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Nehemiah 1-8 New English Translation (NET Bible)

A Prayer of Nehemiah

[a] These are the words of Nehemiah[b] son of Hacaliah:

It so happened that in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year,[c] I was in Susa[d] the citadel. Hanani, who was one of my relatives,[e] along with some of the men from Judah, came to me,[f] and I asked them about the Jews who had escaped and had survived the exile, and about Jerusalem.

They said to me, “The remnant that remains from the exile there in the province are experiencing considerable[g] adversity and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem lies breached, and its gates have been burned down!”[h]

When I heard these things I sat down abruptly,[i] crying and mourning for several days. I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Then I said, “Please, O Lord God of heaven, great and awesome God, who keeps his loving covenant[j] with those who love him and obey[k] his commandments, may your ear be attentive and your eyes be open to hear the prayer of your servant that I am praying to you today throughout both day and night on behalf of your servants the Israelites. I am confessing the sins of the Israelites that we have committed[l] against you—both I myself and my family[m] have sinned. We have behaved corruptly against you, not obeying the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments that you commanded your servant Moses. Please recall the word you commanded your servant Moses: ‘If you act unfaithfully, I will scatter you among the nations.[n] But if you repent[o] and obey[p] my commandments and do them, then even if your dispersed people are in the most remote location,[q] I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen for my name to reside.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your mighty strength and by your powerful hand. 11 Please,[r] Lord, listen attentively[s] to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who take pleasure in showing respect to[t] your name. Grant your servant success today and show compassion to me[u] in the presence of this man.”

Now[v] I was cupbearer for the king.

Nehemiah Is Permitted to Go to Jerusalem

Then in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought to me,[w] I took the wine and gave it to the king. Previously[x] I had not been depressed[y] in the king’s presence.[z] So the king said to me, “Why do you appear to be depressed when you aren’t sick? What can this be other than sadness of heart?” This made me very fearful.

I replied to the king, “O king, live forever! Why would I not appear dejected when the city with the graves of my ancestors[aa] lies desolate and its gates destroyed[ab] by fire?” The king responded,[ac] “What is it you are seeking?” Then I quickly prayed to the God of heaven and said to the king, “If the king is so inclined[ad] and if your servant has found favor in your sight, dispatch me to Judah, to the city with the graves of my ancestors, so that I can rebuild it.” Then the king, with his consort[ae] sitting beside him, replied, “How long would your trip take, and when would you return?” Since the king was pleased to send me,[af] I gave him a time. I said to the king, “If the king is so inclined, let him give me letters for the governors of Trans-Euphrates[ag] that will enable me to travel safely until I reach Judah, and a letter for Asaph the keeper of the king’s nature preserve,[ah] so that he will give me timber for beams for the gates of the fortress adjacent to the temple and for the city wall[ai] and for the house to which I go.” So the king granted me these requests,[aj] for the good hand of my God was on me. Then I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, and I presented to them the letters from the king. The king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official[ak] heard all this, they were very displeased that someone had come to seek benefit for the Israelites.

Nehemiah Arrives in Jerusalem

11 So I came to Jerusalem. When I had been there for three days, 12 I got up during the night, along with a few men who were with me. But I did not tell anyone what my God was putting on my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no animals with me, except for the one[al] I was riding. 13 I proceeded through the Valley Gate by night, in the direction of the Well of the Dragons[am] and the Dung Gate,[an] inspecting[ao] the walls of Jerusalem that had been breached and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 I passed on to the Gate of the Well and the King’s Pool, where there was not enough room for my animal to pass with me. 15 I continued up the valley during the night, inspecting the wall. Then I turned back and came to the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I had been doing, for up to this point I had not told any of the Jews or the priests or the nobles or the officials or the rest of the workers. 17 Then I said to them, “You see the problem that we have—Jerusalem is desolate and its gates are burned. Come on! Let’s rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that this reproach will not continue.” 18 Then I related to them how the good hand of my God was on me and what[ap] the king had said to me. Then they replied, “Let’s begin rebuilding right away!”[aq] So they readied themselves[ar] for this good project. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard all this,[as] they derided us and expressed contempt toward us. They said, “What is this you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 I responded to them by saying, “The God of heaven will prosper us. We his servants will start the rebuilding.[at] But you have no just or ancient right in Jerusalem.”[au]

The Names of the Builders

Then Eliashib the high priest and his priestly colleagues[av] arose and built the Sheep Gate. They dedicated[aw] it and erected its doors, working as far as the Tower of the Hundred[ax] and[ay] the Tower of Hananel. The men of Jericho built adjacent to it, and Zaccur son of Imri built adjacent to them.[az]

The sons of Hassenaah rebuilt the Fish Gate. They laid its beams and positioned its doors, its bolts, and its bars. Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakoz, worked on the section adjacent to them. Meshullam son of Berechiah the son of Meshezabel worked on the section next to them. And Zadok son of Baana worked on the section adjacent to them. The men of Tekoa worked on the section adjacent to them, but their town leaders[ba] would not assist[bb] with the work of their master.[bc]

Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah worked on the Jeshanah Gate.[bd] They laid its beams and positioned its doors, its bolts, and its bars. Adjacent to them worked Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, who were men of Gibeon and Mizpah. These towns were under the jurisdiction[be] of the governor of Trans-Euphrates. Uzziel son of Harhaiah, a member of the goldsmiths’ guild, worked on the section adjacent to him. Hananiah, a member of the perfumers’ guild, worked on the section adjacent to him. They plastered[bf] the city wall of Jerusalem[bg] as far as the Broad Wall. Rephaiah son of Hur, head of a half-district of Jerusalem, worked on the section adjacent to them. 10 Jedaiah son of Harumaph worked on the section adjacent to them opposite[bh] his house, and Hattush son of Hashabneiah worked on the section adjacent to him. 11 Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath Moab worked on another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Shallum son of Hallohesh, head of a half-district of Jerusalem, worked on the section adjacent to him, assisted by his daughters.[bi]

13 Hanun and the residents of Zanoah worked on the Valley Gate. They rebuilt it and positioned its doors, its bolts, and its bars, in addition to working on 1,500 feet[bj] of the wall as far as the Dung Gate.

14 Malkijah son of Recab, head of the district of Beth Hakkerem, worked on the Dung Gate. He rebuilt it and positioned its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

15 Shallun son of Col-Hozeh, head of the district of Mizpah, worked on the Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it, put on its roof, and positioned its doors, its bolts, and its bars. In addition, he rebuilt the wall of the Pool of Siloam,[bk] by the royal garden, as far as the steps that go down from the City of David. 16 Nehemiah son of Azbuk, head of a half-district of Beth Zur, worked after him as far as the tombs of David and the artificial pool and the House of the Warriors.

17 After him the Levites worked—Rehum son of Bani and[bl] after him Hashabiah, head of half the district of Keilah, for his district. 18 After him their relatives[bm] worked—Binnui[bn] son of Henadad, head of a half-district of Keilah. 19 Adjacent to him Ezer son of Jeshua, head of Mizpah, worked on another section, opposite the ascent to the armory at the buttress. 20 After him Baruch son of Zabbai worked on another section, from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 After him Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, worked on another section from the door of Eliashib’s house to the end of it.[bo]

22 After him the priests worked, men of the nearby district. 23 After them Benjamin and Hasshub worked opposite their house. After them Azariah son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, worked near his house. 24 After him Binnui son of Henadad worked on another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress and the corner. 25 After him Palal son of Uzai worked[bp] opposite the buttress and the tower that protrudes from the upper palace[bq] of the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah son of Parosh 26 and the temple servants who were living on Ophel worked[br] up to the area opposite the Water Gate toward the east and the protruding tower. 27 After them the men of Tekoa worked on another section, from opposite the great protruding tower to the wall of Ophel.

