Nehemiah 1; Nehemiah 2; Nehemiah 3; Nehemiah 4; Nehemiah 5

1 These are the words of Nehemiah. He was the son of Hacaliah. I was in the safest place in Susa. I was there in the 20th year that Artaxerxes was king. It was in the month of Kislev. 2 At that time Hanani came from Judah with some other men. He was one of my brothers. I asked him and the other men about the Jews who were left alive in Judah. They had returned from Babylonia. I also asked him about Jerusalem. 3 He and the men who were with him said to me, "Some of the people who returned are still alive. They are back in the land of Judah. But they are having a hard time. People are making fun of them. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down. Its gates have been burned with fire." 4 When I heard about those things, I sat down and sobbed. For several days I was very sad. I didn't eat any food. And I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 I said, "Lord, you are the God of heaven. You are a great and wonderful God. You keep the covenant you made with those who love you and obey your commands. You show them your love. 6 "Please pay careful attention to my prayer. See how your people are suffering. Please listen to me. I'm praying to you day and night. I'm praying for the people of Israel. We Israelites have committed sins against you. All of us admit it. I and my family have also sinned against you. 7 We've done some very evil things. We haven't obeyed the commands, rules and laws you gave your servant Moses. 8 "Remember what you told him. You said, 'If you people are not faithful, I will scatter you among the nations. 9 But if you return to me, I will bring you back. If you obey my commands, I will gather you together again. I will bring you back from the farthest places on earth. I will bring you to the special place where I have chosen to put my Name.' 10 "Lord, they are your people. They serve you. You used your great strength and mighty hand to set them free from Egypt. 11 Lord, please pay careful attention to my prayer. Listen to the prayers of all of us. We take delight in bringing honor to your name. Give me success today. Help King Artaxerxes show me his favor." I was the king's wine taster.
1 Wine was brought in for King Artaxerxes. It was the month of Nisan in the 20th year of his rule. I got the wine and gave it to him. I hadn't been sad in front of him before. But now I was. 2 So the king asked me, "Why are you looking so sad? You aren't sick. You must be feeling sad deep down inside." I was really afraid. 3 But I said to the king, "May you live forever! Why shouldn't I look sad? The city where my people of long ago are buried has been destroyed. And fire has burned up its gates." 4 The king said to me, "What do you want?" I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 Then I answered the king, "Are you pleased with me, King Artaxerxes? If it pleases you, send me to Judah. Let me go to the city of Jerusalem. That's where my people are buried. I want to rebuild it." 6 The queen was sitting beside the king. He turned and asked me, "How long will your journey take? When will you get back?" It pleased the king to send me. So I chose a certain time. 7 I also said to him, "If it pleases you, may I take some letters with me? I want to give them to the governors of the land west of the Euphrates River. Then they'll help me travel safely through their territory until I arrive in Judah. 8 "May I also have a letter to Asaph? He takes care of your forest. I want him to give me some logs so I can make beams out of them. I want to use them for the gates of the fort that is by the temple. Some of the logs will be used in the city wall. And I'll need some for the house I'm going to live in." The gracious hand of my God helped me. So the king gave me what I asked for. 9 Then I went to the governors of the land west of the Euphrates. I gave them the king's letters. He had also sent army officers and horsemen along with me. 10 Sanballat and Tobiah heard about what was happening. They were very upset that someone had come to work for the good of Israel's people. Sanballat was a Horonite. Tobiah was an official from Ammon. 11 I went to Jerusalem. I stayed there for three days. 12 Then at night I took a few men with me to check out the walls. I hadn't told anyone what my God wanted me to do for Jerusalem. There weren't any donkeys with me except the one I was riding on. 13 That night I went out through the Valley Gate. I went toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate. I checked out the walls of Jerusalem. They had been broken down. I also checked the city gates. Fire had burned them up. 14 I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool. But there wasn't enough room for my donkey to get through. 15 It was still night. I went up the Kidron Valley. I kept checking the wall. Finally, I turned back. I went back in through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials didn't know where I had gone. They didn't know what I had done either. That's because I hadn't said anything to anyone yet. I hadn't told the priests or nobles or officials. And I hadn't spoken to any others who would be rebuilding the wall. 17 I said to them, "You can see the trouble we're in. Jerusalem has been destroyed. Fire has burned up its gates. Come on. Let's rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Then people won't make fun of us anymore." 18 I also told them how the gracious hand of my God was helping me. And I told them what the king had said to me. They replied, "Let's start rebuilding." So they began that good work. 19 But Sanballat, the Horonite, heard about it. So did Tobiah, the official from Ammon. Geshem, the Arab, heard about it too. All of them laughed at us. They made fun of us. "What do you think you are doing?" they asked. "Are you turning against the king?" 20 I answered, "The God of heaven will give us success. We serve him. So we'll start rebuilding the walls. But you don't have any share in Jerusalem. You don't have any claim to it. You don't have any right to worship here."
