Nehemiah 4; Nehemiah 5; Nehemiah 6; Acts 2:22-47

1 When Sanballat heard that we Jews had begun rebuilding the wall, he became furious and began to ridicule us. 2 In front of his companions and the Samaritan troops he said, "What do these miserable Jews think they're doing? Do they intend to rebuild the city? Do they think that by offering sacrifices they can finish the work in one day? Can they make building stones out of heaps of burnt rubble?" 3 Tobiah was standing there beside him, and he added, "What kind of wall could they ever build? Even a fox could knock it down!" 4 I prayed, "Hear how they make fun of us, O God! Let their ridicule fall on their own heads. Let them be robbed of everything they have, and let them be taken as prisoners to a foreign land. 5 Don't forgive the evil they do and don't forget their sins, for they have insulted us who are building." 6 So we went on rebuilding the wall, and soon it was half its full height, because the people were eager to work. 7 Sanballat, Tobiah, and the people of Arabia, Ammon, and Ashdod heard that we were making progress in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem and that the gaps in the wall were being closed, and they became very angry. 8 So they all plotted together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion, 9 but we prayed to our God and kept men on guard against them day and night. 10 The people of Judah had a song they sang: "We grow weak carrying burdens; There's so much rubble to take away. How can we build the wall today?" 11 Our enemies thought we would not see them or know what was happening until they were already upon us, killing us and putting an end to our work. 12 But time after time Jews who were living among our enemies came to warn us of the plans our enemies were making against us. 13 So I armed the people with swords, spears, and bows, and stationed them by clans behind the wall, wherever it was still unfinished. 14 I saw that the people were worried, so I said to them and to their leaders and officials, "Don't be afraid of our enemies. Remember how great and terrifying the Lord is, and fight for your relatives, your children, your wives, and your homes." 15 Our enemies heard that we had found out what they were plotting, and they realized that God had defeated their plans. Then all of us went back to rebuilding the wall. 16 From then on half of my men worked and half stood guard, wearing coats of armor and armed with spears, shields, and bows. And our leaders gave their full support to the people 17 who were rebuilding the wall. Even those who carried building materials worked with one hand and kept a weapon in the other, 18 and everyone who was building kept a sword strapped to their waist. The man who was to sound the alarm on the bugle stayed with me. 19 I told the people and their officials and leaders, "The work is spread out over such a distance that we are widely separated from one another on the wall. 20 If you hear the bugle, gather around me. Our God will fight for us." 21 So every day, from dawn until the stars came out at night, half of us worked on the wall, while the other half stood guard with spears. 22 During this time I told the men in charge that they and all their helpers had to stay in Jerusalem at night, so that we could guard the city at night as well as work in the daytime. 23 I didn't take off my clothes even at night, neither did any of my companions nor my servants nor my bodyguards. And we all kept our weapons at hand.
1 Some time later many of the people, both men and women, began to complain against the other Jews. 2 Some said, "We have large families, we need grain to keep us alive." 3 Others said, "We have had to mortgage our fields and vineyards and houses to get enough grain to keep us from starving." 4 Still others said, "We had to borrow money to pay the royal tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 We are of the same race as the other Jews. Aren't our children just as good as theirs? But we have to make slaves of our children. Some of our daughters have already been sold as slaves. We are helpless because our fields and vineyards have been taken away from us." 6 When I heard their complaints, I grew angry 7 and decided to act. I denounced the leaders and officials of the people and told them, "You are oppressing your own relatives!" I called a public assembly to deal with the problem 8 and said, "As far as we have been able, we have been buying back our Jewish relatives who had to sell themselves to foreigners. Now you are forcing your own relatives to sell themselves to you, their own people!" The leaders were silent and could find nothing to say. 9 Then I said, "What you are doing is wrong! You ought to obey God and do what's right. Then you would not give our enemies, the Gentiles, any reason to ridicule us. 10 I have let the people borrow money and grain from me, and so have my companions and those who work for me. Now let's give up all our claims to repayment. 11 Cancel all the debts they owe you - money or grain or wine or olive oil. And give them back their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses right now!" 12 The leaders replied, "We'll do as you say. We'll give the property back and not try to collect the debts." I called in the priests and made the leaders swear in front of them to keep the promise they had just made. 13 Then I took off the sash I was wearing around my waist and shook it out. "This is how God will shake any of you who don't keep your promise," I said. "God will take away your houses and everything you own, and will leave you with nothing." Everyone who was present said, "Amen!" and praised the Lord. And the leaders kept their promise. 14 During all the twelve years that I was governor of the land of Judah, from the twentieth year that Artaxerxes was emperor until his thirty-second year, neither my relatives nor I ate the food I was entitled to have as governor. 15 Every governor who had been in office before me had been a burden to the people and had demanded forty silver coins a day for food and wine. Even their servants had oppressed the people. But I acted differently, because I honored God. 16 I put all my energy into rebuilding the wall and did not acquire any property. Everyone who worked for me joined in the rebuilding. 17 I regularly fed at my table a hundred and fifty of the Jewish people and their leaders, besides all the people who came to me from the surrounding nations. 18 Every day I served one beef, six of the best sheep, and many chickens, and every ten days I provided a fresh supply of wine. But I knew what heavy burdens the people had to bear, and so I did not claim the allowance that the governor is entitled to. 19 I pray you, O God, remember to my credit everything that I have done for this people.
