Nehemiah’s Grief for the Exiles

The words of (A)Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

Now it happened in (B)the month Chislev, (C)in the twentieth year, while I was in (D)Susa the [a]capitol, that (E)Hanani, one of my brothers, [b]and some men from Judah came; and I asked them about the Jews who had escaped [c]and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the (F)province who survived the captivity are in great distress and (G)disgrace, and (H)the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and (I)its gates have been burned with fire.”

Now when I heard these words, (J)I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before (K)the God of heaven. I said, “Please, Lord God of heaven, (L)the great and awesome God, (M)who keeps the covenant and faithfulness for those who love Him and keep His commandments: (N)let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open, to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, (O)confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have committed against You; (P)I and my father’s house have sinned. (Q)We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances (R)which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, please, the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘(S)If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples; (T)but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I (U)will gather them from there and bring them (V)to the place where I have chosen to have My name dwell.’ 10 (W)They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. 11 Please, Lord, (X)may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to [d]revere Your name, and please make Your servant successful today and grant him mercy before this man.”

Now I was the (Y)cupbearer to the king.

Nehemiah’s Prayer Answered

And it came about in the month Nisan, (Z)in the twentieth year of King (AA)Artaxerxes, that wine was before him, and (AB)I picked up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. So the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, though you are not ill? (AC)This is nothing but sadness of heart.” Then I was very much afraid. And I said to the king, “(AD)May the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad (AE)when the city, the [e]site of my fathers’ tombs, is desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “[f]What would you request?” (AF)So I prayed to the God of heaven. Then I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, I request that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” Then the king said to me, with the queen sitting beside him, “How long will your journey be, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me, and (AG)I gave him a definite time. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me (AH)for the governors of the provinces beyond the River, so that they will allow me to pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s (AI)forest, so that he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of (AJ)the citadel which is by the [g]temple, for the wall of the city, and for the house to which I will go.” And the king granted them to me because (AK)the good hand of my God was on me.

Then I came to (AL)the governors of the provinces beyond the Euphrates River and gave them the king’s letters. Now (AM)the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 10 And when (AN)Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite [h]official heard about it, it was very displeasing to them that someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel.

Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls

11 So I (AO)came to Jerusalem and was there for three days. 12 And I got up in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my [i]mind to do for Jerusalem, and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding. 13 So I went out at night by (AP)the Valley Gate in the direction of the Dragon’s Spring and on to the Dung Gate, and I was inspecting the walls of Jerusalem (AQ)which were broken down and its (AR)gates which had been consumed by fire. 14 Then I passed on to (AS)the Fountain Gate and (AT)the King’s Pool, but there was no place for [j]my mount to pass. 15 So I was going up at night by the (AU)ravine and inspecting the wall. Then I entered the Valley Gate again and returned. 16 However, the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing; nor had I as yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the rest who were doing the work.

17 Then I said to them, “You see the bad situation we are in, that (AV)Jerusalem is desolate and its gates have been burned by fire. Come, let’s rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a disgrace.” 18 And I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let’s arise and build.” (AW)So they put their hands to the good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite [k]official, and (AX)Geshem the Arab heard about it, (AY)they mocked us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? (AZ)Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 So I answered them and said to them, “(BA)The God of heaven will make us successful; therefore we His servants will arise and build, (BB)but you have no part, right, or memorial in Jerusalem.”

Builders of the Walls

Then (BC)Eliashib the high priest arose with his brothers the priests and built (BD)the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and (BE)installed its doors. They consecrated [l]the wall to (BF)the Tower of the Hundred and (BG)the Tower of Hananel. And next to him (BH)the men of Jericho built, and next to [m]them Zaccur the son of Imri built.

Now the sons of Hassenaah built (BI)the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and installed its doors with its bolts and bars. Next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz made repairs. And next to [n]him Meshullam the son of Berechiah the son of Meshezabel made repairs. And next to [o]him Zadok the son of Baana also made repairs. Moreover, next to [p]him the Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not [q]support the work of their masters.

