Nehemiah 1-13Amplified Bible (AMP)
Nehemiah’s Grief for the Exiles
1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah:
Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the [a]twentieth year [of the [b]Persian king], as I was in the [c]capitol of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them about the surviving Jews who had escaped and survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its [fortified] gates have been burned (destroyed) by fire.”
4 Now it came about when I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying [constantly] before the God of heaven. 5 And I said, “Please, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, 6 please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You, day and night, on behalf of Your servants, the [d]sons (descendants) of Israel (Jacob), confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have committed against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. 8 Please remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful and violate your obligations to Me I will scatter you [abroad] among the peoples; 9 but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered are in the most remote part of the [e]heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen for My [f]Name to dwell.’ 10 Now they are Your servants and Your people whom You have redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. 11 Please, O Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to [reverently] fear Your Name [Your essence, Your nature, Your attributes, with awe]; and make Your servant successful this day and grant him compassion in the sight of this man [the king].”
For I was [g]cupbearer to the king [of Persia].
Nehemiah’s Prayer Answered
2 In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was placed before him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not [previously] been sad in his presence. 2 So the king said to me, “Why do you look sad when you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” Then I was very frightened, 3 and I said to the king, “Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?” 4 The king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your presence, [I ask] that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, so that I may rebuild it.” 6 The king, beside whom the queen was sitting, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me, and I gave him a definite time [for my return]. 7 Then I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the provinces beyond the [Euphrates] River, so that they will allow me to pass through until I reach Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, so that he will give me timber to construct beams for the gates of the fortress which is by the temple, and for the city wall and for the house which I will occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.
9 Then I came to the governors of the provinces beyond the [Euphrates] River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent officers of the army and horsemen with me. 10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite [h]official heard this, it caused them great displeasure that someone had come to see about the welfare and prosperity of the Israelites.
Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls
11 So I came to Jerusalem and was there for three days. 12 Then I got up in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting in my heart to do for Jerusalem, and there was no animal with me except the one on which I was riding [so as not to attract attention]. 13 So I went out at night by the Valley Gate toward the Dragon’s Well and to the Refuse Gate and inspected the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were consumed by fire. 14 Then I passed over to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no place for the animal that I was riding to pass. 15 So I went up at night by the ravine [of Kidron] and inspected the wall; then I turned back and entered [the city] by the Valley Gate, and returned. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; nor had I yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the rest who did the work.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the bad situation that we are in—how Jerusalem is desolate and lies in ruins and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, and let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, so that we will no longer be a disgrace.” 18 Then I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us [i]rise up and build.” So they thoroughly supported the good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked us and regarded us with contempt and said, “What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 I answered them, “The God of heaven [has appointed us for His purpose and] will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right, or memorial in Jerusalem.”
Builders of the Walls
3 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests and built [j]the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set up its doors; and they consecrated the wall [westward] to the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel. 2 [k]Next to Eliashib the men of Jericho built, and next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.
3 Now the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and set up its doors with its bolts and its bars. 4 Next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, made repairs. Next to him Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs. And next to him Zadok the son of Baana also made repairs. 5 Next to him the men of Tekoa made repairs, but their nobles did not [l]support the work of their overseers.
6 Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired [m]the Old Gate. They laid its beams and set up its doors with its bolts and its bars. 7 Next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, made repairs for the official seat (Jerusalem residence) of the governor [of the province] beyond the [Euphrates] River. 8 Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs, and they restored Jerusalem as far as [n]the Broad Wall. 9 Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. 10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his own 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 the Tower of the Furnaces. 12 Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs, he and his daughters.
13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it and set up its doors with its bolts and its bars, and repaired a thousand cubits (1,500 ft.) of the wall as far as the Refuse Gate.
14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, the official of the district of Beth-haccherem repaired the Refuse Gate. He rebuilt it and set its doors with its bolts and its bars.
