though we are of the same flesh as our brothers, and our children as good as theirs, we are having to sell our sons and our daughters into slavery; some of our daughters have even been raped! We can do nothing about it, since our fields and our vineyards are now the property of others.’

5:6 When I heard their complaints and these words I was very angry.

5:7 Having turned the matter over in my mind, I reprimanded the authorities and officials. ‘What a burden you impose,’ I said ‘every one of you on his brother!’ Summoning a great assembly to deal with them,

5:8 I said to them, ‘To the best of our power, we have redeemed our brother Jews who had been sold to foreigners, and now you in turn are selling our brothers for us to redeem them!’ They were silent and could find nothing to say.

5:9 ‘What you are doing’ I went on ‘is wrong. Do you not want to walk in the fear of our God and escape the sneers of the nations, our enemies?

5:10 I too, my kinsmen, and my servants have lent them money and corn. Let us cancel this debt.

5:11 Return them their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves and their houses forthwith, and remit the debt on the money, corn, wine and oil which you have lent them.’

5:12 ‘We will make restitution,’ they replied ‘we will claim nothing more from them; we will do as you say.’ At once I summoned the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised.

5:13 Then I shook out the lap of my gown with the words, ‘May God do this, and shake out of his house and property any man who does not keep this promise; may he be shaken out like this and left empty!’ And the whole assembly answered, ‘Amen’ and gave praise to Yahweh. And the people kept this promise.

5:14 What is more, from the day the king appointed me governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my kinsmen ever ate governor’s bread.[*a]

5:15 Now the former governors, my predecessors, had been a burden on the people, from whom they took forty silver shekels each day as their subsistence allowance, while their servants oppressed the people too. But I, fearing God, never did this.

5:16 And furthermore I worked on this wall all the time, though I owned no land; and my servants also were all employed on the work.

5:17 Leaders and officials to the number of a hundred and fifty ate at my table, not to mention those who came to us from the surrounding nations.

5:18 Every day, one ox, six fine sheep, and poultry, were prepared at my expense; every ten days skins of wine were brought in bulk. But even so, I never claimed the governor’s subsistence allowance, since the people already had burden enough to bear.

5:19 In my favour, my God, remember all I have done for this people.


The intrigues of Nehemiah’s enemies. The wall is finished

6:1 When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and our other enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that not a single gap was left-though at that time I had not fixed the doors to the gates-

6:2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message, ‘Come and meet us at Hac-chepirim in the Vale of Ono’. Now they intended some harm to me.

6:3 So I sent messengers to them to say, ‘I am engaged in a great undertaking and so cannot come down. The work would come to a halt if I left it to come down to you.’

6:4 Four times they sent me the same invitation and I made them the same reply.

6:5 The fifth time, with the same purpose in mind, Sanballat sent me his servant bearing an open letter.

6:6 It ran, ‘There is a rumour among the nations, so Gashmu[*a] says, that you and the Jews are thinking of rebelling, which is why you are building the wall; that you yourself are to become their king;

6:7 that you have even briefed prophets in your own interest in Jerusalem to proclaim: “Judah has a king”. These rumours will soon be reaching the king; so you had better come and talk things over with us.’

6:8 To this, however, I replied, ‘As regards what you say, nothing of the sort has occurred; it is a figment of your own imagination’.

6:9 For they were trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will tire of the work, and it will never be finished’. But I meanwhile was making my hands even stronger.

6:10 I had been to visit Shemaiah son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, since he was prevented from coming to me. He said: ‘Let us meet at the Temple of God, in the innermost part of the sanctuary; let us shut the sanctuary doors, for they are coming to kill you, they are coming to kill you tonight’.

6:11 But I retorted, ‘Is a man like me to run away? A man in my position to go into the sanctuary to save his life? I will not go.’

6:12 I realised that God had not sent him to say this, but that he had pronounced this oracle over me because Tobiah was paying him

6:13 to frighten me into doing this, and so committing a sin as a result of which they would have been able to blacken my reputation and ridicule me.

6:14 Remember Tobiah, my God, for what he has done; and Noadiah the prophetess, and the other prophets who tried to frighten me.

6:15 The wall was finished within fifty-two days, on the twenty-fifth of Elul.[*b]

6:16 When all our enemies heard about it, and all the surrounding nations had seen it, they were deeply impressed and acknowledged that this work had been accomplished by the power of our God.

6:17 During this same period several of the authorities of Judah kept sending letter after letter to Tobiah, and letters from Tobiah kept arriving for them;

6:18 for he had many sworn to his interest in Judah, since he was son-in-law to Shecaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah.