Now Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired (BJ)the Ancient Gate; they laid its beams and installed its doors with its bolts and its bars. Next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, [r]also made repairs for the official seat of the (BK)governor of the province beyond the Euphrates River. Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah of the (BL)goldsmiths made repairs. And next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs, and they restored Jerusalem as far as (BM)the Broad Wall. And next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, (BN)the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. 10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah made repairs. 11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and (BO)the Tower of Furnaces. 12 Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, (BP)the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs, he and his daughters.

13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired (BQ)the Valley Gate. They built it and installed its doors with its bolts and its bars, and a [s]thousand cubits of the wall to the Dung Gate.

14 And Malchijah the son of Rechab, the official of the district of (BR)Beth-haccherem repaired the (BS)Dung Gate. He built it and installed its doors with its bolts and its bars.

15 Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, the official of the district of Mizpah, (BT)repaired the Fountain Gate. He built it, made a roof for it, and installed its doors with its bolts and its bars, and the wall of the Pool of Shelah at (BU)the king’s garden as far as (BV)the steps that descend from the city of David. 16 After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, (BW)official of half the district of Beth-zur, made repairs as far as a point opposite the tombs of David, and as far as (BX)the [t]artificial pool and the house of the mighty men. 17 After him the Levites carried out repairs under Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, the official of half the district of Keilah, carried out repairs for his district. 18 After him their brothers carried out repairs under Bavvai the son of Henadad, official of the other half of the district of Keilah. 19 And next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, (BY)the official of Mizpah, repaired [u]another section in front of the ascent of the armory (BZ)at the Angle. 20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the Angle to the doorway of the house of (CA)Eliashib the high priest. 21 After him Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz repaired another section, from the doorway of Eliashib’s house even as far as the end of [v]his house. 22 And after him the priests, (CB)the men of the [w]vicinity, carried out repairs. 23 After [x]them Benjamin and Hasshub carried out repairs in front of their house. After [y]them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah, carried out repairs beside his house. 24 After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah as far as (CC)the Angle and as far as the corner. 25 Palal the son of Uzai made repairs in front of the Angle and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king, which is by (CD)the courtyard of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh made repairs. 26 Now (CE)the temple servants living in (CF)Ophel made repairs as far as the front of (CG)the Water Gate toward the east and the projecting tower. 27 After [z]them (CH)the Tekoites repaired another section in front of the great projecting tower and as far as the wall of Ophel.

28 Above (CI)the Horse Gate the priests carried out repairs, each in front of his house. 29 After [aa]them Zadok the son of Immer carried out repairs in front of his house. And after him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, carried out repairs. 30 After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah carried out repairs in front of his own quarters. 31 After him Malchijah, [ab]one of (CJ)the goldsmiths, carried out repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, in front of the [ac]Inspection Gate and as far as the upper room of the corner. 32 And between the upper room of the corner and (CK)the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants carried out repairs.

Work Is Ridiculed

[ad]Now it came about that when (CL)Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry, and he mocked the Jews. And he spoke in the presence of his brothers and (CM)the [ae]wealthy people of Samaria and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore the temple for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish it in a day? Can they revive the stones from the (CN)heaps of rubble, even the burned ones?” Now Tobiah the Ammonite was near him, and he said, “Even what they are building—(CO)if a fox were to [af]jump on it, it would break their stone wall down!”

(CP)Hear, O our God, how we are an object of contempt! (CQ)Return their taunting on their own heads, and turn them into plunder in a land of captivity. Do not [ag](CR)forgive their guilt and do not let their sin be wiped out before You, for they have [ah]demoralized the builders.

So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a [ai]mind to work.

[aj]Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the [ak]repair of the walls of Jerusalem went [al]on, and that the breaches began to be closed, they were very angry. So all of them (CS)conspired together to come to fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.

Discouragement Overcome

But we prayed to our God, and because of them we (CT)set up a guard against them day and night.

10 And so [am]in Judah it was said:

“The strength of the burden bearers is failing,
Yet there is much rubble;
And we ourselves are unable
To rebuild the wall.”