15 Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, official of the district of Mizpah repaired the [o]Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it and covered it [with a roof], and set up its doors with its bolts and its bars, and [he rebuilt] the wall of the Pool of Shelah (Siloam) by the King’s Garden as far as the stairs that descend [the eastern slope] from [the section of Jerusalem known as] the City of David. 16 After him [p]Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, official of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired [the wall] as far as [a point] in front of the tombs of David, and as far as the artificial pool and the house of the guards. 17 After him the Levites carried out repairs under Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, 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 Next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, the official of Mizpah, repaired another section [northward] in front of the ascent to the armory at the Angle [in the wall]. 20 After him Baruch son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section [toward the hill], from the Angle [in the wall] to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 After him Meremoth the son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired another [eastern] section, from the door of Eliashib’s house as far as the end of his house. 22 After him the priests, the men of the [lower Jordan] valley, carried out repairs. 23 After them Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs in front of their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, carried out repairs beside his own house. 24 After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section [of the wall], from the house of Azariah to the Angle [in the wall] and to the corner. 25 Palal the son of Uzai made repairs in front of the Angle [in the wall] and the tower projecting from the upper house (palace) of the king, which is by the courtyard of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh made repairs. 26 The temple servants were living in Ophel [the hill south of the temple], and they made repairs as far as the front of the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower. 27 After them the Tekoites repaired another section in front of the great projecting tower and as far as the wall of Ophel.
28 Above the Horse Gate the priests made repairs, each one in front of his own house. 29 After them Zadok the son of Immer carried out repairs in front of his house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, keeper of the East Gate, repaired the wall. 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, one of the goldsmiths, carried out repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, in front of the [q]Inspection Gate and as far as the upper room of the corner. 32 Between the upper room of the corner and [r]the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and merchants carried out repairs.
Work Is Ridiculed
4 [s]But when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious, completely enraged, and he ridiculed the Jews. 2 He spoke before his brothers and the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Can they restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the heaps of dust and rubbish, even the ones that have been burned?” 3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Even what they are building—if a fox should get up on it, he would break down their stone wall.”
4 [And Nehemiah prayed] Hear, O our God, how we are despised! Return their taunts on their own heads. Give them up as prey in a land of captivity. 5 Do not forgive their wrongdoing and do not let their sin be wiped out before You, for they have offended the builders [and provoked You].
6 So we built the wall and the entire wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a heart to work.
7 [t]But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, and that the breaches were being closed, they were very angry. 8 They all conspired together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to cause a disturbance in it.
9 But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.
10 Then [the leaders of] Judah said,
“The strength of the burden bearers is failing,
11 Our enemies said, “They will not know or see us until we are among them, kill them and put a stop to the work.” 12 When the Jews who lived near them came, they said to us ten times (repeatedly), “From every place you turn, they will come up against us.” 13 So I stationed armed men behind the wall in the lowest places, at the open positions [where it was least protected]; and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears, and bows. 14 When I saw their fear, I stood and said to the nobles and officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; [confidently] remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and [with courage from Him] fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and for your homes.”
15 Now when our enemies heard that we knew about their plot against us, and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each one to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while the other half held the spears, shields, bows, and breastplates; and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah. 17 Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens loaded themselves so that everyone worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other. 18 Every builder had his sword secured at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet [to summon the troops] stood at my side. 19 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 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, gather to us there. Our God will fight for us.”
21 So we carried on with the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Let each man with his servant spend the night inside Jerusalem so that they may serve as a guard for us at night and a laborer during the day.” 23 So neither I, my brothers (relatives), my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each took his weapon [even] to the water.
5 Now there was a great outcry of the [poorer] people and their wives against their Jewish brothers [to whom they were deeply in debt]. 2 For there were some who were saying, “We, along with our sons and our daughters, are many; therefore allow us to get grain, so that we may eat and survive.” 3 There were others who were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to buy grain because of the famine.” 4 There were also others who were saying, “We have borrowed money on our fields and vineyards for the [Persian] king’s [heavy] tax. 5 Now our flesh (skin) is the same as that of our brothers (relatives), and our children are like their children, yet here we are forcing (selling) our sons and our daughters to be slaves; and some of our daughters are forced into bondage already, and [u]we are powerless [to redeem them] because our fields and vineyards belong to others.”