6:19 They even cried up his good deeds in my presence, and they reported what I said back to him. And Tobiah kept on sending letters to frighten me.


7:1 When the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, keepers were appointed for the gates (besides cantors and Levites).

7:2 I entrusted the administration of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and to Hananiah the commander of the citadel, for he was a trustworthy man and God-fearing above the ordinary.

7:3 I said to them, ‘The gates of Jerusalem must not be opened until the sun gets hot; and you are to shut and bar the doors while it is still high; and detail guard pickets from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some for the lookout posts, and others for duty outside their own houses’.

The repopulation of Jerusalem

7:4 The city was large and spacious but the population was small, and no new families were growing up.

7:5 My God therefore inspired me to assemble the authorities, the officials and the people for the purpose of taking a census by families. I discovered the genealogical register of those who had returned in the first group, and there I found entered:

A list of the first exiles to return

7:6 These are the people of the province who returned from captivity and exile. After being deported by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, they returned to Jerusalem and to Judah, each to his own town.

7:7 They arrived with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:

7:8 sons of Parosh, two thousand one hundred and seventy-two;

7:9 sons of Shephatiah, three hundred and seventy-two;

7:10 sons of Arah, six hundred and fifty-two;

7:11 sons of Pahath-moab, that is to say sons of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and eighteen;

7:12 sons of Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four;

7:13 sons of Zattu, eight hundred and forty-five;

7:14 sons of Zaccai, seven hundred and sixty;

7:15 sons of Binnui, six hundred and forty-eight;

7:16 sons of Bebai, six hundred and twenty-eight;

7:17 sons of Azgad, two thousand three hundred and twenty-two;

7:18 sons of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-seven;

7:19 sons of Bigvai, two thousand and sixty-seven;

7:20 sons of Adin, six hundred and fifty-five;

7:21 sons of Ater, that is to say of Hezekiah, ninety-eight;

7:22 sons of Hashum, three hundred and twenty-eight;

7:23 sons of Bezai, three hundred and twenty-four;

7:24 sons of Hariph, one hundred and twelve;

7:25 men of Gibeon, ninety-five;

7:26 men of Bethlehem and Netophah, one hundred and eighty-eight;

7:27 men of Anathoth, one hundred and twenty-eight;

7:28 men of Beth-azmaveth, forty-two;

7:29 men of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty-three;

7:30 men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred and twenty-one;

7:31 men of Michmas, one hundred and twenty-two;

7:32 men of Bethel and Ai, one hundred and twenty-three;

7:33 men of Nebo, fifty-two;

7:34 sons of another Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four;

7:35 sons of Harim, three hundred and twenty;

7:36 men of Jericho, three hundred and forty-five;

7:37 men of Lod, Hadid and Ono, seven hundred and twenty-one;

7:38 sons of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and thirty.

7:39 The priests: sons of Jedaiah, that is to say the House of Jeshua, nine hundred and seventy-three;

7:40 sons of Immer, one thousand and fifty-two;

7:41 sons of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred and forty-seven;

7:42 sons of Harim, one thousand and seventeen.

7:43 The Levites: sons of Jeshua, that is to say of Kadmiel, Binnui, Hodiah, seventy-four.

7:44 The cantors: sons of Asaph, one hundred and forty-eight.

7:45 The gatekeepers: sons of Shallum, sons of Ater, sons of Talmon, sons of Akkub, sons of Hatita, sons of Shobai, one hundred and thirty-eight.

7:46 The oblates: sons of Ziha, sons of Hasupha, sons of Tabbaoth,

7:47 sons of Keros, sons of Sia, sons of Padon,

7:48 sons of Lebana, sons of Hagaba, sons of Shalmai,

7:49 sons of Hanan, sons of Giddel, sons of Gahar,

7:50 sons of Reaiah, sons of Rezin, sons of Nekoda,

7:51 sons of Gazzam, sons of Uzza, sons of Paseah,

7:52 sons of Besai, sons of the Meunites, sons of the Nephusites,

7:53 sons of Bakbuk, sons of Hakupha, sons of Harhur,

7:54 sons of Bazlith, sons of Mehida, sons of Harsha,

7:55 sons of Barkos, sons of Sisera, sons of Temah,

7:56 sons of Neziah, sons of Hatipha.

