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Nehemiah 4; Nehemiah 5; Nehemiah 6

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Nehemiah 4

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.
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica.   All rights reserved worldwide.

Nehemiah 5

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.
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica.   All rights reserved worldwide.

Nehemiah 6

1 Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, the Arab, heard about what I had done. So did the rest of our enemies. All of them heard I had rebuilt the wall. In fact, they heard there weren't any gaps left in it. But up to that time I hadn't put up the gates at the main entrances to the city.
2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message. They said, "Come. Let's talk with one another. Let's meet in one of the villages on the flatlands of Ono." But they were planning to harm me.
3 So I sent messengers to them with my answer. I replied, "I'm working on a huge project. So I can't get away. Why should the work stop while I leave it? Why should I go down and talk with you?"
4 They sent me the same message four times. And I gave them the same answer each time.
5 Sanballat sent his helper to me a fifth time. He brought the same message. He was carrying a letter that wasn't sealed.
6 It said, "A report is going around among the nations. Geshem says it's true. We hear that you and the other Jews are planning to turn against the Persian rulers. And that's why you are building the wall. "It's also reported that you are about to become their king.
7 People say that you have even appointed prophets to make an announcement about you. In Jerusalem they are going to say, 'Judah has a king!' That report will get back to the king of Persia. So come. Let's talk things over."
8 I sent a reply to Sanballat. I said, "What you are saying isn't really happening. You are just making it up."
9 All of them were trying to frighten us. They thought, "Their hands will get too weak to do the work. So it won't be completed." But I prayed to God. I said, "Make my hands stronger."
10 One day I went to Shemaiah's house. He was the son of Delaiah. Delaiah was the son of Mehetabel. Shemaiah had shut himself up in his home. He said, "Let's go to God's house. Let's meet inside the temple. Let's close the temple doors. Some people want to kill you. They will come at night."
11 But I said, "Should a man like me run away? Should someone like me go into the temple just to save his life? No! I won't go!"
12 I realized that God hadn't sent Shemaiah. Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. That's why he had prophesied lies about me.
13 They had hired him to scare me. They wanted me to commit a sin by doing what he said. That would give me a bad name in the community. People would find fault with me and my work.
14 You are my God. Remember what Tobiah and Sanballat have done. Also remember the prophet Noadiah. She and the rest of the prophets have been trying to scare me.
15 So the city wall was completed on the 25th day of the month of Elul. It was finished in 52 days.
16 All of our enemies heard about it. All of the nations that were around us became afraid. They weren't sure of themselves anymore. They realized that our God had helped us finish the work.
17 In those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah. And replies from Tobiah came back to them.
18 Many people in Judah had taken an oath that they would be faithful to him. That's because he was Shecaniah's son-in-law. Shecaniah was the son of Arah. Tobiah's son Jehohanan had married Meshullam's daughter. Meshullam was the son of Berekiah.
19 Tobiah's friends kept reporting to me the good things he did. They also kept telling him what I said. And Tobiah himself sent letters to scare me.
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica.   All rights reserved worldwide.