During those days, while back in Judah, I also noticed that people treaded wine presses, brought in sacks of grain, and loaded up their donkeys on the Sabbath. They brought wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of stuff to sell on the Sabbath. So I spoke up and warned them about selling food on that day.
Tyrians living there brought in fish and whatever else, selling it to Judeans - in Jerusalem, mind you! - on the Sabbath.
I confronted the leaders of Judah: "What's going on here? This evil! Profaning the Sabbath!
Isn't this exactly what your ancestors did? And because of it didn't God bring down on us and this city all this misery? And here you are adding to it - accumulating more wrath on Jerusalem by profaning the Sabbath."
As the gates of Jerusalem were darkened by the shadows of the approaching Sabbath, I ordered the doors shut and not to be opened until the Sabbath was over. I placed some of my servants at the gates to make sure that nothing to be sold would get in on the Sabbath day.
Traders and dealers in various goods camped outside the gates once or twice.
But I took them to task. I said, "You have no business camping out here by the wall. If I find you here again, I'll use force to drive you off." And that did it; they didn't come back on the Sabbath.
Then I directed the Levites to ceremonially cleanse themselves and take over as guards at the gates to keep the sanctity of the Sabbath day. Remember me also for this, my God. Treat me with mercy according to your great and steadfast love.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)