1 The high priest Eliashib and the other priests went to work. They rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They set it apart to God. They put its doors in place. They continued to rebuild the wall up to the Tower of the Hundred. They set the tower apart to God. Then they continued to rebuild the wall all the way to the Tower of Hananel. 2 Some men from Jericho rebuilt the next part of the wall. And Zaccur rebuilt the next part. He was the son of Imri. 3 The sons of Hassenaah rebuilt the Fish Gate. They laid its beams. They put its doors and metal bolts and bars in place. 4 Meremoth repaired the next part of the wall. He was the son of Uriah. Uriah was the son of Hakkoz. Next to Meremoth, Meshullam made some repairs. He was the son of Berekiah. Berekiah was the son of Meshezabel. Next to Meshullam, Zadok also made some repairs. He was the son of Baana. 5 Some men from Tekoa repaired the next part of the wall. But their nobles refused to do any work at all. They didn't pay any attention to the people who were in charge of the work. 6 Joiada and Meshullam repaired the Jeshanah Gate. Joiada was the son of Paseah. Meshullam was the son of Besodeiah. Joiada and Meshullam laid the beams of the gate. They put its doors and metal bolts and bars in place. 7 Next to them, some men from Gibeon and Mizpah made repairs. They included Melatiah from Gibeon and Jadon from Meronoth. Those places were under the authority of the governor of the land west of the Euphrates River. 8 Uzziel repaired the next part of the wall. He made his living by working with gold. He was the son of Harhaiah. Hananiah made repairs on the next part. He made his living by making perfume. So the wall of Jerusalem was made like new again all the way to the Broad Wall. 9 Rephaiah repaired the next part. He was the son of Hur. Rephaiah ruled over half of the territory where Jerusalem was located. 10 Jedaiah repaired the part of the wall that was across from his house. He was the son of Harumaph. Hattush made repairs next to Jedaiah. Hattush was the son of Hashabneiah. 11 Malkijah and Hasshub repaired another part of the wall. They also repaired the Tower of the Ovens. Malkijah was the son of Harim. Hasshub was the son of Pahath-Moab. 12 Shallum repaired the next part. His daughters helped him. He was the son of Hallohesh. Shallum ruled over the other half of the territory where Jerusalem was located. 13 Hanun repaired the Valley Gate. Some people who lived in Zanoah helped him. They rebuilt it. They put its doors and metal bolts and bars in place. They also repaired 500 yards of the wall. They repaired it all the way to the Dung Gate. 14 Malkijah repaired the Dung Gate. He was the son of Recab. Malkijah ruled over the territory where Beth Hakkerem was located. He rebuilt the gate. He put its doors and metal bolts and bars in place. 15 Shallun repaired the Fountain Gate. He was the son of Col-Hozeh. Shallun ruled over the territory where Mizpah was located. He rebuilt the gate. He put a roof over it. And he put the doors and metal bolts and bars of the gate in place. He also repaired the wall by the Pool of Siloam. It was near the King's Garden. Shallun repaired the wall as far as the steps that go down from the City of David. 16 Next to Shallun, Nehemiah made some repairs. He was the son of Azbuk. Nehemiah ruled over half of the territory where Beth Zur was located. He repaired the wall up to the part that was across from the tombs of David. He repaired it all the way to the man-made pool and the House of Heroes. 17 Next to Nehemiah, some Levites made repairs. They worked under the direction of Rehum. He was the son of Bani. Next to Rehum, Hashabiah made repairs for his territory. He ruled over half of the territory where Keilah was located. 18 Next to him, other people from that territory made some repairs. They worked under the direction of Binnui. He was the son of Henadad. Binnui ruled over the other half of the territory where Keilah was located. 19 Next to him, Ezer repaired another part of the wall. He was the son of Jeshua. Ezer ruled over the territory where Mizpah was located. He repaired the part that was across from the place that went up to the storeroom where the weapons were kept. He repaired the wall up to the angle. 20 Next to him, Baruch worked hard to repair another part of the wall. He was the son of Zabbai. He repaired the part from the angle to the entrance to Eliashib's house. Eliashib was high priest. 21 Next to Baruch, Meremoth repaired another part. He was the son of Uriah. Uriah was the son of Hakkoz. Meremoth repaired the part from the entrance to Eliashib's house to the end of the house. 22 Next to Meremoth, some priests from the surrounding area made repairs. 23 Next to them, Benjamin and Hasshub repaired the part of the wall that was in front of their house. Next to them, Azariah repaired the part that was beside his house. He was the son of Maaseiah. Maaseiah was the son of Ananiah. 