Now there was a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers.
For there were those who said, "We, our sons and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain that we may eat and live.'
There were others who said, "We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our houses that we might get grain because of the famine.'
Also there were those who said, "We have borrowed money for the king's tax on our fields and our vineyards.
"Now our flesh is like the flesh of our brothers, our children like their children. Yet behold, we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters are forced into bondage already, and we are helpless because our fields and vineyards belong to others.'
Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words.
I consulted with myself and contended with the nobles and the rulers and said to them, " You are exacting usury, each from his brother!' Therefore, I held a great assembly against them.
I said to them, "We according to our ability have redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?' Then they were silent and could not find a word to say.
Again I said, "The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?
"And likewise I, my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please, let us leave off this usury.
"Please, give back to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money and of the grain, the new wine and the oil that you are exacting from them.'
Then they said, "We will give it back and will require nothing from them; we will do exactly as you say.' So I called the priests and took an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.
I also shook out the front of my garment and said, "Thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not fulfill this promise; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.' And all the assembly said, "Amen!' And they praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise.
Moreover, from the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my kinsmen have eaten the governor's food allowance.
But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so because of the fear of God.
I also applied myself to the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work.
Moreover, there were at my table one hundred and fifty Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us.
Now that which was prepared for each day was one ox and six choice sheep, also birds were prepared for me; and once in ten days all sorts of wine were furnished in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the governor's food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people.
Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people. 6
Now when it was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall, and that no breach remained in it, although at that time I had not set up the doors in the gates,
then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, saying, "Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono.' But they were planning to harm me.
So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?'
They sent messages to me four times in this manner, and I answered them in the same way.
Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same manner a fifth time with an open letter in his hand.
In it was written, "It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel; therefore you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports.
"You have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, "A king is in Judah!' And now it will be reported to the king according to these reports. So come now, let us take counsel together.'
Then I sent a message to him saying, "Such things as you are saying have not been done, but you are inventing them in your own mind.'
For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, " They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.' But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
When I entered the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined at home, he said, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night.'
But I said, " Should a man like me flee? And could one such as I go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.'
Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me.
Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these works of theirs, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me.
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days.
When all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.
Also in those days many letters went from the nobles of Judah to Tobiah, and Tobiah's letters came to them.
For many in Judah were bound by oath to him because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.
Moreover, they were speaking about his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. Then Tobiah sent letters to frighten me. 7
Now when the wall was rebuilt and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed,
then I put Hanani my brother, and Hananiah the commander of the fortress, in charge of Jerusalem, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many.
Then I said to them, "Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot, and while they are standing guard, let them shut and bolt the doors. Also appoint guards from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, each at his post, and each in front of his own house.'
Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few and the houses were not built.
Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogies. Then I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up first in which I found the following record:
These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his city,
who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number of men of the people of Israel:
the sons of Parosh, 2,172;
the sons of Shephatiah, 372;
the sons of Arah, 652;
the sons of Pahath-moab of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,818;
the sons of Elam, 1,254;
the sons of Zattu, 845;
the sons of Zaccai, 760;
the sons of Binnui, 648;
the sons of Bebai, 628;
the sons of Azgad, 2,322;
the sons of Adonikam, 667;
the sons of Bigvai, 2,067;
the sons of Adin, 655;
the sons of Ater, of Hezekiah, 98;
the sons of Hashum, 328;
the sons of Bezai, 324;
the sons of Hariph, 112;
the sons of Gibeon, 95;
the men of Bethlehem and Netophah, 188;
the men of Anathoth, 128;
the men of Beth-azmaveth, 42;
the men of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah and Beeroth, 743;
the men of Ramah and Geba, 621;
the men of Michmas, 122;
the men of Bethel and Ai, 123;
the men of the other Nebo, 52;
the sons of the other Elam, 1,254;
the sons of Harim, 320;
the men of Jericho, 345;
the sons of Lod, Hadid and Ono, 721;
the sons of Senaah, 3,930.
The priests: the sons of Jedaiah of the house of Jeshua, 973;
the sons of Immer, 1,052;
the sons of Pashhur, 1,247;
the sons of Harim, 1,017.
The Levites: the sons of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodevah, 74.
The singers: the sons of Asaph, 148.
The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, 138.
The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth,
the sons of Keros, the sons of Sia, the sons of Padon,
the sons of Lebana, the sons of Hagaba, the sons of Shalmai,
the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar,
the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda,
the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah,
the sons of Besai, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephushesim,
the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur,
the sons of Bazlith, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha,
the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Temah,
the sons of Neziah, the sons of Hatipha.
The sons of Solomon's servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of Perida,
the sons of Jaala, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel,
the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth-hazzebaim, the sons of Amon.
All the temple servants and the sons of Solomon's servants were 392.
These were they who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon and Immer; but they could not show their fathers' houses or their descendants, whether they were of Israel:
the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 642.
Of the priests: the sons of Hobaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai, the Gileadite, and was named after them.
These searched among their ancestral registration, but it could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean and excluded from the priesthood.
The governor said to them that they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest arose with Urim and Thummim.
