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Nehemiah 4-6 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 4

When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem was progressing—for the gaps were beginning to be closed up—they became extremely angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to throw us into confusion. We prayed to our God and posted a watch against them day and night for fear of what they might do. Meanwhile the Judahites were saying:

“Slackened is the bearers’ strength,
    there is no end to the rubbish;
Never will we be able
    to rebuild the wall.”

Our enemies thought, “Before they are aware of it or see us, we will come into their midst, kill them, and put an end to the work.”

When the Jews who lived near them had come to us from one place after another, and had told us ten times over that they were about to attack us, I stationed guards down below, behind the wall, near the exposed points, assigning them by family groups with their swords, spears, and bows. I made an inspection, then addressed these words to the nobles, the magistrates, and the rest of the people: “Do not fear them! Keep in mind the Lord, who is great and to be feared, and fight for your kindred, your sons and daughters, your wives and your homes.” When our enemies realized that we had been warned and that God had upset their plan, we all went back, each to our own task at the wall.

10 From that time on, however, only half my work force took a hand in the work, while the other half, armed with spears, bucklers, bows, and breastplates, stood guard behind the whole house of Judah 11 as they rebuilt the wall. The load carriers, too, were armed; each worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other. 12 Every builder, while working, had a sword tied at his side. A trumpeter stood beside me, 13 for I had said to the nobles, the magistrates, and the rest of the people: “Our work is scattered and extensive, and we are widely separated from one another along the wall; 14 wherever you hear the trumpet sound, join us there; our God will fight with us.” 15 Thus we went on with the work, half with spears in hand, from daybreak till the stars came out.

16 At the same time I told the people to spend the nights inside Jerusalem, each with an attendant, so that they might serve as a guard by night and a working force by day. 17 Neither I, nor my kindred, nor any of my attendants, nor any of the bodyguard that accompanied me took off our clothes; everyone kept a weapon at hand.

Chapter 5

Social and Economic Problems. Then there rose a great outcry of the people and their wives against certain of their Jewish kindred.[a] Some said: “We are forced to pawn our sons and daughters in order to get grain to eat that we may live.” Others said: “We are forced to pawn our fields, our vineyards, and our houses, that we may have grain during the famine.” Still others said: “To pay the king’s tax we have borrowed money on our fields and vineyards. And though these are our own kindred, and our children are as good as theirs, we have had to reduce our sons and daughters to slavery, and violence has been done to some of our daughters! Yet we can do nothing about it, for our fields and vineyards belong to others.”

I was extremely angry when I heard the reasons for their complaint. After some deliberation, I called the nobles and magistrates to account, saying to them, “You are exacting interest from your own kindred!”[b] I then rebuked them severely, saying to them: “As far as we were able, we bought back our Jewish kindred who had been sold to Gentiles; you, however, are selling your own kindred, to have them bought back by us.” They remained silent, for they could find no answer. I continued: “What you are doing is not good. Should you not conduct yourselves out of fear of our God rather than fear of the reproach of our Gentile enemies? 10 I myself, my kindred, and my attendants have lent the people money and grain without charge. Let us put an end to this usury! 11 Return to them this very day their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses, together with the interest on the money, the grain, the wine, and the oil that you have lent them.” 12 They answered: “We will return everything and exact nothing further from them. We will do just what you ask.” Then I called for the priests to administer an oath to them that they would do as they had promised. 13 I shook out the folds of my garment, saying, “Thus may God shake from home and fortune every man who fails to keep this promise, and may he thus be shaken out and emptied!” And the whole assembly answered, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. Then the people did as they had promised.

Nehemiah’s Record. 14 Moreover, from the time that King Artaxerxes appointed me governor in the land of Judah, from his twentieth to his thirty-second year—during these twelve years neither I nor my kindred lived off the governor’s food allowance. 15 The earlier governors,[c] my predecessors, had laid a heavy burden on the people, taking from them each day forty silver shekels for their food; then, too, their attendants oppressed the people. But I, because I feared God, did not do this. 16 In addition, though I had acquired no land of my own, I did my part in this work on the wall, and all my attendants were gathered there for the work. 17 Though I set my table for a hundred and fifty persons, Jews and magistrates, as well as the neighboring Gentiles who came to us, 18 and though the daily preparations were made at my expense—one ox, six choice sheep, poultry—besides all kinds of wine in abundance every ten days, despite this I did not claim the governor’s allowance, for the labor lay heavy upon this people. 19 Keep in mind, my God, to my credit all that I did for this people.