11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them, and put a stop to the work.” 12 When the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, “[an]They will come up against us from every place where you may turn,” 13 then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I (CU)stationed the people in families with their swords, spears, and bows. 14 When I saw their fear, I stood and said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people: “(CV)Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and (CW)fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

15 Now when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that (CX)God had frustrated their plan, then all of us returned to the wall, each one to his work. 16 And from that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while half of them kept hold of the spears, the shields, the bows, and the coats of mail; and the captains were behind all the house of Judah. 17 Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens carried with one hand doing the work, and the other keeping hold of a weapon. 18 As for the builders, each wore his sword strapped to his waist as he built, while [ao]the trumpeter stood near me. 19 And I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall far from one another. 20 At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, assemble to us there. (CY)Our God will fight for us.”

21 So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from [ap]dawn until the stars [aq]appeared. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Each man with his servant shall spend the night within Jerusalem, so that they may be a guard for us by night and a laborer by day.” 23 So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me—none of us [ar]removed our clothes; each took his weapon even to the water.

Charging Interest Abolished

Now (CZ)there was a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their (DA)Jewish brothers. For there were those who said, “We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let’s (DB)get grain so that we may eat and live.” And there were others who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses so that we might get grain because of the famine.” There also were those who said, “We have borrowed money (DC)for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. And now (DD)our flesh is like the flesh of our brothers, our children like their children. Yet behold, (DE)we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters are forced into bondage already, and [as]we are helpless because our fields and vineyards belong to others.”

Then I was very (DF)angry when I heard their outcry and these words. So I thought it over and contended with the nobles and the leading people, and said to them, “(DG)You are lending at interest, each to his brother!” Therefore, I held a great assembly against them. And I said to them, “We, according to our ability, (DH)have [at]redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?” Then they were silent and could not find a word to say. So I said, “The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of (DI)the taunting of the nations, our enemies? 10 And likewise I, my brothers, and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please, let’s [au]do without this interest. 11 Please, give back to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, as well as the hundredth part of the money and of the grain, the new wine, and the oil that you are charging as interest from them.” 12 Then they said, “We (DJ)will give it back and (DK)will require nothing from them; we will do exactly as you say.” So I called the priests and made them (DL)take an oath to act in accordance with this [av]promise. 13 I (DM)also shook out the [aw]front of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every person from his house and from his possessions who does not keep this [ax]promise; just so may he be shaken out and emptied.” And (DN)all the assembly said, “Amen!” And they praised the Lord. Then the people acted in accordance with this [ay]promise.

Nehemiah’s Example

14 Furthermore, since the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from (DO)the twentieth year to the (DP)thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my kinsmen have eaten the governor’s food allowance. 15 But the previous governors who were before me [az]laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so (DQ)because of my fear of God. 16 I also [ba]applied myself to the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, (DR)there were at my table 150 Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now (DS)that which was prepared for each day was one ox and six choice sheep; also birds were prepared for me, and every ten days all sorts of wine were provided in abundance. Yet for all this (DT)I did not request the governor’s food allowance, because the forced labor was heavy on this people. 19 (DU)Remember me, my God, for good, in return for all that I have done for this people.

The Enemy’s Plot

Now when it was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and to the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall, and that no breach was left in it, (DV)although at that time I had not installed the doors in the gates, Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, saying, “Come, let’s meet together [bb]at Chephirim in the plain of (DW)Ono.” But they were plotting to [bc]harm me. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and am unable to come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” Then they sent messages to me four times worded in this way, and I answered them with the same wording. Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same way a fifth time with an open letter in his hand. In it was written: “It is reported among the nations, and [bd]Gashmu says, that (DX)you and the Jews intend to rebel; for that reason you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports. You have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning [be]you, ‘A king is in Judah!’ And now it will be reported to the king according to these reports. So come now, let’s consult together.” Then I sent a message to him saying, “Nothing like these things that you are saying has been done, but you are (DY)inventing them [bf]in your own mind.” For all of them were trying to frighten us, [bg]thinking, “[bh]They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, (DZ)God, strengthen my hands.

10 When I entered the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, (EA)who was confined at home, he said, “Let’s meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let’s close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night.” 11 But I said, “(EB)Should a man like me flee? And who is there like me who would go into the temple [bi]to save his own life? I will not go in.” 12 Then I realized [bj]that God certainly had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He was hired for this reason, (EC)that I would become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could taunt me. 14 (ED)Remember, my God, Tobiah and Sanballat in accordance with these works of theirs, and also Noadiah (EE)the prophetess and the rest of the prophets, who were trying to frighten me.