7:57 The sons of Solomon’s slaves: sons of Sotai, sons of Sophereth, sons of Perida,

7:58 sons of Jaala, sons of Darkon, sons of Giddel,

7:59 sons of Shephatiah, sons of Hattil, sons of Pochereth-haz-zebaim, sons of Amon.

7:60 The total of the oblates and the sons of Solomon’s slaves: three hundred and ninety-two.

7:61 The following, who came from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon and Immer, could not prove that their families and ancestry were of Israelite origin:

7:62 sons of Delaiah, sons of Tobiah, sons of Nekoda: six hundred and forty-two.

7:63 And among the priests: sons of Hobaiah, sons of Hakkoz, sons of Barzillai-who had married one of the daughters of Barzillai, the Gileadite, whose name he adopted.

7:64 These people searched in their ancestral registers but could not be located in them, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean,

7:65 and His Excellency forbade them to eat the sacred foods until a priest could be found for the Urim and Thummim.

7:66 The whole assembly numbered forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty people,

7:67 not counting their slaves and maidservants to the number of seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven. They also had two hundred and forty-five male and female singers.

7:68 They had (seven hundred and thirty-six horses, two hundred and forty-five mules) four hundred and thirty-five camels and six thousand seven hundred and twenty donkeys.

7:69 A certain number of heads of families gave offerings for the building. His Excellency contributed one thousand gold drachmas, fifty bowls, thirty priestly robes and five hundred (silver minas) to the fund.

7:70 And heads of families gave twenty thousand gold drachmas and two thousand two hundred silver minas to the building fund.

7:71 The gifts made by the rest of the people amounted to twenty thousand gold drachmas, two thousand silver minas, and sixty-seven priestly robes.

7:72a The priests, Levites and part of the people settled in Jerusalem; the gatekeepers, cantors, oblates and all the other Israelites, in their own towns.

Judaism is born. Ezra reads the Law. The feast of Tabernacles

7:72b When the seventh month came,


8:1 all the people gathered as one man on the square before the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses which Yahweh had prescribed for Israel.

8:2 Accordingly Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, consisting of men, women, and children old enough to understand. This was the first day of the seventh month.

8:3 On the square before the Water Gate, in the presence of the men and women, and children old enough to understand, he read from the book from early morning till noon; all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.

8:4 Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden dais erected for the purpose; beside him stood, on his right, Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; on his left, Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

8:5 In full view of all the people-since he stood higher than all the people-Ezra opened the book; and when he opened it all the people stood up.

8:6 Then Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great God, and all the people raised their hands and answered, ‘Amen! Amen!’; then they bowed down and, face to the ground, prostrated themselves before Yahweh.

8:7 (Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabab, Hanan, Pelaiah, who were Levites, explained the Law to the people while the people remained standing.)

8:8 And Ezra read from the Law of God, translating and giving the sense, so that the people understood what was read.

8:9 Then (Nehemiah-His Excellency-and) Ezra, priest and scribe (and the Levites who were instructing the people) said to all the people, ‘This day is sacred to Yahweh your God. Do not be mournful, do not weep.’ For the people were all in tears as they listened to the words of the Law.

8:10 He then said, ‘Go, eat the fat, drink the sweet wine, and send a portion to the man who has nothing prepared ready. For this day is sacred to our Lord. Do not be sad: the joy of Yahweh is your stronghold.’

8:11 And the Levites calmed all the people, saying, ‘Be at ease; this is a sacred day. Do not be sad.’

8:12 And all the people went off to eat and drink and give shares away and begin to enjoy themselves since they had understood the meaning of what had been proclaimed to them.

8:13 On the second day the heads of families of the whole people, and the priests and Levites, gathered round Ezra the scribe to study the words of the Law.

8:14 And written in the Law that Yahweh had prescribed through Moses they found this, ‘The sons of Israel are to live in shelters during the feast of the seventh month’.

8:15 As soon as they heard this, they issued a proclamation in all their towns and in Jerusalem: ‘Go into the hills and bring branches of olive, pine, myrtle, palm and other leafy trees to make shelters, as it says in the book’.

8:16 The people went; they brought back branches and made themselves shelters, each man on his own roof, in their courtyards, in the precincts of the Temple of God, on the square of the Water Gate and the square of the Gate of Ephraim.

8:17 The whole assembly, all who had returned from captivity, put up shelters and lived in them; the sons of Israel had never done such a thing from the days of Joshua son of Nun till the present.[*a] And there was great merrymaking.

8:18 Each day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the feast for seven days; on the eighth day, as prescribed, there was a solemn assembly.