1 Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem, and the rest of our enemies heard that we had finished building the wall and that there were no gaps left in it, although we still had not set up the gates in the gateways. 2 So Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message, suggesting that I meet with them in one of the villages in the Plain of Ono. This was a trick of theirs to try to harm me. 3 I sent messengers to say to them, "I am doing important work and can't go down there. I am not going to let the work stop just to go and see you." 4 They sent me the same message four times, and each time I sent them the same reply. 5 Then Sanballat sent one of his servants to me with a fifth message, this one in the form of an unsealed letter. 6 It read: 6:"Geshem tells me that a rumor is going around among the neighboring peoples that you and the Jewish people intend to revolt and that this is why you are rebuilding the wall. He also says you plan to make yourself kin 7 and that you have arranged for some prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem that you are the king of Judah. His Majesty is certain to hear about this, so I suggest that you and I meet to talk the situation over." 8 I sent a reply to him: "Nothing of what you are saying is true. You have made it all up yourself." 9 They were trying to frighten us into stopping work. I prayed, "But now, God, make me strong!" 10 About this time I went to visit Shemaiah, the son of Delaiah and grandson of Mehetabel, who was unable to leave his house. He said to me, "You and I must go and hide together in the Holy Place of the Temple and lock the doors, because they are coming to kill you. Any night now they will come to kill you." 11 I answered, "I'm not the kind of person that runs and hides. Do you think I would try to save my life by hiding in the Temple? I won't do it." 12 When I thought it over, I realized that God had not spoken to Shemaiah, but that Tobiah and Sanballat had bribed him to give me this warning. 13 They hired him to frighten me into sinning, so that they could ruin my reputation and humiliate me. 14 I prayed, "God, remember what Tobiah and Sanballat have done and punish them. Remember that woman Noadiah and all the other prophets who tried to frighten me." 15 After fifty-two days of work the entire wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul. 16 When our enemies in the surrounding nations heard this, they realized that they had lost face, since everyone knew that the work had been done with God's help. 17 During all this time the Jewish leaders had been in correspondence with Tobiah. 18 Many people in Judah were on his side because of his Jewish father-in-law, Shecaniah son of Arah. In addition, his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah. 19 People would talk in front of me about all the good deeds Tobiah had done and would tell him everything I said. And he kept sending me letters to try to frighten me.
22 "Listen to these words, fellow Israelites! Jesus of Nazareth was a man whose divine authority was clearly proven to you by all the miracles and wonders which God performed through him. You yourselves know this, for it happened here among you. 23 In accordance with his own plan God had already decided that Jesus would be handed over to you; and you killed him by letting sinful men crucify him. 24 But God raised him from death, setting him free from its power, because it was impossible that death should hold him prisoner. 25 For David said about him, "I saw the Lord before me at all times; he is near me, and I will not be troubled. 26 And so I am filled with gladness, and my words are full of joy. And I, mortal though I am, will rest assured in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me in the world of the dead; you will not allow your faithful servant to rot in the grave. 28 You have shown me the paths that lead to life, and your presence will fill me with joy.' 29 "My friends, I must speak to you plainly about our famous ancestor King David. He died and was buried, and his grave is here with us to this very day. 30 He was a prophet, and he knew what God had promised him: God had made a vow that he would make one of David's descendants a king, just as David was. 31 David saw what God was going to do in the future, and so he spoke about the resurrection of the Messiah when he said, "He was not abandoned in the world of the dead; his body did not rot in the grave.' 32 God has raised this very Jesus from death, and we are all witnesses to this fact. 33 He has been raised to the right side of God, his Father, and has received from him the Holy Spirit, as he had promised. What you now see and hear is his gift that he has poured out on us. 34 For it was not David who went up into heaven; rather he said, "The Lord said to my Lord: Sit here at my right side 35 until I put your enemies as a footstool under your feet.' 36 "All the people of Israel, then, are to know for sure that this Jesus, whom you crucified, is the one that God has made Lord and Messiah!" 37 When the people heard this, they were deeply troubled and said to Peter and the other apostles, "What shall we do, brothers?" 38 Peter said to them, "Each one of you must turn away from your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven; and you will receive God's gift, the Holy Spirit. 39 For God's promise was made to you and your children, and to all who are far away - all whom the Lord our God calls to himself." 40 Peter made his appeal to them and with many other words he urged them, saying, "Save yourselves from the punishment coming on this wicked people!" 41 Many of them believed his message and were baptized, and about three thousand people were added to the group that day. 42 They spent their time in learning from the apostles, taking part in the fellowship, and sharing in the fellowship meals and the prayers. 43 Many miracles and wonders were being done through the apostles, and everyone was filled with awe. 44 All the believers continued together in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another. 45 They would sell their property and possessions, and distribute the money among all, according to what each one needed. 46 Day after day they met as a group in the Temple, and they had their meals together in their homes, eating with glad and humble hearts, 47 praising God, and enjoying the good will of all the people. And every day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.
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