28 Above the Horse Gate the priests worked, each in front of his house. 29 After them Zadok son of Immer worked opposite his house, and after him Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, guard at the East Gate, worked. 30 After him[bs] Hananiah son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, worked on another section. After them Meshullam son of Berechiah worked opposite his quarters. 31 After him Malkijah, one of the goldsmiths, worked as far as the house of the temple servants and the traders, opposite the Inspection Gate,[bt] and up to the room above the corner. 32 And between the room above the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and traders worked.

Opposition to the Work Continues

(3:33)[bu] Now when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall he became angry and was quite upset. He derided the Jews, and in the presence of his colleagues[bv] and the army of Samaria he said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they be left to themselves?[bw] Will they again offer sacrifice? Will they finish this in a day? Can they bring these burnt stones to life again from piles of dust?”

Then Tobiah the Ammonite, who was close by, said, “If even a fox were to climb up on what they are building, it would break down their wall of stones!”

Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Return their reproach on their own head. Reduce them to plunder in a land of exile! Do not cover their iniquity, and do not wipe out their sin from your sight, for they have bitterly offended[bx] the builders.[by]

So we rebuilt the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height.[bz] The people were enthusiastic in their work.[ca]

(4:1)[cb] When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the people of Ashdod heard that the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem had moved ahead and that the breaches had begun to be closed, they were very angry. All of them conspired together to move with armed forces[cc] against Jerusalem and to create a disturbance in it. So we prayed to our God and stationed a guard to protect against them[cd] both day and night. 10 Then those in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers[ce] has failed! The debris is so great that we are unable to rebuild the wall.”

11 Our adversaries also boasted,[cf] “Before they are aware or anticipate[cg] anything, we will come in among them and kill them, and we will bring this work to a halt!”

12 So it happened that the Jews who were living near them came and warned us repeatedly[ch] about all the schemes[ci] they were plotting[cj] against us.

13 So I stationed people at the lower places behind the wall in the exposed places.[ck] I stationed the people by families, with their swords, spears, and bows. 14 When I had made an inspection,[cl] I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the great and awesome Lord,[cm] and fight on behalf of your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your families!”[cn]

15 It so happened that when our adversaries heard that we were aware of these matters,[co] God frustrated their intentions. Then all of us returned to the wall, each to his own work. 16 From that day forward, half my men were doing the work and half were taking up spears,[cp] shields, bows, and body armor. Now the officers were behind all the people[cq] of Judah 17 who were rebuilding the wall.[cr] Those who were carrying loads did so[cs] by keeping one hand on the work and the other on their weapon. 18 The builders, to a man, had their swords strapped to their sides while they were building. But the trumpeter[ct] remained with me.

19 I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “The work is demanding[cu] and extensive, and we are spread out on the wall, far removed from one another. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, gather there with us. Our God will fight for us!”

21 So we worked on,[cv] with half[cw] holding spears, from dawn till dusk.[cx] 22 At that time I instructed[cy] the people, “Let every man and his coworker spend the night in Jerusalem and let them be guards for us by night and workers by day.” 23 We did not change clothes[cz]—not I, nor my relatives, nor my workers, nor the watchmen who were with me. Each had his weapon, even when getting a drink of water.[da]

Nehemiah Intervenes on behalf of the Oppressed

Then there was a great outcry from the people and their wives against their fellow Jews.[db] There were those who said, “With our sons and daughters, we are many. We must obtain[dc] grain in order to eat and stay alive.” There were others who said, “We are putting up our fields, our vineyards, and our houses as collateral in order to obtain grain during the famine.” Then there were those who said, “We have borrowed money to pay our taxes to the king[dd] on our fields and our vineyards. And now, though we share the same flesh and blood as our fellow countrymen[de] and our children are just like their children,[df] still we have found it necessary to subject our sons and daughters to slavery.[dg] Some of our daughters have been subjected to slavery, while we are powerless to help,[dh] since our fields and vineyards now belong to other people.”[di]

I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints.[dj] I considered these things carefully[dk] and then registered a complaint with the wealthy[dl] and the officials. I said to them, “Each one of you is seizing the collateral[dm] from your own countrymen!”[dn] Because of them I called for[do] a great public assembly. I said to them, “To the extent possible we have bought back our fellow Jews[dp] who had been sold to the Gentiles. But now you yourselves want to sell your own countrymen,[dq] so that we can then buy them back!” They were utterly silent, and could find nothing to say.

Then I[dr] said, “The thing that you are doing is wrong![ds] Should you not conduct yourselves[dt] in the fear of our God in order to avoid the reproach of the Gentiles who are our enemies? 10 Even I and my relatives[du] and my associates[dv] are lending them money and grain. But let us abandon this practice of seizing collateral![dw] 11 This very day return to them their fields, their vineyards, their olive trees, and their houses, along with the interest[dx] that you are exacting from them on the money, the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil.”

12 They replied, “We will return these things,[dy] and we will no longer demand anything from them. We will do just as you say.” Then I called the priests and made the wealthy and the officials[dz] swear to do what had been promised.[ea] 13 I also shook out my garment,[eb] and I said, “In this way may God shake out from his house and his property every person who does not carry out[ec] this matter. In this way may he be shaken out and emptied!” All the assembly replied, “So be it!” and they praised the Lord. Then the people did as they had promised.[ed]

14 From the day that I was appointed[ee] governor[ef] in the land of Judah, that is, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes—twelve years in all—neither I nor my relatives[eg] ate the food allotted to the governor.[eh] 15 But the former governors who preceded me had burdened the people and had taken food and wine from them, in addition to[ei] forty shekels of silver. Their associates were also domineering over the people. But I did not behave in this way, due to my fear of God. 16 I gave myself to the work on this wall, without even purchasing[ej] a field. All my associates were gathered there for the work.

17 There were 150 Jews and officials who dined with me routinely,[ek] in addition to those who came to us from the nations[el] all around us. 18 Every day one ox, six select sheep, and some birds were prepared for me, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Despite all this I did not require the food allotted to the governor, for the work was demanding on this people.

19 Please remember me for good, O my God, for all that I have done for this people.

Opposition to the Rebuilding Efforts Continues

When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and no breach remained in it (even though up to that time I had not positioned doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent word to me saying, “Come on! Let’s set up a time to meet together at Kephirim[em] in the plain of Ono.” Now they intended to do me harm.

So I sent messengers to them saying, “I am engaged in[en] an important work, and I am unable to come down. Why should the work come to a halt when I leave it to come down to you?” They contacted[eo] me four times in this way, and I responded the same way each time.[ep]

The fifth time that Sanballat sent his assistant to me in this way, he had an open letter in his hand. Written in it were the following words:

“Among the nations it is rumored[eq] (and Geshem[er] has substantiated[es] this) that you and the Jews have intentions of revolting, and for this reason you are building the wall. Furthermore, according to these rumors[et] you are going to become their king. You have also established prophets to announce[eu] in Jerusalem on your behalf, ‘We have a king in Judah!’ Now the king is going to hear about these rumors. So come on, let’s talk about this.”[ev]

I sent word back to him, “We are not engaged in these activities you are describing.[ew] All of this is a figment of your imagination.”[ex]

All of them were wanting[ey] to scare us, supposing, “Their hands will grow slack from the work, and it won’t get done.”

So now, strengthen my hands![ez]

10 Then I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel. He was confined to his home.[fa] He said, “Let’s set up a time to meet in the house of God, within the temple. Let’s close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. It will surely be at night that they will come to kill you.”