The ceremony of atonement

9:1 On the twenty-fourth day of this month the Israelites, in sackcloth and with dust on their heads, assembled for a fast.

9:2 Those of Israelite stock separated themselves from all those of foreign origin; they stood confessing their sins and the transgressions of their ancestors.

9:3 (Standing, each man in his right position, they read from the Book of the Law of Yahweh their God for one quarter of the day; for another quarter they confessed their sins and prostrated themselves before Yahweh their God.)[*a]

9:4 (On the Levites’ platform stood Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani and Chenani, calling loudly to Yahweh their God;

9:5 and the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah said, ‘Arise and bless Yahweh our God’.) Blessed be you, Yahweh our God, from everlasting to everlasting. And blessed be your name of glory that surpasses all blessing and praise.

9:6 Yahweh, you are the only one. You made the heavens, the heaven of heavens, with all their array, the earth and all it bears, the seas and all they hold. To all of these you give life and the array of the heavens bows down before you.

9:7 Yahweh, you are the God who chose Abram, brought him out from Ur in Chaldaea, and gave him the name of Abraham.

9:8 Finding him faithful of heart before you, you made a covenant with him, to give him the land of the Canaanite, of the Hittite and Amorite, of the Perizzite, Jebusite, Girgashite, to him and his posterity. And you kept your promise because you are just.

9:9 You saw the distress of our fathers in Egypt, you heard their cry by the Sea of Reeds.

9:10 You worked portents and miracles against Pharaoh, against his servants and all the people of his land; for you knew how they treated them with arrogance. You won a reputation which you keep to this day.

9:11 You divided the sea in front of them: they passed through the deep sea dry-shod. Into the depths you hurled their pursuers like a stone into rushing waters.

9:12 With a pillar of cloud you led them by day, with a pillar of fire by night: to light the way ahead of them by which they should go.

9:13 You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven; you gave them ordinances that are just, laws that are sure, good statutes and commandments;

9:14 you taught them to know your holy sabbath, laid down for them commandments (statutes) and Law through Moses your servant.

9:15 For their hunger you gave them bread from heaven, for their thirst you brought them water spurting from the rock. You bade them go in and take possession of the land that you had sworn to give to them.

9:16 But our fathers grew proud, were obstinate, and flouted your commands.

9:17 They refused to obey, forgetful of the wonders that you had worked for them; they became obstinate, they even thought of going back to Egypt and their slavery. But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and loving, slow to anger, abounding in goodness, you did not forsake them.

9:18 When they cast themselves a calf out of molten metal and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up from Egypt’ (and were guilty of grave blasphemies),

9:19 you, so greatly loving, still did not forsake them in the wilderness: the pillar of cloud did not leave them that led them on their path by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, to light the way ahead of them by which they should go.

9:20 You gave them your good spirit to make them wise, you did not withhold your manna from their mouths, you gave them water for their thirst.

9:21 Forty years you cared for them in the wilderness: they went short of nothing, their clothes did not wear out, their feet were not swollen.

9:22 You gave to them kingdoms and peoples, allotted them these as frontier regions; they occupied the land of Sihon king of Heshbon, and of Og king of Bashan.

9:23 You multiplied their sons as the stars of heaven and led them to the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess.

9:24 The sons invaded and conquered the land, and before them you humbled the land’s inhabitants, the Canaanites, whom you gave into their hands; with their kings and the population of that country, to be treated just as they pleased;

9:25 they captured fortified towns and a fertile countryside, took possession of houses stocked with all kinds of goods, of cisterns ready-hewn, of vineyards and olive groves, of fruit trees in profusion; they ate, ate their fill, regaling themselves on the good things you lavished on them.

9:26 But, disobedient as they were and rebellious towards you, they thrust the Law behind their backs, they killed the prophets who admonished them to bring them back to you (and were guilty of grave blasphemies).

9:27 So you delivered them into the hands of their oppressors who oppressed them. In the days of their oppression they cried to you, and from heaven you heard them and, greatly loving, you granted them saviours who freed them from the hands of their oppressors.

9:28 But, once at peace, again they did wrong before you and you gave them over to the hands of their enemies who treated them tyrannically. And once more they cried to you and from heaven you heard them: how often are you, so loving, to deliver them?

9:29 You admonished them to bring them back to your Law; but they grew proud, they did not obey your commandments, they sinned against your ordinances in which a man finds life if he observes them; they shrugged their shoulders, they were obstinate, they would not obey.

9:30 You were patient with them for many years; you admonished them by your spirit through your prophets, but they would not listen. You delivered them then into the hands of the natives of the countries.

