The Song of Deborah

On that day Deborah(A) and Barak son of Abinoam(B) sang this song:(C)

“When the princes in Israel take the lead,
    when the people willingly offer(D) themselves—
    praise the Lord!(E)

“Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
    I, even I, will sing to[a] the Lord;(F)
    I will praise the Lord, the God of Israel, in song.(G)

“When you, Lord, went out(H) from Seir,(I)
    when you marched from the land of Edom,
the earth shook,(J) the heavens poured,
    the clouds poured down water.(K)
The mountains quaked(L) before the Lord, the One of Sinai,
    before the Lord, the God of Israel.

“In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,(M)
    in the days of Jael,(N) the highways(O) were abandoned;
    travelers took to winding paths.(P)
Villagers in Israel would not fight;
    they held back until I, Deborah,(Q) arose,
    until I arose, a mother in Israel.
God chose new leaders(R)
    when war came to the city gates,(S)
but not a shield or spear(T) was seen
    among forty thousand in Israel.
My heart is with Israel’s princes,
    with the willing volunteers(U) among the people.
    Praise the Lord!

10 “You who ride on white donkeys,(V)
    sitting on your saddle blankets,
    and you who walk along the road,
consider 11 the voice of the singers[b] at the watering places.
    They recite the victories(W) of the Lord,
    the victories of his villagers in Israel.

“Then the people of the Lord
    went down to the city gates.(X)
12 ‘Wake up,(Y) wake up, Deborah!(Z)
    Wake up, wake up, break out in song!
Arise, Barak!(AA)
    Take captive your captives,(AB) son of Abinoam.’

13 “The remnant of the nobles came down;
    the people of the Lord came down to me against the mighty.
14 Some came from Ephraim,(AC) whose roots were in Amalek;(AD)
    Benjamin(AE) was with the people who followed you.
From Makir(AF) captains came down,
    from Zebulun those who bear a commander’s[c] staff.
15 The princes of Issachar(AG) were with Deborah;(AH)
    yes, Issachar was with Barak,(AI)
    sent under his command into the valley.
In the districts of Reuben
    there was much searching of heart.
16 Why did you stay among the sheep pens[d](AJ)
    to hear the whistling for the flocks?(AK)
In the districts of Reuben
    there was much searching of heart.
17 Gilead(AL) stayed beyond the Jordan.
    And Dan, why did he linger by the ships?
Asher(AM) remained on the coast(AN)
    and stayed in his coves.
18 The people of Zebulun(AO) risked their very lives;
    so did Naphtali(AP) on the terraced fields.(AQ)

19 “Kings came(AR), they fought,
    the kings of Canaan fought.
At Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo,(AS)
    they took no plunder of silver.(AT)
20 From the heavens(AU) the stars fought,
    from their courses they fought against Sisera.
21 The river Kishon(AV) swept them away,
    the age-old river, the river Kishon.
    March on, my soul; be strong!(AW)
22 Then thundered the horses’ hooves—
    galloping, galloping go his mighty steeds.(AX)
23 ‘Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the Lord.
    ‘Curse its people bitterly,
because they did not come to help the Lord,
    to help the Lord against the mighty.’

24 “Most blessed of women(AY) be Jael,(AZ)
    the wife of Heber the Kenite,(BA)
    most blessed of tent-dwelling women.
25 He asked for water, and she gave him milk;(BB)
    in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.
26 Her hand reached for the tent peg,
    her right hand for the workman’s hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
    she shattered and pierced his temple.(BC)
27 At her feet he sank,
    he fell; there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell;
    where he sank, there he fell—dead(BD).

28 “Through the window(BE) peered Sisera’s mother;
    behind the lattice she cried out,(BF)
‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
    Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?’
29 The wisest of her ladies answer her;
    indeed, she keeps saying to herself,
30 ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoils:(BG)
    a woman or two for each man,
colorful garments as plunder for Sisera,
    colorful garments embroidered,
highly embroidered garments(BH) for my neck—
    all this as plunder?(BI)

31 “So may all your enemies perish,(BJ) Lord!
    But may all who love you be like the sun(BK)
    when it rises in its strength.”(BL)

Then the land had peace(BM) forty years.

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Footnotes

  1. Judges 5:3 Or of
  2. Judges 5:11 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  3. Judges 5:14 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  4. Judges 5:16 Or the campfires; or the saddlebags

12 Be strong,(A) and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.”(B)

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Nehemiah’s Prayer

The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah:

In the month of Kislev(A) in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa,(B) Hanani,(C) one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant(D) that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.(E)

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.(F) For some days I mourned and fasted(G) and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:

Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God,(H) who keeps his covenant of love(I) with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear(J) the prayer(K) your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess(L) the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly(M) toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

“Remember(N) the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter(O) you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather(P) them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’(Q)

10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand.(R) 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive(S) to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor(T) in the presence of this man.”

I was cupbearer(U) to the king.

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Artaxerxes Sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,(A) when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”

I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever!(B) Why should my face not look sad when the city(C) where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?(D)

The king said to me, “What is it you want?”

Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”

Then the king(E), with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates,(F) so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel(G) by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me,(H) the king granted my requests.(I) So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry(J) with me.

10 When Sanballat(K) the Horonite and Tobiah(L) the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.(M)

Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls

11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days(N) 12 I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.

13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate(O) toward the Jackal[a] Well and the Dung Gate,(P) examining the walls(Q) of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate(R) and the King’s Pool,(S) but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.

17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire.(T) Come, let us rebuild the wall(U) of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.(V) 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me(W) and what the king had said to me.

They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.

19 But when Sanballat(X) the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem(Y) the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us.(Z) “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”

20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding,(AA) but as for you, you have no share(AB) in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”

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Footnotes

  1. Nehemiah 2:13 Or Serpent or Fig

Nehemiah Helps the Poor

Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.”

Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields,(A) our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.”(B)

Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax(C) on our fields and vineyards. Although we are of the same flesh and blood(D) as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery.(E) Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”(F)

When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are charging your own people interest!”(G) So I called together a large meeting to deal with them and said: “As far as possible, we have bought(H) back our fellow Jews who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your own people, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.(I)

So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach(J) of our Gentile enemies? 10 I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let us stop charging interest!(K) 11 Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest(L) you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”

12 “We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.”

Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath(M) to do what they had promised. 13 I also shook(N) out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!”

At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,”(O) and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.

14 Moreover, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,(P) when I was appointed to be their governor(Q) in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year—twelve years—neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor. 15 But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels[a] of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God(R) I did not act like that. 16 Instead,(S) I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we[b] did not acquire any land.

17 Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table, as well as those who came to us from the surrounding nations. 18 Each day one ox, six choice sheep and some poultry(T) were prepared for me, and every ten days an abundant supply of wine of all kinds. In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.

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Footnotes

  1. Nehemiah 5:15 That is, about 1 pound or about 460 grams
  2. Nehemiah 5:16 Most Hebrew manuscripts; some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Vulgate and Syriac I