11 But I replied, “Should a man like me run away? Would someone like me flee to the temple in order to save his life?[fb] I will not go!” 12 I recognized the fact that God had not sent him, for he had spoken the prophecy against me as a hired agent of Tobiah and Sanballat.[fc] 13 He had been hired to scare me so that I would do this and thereby sin. They would thus bring reproach on me and I[fd] would be discredited.[fe]

14 Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat in light of these actions of theirs—also Noadiah the prophetess and the other prophets who have been trying to scare me!

The Rebuilding of the Wall Is Finally Completed

15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth day of Elul,[ff] in just fifty-two days. 16 When all our enemies heard and all the nations who were around us saw[fg] this, they were greatly disheartened.[fh] They knew that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.

17 In those days the aristocrats of Judah repeatedly sent letters to Tobiah, and responses from Tobiah were repeatedly coming to them. 18 For many in Judah had sworn allegiance to him,[fi] because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah son of Arah. His son Jonathan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah. 19 They were telling me about his good deeds and then taking back to him the things I said.[fj] Tobiah, on the other hand, sent letters in order to scare[fk] me.

When the wall had been rebuilt and I had positioned the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, I then put in charge over Jerusalem my brother Hanani and Hananiah[fl] the chief of the citadel, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many do. I[fm] said to them, “The gates of Jerusalem must not be opened in the early morning,[fn] until those who are standing guard close the doors and lock them.[fo] Position residents of Jerusalem as guards, some at their guard stations and some near their homes.” Now the city was spread out[fp] and large, and there were not a lot of people in it.[fq] At that time houses had not been rebuilt. My God placed it on my heart to gather the leaders,[fr] the officials, and the ordinary people so they could be enrolled on the basis of genealogy. I found the genealogical records[fs] of those who had formerly returned. Here is what I found written in that record:[ft]

These are the people[fu] of the province who returned[fv] from the captivity of the exiles, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had forced into exile.[fw] They returned to Jerusalem and to Judah, each to his own city. They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah.

The number of Israelite men[fx] was as follows:

the descendants[fy] of Parosh: 2,172;

the descendants of Shephatiah: 372;

10 the descendants of Arah: 652;

11 the descendants of Pahath Moab (from the line[fz] of Jeshua and Joab): 2,818;

12 the descendants of Elam: 1,254;

13 the descendants of Zattu: 845;

14 the descendants of Zaccai: 760;

15 the descendants of Binnui: 648;

16 the descendants of Bebai: 628;

17 the descendants of Azgad: 2,322;

18 the descendants of Adonikam: 667;

19 the descendants of Bigvai: 2,067;

20 the descendants of Adin: 655;

21 the descendants of Ater (through Hezekiah): 98;

22 the descendants of Hashum: 328;

23 the descendants of Bezai: 324;

24 the descendants of Harif: 112;

25 the descendants of Gibeon: 95;

26 The men of Bethlehem and Netophah: 188;

27 the men of Anathoth: 128;

28 the men of the family[ga] of Azmaveth: 42;

29 the men of Kiriath Jearim, Kephirah, and Beeroth: 743;

30 the men of Ramah and Geba: 621;

31 the men of Micmash: 122;

32 the men of Bethel and Ai: 123;

33 the men of the other Nebo: 52;

34 the descendants of the other Elam: 1,254;

35 the descendants of Harim: 320;

36 the descendants of Jericho: 345;

37 the descendants of Lod, Hadid, and Ono: 721;

38 the descendants of Senaah: 3,930;

39 The priests: the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family[gb] of Jeshua): 973;

40 the descendants of Immer: 1,052;

41 the descendants of Pashhur: 1,247;

42 the descendants of Harim: 1,017.

43 The Levites: the descendants of Jeshua (through Kadmiel, through the line of Hodaviah): 74.

44 The singers: the descendants of Asaph: 148.

45 The gatekeepers: the descendants of Shallum, the descendants of Ater, the descendants of Talmon, the descendants of Akkub, the descendants of Hatita, and the descendants of Shobai: 138.

46 The temple servants: the descendants of Ziha, the descendants of Hasupha, the descendants of Tabbaoth, 47 the descendants of Keros, the descendants of Sia, the descendants of Padon, 48 the descendants of Lebanah, the descendants of Hagabah, the descendants of Shalmai, 49 the descendants of Hanan, the descendants of Giddel, the descendants of Gahar, 50 the descendants of Reaiah, the descendants of Rezin, the descendants of Nekoda, 51 the descendants of Gazzam, the descendants of Uzzah, the descendants of Paseah, 52 the descendants of Besai, the descendants of Meunim, the descendants of Nephussim, 53 the descendants of Bakbuk, the descendants of Hakupha, the descendants of Harhur, 54 the descendants of Bazluth, the descendants of Mehida, the descendants of Harsha, 55 the descendants of Barkos, the descendants of Sisera, the descendants of Temah, 56 the descendants of Neziah, the descendants of Hatipha.

57 The descendants of the servants of Solomon: the descendants of Sotai, the descendants of Sophereth, the descendants of Perida, 58 the descendants of Jaala, the descendants of Darkon, the descendants of Giddel, 59 the descendants of Shephatiah, the descendants of Hattil, the descendants of Pokereth Hazzebaim, and the descendants of Amon.

60 All the temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon, 392.

61 These are the ones who came up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon, and Immer (although they were unable to certify[gc] their family connection[gd] or their ancestry,[ge] as to whether they were really from Israel):

62 the descendants of Delaiah, the descendants of Tobiah, and the descendants of Nekoda, 642.

63 And from among the priests: the descendants of Hobaiah, the descendants of Hakkoz, and the descendants of Barzillai (who had married a woman from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name). 64 They searched for their records in the genealogical materials, but none were found. They were therefore excluded[gf] from the priesthood. 65 The governor[gg] instructed them not to eat any of the sacred food until there was a priest who could consult[gh] the Urim and Thummim.

66 The entire group numbered 42,360— 67 not counting their 7,337 male and female servants. They also had 245 male and female singers. 68 They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 69 (7:68)[gi] 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys. 70 Some of the family leaders[gj] contributed to the work. The governor contributed to the treasury 1,000 gold drachmas,[gk] 50 bowls, and 530 priestly garments. 71 Some of the family leaders gave to the project treasury 20,000 gold drachmas and 2,200 silver minas. 72 What the rest of the people gave amounted to 20,000 gold drachmas, 2,000 silver minas, and 67 priestly garments.

73 The priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, and all the rest of Israel lived in their cities.

The People Respond to the Reading of the Law

When the seventh month arrived and the Israelites[gl] were settled in their towns,[gm] all the people gathered together[gn] in the plaza which was in front of the Water Gate. They asked[go] Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly which included men and women and all those able to understand what they heard. (This happened on the first day of the seventh month.) So he read it before the plaza in front of the Water Gate from dawn till noon[gp] before the men and women and those children who could understand.[gq] All the people were eager to hear[gr] the book of the law.

Ezra the scribe stood on a towering wooden platform[gs] constructed for this purpose. Standing near him on his right were Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Masseiah. On his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. Ezra opened the book in plain view[gt] of all the people, for he was elevated above all the people. When he opened the book,[gu] all the people stood up. Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people replied “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah—all of whom were Levites[gv]—were teaching the people the law, as the people remained standing. They read from the book of God’s law, explaining it[gw] and imparting insight. Thus the people[gx] gained understanding from what was read.

Then Nehemiah the governor,[gy] Ezra the priestly scribe,[gz] and the Levites who were imparting understanding to the people said to all of them,[ha] “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping when they heard the words of the law. 10 He said to them, “Go and eat delicacies and drink sweet drinks and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared. For this day is holy to our Lord.[hb] Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

11 Then the Levites quieted all the people saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy. Do not grieve.” 12 So all the people departed to eat and drink and to share their food[hc] with others[hd] and to enjoy tremendous joy,[he] for they had gained insight in the matters that had been made known to them.