9:31 But, greatly loving, you did not make an end of them, you did not forsake them, for you are a gracious and a loving God.

9:32 Now therefore, our God, great and mighty God who must be feared, maintaining your covenant and your kindness, count as no small thing this misery that has happened to us, our kings, our leaders, our priests, our prophets, and all your people from the time of the kings of Assyria to the present day.

9:33 You have been just in all that has happened to us, for you have shown your faithfulness, we our wickedness:

9:34 our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers have not kept your Law, they have been unmindful of your commandments and the warnings that you gave them.

9:35 While they were in their kingdom with the good things you lavished on them, in the wide and fertile land that you had set before them, they did not renounce their evil deeds.

9:36 Here are we now, enslaved; here in the land you gave our fathers to enjoy its fruits and its good things, we are slaves.

9:37 Its rich fruits swell the profit of the kings whom for our sins you have set over us, who dispose as they please of our bodies and our cattle. Such the distress we endure!

JB NEHEMIAH Chapter 10

A record of the promises made by the community[*a]

10:1 …As a result of all this we make a firm agreement, in writing. Our leaders, our Levites, and our priests have put their names to the document under seal…

10:2 On the sealed document were the names of: Nehemiah son of Hacaliah, and Zedekiah,

10:3 Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah,

10:4 Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah,

10:5 Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch,

10:6 Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah,

10:7 Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch,

10:8 Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin,

10:9 Maaziah, Bilgai, Shemaiah: these are the priests.

10:10 Then the Levites: Jeshua son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel,

10:11 and their kinsmen Shebaniah, Hodaviah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan,

10:12 Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah,

10:13 Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah,

10:14 Hodiah, Bani, Chenani.

10:15 The leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani,

10:16 Bunni, Azgad, Bebai,

10:17 Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin,

10:18 Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur,

10:19 Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai,

10:20 Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai,

10:21 Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir,

10:22 Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua,

10:23 Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah,

10:24 Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub,

10:25 Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek,

10:26 Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah,

10:27 Ahiah, Hanan, Anan,

10:28 Malluch, Harim, Baanah.

10:29 …but also the rest of the people, priests and Levites-gatekeepers, cantors, oblates-in short, all who have broken with the natives of the countries to adhere to the Law of God; as also their wives, sons and daughters, all those who are old enough to understand,

10:30 join with their kinsmen and leaders and undertake, under curse and oath, to walk according to the Law of God given through Moses, the servant of God, and to observe and practise all the commandments of Yahweh our Lord, his customs and his laws.

10:31 In particular: we will not give our daughters to the natives of the land nor take their daughters for our sons.

10:32 If the natives of the land bring goods or any foodstuff whatever to sell on the sabbath day, we will buy nothing from them on sabbath or holy day. We will forego the fruits of the soil in the seventh year, and all debts.

10:33 We recognise the following obligations: to give one third of a shekel yearly for the liturgical requirements of the Temple of our God:

10:34 for the loaves set out, for the perpetual oblation, for the perpetual holocaust, for the sacrifices on sabbaths, on New Moon feasts and on solemnities, for sacred foods, for sacrifices for sin to atone for Israel; in short, for all the services of the Temple of our God;

10:36 and further, to bring yearly to the Temple of our God the first-fruits of our soil and the first-fruits of every fruit of every tree,

10:37 also the first-born of our sons and of our cattle, as is written in the Law-those first-born of our herds and flocks taken to the Temple of our God being intended for the priests officiating in the Temple of our God.

10:38 Furthermore, we will bring to the priests, to the chambers of the Temple of our God, the best of our meal, the fruit of every tree, new wine and oil; and to the Levites the tithe on our soil-the Levites themselves will collect the tithes from all our agricultural towns;

10:39 a priest, a son of Aaron, is to accompany the Levites when they collect the tithes, and the Levites will pay a tenth part of the tithes into the Temple of our God, into the treasury offices;

10:40ab since these rooms are where the Israelites and the Levites bring the contributions of corn, wine and oil, and where the supplies are kept for the sanctuary, the officiating priests, the gatekeepers and cantors.

10:35 Furthermore, as regards deliveries of wood for burning on the altar of our God as is written in the Law, we have arranged, by drawing lots among the priests, Levites and people, that these deliveries are to be made at the Temple of our God by each family in turn at stated times every year.

10:40c We will no longer neglect the Temple of our God.