Chapter 6

Plots Against Nehemiah. When it had been reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and our other enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and that there was no breach left in it (though up to that time I had not yet set up the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us hold council together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono.” They were planning to do me harm. I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am engaged in a great enterprise and am unable to come down. Why should the work stop, while I leave it to come down to you?” Four times they sent me this same proposal, and each time I gave the same reply. Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent me the same message by one of his servants, who bore an unsealed letter containing this text: “Among the nations it has been reported—Gashmu[d] is witness to this—that you and the Jews are planning a rebellion; that for this reason you are rebuilding the wall; and that you are to be their king. Also, that you have set up prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim you king of Judah. Now, since matters like these will reach the ear of the king, come, let us hold council together.” I sent him this answer: “Nothing of what you report is happening; rather, it is the invention of your own mind.” They were all trying to intimidate us, thinking, “They will be discouraged from continuing with the work, and it will never be completed.” But instead, I then redoubled my efforts.

10 I went to the house of Shemaiah, son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his house, and he said: “Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple building; let us lock the doors of the temple. For they are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you.” 11 My answer was: “A man like me take flight? Should a man like me enter the temple to save his life? I will not go!” 12 For on consideration, it was plain to me that God had not sent him; rather, because Tobiah and Sanballat had bribed him, he voiced this prophecy concerning me, 13 that I might act on it out of fear and commit this sin. Then they would have had a shameful story with which to discredit me. 14 Keep in mind Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of these things they did; keep in mind as well Noadiah the woman prophet and the other prophets who were trying to intimidate me.

Completion of the Work. 15 The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul;[e] the work had taken fifty-two days. 16 When all our enemies had heard of this, and all the neighboring Gentiles round about had taken note of it, they were very discouraged, for they knew that it was with our God’s help that this work had been completed. 17 At that same time, however, many letters were going to Tobiah from the nobles of Judah, and Tobiah’s letters were reaching them, 18 for many in Judah were in league with him, since he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah, son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam, son of Berechiah. 19 They would praise his good deeds in my presence and relate to him whatever I said; and Tobiah sent letters trying to intimidate me.

Footnotes:

  1. 5:1 Certain of their Jewish kindred: probably Jews who had returned from Babylonia who formed the social and economic elite in the province.
  2. 5:7 You are exacting interest from your own kindred!: contrary to the Mosaic law (Dt 23:20).
  3. 5:15 The earlier governors: both Sheshbazzar (Ezr 5:14) and Zerubbabel (Hg 1:1, 14; 2:2, 21) are said to be governors, and Mal 1:8 mentions a governor but does not name him. Other names are known from seal impressions of uncertain date.
  4. 6:6 Gashmu: elsewhere (vv. 1–2; 2:19) the name is given as Geshem.
  5. 6:15 Elul: the sixth month (August–September). Fifty-two days: according to Josephus (Ant. 11:174–183), the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem by Nehemiah took two years and four months.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Proverbs 26:15-28 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

15 The sluggard buries a hand in the dish,
    too weary to lift it to the mouth.
16 In their own eyes sluggards are wiser
    than seven who answer with good judgment.
17 Whoever meddles in the quarrel of another
    is one who grabs a passing dog by the ears.
18 Like a crazed archer
    scattering firebrands and deadly arrows,
19 Such are those who deceive their neighbor,
    and then say, “I was only joking.”
20 [a]Without wood the fire dies out;
    without a talebearer strife subsides.
21 Charcoal for coals, wood for fire—
    such are the quarrelsome, enkindling strife.
22 The words of a talebearer are like dainty morsels:
    they sink into one’s inmost being.[b]
23 Like a glazed finish on earthenware
    are smooth lips and a wicked heart.[c]
24 With their lips enemies pretend,
    but inwardly they maintain deceit;
25 When they speak graciously, do not trust them,
    for seven abominations[d] are in their hearts.
26 Hatred can be concealed by pretense,
    but malice will be revealed in the assembly.[e]
27 Whoever digs a pit falls into it;
    and a stone comes back upon the one who rolls it.
28 The lying tongue is its owner’s enemy,
    and the flattering mouth works ruin.