13 On the second day of the month the family leaders[hf] met with[hg] Ezra the scribe, together with all the people, the priests, and the Levites, to consider the words of the law. 14 They discovered written in the law that the Lord had commanded through[hh] Moses that the Israelites should live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month, 15 and that they should make a proclamation and disseminate this message[hi] in all their cities and in Jerusalem: “Go to the hill country and bring back olive branches and branches of wild olive trees, myrtle trees, date palms, and other leafy trees to construct temporary shelters, as it is written.”

16 So the people went out and brought these things[hj] back and constructed temporary shelters for themselves, each on his roof and in his courtyard and in the courtyards of the temple[hk] of God and in the plaza of the Water Gate and the plaza of the Ephraim Gate. 17 So all the assembly which had returned from the exile constructed temporary shelters and lived in them. The Israelites had not done so from the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day. Everyone experienced very great joy.[hl] 18 Ezra[hm] read in the book of the law of God day by day, from the first day to the last.[hn] They observed the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day they held an assembly[ho] as was required.[hp]


  1. Nehemiah 1:1 sn In ancient Judaism Ezra and Nehemiah were regarded as a single book with dual authorship. According to the Talmud, “Ezra wrote his book” (b. Bava Batra 15a). The Gemara then asks and answers, “And who finished it? Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.” Accordingly, the two are joined in the Leningrad Codex (ca. a.d. 1008), the manuscript upon which modern printed editions of the Hebrew Bible (e.g., BHK and BHS) are based.
  2. Nehemiah 1:1 sn The name Nehemiah in Hebrew (נְחֶמְיָה, nekhemyah) means “the Lord comforts.”
  3. Nehemiah 1:1 tn That is, the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign (cf. 2:1).
  4. Nehemiah 1:1 tn Heb “Shushan.”
  5. Nehemiah 1:2 tn Heb “brothers.”
  6. Nehemiah 1:2 tn The Hebrew text does not include the words “to me”; these words were supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.
  7. Nehemiah 1:3 tn Heb “great.”
  8. Nehemiah 1:3 tn Heb “have been burned with fire” (so also in Neh 2:17). The expression “burned with fire” is redundant in contemporary English; the translation uses “burned down” for stylistic reasons.
  9. Nehemiah 1:4 tn Heb “sat down.” Context suggests that this was a rather sudden action, resulting from the emotional shock of the unpleasant news, so “abruptly” has been supplied in the present translation.
  10. Nehemiah 1:5 tn Heb “the covenant and loyal love.” The phrase is a hendiadys: the first noun retains its full nominal sense, while the second noun functions adjectivally (“loyal love” = loving). Alternately, the first might function adjectivally and the second noun function as the noun: “covenant and loyal love” = covenant fidelity (see Neh 9:32).
  11. Nehemiah 1:5 tn Heb “keep.” The Hebrew verb שָׁמַר (shamar, “to observe; to keep”) is often used as an idiom that means “to obey” the commandments of God (e.g., Exod 20:6; Deut 5:16; 23:24; 29:8; Judg 2:22; 1 Kgs 2:43; 11:11; Ps 119:8, 17, 34; Jer 35:18; Ezek 17:14; Amos 2:4). See BDB 1036 s.v. 3.c.
  12. Nehemiah 1:6 tn Heb “have sinned.” For stylistic reasons—to avoid redundancy in English—this was translated as “committed.”
  13. Nehemiah 1:6 tn Heb “the house of my father.”
  14. Nehemiah 1:8 tn Heb “peoples.”
  15. Nehemiah 1:9 tn Heb “turn to me.”
  16. Nehemiah 1:9 tn Heb “keep.” See the note on the word “obey” in Neh 1:5.
  17. Nehemiah 1:9 tn Heb “at the end of the heavens.”
  18. Nehemiah 1:11 tn The interjection אָנָּא (ʾannaʾ) is an emphatic term of entreaty: “please!” (BDB 58 s.v.; HALOT 69-70 s.v.). This term is normally reserved for pleas for mercy from God in life-and-death situations (2 Kgs 20:3 = Isa 38:3; Pss 116:4; 118:25; Jonah 1:14; 4:2) and for forgiveness of heinous sins that would result or have resulted in severe judgment from God (Exod 32:31; Dan 9:4; Neh 1:5, 11).
  19. Nehemiah 1:11 tn Heb “let your ear be attentive.”
  20. Nehemiah 1:11 tn Heb “fear.”
  21. Nehemiah 1:11 tn Heb “grant compassion.” The words “to me” are supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness and style in English.
  22. Nehemiah 1:11 tn The vav (ו) on וַאֲנִי (vaʾani, “Now, I”) introduces a disjunctive parenthetical clause that provides background information to the reader.
  23. Nehemiah 2:1 tc The translation reads with the LXX וְיַיִן לְפָנַי (veyayin lefanay, “and wine before me”) rather than יַיִן לְפָנָיו (yayin lefanayv, “wine before him”) of the MT. The initial vav (ו) of the original וְיַיִן probably dropped out due to haplograpy or orthographic confusion with the two yods (י) which follow. The final vav on לְפָנָיו in the MT was probably added due to dittography with the vav on the immediately following word.
  24. Nehemiah 2:1 tc The translation reads לְפָנִים (lefanim, “formerly”) rather than לְפָנָיו (lefanayv, “to his face”) of the MT. The MT seems to suggest that Nehemiah was not sad before the king, which is contrary to what follows.
  25. Nehemiah 2:1 tn Or “showed him a sullen face.” See HALOT 1251 s.v. רַע, רָע 9.
  26. Nehemiah 2:1 tn This expression is either to be inferred from the context, or perhaps one should read לְפָנָיו (lefanayv, “before him”; cf. the MT) in addition to לְפָנִים (lefanim, “formerly”). See preceding note on the word “previously.”
  27. Nehemiah 2:3 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 5).
  28. Nehemiah 2:3 tn Heb “devoured” or “eaten” (so also in Neh 2:13).
  29. Nehemiah 2:4 tn Heb “said to me.”
  30. Nehemiah 2:5 tn Heb “If upon the king it is good.” So also in v. 7.
  31. Nehemiah 2:6 tn Or “queen,” so most English versions (cf. HALOT 1415 s.v. שֵׁגַל); TEV “empress.”
  32. Nehemiah 2:6 tn Heb “It was good before the king and he sent me.”
  33. Nehemiah 2:7 tn Heb “beyond the river,” here and often elsewhere in the Book of Nehemiah.
  34. Nehemiah 2:8 tn Or “forest.” So HALOT 963 s.v. פַּרְדֵּס 2.
  35. Nehemiah 2:8 tc One medieval Hebrew ms, the Syriac Peshitta, Vulgate, and the Arabic read here the plural וּלְחוֹמוֹת (ulekhomot, “walls”) against the singular וּלְחוֹמַת (ulekhomat) in the MT. The plural holem vav (וֹ) might have dropped out due to dittography or the plural form might have been written defectively.
  36. Nehemiah 2:8 tn The Hebrew text does not include the expression “these requests,” but it is implied.
  37. Nehemiah 2:10 tn Heb “servant” (so KJV, ASV; NAB “slave”; NCV “officer.” This phrase also occurs in v. 19.
  38. Nehemiah 2:12 tn Heb “the animal.”
  39. Nehemiah 2:13 tn Or “Well of the Serpents”; or “Well of the Jackals” (cf. ASV, NIV, NLT).
  40. Nehemiah 2:13 tn Or “Rubbish Gate” (so TEV); NASB “Refuse Gate”; NCV “Trash Gate”; CEV “Garbage Gate.”