The Wall Is Finished

15 So (EF)the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 (EG)When all our enemies heard about it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they [bk]lost their confidence; for (EH)they realized that this work had been accomplished [bl]with the help of our God. 17 Also in those days many letters went from the nobles of Judah to Tobiah, and [bm]Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18 For many in Judah were bound by oath to him because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. 19 Moreover, they were speaking about his good deeds in my presence, and were reporting my words to him. Then Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.

Footnotes

  1. Nehemiah 1:1 Or acropolis
  2. Nehemiah 1:2 Lit he and men
  3. Nehemiah 1:2 Lit who survived
  4. Nehemiah 1:11 Or fear
  5. Nehemiah 2:3 Lit house
  6. Nehemiah 2:4 Lit For what is this you
  7. Nehemiah 2:8 Lit house
  8. Nehemiah 2:10 Lit servant
  9. Nehemiah 2:12 Lit heart
  10. Nehemiah 2:14 Lit the animal under me
  11. Nehemiah 2:19 Lit servant
  12. Nehemiah 3:1 Lit it
  13. Nehemiah 3:2 Lit him
  14. Nehemiah 3:4 Lit them
  15. Nehemiah 3:4 Lit them
  16. Nehemiah 3:5 Lit them
  17. Nehemiah 3:5 Lit bring their neck to
  18. Nehemiah 3:7 Or which was under the jurisdiction of the governor of the province beyond the River, also made repairs
  19. Nehemiah 3:13 About 1,500 ft. or 457 m
  20. Nehemiah 3:16 Lit constructed
  21. Nehemiah 3:19 Lit a second measure, and so in vv 20, 21, 24, 30
  22. Nehemiah 3:21 Lit Eliashib’s
  23. Nehemiah 3:22 I.e., the lower Jordan Valley
  24. Nehemiah 3:23 Lit him
  25. Nehemiah 3:23 Lit him
  26. Nehemiah 3:27 Lit him
  27. Nehemiah 3:29 Lit him
  28. Nehemiah 3:31 Lit son of
  29. Nehemiah 3:31 Or Numbering
  30. Nehemiah 4:1 Ch 3:33 in Heb
  31. Nehemiah 4:2 Or army
  32. Nehemiah 4:3 Lit go up
  33. Nehemiah 4:5 Lit cover
  34. Nehemiah 4:5 Lit offended against
  35. Nehemiah 4:6 Lit heart
  36. Nehemiah 4:7 Ch 4:1 in Heb
  37. Nehemiah 4:7 Lit healing
  38. Nehemiah 4:7 Lit up
  39. Nehemiah 4:10 Lit Judah said
  40. Nehemiah 4:12 As in LXX; MT omits they...up
  41. Nehemiah 4:18 Lit he who sounded the trumpet
  42. Nehemiah 4:21 Lit rising of the dawn
  43. Nehemiah 4:21 Lit came out
  44. Nehemiah 4:23 I.e., for washing or resting
  45. Nehemiah 5:5 Lit there is no power in our hands
  46. Nehemiah 5:8 Lit purchased
  47. Nehemiah 5:10 Lit abandon
  48. Nehemiah 5:12 Lit word
  49. Nehemiah 5:13 Lit fold
  50. Nehemiah 5:13 Lit word
  51. Nehemiah 5:13 Lit word
  52. Nehemiah 5:15 Lit made heavy
  53. Nehemiah 5:16 Or held fast
  54. Nehemiah 6:2 LXX in the villages in
  55. Nehemiah 6:2 Lit do evil to me
  56. Nehemiah 6:6 In v 1 and elsewhere, Geshem
  57. Nehemiah 6:7 Lit you, saying
  58. Nehemiah 6:8 Lit from your heart
  59. Nehemiah 6:9 Lit saying,
  60. Nehemiah 6:9 Lit Their hands will go slack from
  61. Nehemiah 6:11 Lit and live
  62. Nehemiah 6:12 Lit and behold God had not
  63. Nehemiah 6:16 Lit fell exceedingly in their own eyes
  64. Nehemiah 6:16 Lit from our God
  65. Nehemiah 6:17 Lit what was Tobiah’s came

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