Those who sealed it were: Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah. Zedekiah,
Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah,
Pashhur, Amariah, Malkijah,
Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch,
Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah,
Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch,
Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin,
Maaziah, Bilgai and Shemaiah. These were the priests.
The Levites: Jeshua son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel,
and their associates: Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan,
Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah,
Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah,
Hodiah, Bani and Beninu.
The leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani,
Bunni, Azgad, Bebai,
Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin,
Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur,
Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai,
Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai,
Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir,
Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua,
Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah,
Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub,
Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek,
Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah,
Ahiah, Hanan, Anan,
Malluch, Harim and Baanah.
"The rest of the people--priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand--
all these now join their brothers the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the LORD our Lord.
"We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.
"When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts.
"We assume the responsibility for carrying out the commands to give a third of a shekel each year for the service of the house of our God:
for the bread set out on the table; for the regular grain offerings and burnt offerings; for the offerings on the Sabbaths, New Moon festivals and appointed feasts; for the holy offerings; for sin offerings to make atonement for Israel; and for all the duties of the house of our God.
"We--the priests, the Levites and the people--have cast lots to determine when each of our families is to bring to the house of our God at set times each year a contribution of wood to burn on the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the Law.
"We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the LORD each year the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree.
"As it is also written in the Law, we will bring the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, of our herds and of our flocks to the house of our God, to the priests ministering there.
"Moreover, we will bring to the storerooms of the house of our God, to the priests, the first of our ground meal, of our [ grain] offerings, of the fruit of all our trees and of our new wine and oil. And we will bring a tithe of our crops to the Levites, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all the towns where we work.
A priest descended from Aaron is to accompany the Levites when they receive the tithes, and the Levites are to bring a tenth of the tithes up to the house of our God, to the storerooms of the treasury.
The people of Israel, including the Levites, are to bring their contributions of grain, new wine and oil to the storerooms where the articles for the sanctuary are kept and where the ministering priests, the gatekeepers and the singers stay. "We will not neglect the house of our God."
"Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense."
When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet. Then Paul said:
"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.
I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison,
as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
"About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?'8
" 'Who are you, Lord?' I asked. " 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,' he replied.
My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
" 'What shall I do, Lord?' I asked. " 'Get up,' the Lord said, 'and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.'11
My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
"A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there.
He stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very moment I was able to see him.
"Then he said: 'The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth.
You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'
"When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance
and saw the Lord speaking. 'Quick!' he said to me. 'Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me.'19
" 'Lord,' I replied, 'these men know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you.
And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.'
"Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.' "
The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, "Rid the earth of him! He's not fit to live!"
As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air,
the commander ordered Paul to be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and questioned in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this.
As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, "Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn't even been found guilty?"
When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. "What are you going to do?" he asked. "This man is a Roman citizen."
The commander went to Paul and asked, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" "Yes, I am," he answered.
Then the commander said, "I had to pay a big price for my citizenship." "But I was born a citizen," Paul replied.
Those who were about to question him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.
The next day, since the commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.