  41. Nehemiah 2:13 tc For the MT reading שֹׂבֵר (sover, “inspecting”) the LXX erroneously has שֹׁבֵר (shover, “breaking”). However, further destruction of Jerusalem’s walls was obviously not a part of Nehemiah’s purpose.
  42. Nehemiah 2:18 tn Heb “the words of the king which he had spoken to me.”
  43. Nehemiah 2:18 tn Heb “Arise! Let us rebuild!”
  44. Nehemiah 2:18 tn Heb “strengthened their hands.”
  45. Nehemiah 2:19 tn The Hebrew text does not include the words “all this,” but they have been added in the translation for clarity.
  46. Nehemiah 2:20 tn Heb “will arise and build.” The idiom “arise and…” means to begin the action described by the second verb.
  47. Nehemiah 2:20 tn Heb “portion or right or remembrance.” The expression is probably a hendiatris: The first two nouns retain their full nominal function, while the third noun functions adjectivally (“right or remembrance” = “ancient right”).
  48. Nehemiah 3:1 tn Heb “his brothers the priests.”
  49. Nehemiah 3:1 tn Or “consecrated” (so NASB, NRSV); KJV, ASV “sanctified”; NCV “gave it to the Lord’s service.”
  50. Nehemiah 3:1 tc The MT adds קִדְּשׁוּהוּ (qiddeshuhu, “they sanctified it”). This term is repeated from the first part of the verse, probably as an intentional scribal addition to harmonize this statement with the preceding parallel statement.
  51. Nehemiah 3:1 tc The translation reads וְעַד (veʿad, “and unto”) rather than the MT reading עַד (ʿad, “unto”). The original vav (ו) was probably dropped accidentally due to haplography with the final vav on the immediately preceding word in the MT.
  52. Nehemiah 3:2 tn Heb “it.”
  53. Nehemiah 3:5 tn Heb “their nobles.”
  54. Nehemiah 3:5 tn Heb “bring their neck.”
  55. Nehemiah 3:5 tn The plural form אֲדֹנֵיהֶם (ʾadonehem, “lords”) is probably a plural of majesty referring to Nehemiah (e.g., Isa 19:4; see GKC 399 §124.i). However, some English versions take the plural to refer to the “supervisors” (NIV, NCV, TEV) and others to “their Lord” (KJV, NRSV).
  56. Nehemiah 3:6 tn Or “the Old Gate” (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB, NCV, NRSV, NLT).
  57. Nehemiah 3:7 tn Heb “to the seat.”
  58. Nehemiah 3:8 tc Assuming that the MT reading וַיַּעַזְבוּ (vayyaʿazevu) is related to the root עָזַב I (“to abandon”)—which makes little sense contextually—some interpreters emend the MT to וַיַּעַזְרוּ (vayyaʿazeru, “they aided”), as suggested by the editors of BHS. However, it is better to relate this term to the root II עָזַב meaning “to restore; to repair” (BDB 738 s.v. II עָזַב) or “to plaster” (HALOT 807 s.v. II עזב qal.1). This homonymic root is rare, appearing elsewhere only in Exod 23:5 and Job 9:27, where it means “to restore; to put in order” (HALOT 807-8 s.v. II עזב qal.2). The related Mishnaic Hebrew noun מעזיבה refers to a “plastered floor.” This Hebrew root is probably related to the cognate Ugaritic, Old South Arabic and Sabean verbs that mean “to restore” and “to prepare; to lay” (see BDB 738 s.v.; HALOT 807 s.v.). Some scholars in the nineteenth century suggested that this term be nuanced “paved.” However, most modern English versions have “restored” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV) or “rebuilt” (so NCV, CEV).
  59. Nehemiah 3:8 tn Heb “[the city wall of] Jerusalem.” The term “Jerusalem” probably functions as a metonymy of association for the city wall of Jerusalem. Accordingly, the phrase “the city wall of” has been supplied in the translation to clarify this figurative expression.
  60. Nehemiah 3:10 tc The translation reads נֶגֶד (neged, “before”) with a few medieval Hebrew mss, some mss of the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and the Vulgate, rather than וְנֶגֶד (veneged, “and before”) of the MT.
  61. Nehemiah 3:12 tc The reference to daughters, while not impossible, is odd in light of the cultural improbability that young women would participate in the strenuous labor of rebuilding city walls. All other such references in the Book of Nehemiah presuppose male laborers. Not surprisingly, some scholars suspect a textual problem. One medieval Hebrew ms and the Syriac Peshitta read וּבָנָיו (uvanayv, “and his sons”) rather than the MT reading וּבְנוֹתָיו (uvenotayv, “and his daughters”). Some scholars emend the MT to וּבֹנָיו (uvonayv, “and his builders”). On the other hand, the MT is clearly the more difficult reading, and so it is preferred.
  62. Nehemiah 3:13 tn Heb “1,000 cubits.” The standard cubit in the OT is assumed by most authorities to be about 18 inches (45 cm) long, so this section of the wall would be about 1,500 feet (450 m).
  63. Nehemiah 3:15 tn The Hebrew word translated “Siloam” is הַשֶּׁלַח (hashelakh, “water-channel”; cf. ASV, NASB, NRSV, TEV, CEV “Shelah”). It apparently refers to the Pool of Siloam whose water supply came from the Gihon Spring via Hezekiah’s Tunnel built in 701 b.c. (cf. Isa 8:6). See BDB 1019 s.v. שִׁלֹחַ; W. L. Holladay, Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon, 372. On the etymology of the word, which is a disputed matter, see HALOT 1517 s.v. III שֶׁלַח.
  64. Nehemiah 3:17 tc The translation reads וְעַל (veʿal, “and unto”) with several medieval Hebrew mss and some mss of LXX, rather than the MT reading עַל (ʿal, “unto”).
  65. Nehemiah 3:18 tn Heb “brothers.”
  66. Nehemiah 3:18 tc The translation reads with a few medieval Hebrew mss and the Syriac Peshitta בִּנֻּי (binnuy) rather than the MT reading בַּוַּי (bavvay).
  67. Nehemiah 3:21 tn Heb “the house of Eliashib.” This has not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  68. Nehemiah 3:25 tc The MT lacks the phrase אַחֲרָיו הֶחֱזִיק (ʾakharayv hekheziq, “after him worked”). This phrase is used repeatedly in Neh 3:16-31 to introduce each worker and his location. It probably dropped out accidentally through haplography.
  69. Nehemiah 3:25 tn Heb “house of the king.”
  70. Nehemiah 3:26 tc The Hebrew text lacks the verb “worked.” It is implied, however, and has been supplied in the translation.
  71. Nehemiah 3:30 tc The translation reads אַחֲרָיו (ʾakharayv, “after him”) with the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss, rather than the reading אַחֲרֵי (ʾakhare, “after me”) of the MT. So also in v. 31.
  72. Nehemiah 3:31 tn Heb “Miphkad Gate” (so TEV; KJV similar); NRSV “Muster Gate.”
  73. Nehemiah 4:1 sn Beginning with 4:1, the verse numbers through 4:23 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 4:1 ET = 3:33 HT, 4:2 ET = 3:34 HT, 4:3 ET = 3:35 HT, 4:4 ET = 3:36 HT, 4:5 ET = 3:37 HT, 4:6 ET = 3:38 HT, 4:7 ET = 4:1 HT, etc., through 4:23 ET = 4:17 HT. Thus in the Hebrew Bible chap. 3 of the Book of Nehemiah has 38 verses, while chap. 4 has only 17 verses.
  74. Nehemiah 4:2 tn Heb “brothers.”