Footnotes:

  1. 26:20–22 The three proverbs have a common theme—the destructive power of slanderous words. Certain words are repeated: wood and fire, talebearer.
  2. 26:22 Malicious gossip is compared to delicious food that is swallowed and lodges in the deepest recesses of one’s body. Negative comments are seldom forgotten. Prv 18:8 is a duplicate.
  3. 26:23 Heart = what is within, and lips (words) = what is expressed, are compared to an earthenware jar covered with glaze.
  4. 26:25 Seven abominations: many evil intentions.
  5. 26:26 Hate may be concealed for a time, but it will eventually issue in a deed and become known in the public assembly. There is a play on words: the consonants of the word “hatred” (ś’n) are literally concealed in the word “pretense” (mś’n).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Colossians 2 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 2

For I want you to know how great a struggle I am having for you and for those in Laodicea[a] and all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged as they are brought together in love, to have all the richness of fully assured understanding, for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

III. Warnings Against False Teachers[b]

A General Admonition. I say this so that no one may deceive you by specious arguments. For even if I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing as I observe your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. So, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted in him and built upon him and established in the faith as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world[c] and not according to Christ.

Sovereign Role of Christ. For in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity[d] bodily, 10 and you share in this fullness in him, who is the head of every principality and power. 11 In him[e] you were also circumcised with a circumcision not administered by hand, by stripping off the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ. 12 You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And even when you were dead [in] transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions; 14 [f]obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross; 15 despoiling the principalities and the powers, he made a public spectacle of them, leading them away in triumph by it.[g]

Practices Contrary to Faith. 16 Let no one, then, pass judgment on you in matters of food and drink or with regard to a festival or new moon or sabbath.[h] 17 These are shadows of things to come; the reality belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, delighting in self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions,[i] inflated without reason by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding closely to the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and bonds, achieves the growth that comes from God.

20 If you died with Christ to the elemental powers of the world, why do you submit to regulations as if you were still living in the world? 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” 22 These are all things destined to perish with use; they accord with human precepts and teachings. 23 While they have a semblance of wisdom in rigor of devotion and self-abasement [and] severity to the body, they are of no value against gratification of the flesh.

Footnotes:

  1. 2:1 Laodicea: chief city in Phrygia, northwest of Colossae; cf. Col 4:13, 16; Rev 3:14–22.
  2. 2:4–23 In face of the threat posed by false teachers (Col 2:4), the Colossians are admonished to adhere to the gospel as it was first preached to them (Col 2:6), steeping themselves in it with grateful hearts (Col 2:7). They must reject religious teachings originating in any source except the gospel (Col 2:8) because in Christ alone will they have access to God, the deity (Col 2:9). So fully has Christ enlightened them that they need no other source of religious knowledge or virtue (Col 2:10). They do not require circumcision (Col 2:11), for in baptism their whole being has been affected by Christ (Col 2:12) through forgiveness of sin and resurrection to a new life (Col 2:13; cf. Col 3:1 and Rom 6:1–11). On the cross Christ canceled the record of the debt that stood against us with all its claims (Col 2:14), i.e., he eliminated the law (cf. Eph 2:15) that human beings could not observe—and that could not save them. He forgave sins against the law (Col 2:14) and exposed as false and misleading (Col 2:15) all other powers (cf. Col 1:16) that purport to offer salvation. Therefore, the Colossians are not to accept judgments from such teachers on food and drink or to keep certain religious festivals or engage in certain cultic practices (Col 2:16), for the Colossians would thereby risk severing themselves from Christ (Col 2:19). If, when they accepted the gospel, they believed in Christ as their savior, they must be convinced that their salvation cannot be achieved by appeasing ruling spirits through dietary practices or through a wisdom gained simply by means of harsh asceticism (Col 2:20–23).
  3. 2:8 Elemental powers of the world: see note on Gal 4:3.
  4. 2:9 Fullness of the deity: the divine nature, not just attributes; see note on Col 1:19.
  5. 2:11 A description of baptism (Col 2:12) in symbolic terms of the Old Testament rite for entry into the community. The false teachers may have demanded physical circumcision of the Colossians.
  6. 2:14 The elaborate metaphor here about how God canceled the legal claims against us through Christ’s cross depicts not Christ being nailed to the cross by men but the bond…with its legal claims being nailed to the cross by God.
  7. 2:15 The picture derives from the public spectacle and triumph of a Roman emperor’s victory parade, where captives marched in subjection. The principalities and the powers are here conquered, not reconciled (cf. Col 1:16, 20). An alternate rendering for by it (the cross) is “by him” (Christ).
  8. 2:16 Festival or new moon or sabbath: yearly, monthly, and weekly observances determined by religious powers associated with a calendar set by the heavenly bodies, sun, moon, and stars (cf. Col 2:8).
  9. 2:18 Ascetic practices encouraged by the false teachers included subjection of self humbly to their rules, worship of angels, and cultivation of visions, though exact details are unclear.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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