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The Reforms of Nehemiah

13 On that day they read aloud from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people. In it there was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the congregation of God, because they did not meet the children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing. When they heard the Law, they separated from Israel all the racially mixed.

Before this, Eliashib the priest, who had been appointed to govern the chambers of the house of our God, was related to Tobiah. So, he had prepared a great chamber hall for him, where previously they had stored the contributions, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, new wine, and fresh oil, as required, for the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the contribution for the priests.

But during this time I was not in Jerusalem, since in the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes of Babylon I had gone to the king. At the conclusion of those days I requested a leave of the king. When I came to Jerusalem and understood the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah by preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God, I was very grieved. So, from the chamber I threw all of the household belongings of Tobiah outside. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers so that I could return there the vessels of the house of God, the contributions for the offerings, and the frankincense.

10 When I perceived that the supplies for the Levites had not been given and that the Levites and the singers doing the work had fled, everyone to his own field, 11 I confronted the officials and asked, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” So I gathered them and stationed them at their posts.

12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, the new wine, and the fresh oil to the storehouses. 13 Overseeing the replenishing of the storehouse, I appointed Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah from the Levites, and to assist them Hanan the son of Zakkur, the son of Mattaniah, for they were considered reliable, and their task was to distribute to their relatives.

14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this. Do not blot out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and its workings.

15 In those days I saw in Judah some treading winepresses on the Sabbath or hauling loads of grain or loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all manner of burdens in order to bring them to Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So, during the day while they were selling the food goods, I warned them. 16 Men of Tyre also stayed there, having hauled in fish and all kinds of merchandise, and sold them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah, and in Jerusalem. 17 Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and asked them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers do likewise? Did not our God bring all this evil against us and against this city? Will you yet bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath?”

19 As the gates of Jerusalem began to cast the evening shadow before the Sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. Some of my servants I stationed at the gates so that there would be no loads brought in on the Sabbath day. 20 Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kind of merchandise lodged outside Jerusalem. 21 So I warned them and said to them, “Why do you spend the night next to the wall? If you do so again, I will send you away by force.” From that time on they stopped coming on the Sabbath. 22 Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves so that they could come and, as guardians of the gates, sanctify the Sabbath day.

Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to Your abundant mercy.

23 Moreover, in those days I also saw Jews who had married the women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 Half of their children spoke in the language of Ashdod, yet none of them could recognize the language of the Jews. This was true language by language. 25 So I confronted them and cursed them. Some of the men I beat. Others, I plucked out their hair. Also, I made them swear an oath by God and said to them, “You shall neither give your daughters to their sons, nor marry their daughters to your sons or to yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, who made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women caused even him to sin. 27 Should we then listen to you, the ones doing all this great evil, who are behaving unfaithfully against our God by bedding foreign women?”

28 Also, one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was a son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite, so I drove him away from me.

29 Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.

30 Thus I purified them from everything foreign and appointed work crews for the priests and the Levites, each to his task, 31 and I provided the wood offering, at the appointed times, and the first fruits.

Remember me, O my God, for good.