  75. Nehemiah 4:2 tc The present translation follows the MT, but the Hebrew text is difficult. H. G. M. Williamson (Ezra, Nehemiah [WBC], 213-14) translates these words as “Will they commit their cause to God?” suggesting that MT לָהֶם (lahem, “to them”) should be emended to לֵאלֹהִים (leʾlohim, “to God”), a proposal also found in the apparatus of BHS. In his view later scribes altered the phrase out of theological motivations. J. Blenkinsopp’s translation is similar: “Are they going to leave it all to God?” (Ezra—Nehemiah [OTL], 242-44). However, a problem for this view is the absence of external evidence to support the proposed emendation. The sense of the MT reading may be the notion that the workers—if left to their own limited resources—could not possibly see such a demanding and expensive project through to completion. This interpretation understands the collocation עָזַב (ʿazav, “to leave”) plus ל (lamed, “to”) to mean “commit a matter to someone,” with the sense in this verse “Will they leave the building of the fortified walls to themselves?”
  76. Nehemiah 4:5 tn The Hiphil stem of כָּעַס (kaʿas) may mean: (1) “to provoke to anger”; (2) “to bitterly offend”; or (3) “to grieve” (BDB 495 s.v. Hiph.; HALOT 491 s.v. כעס hif). The Hebrew lexicons suggest that “bitterly offend” is the most appropriate nuance here.
  77. Nehemiah 4:5 tn Heb “before the builders.” The preposition נֶגֶד (neged, “before”) here connotes “in the sight of” or “in the view of” (BDB 617 s.v. 1.a; HALOT 666 s.v. 1.a).
  78. Nehemiah 4:6 tn Heb “up to its half.”
  79. Nehemiah 4:6 tn Heb “the people had a heart to work.”
  80. Nehemiah 4:7 sn Chapter 4 begins here in the Hebrew text (BHS). See the note at 4:1.
  81. Nehemiah 4:8 tn Heb “to fight.”
  82. Nehemiah 4:9 tn Heb “against them.” The words “to protect” are added in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness. Some emend MT עֲלֵיהֶם (ʿalehem, “against them”) to עָלֶיהָ (ʿaleha, “against it,” i.e., Jerusalem).
  83. Nehemiah 4:10 tn Heb “burden-bearers.”
  84. Nehemiah 4:11 tn Heb “said.”
  85. Nehemiah 4:11 tn Heb “see.”
  86. Nehemiah 4:12 tn Heb “ten times.”
  87. Nehemiah 4:12 tc The MT reads the anomalous מִכָּל־הַמְּקֹמוֹת (mikkol hammeqomot, “from every place”) but the BHS editors propose כָּל־הַמְּזִמּוֹת (kol hammezimmot, “about every scheme”). The initial mem (מ) found in the MT may have been added accidentally due to dittography with the final mem (ם) on the immediately preceding word, and the MT qof (ק) may have arisen due to orthographic confusion with the similar looking zayin (ז). The emendation restores sense to the line in the MT, which makes little sense and features an abrupt change of referents: “Wherever you turn, they will be upon us!” The threat was not against the villagers living nearby but against those repairing the wall, as the following context indicates. See also the following note on the word “plotting.”
  88. Nehemiah 4:12 tc The MT reads תָּשׁוּבוּ (tashuvu, “you turn”) which is awkward contextually. The BHS editors propose emending to חָשְׁבוּ (hashevu, “they were plotting”) which harmonizes well with the context. This emendation involves mere orthographic confusion between similar looking ח (khet) and ת (tav), and the resultant dittography of middle ו (vav) in MT. See also the preceding note on the word “schemes.”
  89. Nehemiah 4:13 tc The MT preserves the anomalous Kethib form צְחִחִיִּים (tsekhikhiyyim); the Qere reads צְחִיחִים (tsekhikhim) which is preferred (BDB 850 s.v. צָהִיחַ; HALOT 1018 s.v. *צָהִיחַ).tn The meaning of the Hebrew term צְחִיחִים (tsekhikhim) here is uncertain. Elsewhere (Ezek 24:7, 8; 26:4, 14) it refers to a shining or glaring surface of a rock (BDB 850 s.v. צָהִיחַ; HALOT 1018 s.v. *צָהִיחַ), but here it refers to an exposed or vulnerable portion of the wall: “open positions of the wall” (HALOT 1018 s.v. 2).
  90. Nehemiah 4:14 tn Heb “And I saw.”
  91. Nehemiah 4:14 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” here is אֲדֹנָי (ʾadonay).
  92. Nehemiah 4:14 tn Heb “houses.”
  93. Nehemiah 4:15 tn Heb “it was known to us.”
  94. Nehemiah 4:16 tc The MT reads “and spears.” The conjunction should be deleted.
  95. Nehemiah 4:16 tn Heb “all the house.”
  96. Nehemiah 4:17 tn The first words of v. 17, “who were rebuilding the wall,” should be taken with the latter part of v. 16.
  97. Nehemiah 4:17 tn Heb “were carrying loads.” The LXX reads ἐν ὅπλοις (en hoplois, “with weapons”).
  98. Nehemiah 4:18 tn Heb “the one blowing the shofar.”
  99. Nehemiah 4:19 tn Heb “much.”
  100. Nehemiah 4:21 tn Heb “and we were doing the work.”
  101. Nehemiah 4:21 tn Heb “half of them.”
  102. Nehemiah 4:21 tn Heb “from the coming up of the dawn till the coming forth of the stars.”
  103. Nehemiah 4:22 tn Heb “said [to].”
  104. Nehemiah 4:23 tn Heb “strip off our garments.”
  105. Nehemiah 4:23 tc Heb “a man, his weapon, the waters.” The MT, if in fact it is correct, is elliptical and difficult. Some scholars emend the MT reading הַמָּיִם (hammayim, “the waters”) to בִּמִנוֹ (bimino, “in his right hand”; cf. NAB, NRSV) or מִינוּ(י)הֵ (heminu, “they held on the right side”).
  106. Nehemiah 5:1 tn Heb “their brothers the Jews.”
  107. Nehemiah 5:2 tn Heb “take” (so also in v. 3).
  108. Nehemiah 5:4 tn Heb “for the tax of the king.”
  109. Nehemiah 5:5 tn Heb “according to the flesh of our brothers is our flesh.”
  110. Nehemiah 5:5 tn Heb “like their children, our children.”
  111. Nehemiah 5:5 tn Heb “to become slaves” (also later in this verse).
  112. Nehemiah 5:5 tn Heb “there is not power for our hand.” The Hebrew expression used here is rather difficult.
  113. Nehemiah 5:5 sn The poor among the returned exiles were being exploited by their rich countrymen. Moneylenders were loaning large amounts of money, and not only collecting interest on loans which was illegal (Lev 25:36-37; Deut 23:19-20), but also seizing pledges as collateral (Neh 5:3) which was allowed (Deut 24:10). When the debtors missed a payment, the moneylenders would seize their collateral: their fields, vineyards and homes. With no other means of income, the debtors were forced to sell their children into slavery, a common practice at this time (Neh 5:5). Nehemiah himself was one of the moneylenders (Neh 5:10), but he insisted that seizure of collateral from fellow Jewish countrymen was ethically wrong (Neh 5:9).
  114. Nehemiah 5:6 tn Heb “words.”
  115. Nehemiah 5:7 tn Heb “my heart was advised upon me.”
  116. Nehemiah 5:7 tn Heb “nobles.”
  117. Nehemiah 5:7 tn Heb “taking a creditor’s debt.” The Hebrew noun מַשָּׁא (mashaʾ) means “interest; debt” and probably refers to the collateral (pledge) collected by a creditor (HALOT 641-42 s.v.). This particular noun form appears only in Nehemiah (5:7, 10; 10:32); however, it is related to מַשָּׁאָה (mashaʾah, “contractual loan; debt; collateral”) which appears elsewhere (Deut 24:10; Prov 22:26; cf. Neh 5:11). See the note on the word “people” at the end of v. 5. The BHS editors suggest emending the MT to מָשָׂא (masaʾ, “burden”), following several medieval Hebrew mss; however, the result is not entirely clear: “you are bearing a burden, a man with his brothers.”