JB NEHEMIAH Chapter 11

The repopulation policy of Nehemiah. Various lists

11:1 …Then the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem. The rest of the people drew lots: one man in ten was to come and live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their towns.

11:2 And the people blessed all those who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.

11:3 These are the provincial leaders who settled in Jerusalem-and those who settled in the towns of Judah. So Israel, the priests, the Levites, the oblates and the sons of Solomon’s slaves, made their homes in their appropriate towns, each man on his own property.

The Jewish population in Jerusalem

11:4 In Jerusalem there lived some of the sons of Judah and some of the sons of Benjamin. Of the sons of Judah: Athaiah son of Uzziah, son of Zechariah, son of Amariah, son of Shephatiah, son of Mehalalel, of the descendants of Perez;

11:5 Maaseiah son of Baruch, son of Col-hozeh, son of Hazaiah, son of Adaiah, son of Joiarib, son of Zechariah, descendant of Shelah.

11:6 The total number of the descendants of Perez living in Jerusalem was four hundred and sixty-eight adult men.

11:7 These are the sons of Benjamin: Sallu son of Meshullam, son of Joed, son of Pedaiah, son of Kolaiah, son of Maaseiah, son of Ithiel, son of Jeshaiah,

11:8 and his kinsmen, adult men: nine hundred and twenty-eight.

11:9 Joel son of Zichri was in charge of them, and Judah son of Hassenuah was second in command of the city.

11:10 Of the priests: Jedaiah son of Joiakim, son of

11:11 Seraiah, son of Hilkiah, son of Meshullam, son of Zadok, son of Meraioth, son of Ahitub, prefect of the Temple of God,

11:12 and his kinsmen who were responsible for the Temple liturgy: eight hundred and twenty-two; Adaiah son of Jeroham, son of Pelaliah, son of Amzi, son of Zechariah, son of Pashhur, son of Malchijah,

11:13 and his kinsmen, heads of families: two hundred and forty-two; and Amashai son of Azarel, son of Ahzai, son of Meshillemoth, son of Immer,

11:14 and his kinsmen, adult men: one hundred and twenty-eight. Zabdiel son of Haggadol was in charge of them.

11:15 Of the Levites: Shemaiah son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, son of Bunni;

11:16 Shabbethai and Jozabad, the levitical leaders responsible for the outside work of the Temple of God;

11:17 Mattaniah son of Mica, son of Zabdi, son of Asaph, who directed the hymns and, at prayer, intoned the thanksgiving; Bakbukiah, the second in rank among his kinsmen; Obadiah son of Shammua, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun.

11:18 The total number of Levites in the holy city: two hundred and eighty-four.

11:19 The gatekeepers: Akkub, Talmon and their kinsmen, who kept watch at the gates: one hundred and seventy-two.

Supplementary notes

11:21 The oblates lived at Ophel; Ziha and Gishpa were in charge of the oblates.

11:22 The head of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi son of Bani, son of Hashabiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Mica; he belonged to the sons of Asaph who were responsible for the chanted parts of the liturgy in the Temple of God;

11:23 there was a royal decree relating to the cantors, embodying regulations for their attendance day by day.

11:24 Pethahiah son of Meshezabel, belonging to the sons of Zerah son of Judah, was the king’s commissioner for all such matters as concerned the people.

11:20 The rest of the Israelites, priests and Levites made their homes throughout the towns of Judah, each man in his own inheritance,

11:25 and in the hamlets situated in rural districts of their own.

The Jewish population outside Jerusalem

Some of the sons of Judah made their homes in Kiriath-arba and its outlying villages, in Dibon and its outlying villages, in Jekabzeel and its outlying hamlets,

11:26 in Jeshua, Moladah, Beth-pelet,

11:27 Hazar-shual, in Beersheba and its villages,

11:28 in Ziklag, in Meconah and its villages,

11:29 in Enrimmon, Zorah, Jarmuth,

11:30 Zanoah, Adullam and their hamlets, Lachish and its countryside, Azekah and its villages: thus, they settled from Beersheba as far as the Valley of Hinnom.

11:31 Some of the sons of Benjamin made their homes in Geba, Michmash, Aija, in Bethel and its villages,

11:32 Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah,

11:33 Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim,

11:34 Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat,

11:35 Lod and Ono, and the Valley of the Craftsmen.

11:36 Some groups of Levites settled in Judah as well as in Benjamin.