The whole assembly together was 42,360,
besides their male and their female servants, of whom there were 7,337; and they had 245 male and female singers.
Their horses were 736; their mules, 245;
their camels, 435; their donkeys, 6,720.
Some from among the heads of fathers' households gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 gold drachmas, 50 basins, 530 priests' garments.
Some of the heads of fathers' households gave into the treasury of the work 20,000 gold drachmas and 2,200 silver minas.
That which the rest of the people gave was 20,000 gold drachmas and 2,000 silver minas and 67 priests' garments.
Now the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants and all Israel, lived in their cities. And when the seventh month came, the sons of Israel were in their cities. 8
And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel.
Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.
He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.
Ezra the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam on his left hand.
Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.
Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, " Amen, Amen!' while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, explained the law to the people while the people remained in their place.
They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.
Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, " This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.' For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law.
Then he said to them, "Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.'
So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.'
All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.
Then on the second day the heads of fathers' households of all the people, the priests and the Levites were gathered to Ezra the scribe that they might gain insight into the words of the law.
They found written in the law how the LORD had commanded through Moses that the sons of Israel should live in booths during the feast of the seventh month.
So they proclaimed and circulated a proclamation in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, " Go out to the hills, and bring olive branches and wild olive branches, myrtle branches, palm branches and branches of other leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.'
So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim.
The entire assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in them. The sons of Israel had indeed not done so from the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day. And there was great rejoicing.
He read from the book of the law of God daily, from the first day to the last day. And they celebrated the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly according to the ordinance. 9
Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them.
The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.
While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God.
Now on the Levites' platform stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani and Chenani, and they cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God.
Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah, said, "Arise, bless the LORD your God forever and ever! O may Your glorious name be blessed And exalted above all blessing and praise!
" You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.
"You are the LORD God, Who chose Abram And brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees, And gave him the name Abraham.
"You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him To give him the land of the Canaanite, Of the Hittite and the Amorite, Of the Perizzite, the Jebusite and the Girgashite To give it to his descendants. And You have fulfilled Your promise, For You are righteous.
" You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, And heard their cry by the Red Sea.
"Then You performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, Against all his servants and all the people of his land; For You knew that they acted arrogantly toward them, And made a name for Yourself as it is this day.
" You divided the sea before them, So they passed through the midst of the sea on dry ground; And their pursuers You hurled into the depths, Like a stone into raging waters.
"And with a pillar of cloud You led them by day, And with a pillar of fire by night To light for them the way In which they were to go.
"Then You came down on Mount Sinai, And spoke with them from heaven; You gave them just ordinances and true laws, Good statutes and commandments.
"So You made known to them Your holy sabbath, And laid down for them commandments, statutes and law, Through Your servant Moses.
"You provided bread from heaven for them for their hunger, You brought forth water from a rock for them for their thirst, And You told them to enter in order to possess The land which You swore to give them.
"But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly; They became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments.
"They refused to listen, And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But You are a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; And You did not forsake them.
"Even when they made for themselves A calf of molten metal And said, "This is your God Who brought you up from Egypt,' And committed great blasphemies,
You, in Your great compassion, Did not forsake them in the wilderness; The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day, To guide them on their way, Nor the pillar of fire by night, to light for them the way in which they were to go.
" You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, And You gave them water for their thirst.
"Indeed, forty years You provided for them in the wilderness and they were not in want; Their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet swell.
"You also gave them kingdoms and peoples, And allotted them to them as a boundary. They took possession of the land of Sihon the king of Heshbon And the land of Og the king of Bashan.
"You made their sons numerous as the stars of heaven, And You brought them into the land Which You had told their fathers to enter and possess.
" So their sons entered and possessed the land. And You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, And You gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, To do with them as they desired.
" They captured fortified cities and a fertile land. They took possession of houses full of every good thing, Hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves, Fruit trees in abundance. So they ate, were filled and grew fat, And reveled in Your great goodness.
" But they became disobedient and rebelled against You, And cast Your law behind their backs And killed Your prophets who had admonished them So that they might return to You, And they committed great blasphemies.
"Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them, But when they cried to You in the time of their distress, You heard from heaven, and according to Your great compassion You gave them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors.
"But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You; Therefore You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them. When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven, And many times You rescued them according to Your compassion,
And admonished them in order to turn them back to Your law. Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances, By which if a man observes them he shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen.
" However, You bore with them for many years, And admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets, Yet they would not give ear. Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.
"Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them, For You are a gracious and compassionate God.
"Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness, Do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before You, Which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, From the days of the kings of Assyria to this day.
"However, You are just in all that has come upon us; For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly.
"For our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers have not kept Your law Or paid attention to Your commandments and Your admonitions with which You have admonished them.
"But they, in their own kingdom, With Your great goodness which You gave them, With the broad and rich land which You set before them, Did not serve You or turn from their evil deeds.
"Behold, we are slaves today, And as to the land which You gave to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty, Behold, we are slaves in it.
" Its abundant produce is for the kings Whom You have set over us because of our sins; They also rule over our bodies And over our cattle as they please, So we are in great distress.
" Now because of all this We are making an agreement in writing; And on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests.' 10