  118. Nehemiah 5:7 tn Heb “his brothers.”
  119. Nehemiah 5:7 tn Heb “I gave.”
  120. Nehemiah 5:8 tn Heb “our brothers, the Jews.”
  121. Nehemiah 5:8 tn Heb “your brothers.”
  122. Nehemiah 5:9 tc The translation reads with the Qere and the ancient versions וָאוֹמַר (vaʾomar, “and I said”) rather than the MT Kethib, וַיֹּאמֶר (vayyoʾmer, “and he said”).
  123. Nehemiah 5:9 tn Heb “not good.” The statement “The thing…is not good” is an example of tapeinosis, a figurative expression which emphasizes the intended point (“The thing…is wrong!”) by negating its opposite.
  124. Nehemiah 5:9 tn Heb “[should you not] walk.”
  125. Nehemiah 5:10 tn Heb “brothers.”
  126. Nehemiah 5:10 tn Heb “servants.”
  127. Nehemiah 5:10 tn Heb “this debt.” This expression is a metonymy of association: “debt” refers to the seizure of the collateral of the debt.
  128. Nehemiah 5:11 tc The MT reads וּמְאַת (umeʾat, “and the hundredth”) which is somewhat enigmatic. The BHS editors suggest emending to וּמַשַּׁאת (umashaʾt, “and the debt”) which refers to the interest or collateral (pledge) seized by a creditor (Deut 24:10; Prov 22:26; see HALOT 641-42 s.v. מַשָּׁא). The term מַשַּׁאת (mashaʾt) is related to the noun מָשָּׁא (mashaʾ, “debt”) in 5:7, 10.
  129. Nehemiah 5:12 tn The words “these things” are not included in the Hebrew text, but have been supplied in the translation for clarity.
  130. Nehemiah 5:12 tn Heb “took an oath from them”; the referents (the wealthy and the officials, cf. v. 7) have been specified in the translation for clarity.
  131. Nehemiah 5:12 tn Heb “according to this word.”
  132. Nehemiah 5:13 tn Heb “my bosom.”
  133. Nehemiah 5:13 tn Heb “cause to stand.”
  134. Nehemiah 5:13 tn Heb “according to this word.”
  135. Nehemiah 5:14 tc The BHS editors suggest reading צֻוֵּאתִי (tsuvveʾti, “and I was appointed”) rather than the reading of the MT, אֹתִי צִוָּה (tsivvah ʾoti, “he appointed me”).
  136. Nehemiah 5:14 tc The translation reads with one medieval Hebrew ms פֶּחָה (pekhah, “governor”) rather than פֶּחָם (pekham, “their governor”) of the MT. One would expect the form with pronominal suffix to have a tav (ת) before the suffix.
  137. Nehemiah 5:14 tn Heb “brothers.”
  138. Nehemiah 5:14 tn Heb “the food of the governor.” Cf. v. 18.
  139. Nehemiah 5:15 tc The Hebrew term אַחַר (ʾakhar) is difficult here. It normally means “after,” but that makes no sense here. Some scholars emend it to אַחַד (ʾakhad) and supply the word “day,” which yields the sense “daily.” Cf. TEV “40 silver coins a day for food and wine.”
  140. Nehemiah 5:16 tn Heb “we did not purchase.”
  141. Nehemiah 5:17 tn Heb “officials at my table.”
  142. Nehemiah 5:17 tn Or “from the Gentiles.” The same Hebrew word can refer to “the Gentiles” or “the nations.” Cf. the phrase in 6:16.
  143. Nehemiah 6:2 tn It is not entirely clear whether the Hebrew word כְּפִירִים (kefirim) is a place-name not mentioned elsewhere in the OT (as indicated in the present translation; so also NAB, NASB) or whether it means “in [one of] the villages” (so, e.g., NIV, NRSV, NLT; see BDB 499 s.v.; HALOT 493 s.v.). The LXX and Vulgate understand it in the latter sense. Some scholars connect this term with the identically spelled word כפירים (“lions”) as a figurative description of princes or warriors (e.g., Pss 34:11; 35:17; 58:7; Jer 2:15; Ezek 32:2, 13; Nah 2:14 HT [2:13 ET]; see HALOT 493 s.v. כְּפִיר): “let us meet together with the leaders in the plain of Ono.”
  144. Nehemiah 6:3 tn Heb “[am] doing.”
  145. Nehemiah 6:4 tn Heb “sent to.”
  146. Nehemiah 6:4 tn Heb “and I answered them according to this word.”
  147. Nehemiah 6:6 tn Heb “heard.”
  148. Nehemiah 6:6 tn Heb “Gashmu”; in Neh 2:19 this name appears as Geshem. Since it is important for the modern reader to recognize that this is the same individual, the form of the name used here in the translation is the same as that in v. 19.
  149. Nehemiah 6:6 tn Heb “is saying.”
  150. Nehemiah 6:6 tn Heb “words.” So also in v. 7.
  151. Nehemiah 6:7 tn Heb “call.”
  152. Nehemiah 6:7 tn Heb “Let us consult together.”
  153. Nehemiah 6:8 tn Heb “We are not according to these matters that you are saying.”
  154. Nehemiah 6:8 tn Heb “For from your heart you are inventing them.”
  155. Nehemiah 6:9 tn The participle has a desiderative nuance here, describing the desire of the subject and not necessarily the actual outcome. See also v. 14.
  156. Nehemiah 6:9 tn The statement “So now, strengthen my hands” is frequently understood as an implied prayer, but is taken differently by NAB (“But instead, I now redoubled my efforts”).
  157. Nehemiah 6:10 tn Heb “shut in.” The reason for his confinement is not stated. BDB 783 s.v. עָצַר suggests that it had to do with the fulfillment of a vow or was related to an issue of ceremonial uncleanness.
  158. Nehemiah 6:11 tn Heb “go into the temple and live.”
  159. Nehemiah 6:12 tn Heb “and Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.”
  160. Nehemiah 6:13 tc The translation reads לִי (li, “to me”) rather than the MT reading לָהֶם (lahem, “to them”).
  161. Nehemiah 6:13 tn Heb “would have a bad name.”
  162. Nehemiah 6:15 sn Elul was the sixth month, or August-September by modern reckoning.
  163. Nehemiah 6:16 tc The MT understands the root here to be יָרֵא (yareʾ, “to fear”) rather than רָאָה (raʾah, “to see”).
  164. Nehemiah 6:16 tn Heb “they greatly fell [i.e., were cast down] in their own eyes.” Some scholars suggest emending the reading of the MT, וַיִּפְּלוּ (vayyipelu) to וַיִּפָּלֵא (vayyippaleʾ, “it was very extraordinary in their eyes”).
  165. Nehemiah 6:18 tn Heb “were lords of oath.”
  166. Nehemiah 6:19 tn Heb “my words.”
  167. Nehemiah 6:19 tn Or “to intimidate” (so NIV, NRSV, NLT).
  168. Nehemiah 7:2 tn Some have suggested that “Hananiah” is another name for Hanani, Nehemiah’s brother, so that only one individual is mentioned here. However, the third person plural in v. 3 indicates two people are in view.
  169. Nehemiah 7:3 tc The present translation (along with most English versions) reads with the Qere, a Qumran text, and the ancient versions וָאֹמַר (vaʾomar, “and I said”) rather than the Kethib of the MT, which reads וַיֹּאמֶר (vayyoʾmer, “and he said”).
  170. Nehemiah 7:3 tn Heb “until the heat of the sun.” The phrase probably means that the gates were to be opened only after the day had progressed a bit, not at the first sign of morning light (cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, TEV, CEV). It is possible, however, that the Hebrew preposition עַד (ʿad), here translated as “until,” has a more rare sense of “during.” If so, this would mean that the gates were not to be left open and unattended during the hot part of the day when people typically would be at rest (cf. NLT).
