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ESV — Chronological: Day 270
270
Reading
Nehemiah 1-5

Report from Jerusalem

The words of aNehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

Now it happened in the month of bChislev, cin the twentieth year, as I was in dSusa the citadel, that eHanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and fshame. gThe wall of Jerusalem is broken down, hand its gates are destroyed by fire.”

Nehemiah's Prayer

As soon as I heard these words I isat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the jGod of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, kthe great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, llet your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, mconfessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even nI and my father's house have sinned. oWe have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules pthat you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, qI will scatter you among the peoples, rbut if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, sthough your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them tto the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10 uThey are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, llet your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

Now I was vcupbearer to the king.

Nehemiah Sent to Judah

In the month of Nisan, win the twentieth year of King xArtaxerxes, when wine was before him, yI took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but zsadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, a“Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, bwhen the city, the place of my fathers' graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed cto the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (dthe queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me ewhen I had given him a time. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me fto the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of gthe fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, hfor the good hand of my God was upon me.

Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem's Walls

Then I came to ithe governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 10 But when jSanballat the Horonite and kTobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.

11 lSo I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. 13 I went out by night by mthe Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to nthe Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem othat were broken down pand its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I went on to qthe Fountain Gate and to rthe King's Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass. 15 Then I went up in the night sby the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.

17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, thow Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer usuffer derision.” 18 And I told them vof the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” wSo they strengthened their hands for the good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and xGeshem the Arab heard of it, ythey jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? zAre you rebelling against the king?” 20 Then I replied to them, a“The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim1 in Jerusalem.”

Rebuilding the Wall

Then bEliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built cthe Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and dset its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the eTower of Hananel. And next to him fthe men of Jericho built. And next to them2 Zaccur the son of Imri built.

The sons of Hassenaah built gthe Fish Gate. hThey laid its beams and dset its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And next to them iMeremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired. And next to them jMeshullam the son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel repaired. And next to them Zadok the son of Baana repaired. And next to them kthe Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord.3

Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah lrepaired the Gate of Yeshanah.4 hThey laid its beams and dset its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, the seat of mthe governor of the province Beyond the River. Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths, repaired. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired, and they restored Jerusalem as far as nthe Broad Wall. Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, oruler of half the district of5 Jerusalem, repaired. 10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph repaired opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah repaired. 11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and pthe Tower of the Ovens. 12 Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, qruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters.

13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired rthe Valley Gate. They rebuilt it and sset its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and repaired a thousand cubits6 of the wall, as far as tthe Dung Gate.

14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, ruler of the district of uBeth-haccherem, repaired tthe Dung Gate. He rebuilt it and sset its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

15 And Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired vthe Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it and covered it and sset its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And he built the wall of wthe Pool of Shelah of xthe king's garden, as far as ythe stairs that go down from the city of David. 16 After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired to a point opposite zthe tombs of David, as far as athe artificial pool, and as far as the house of the mighty men. 17 After him the Levites repaired: Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, repaired for his district. 18 After him their brothers repaired: Bavvai the son of Henadad, ruler of half the district of Keilah. 19 Next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at bthe buttress.7 20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai repaired8 another section from the buttress to the door of the house of cEliashib the high priest. 21 After him dMeremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired another section from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib. 22 After him the priests, the men of ethe surrounding area, repaired. 23 After them Benjamin and Hasshub repaired opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah repaired beside his own house. 24 After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress and to fthe corner. 25 Palal the son of Uzai repaired opposite the buttress and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king at gthe court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh 26 hand the temple servants living on iOphel repaired to a point opposite jthe Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower. 27 After him kthe Tekoites repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel.

28 Above lthe Horse Gate the priests repaired, each one opposite his own house. 29 After them Zadok the son of Immer repaired opposite his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, repaired. 30 After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. After him mMeshullam the son of Berechiah repaired opposite nhis chamber. 31 After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, opposite the Muster Gate,9 and to the upper chamber of the corner. 32 And between the upper chamber of the corner and othe Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants repaired.

Opposition to the Work

10 Now when qSanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of rSamaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves?11 Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” qTobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—sif a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” tHear, O our God, for we are despised. uTurn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. vDo not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.

So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

12 But when qSanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. wAnd they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

10 In Judah it was said,13 “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” 11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 12 At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.”14 13 So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, x“Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, ywho is great and awesome, zand fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

The Work Resumes

15 When our enemies heard that it was known to us aand that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and bcoats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, 17 who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. 18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19 And I said to cthe nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20 In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. dOur God will fight for us.”

21 So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. 22 I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23 So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; eeach kept his weapon at his right hand.15

Nehemiah Stops Oppression of the Poor

Now there arose fa great outcry of the people and of their wives gagainst their Jewish brothers. For there were those who said, “With our sons and our daughters, we are many. So let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive.” There were also those who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.” And there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for hthe king's tax on our fields and our vineyards. Now iour flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children are as their children. Yet jwe are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.”

I was very angry when I heard ftheir outcry and these words. I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, k“You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them and said to them, “We, as far as we are able, lhave bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!” They were silent and could not find a word to say. So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk min the fear of our God nto prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? 10 Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest. 11 Return to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the percentage of money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.” 12 Then they said, “We will restore these and orequire nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and pmade them swear qto do as they had promised. 13 rI also shook out the fold16 of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” sAnd all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.

Nehemiah's Generosity

14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from tthe twentieth year to uthe thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, vneither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. 15 The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration17 forty shekels18 of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, wbecause of the fear of God. 16 I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were xat my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 yNow what was prepared at my expense19 for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this vI did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 zRemember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.

Footnotes

[1] 2:20 Or memorial
[2] 3:2 Hebrew him
[3] 3:5 Or lords
[4] 3:6 Or of the old city
[5] 3:9 Or foreman of half the portion assigned to; also verses 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18
[6] 3:13 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
[7] 3:19 Or corner; also verses 20, 24, 25
[8] 3:20 Some manuscripts vigorously repaired
[9] 3:31 Or Hammiphkad Gate
[10] 4:1 Ch 3:33 in Hebrew
[11] 4:2 Or Will they commit themselves to God?
[12] 4:7 Ch 4:1 in Hebrew
[13] 4:10 Hebrew Judah said
[14] 4:12 The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain
[15] 4:23 Or his weapon when drinking
[16] 5:13 Hebrew bosom
[17] 5:15 Compare Vulgate; Hebrew took from them for food and wine after
[18] 5:15 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
[19] 5:18 Or prepared for me