JB NEHEMIAH Chapter 12

Priests and Levites who returned under Zerubbabel and Jeshua

12:1 These are the priests and the Levites who came back with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua:

Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,

12:2 Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,

12:3 Shecaniah, Harim, Meremoth,

12:4 Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah,

12:5 Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,

12:6 Shemaiah; also: Joiarib, Jedaiah,

12:7a Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah.

12:8 And the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, Mattaniah-this last, with his kinsmen, directed the hymns of thanksgiving

12:9 while Bakbukiah, Unno and their kinsmen in their respective orders formed an alternate choir.

12:7b These were the heads of the priests and of their kinsmen in the days of Jeshua.

Genealogical list of high priests

12:10 Jeshua was the father of Joiakim, Joiakim father of Eliashib, Eliashib father of Joiada,

12:11 Joiada father of Johanan, and Johanan father of Jaddua.

Priests and Levites in the time of the High Priest Joiakim

12:12 In the days of Joiakim the heads of the priestly families were: family of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah;

12:13 of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan;

12:14 of Malluchi, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;

12:15 of Harim, Adna; of Meremoth, Helkai;

12:16 of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam;

12:17 of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, …; of Moadiah, Piltai;

12:18 of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan;

12:19 also: of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi;

12:20 of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber;

12:21 of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethanel.

12:22 In the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan and Jaddua, the heads of the priestly families had been recorded in the Book of the Chronicles[*a] up to the reign of Darius the Persian.

12:23 The sons of Levi. The heads of families were recorded in the Book of the Chronicles, but only up to the time of Johanan, grandson of Eliashib.

12:24 The heads of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel; and their kinsmen forming an alternate choir for the hymns of praise and thanksgiving, in accordance with the ordinances of David the man of God, in corresponding groups,

12:25 these were: Mattaniah, Bakbukiah and Obadiah. The gatekeepers, Meshullam, Talmon and Akkub stood guard at the storehouses near the gates.

12:26 These lived in the days of Joiakim son of Jeshua, son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra, priest and scribe.

The dedication of the wall of Jerusalem

12:27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem the Levites were sent for, wherever they lived, to come to Jerusalem: the dedication was to be celebrated joyfully with songs of thanksgiving, with cymbal, lute and lyre.

12:28 Accordingly the cantors, sons of Levi, assembled from the countryside round Jerusalem, from the villages of the Netophathites,

12:29 from Beth-gilgal, from the districts of Geba and Azmaveth; since the cantors had built themselves villages all round Jerusalem.

12:30 And the priests and Levites purified themselves, then purified the people, the gates and the wall.

12:31 I then made the leaders of Judah come on to the top of the wall, and organized two great choirs. The first made its way along the top of the wall, right-handed, towards the Dung Gate;

12:32 bringing up the rear were Hoshaiah and half the leaders of Judah,

12:33 and also Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam,

12:34 Judah, Mijamin, Shemaiah and Jeremiah,

12:35 selected from the priests and carrying trumpets; then Zechariah son of Jonathan, son of Shemaiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Micaiah, son of Zaccur, son of Asaph,

12:36 with his kinsmen, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, Hanani, carrying the musical instruments of David the man of God. And Ezra the scribe walked at their head.

12:37 At the Fountain Gate they went straight on up, near the steps of the Citadel of David, along the top of the wall and along the ascent of the Palace of David as far as the Water Gate, on the east.

12:38 The second choir made its way left-handed; I followed it, with half the leaders of the people, along the top of the wall, above the Tower of the Furnaces and as far as the wall of the Square,

12:39 then over the Gate of Ephraim, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, as far as the Sheep Gate; they came to a halt at the Watch Gate.

12:40 The two choirs then took their places in the Temple of God. I had half of the officials with me,

12:41 as well as the priests, Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, Hananiah, carrying trumpets,

12:42 also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam and Ezer. The cantors sang under the direction of Jezrahiah.

12:43 There were great sacrifices offered that day and the people rejoiced, God having given them good cause for rejoicing; the women and children rejoiced too, and the joy of Jerusalem could be heard from far away.

A golden age

12:44 For the chambers intended for the stores, contributions, first-fruits and tithes, supervisors were then appointed whose business it would be to collect in them those portions from the town lands awarded by the Law to the priests and Levites. For Judah rejoiced in the officiating priests and Levites.

12:45 lt was they who performed the liturgy of their God and the duties of purification-and the cantors and gatekeepers too-in accordance with the ordinances of David and his son Solomon.

12:46 For from ancient times, from the days of David and Asaph, there had been guilds of cantors and canticles of praise and thanksgiving to God.