24 Next to Azariah, Binnui made repairs on another part. Binnui was the son of Henadad. Binnui repaired the wall from Azariah's house to the angle and the corner. 25 Palal worked across from the angle. He was the son of Uzai. Palal also worked across from the tower that was part of the upper palace. It was near the courtyard of the guard. Next to him, Pedaiah made some repairs. He was the son of Parosh. 26 The temple servants who lived on the hill of Ophel helped him. They repaired the wall up to the part that was across from the Water Gate. It was toward the east and the palace tower. 27 Next to the temple servants, the men from Tekoa repaired another part. They made repairs from the large palace tower to the wall of Ophel. 28 The priests made repairs above the Horse Gate. Each priest repaired the part of the wall that was in front of his own house. 29 Next to them, Zadok made repairs across from his house. He was the son of Immer. Next to Zadok, Shemaiah made some repairs. He was the son of Shecaniah. Shemaiah guarded the East Gate. 30 Next to him, Hananiah and Hanun repaired another part of the wall. Hananiah was the son of Shelemiah. Hanun was the sixth son of Zalaph. Next to Hananiah and Hanun, Meshullam made some repairs. He was the son of Berekiah. Meshullam repaired the part that was across from where he lived. 31 Next to him, Malkijah made some repairs. He made his living by working with gold. He repaired the wall up to the house of the temple servants and the traders. It was across from the Inspection Gate. He also repaired the wall as far as the room that was above the corner. 32 The traders and those who made their living by working with gold made some repairs. They repaired the wall from the room above the corner to the Sheep Gate.
1 Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall. So he burned with anger. He became very upset. He made fun of the Jews. 2 He spoke to his friends and the army of Samaria. He said, "What are those Jews trying to do? Can they make their city wall like new again? Will they offer sacrifices? Can they finish everything in a single day? The stones from their city wall and buildings are piled up like trash. And everything has been badly burned. Can they use those stones to rebuild everything again?" 3 Tobiah from Ammon was at Sanballat's side. He said, "What are they building? They're putting up a stone wall. But suppose a fox climbs on top of it. Even that will break it down!" 4 I prayed to God. I said, "Our God, please listen to our prayer. Some people hate us. They're making fun of us. So let others make fun of them. Let them be carried off like stolen goods. Let them be taken to another country as prisoners. 5 Don't hide your eyes from their guilt. Don't forgive their sins. They have made fun of the builders." 6 So we rebuilt the wall. We repaired it until all of it was half as high as we wanted it to be. The people worked with all their heart. 7 But Sanballat and Tobiah heard that Jerusalem's walls continued to be repaired. The Arabs and some people from Ammon heard the same thing. Some men from Ashdod heard about it too. They heard that the gaps in the wall were being filled in. So they burned with anger. 8 All of them made evil plans to come and fight against Jerusalem. They wanted to stir up trouble against it. 9 But we prayed to our God. We put guards on duty day and night to watch out for danger. 10 During that time, the people in Judah spoke up. They said, "The workers are getting weaker and weaker all the time. Broken stones are piled up everywhere. They are in our way. So we can't rebuild the wall." 11 And our enemies said, "We will be right there among them. We'll kill them. We'll put an end to their work. We'll do it before they even know it or see us." 12 Then the Jews who lived near our enemies came to us. They told us ten times, "No matter where you are, they'll attack us." 13 So I stationed some people behind the lowest parts of the wall. That's where our enemies could easily attack us. I stationed the people family by family. They had their swords, spears and bows with them. 14 I looked things over. Then I stood up and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people. I said, "Don't be afraid of your enemies. Remember the Lord. He is great and powerful. So fight for your brothers and sisters. Fight for your sons and daughters. Fight for your wives and homes." 15 Our enemies heard that we knew what they were trying to do. They heard that God had blocked their evil plans. So all of us returned to the wall. Each of us did our own work. 16 From that day on, half of my men did the work. The other half were given spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers stationed themselves behind all of the people of Judah. 