  171. Nehemiah 7:3 tn Presumably this would mean the gates were not to be opened until later in the morning and were to remain open until evening. Some, however, have understood Nehemiah’s instructions to mean that the gates were not to be left open during the hottest part of the day, but must be shut and locked while the guards are still on duty. See J. Barr, “Hebrew עַד, especially at Job i.18 and Neh vii.3, ” JJS 27 (1982): 177-88.
  172. Nehemiah 7:4 tn Heb “wide of two hands.”
  173. Nehemiah 7:4 tn Heb “the people were few in its midst.”
  174. Nehemiah 7:5 tn Heb “nobles”; NCV “important men.”
  175. Nehemiah 7:5 tn Heb “the book of genealogy.”
  176. Nehemiah 7:5 tn Heb “in it”; the referent (the genealogical record) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  177. Nehemiah 7:6 tn Heb “the sons of”; KJV, ASV “the children of”; NAB “the inhabitants of.”
  178. Nehemiah 7:6 tn Heb “who were going up.”
  179. Nehemiah 7:6 tc One medieval Hebrew manuscript has “to Babylon.” Cf. Ezra 2:1.
  180. Nehemiah 7:7 tn Heb “the men of the people of Israel.” Some English versions translate as “the people from Israel” (NCV) or “the Israelite people” (NRSV), but “men” should be retained because the following numbers presumably include only adult males.
  181. Nehemiah 7:8 tn Heb “the sons of.”
  182. Nehemiah 7:11 tn Heb “to the sons of.”
  183. Nehemiah 7:28 tc The translation reads בְּנֵי (bene, “the sons of”) rather than the MT reading אַנְשֵׁי בֵית (ʾanshe vet, “men of the house of”). Cf. Ezra 2:24.
  184. Nehemiah 7:39 tn Heb “to the house of.”
  185. Nehemiah 7:61 tn Heb “relate.”
  186. Nehemiah 7:61 tn Heb “the house of their fathers.”
  187. Nehemiah 7:61 tn Heb “their seed.”
  188. Nehemiah 7:64 tn Heb “they were desecrated.”
  189. Nehemiah 7:65 tn The Hebrew term תִּרְשָׁתָא (tirshataʾ; KJV “Tirshatha”) is the official title of a Persian governor in Judea. In meaning it may be similar to “excellency” (cf. NAB). See further BDB 1077 s.v.; W. L. Holladay, Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon, 395; HALOT 1798 s.v.
  190. Nehemiah 7:65 tn Heb “stood.”
  191. Nehemiah 7:69 tc Most Hebrew mss omit 7:68 ET, which reads “They had 736 horses, 245 mules,” and thus have one less verse in chap. 7, ending the chapter at 7:72. This verse is included in the LXX and most English versions. Cf. Ezra 2:66.
  192. Nehemiah 7:70 tn Heb “the heads of the fathers.”
  193. Nehemiah 7:70 tn Heb “darics” (also in vv. 71, 72).
  194. Nehemiah 7:73 tn Heb “the sons of Israel.” So also in vv. 14, 17; 9:1.
  195. Nehemiah 7:73 tn The traditional understanding of the chapter and verse division here is probably incorrect. The final part of v. 73 is best understood as belonging with 8:1.
  196. Nehemiah 8:1 tn Heb “like one man.”
  197. Nehemiah 8:1 tn Heb “said [to].”
  198. Nehemiah 8:3 tn Heb “from the light till the noon of the day.”
  199. Nehemiah 8:3 tn Heb “all who could hear with understanding.” The word “children” is understood to be implied here by a number of English versions (e.g., NAB, TEV, NLT).
  200. Nehemiah 8:3 tn Heb “the ears of all the people were toward.”
  201. Nehemiah 8:4 tn Heb “a tower of wood.”
  202. Nehemiah 8:5 tn Heb “to the eyes.”
  203. Nehemiah 8:5 tn Heb “it”; the referent (the book) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  204. Nehemiah 8:7 tc The MT reads “and the Levites.” The conjunction (“and”) should be deleted, following the LXX, Aquila, and the Vulgate. That the vav (ו) of the MT is the vav explicativum (“even the Levites”) is unlikely here.
  205. Nehemiah 8:8 tn The exact meaning of the pual participle מְפֹרָשׁ (meforash) in this verse is uncertain. The basic sense of the Hebrew word seems to be “to make distinct.” The word may also have the sense of “to divide in parts,” “to interpret,” or “to translate.” The context of Neh 8:8 does not decisively clarify how the participle is to be understood here. It probably refers to the role of the Levites as those who explained or interpreted the portions of biblical text that had been publicly read on this occasion. A different option, however, is suggested by the translation distincte (“distinctly”) of the Vulgate (cf. KJV, ASV). If the Hebrew word means “distinctly” here, it would imply that the readers paid particular attention to such things as word-grouping and pronunciation so as to be sure that the listeners had every opportunity to understand the message that was being read. Yet another view is found in the Talmud, which understands translation of the Hebrew text into Aramaic to be what is in view here. The following explanation of Neh 8:8 is found in b. Megillah 3a: “‘And they read in the book, in the law of God’: this indicates the [Hebrew] text; ‘with an interpretation’: this indicates the targum; ‘and they gave the sense’: this indicates the verse stops; ‘and caused them to understand the reading’: this indicates the accentuation, or, according to another version, the Masoretic notes.” However, this ancient rabbinic view that the origins of the Targum are found in Neh 8:8 is debatable. It is not clear that the practice of paraphrasing the Hebrew biblical text into Aramaic in order to accommodate the needs of those Jews who were not at home in the Hebrew language developed this early. The translation of מְפֹרָשׁ adopted above (i.e., “explaining it”) understands the word to have in mind an explanatory function (cf. NAB, NCV, TEV, NLT) rather than one of translation.
  206. Nehemiah 8:8 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  207. Nehemiah 8:9 tc The unexpected reference to Nehemiah here has led some scholars to suspect that the phrase “Nehemiah the governor” is a later addition to the text and not original.
  208. Nehemiah 8:9 tn Heb “the priest, the scribe.”
  209. Nehemiah 8:9 tn Heb “the people.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons, to avoid redundancy.
  210. Nehemiah 8:10 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” here is אֲדֹנָי (ʾadonay).
  211. Nehemiah 8:12 tn Heb “to send portions.”
  212. Nehemiah 8:12 tn The Hebrew text does not include the phrase “with others” but it has been supplied in the translation for clarity.
  213. Nehemiah 8:12 tn Heb “to make great joy.”
  214. Nehemiah 8:13 tn Heb “the heads of the fathers.”
  215. Nehemiah 8:13 tn Heb “were gathered to”; NAB, NIV “gathered around”; NRSV “came together to.”
  216. Nehemiah 8:14 tn Heb “by the hand of.”
  217. Nehemiah 8:15 tn Heb “a voice.”
  218. Nehemiah 8:16 tn The words “these things” are not in the Hebrew text but have been supplied in the translation for clarity.
  219. Nehemiah 8:16 tn Heb “the house.”
  220. Nehemiah 8:17 tn Heb “And there was very great joy.”
  221. Nehemiah 8:18 tn Heb “He”; the referent (Ezra) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  222. Nehemiah 8:18 tn Heb “the last day.”
  223. Nehemiah 8:18 tn Heb “on the eighth day an assembly.” The words “they held” have been supplied in the translation for clarity.
  224. Nehemiah 8:18 tn Heb “according to the judgment.”
New English Translation (NET)

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