12:47 And so, in the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah, the whole of Israel used to give the cantors and gatekeepers their due portion for each day. They set aside for the Levites their sacred dues, and the Levites would set theirs aside for the sons of Aaron.

JB NEHEMIAH Chapter 13

13:1 At that time they were reading from the Book of Moses to the people, when they found this written in it, ‘The Ammonite and the Moabite shall never be admitted to the assembly of God,

13:2 since they did not come to meet the sons of Israel with bread and water. They hired Balaam against them to curse them,[*a] but our God turned the curse into a blessing.’

13:3 As soon as the people had heard the Law they excluded all of foreign descent from Israel.

The second mission of Nehemiah

13:4 Now before this, Eliashib the priest had been appointed supervisor of the chambers of the Temple of our God. A connection of Tobiah’s,

13:5 he had furnished a spacious chamber for him where the oblations, incense, utensils, tithes of corn, wine and oil had previously been kept, that is to say the portions of the Levites, cantors and gatekeepers, and what was set aside for the priests.

13:6 While all this was going on I was away from Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon [*b] I had gone to see the king. But after some time I asked the king for permission to leave,

13:7 and returned to Jerusalem. It was then that I heard the wicked thing that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, furnishing a chamber for him inside the court of the Temple of God.

13:8 This made me very angry. I threw all Tobiah’s household furniture out of the chamber,

13:9 gave orders for the chambers to be purified, and had the utensils of the Temple of God, the oblations and the incense, all put back.

13:10 I also discovered that the portions of the Levites were not being delivered and that they, the Levites and the cantors responsible for the liturgy, had all gone off home to their fields.

13:11 I reprimanded the officials. ‘Why is the Temple of God deserted?’ I asked. And I collected them together again and sent them back to their duties.

13:12 Then the whole of Judah brought the tithe of corn, wine and oil to the storehouses.

13:13 As supervisors of the storehouses I appointed Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, Pedaiah one of the Levites and, as their assistants, Hanan son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, since they were considered reliable; their duty was to make the distributions to their kinsmen.

13:14 Remember me for this, my God; do not blot out the pious deed I have done for the Temple of my God and for its liturgy.

13:15 In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the sabbath, and others taking sheaves of corn and loading them on donkeys with wine, grapes, figs and every kind of load which they meant to bring into Jerusalem on the sabbath day. I warned them not to sell the foodstuffs.

13:16 In Jerusalem itself, Tyrians who lived in the city were bringing in fish and every sort of merchandise to sell them on the sabbath day.

13:17 I reprimanded the authorities of Judah, ‘What a wicked way to behave, profaning the sabbath day!

13:18 Did not your ancestors do just this, with the result that our God brought all this misery on us and on this city? Do you want to bring fresh wrath on Israel, by profaning the sabbath?’

13:19 So just before the sabbath[*c] as the shadows were falling on the gates of Jerusalem, I gave orders for the doors to be shut, and said, ‘Do not open them again until the sabbath is over’. I stationed a few of my servants at the gates to see that no load was brought in on the sabbath day.

13:20 Once or twice merchants and traders in goods of all kinds spent the night outside Jerusalem,

13:21 but I gave them this warning, ‘Why are you spending the night by the wall? Do it again, and I will punish you.’ After that, they did not come on the sabbath any more.

13:22 I ordered the Levites to purify themselves and to come and supervise the gates, so that the sabbath day might be kept holy. For this too remember me, my God, and as your mercy is great, so pity me.

13:23 At that time I again saw Jews who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab.

13:24 As regards their children, half of them spoke the language of Ashdod[*d] or the language of one of the other peoples, but could not speak the language of Judah.

13:25 I reprimanded them and called down curses on them; I struck several of them and tore out their hair and made them swear by God, ‘You shall not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters either for your sons or for yourselves.

13:26 Is this not how Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among all the nations there was never a king like him; he was loved by his God; God made him king of all Israel; and yet for him, foreign women were causes of sin.

13:27 Must we then hear it said that you too are committing this grave crime: playing traitor to our God by marrying foreign women?’

13:28 One of the sons of Jehoiada, son of the high priest Eliashib, was son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite, and I expelled him from my presence.

13:29 Remember these, O my God, for the degradation they have brought on the priesthood and on the covenant of the priests and Levites.

13:30 And so I purged them of everything foreign; I drew up regulations for the priests and Levites defining each man’s duty,

13:31 and regulations for the deliveries of wood at stated times, and for the first-fruits. Remember me, my God, for my happiness.

END OF JB NEHEMIAH [13 Chapters].

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