17 The people continued to build the wall. Those who carried supplies did their work with one hand. They held a weapon in the other hand. 18 Each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who blew the trumpet stayed with me. 19 Then I spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people. I said, "This is a big job. It covers a lot of territory. We're separated too far from one another along the wall. 20 When you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us at that location. Our God will fight for us!" 21 So we continued the work. Half of the men held spears. We worked from the first light of sunrise until the stars came out at night. 22 At that time I also spoke to the people. I told them, "Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night. Then they can guard us at night. And they can work during the day." 23 My relatives and I didn't take our clothes off. My men and the guards didn't take theirs off either. Each man kept his weapon with him, even when he went to get water.
1 Some men and their wives cried out against their Jewish brothers and sisters. 2 Some of them were saying, "We and our sons and daughters have increased our numbers. Now there are many of us. We have to get some grain so we can eat and stay alive." 3 Others were saying, "We're being forced to sell our fields, vineyards and homes. We have to do it to buy grain. There isn't enough food for everyone." 4 Still others were saying, "We've had to borrow money. We needed it to pay the king's tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 We belong to the same family lines as the rest of our people. Our sons and daughters are as good as theirs. But we've had to sell them off as slaves. Some of our daughters have already been made slaves. But we can't do anything about it. That's because our fields and vineyards now belong to others." 6 I heard them when they cried out. And I burned with anger when I heard what they were saying. 7 I thought it over for a while. Then I brought charges against the nobles and officials. I told them, "You are forcing your own people to pay too much interest!" So I called together a large group of people to handle the matter. 8 I said, "Our Jewish brothers and sisters were sold to other nations. We've done everything we could to buy them back and bring them home. But look at what you are doing! You are actually selling your own people! Now we'll have to buy them back too!" The people kept quiet. They couldn't think of anything to say. 9 So I continued, "What you are doing isn't right. Shouldn't you show respect for our God? Shouldn't you live in a way that will keep our enemies from making fun of us? 10 "I'm lending the people money and grain. So are my relatives and my men. But you must stop charging too much interest! 11 "Give the people's fields back to them. Give them back their vineyards, olive groves and houses. Do it right away. You have charged them too much. Give everything back to them. Give them back the one percent on the money, grain, fresh wine and olive oil you have charged them." 12 "We'll give it back," they said. "And we won't require anything more from them. We'll do exactly as you say." Then I sent for the priests. I made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. 13 I also shook out my pockets and emptied them. I said, "Some of you might decide not to keep the promise you have made. If that happens, may God shake you out of your house! May he empty you of everything you own! May you be left with nothing at all!" The whole community said, "Amen." They praised the Lord. And the leaders did what they had promised to do. 14 And that's not all. I was appointed as governor of Judah in the 20th year that Artaxerxes was king of Persia. I remained in that position until his 32nd year. During those 12 years, I and my relatives didn't eat the food that was provided for my table. 15 But there had been governors before me. They had put a heavy load on the people. They had taken a pound of silver from each of them. They had also taken food and wine from them. Their officials had acted like high and mighty rulers over them. But I have great respect for God. So I didn't act like that. 16 Instead, I spent all of my time working on this wall. All of my men were gathered there to work on it too. We didn't receive any land for ourselves. 17 Many people ate at my table. They included 150 Jews and officials. They also included leaders who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Each day one ox, six of the best sheep and some birds were prepared for me. Every ten days plenty of wine of all kinds was brought in as well. In spite of all that, I never asked for the food that was provided for my table. That's because the people were already paying too many taxes. 19 You are my God. Please remember me. Show me your favor. Keep in mind everything I've done for these people.
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