6 Then I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words [of accusation]. 7 I thought it over and then challenged the nobles and the rulers. I said to them, “You are exacting usury (excessive interest) from your own brother (relative).” So I held a great assembly to confront them. 8 I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed (purchased back) our Jewish brothers who were sold to the [Gentile] nations; now would you even sell your brothers, that they might be sold to us?” Then they were silent and could not find a [single] word to say. 9 So I said, “What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunting by the [pagan] nations, our enemies? 10 And likewise I, my brothers, and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop [charging] this interest. 11 Please, give back to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, and also a hundredth part of the money, the grain, the new wine, and the oil that you are lending them.” 12 Then they said, “We will give it back and not require anything from them. We will do exactly as you say.” Then I called the priests and took an oath from them that they would act in accordance with this promise. 13 I also [v]shook out the [w]front of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not keep this promise; like this may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen!” And they praised the Lord. Then the people acted in accordance with this promise.
14 Moreover, from the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my relatives have eaten the governor’s food allowance. 15 But the former governors who were [in office] before me put heavy burdens on the people and took food and wine from them in addition to forty shekels of silver [as an excessive monthly salary]; even their servants assumed authority over the people. But I did not do so because of the [reverent] fear of God. 16 I also applied myself to the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered together there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table a hundred and fifty Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now the following were prepared for each day: one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls (poultry) were prepared for me; and in intervals of ten days all sorts of wine was provided in abundance. Yet for all this, I did not demand the governor’s food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people. 19 Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all I have done for this people.
The Enemy’s Plot
6 Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there was no breach left in it, although at that time I had not set up doors in the gates, 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent word to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they were planning to harm me. 3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave to come down to [meet with] you?” 4 They sent word to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same way. 5 Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same way the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written, “It is reported among the [neighboring] nations, and Gashmu is saying that you and the Jews are planning to revolt, and that is the reason you are rebuilding the wall. And according to these reports, you are to be their king. 7 Also [it is reported that] you have appointed prophets to make a proclamation concerning you in Jerusalem, saying, ‘There is a king in Judah!’ And now these things will be reported to the [Persian] king. So come now, and let us consult together.” 8 I sent a message to him, saying, “Such things as you are saying have not been done; you are inventing them in your own mind.” 9 For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, [O God,] strengthen my hands.
10 When I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was [x]confined at home, he said, “Let us meet [and take refuge] together in the house of God, [y]within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple, because they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night.” 11 But I said, “Should a man like me flee [in fear and hide]? Should [z]someone like me enter the temple [for sanctuary] to save his life? I will not go.” 12 Then I realized that God had not sent him, but he spoke this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He was hired for this reason, that I would be frightened and do as he said and sin, so that they would have [grounds to make] a malicious report in order to censure and disgrace me. 14 Remember, O My God, Tobiah and Sanballat in regard to these actions of theirs, and also [remember] the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me.
The Wall Is Finished
15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth [day] of [the month] Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 When all our enemies heard about it, and all the [Gentile] nations around us saw it, [aa]they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. 17 Moreover, in those days many letters went from the nobles of Judah to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18 For [ab]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 Also, they were speaking about Tobiah’s good deeds in my presence, and reporting to him what I said. Then Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.
Census of First Returned Exiles
7 Now when the wall had been rebuilt and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites had been appointed, 2 I put my brother Hanani, with Hananiah the commander of the fortress, in charge of Jerusalem, for Hananiah was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many [of the others]. 3 I said to them, “Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the [ac]sun is hot; and while the watchmen are still standing guard, have them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from the residents of Jerusalem, each at his post [on the wall], and each in front of his own house.” 4 Now the city was spacious and large, but there were few people in it and the houses had not [yet] been built.
5 Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials, and the people to be registered by genealogy. Then I found the register of the genealogy of those who came [from Babylon] first, and I found the following record:
6 These are the sons (descendants, people) of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had deported [to Babylon]; they returned to Jerusalem and to Judah, each to his city, 7 the ones who came with [ad]Zerubbabel, Jeshua, [ae]Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah.
The men of the people of Israel [af]numbered: 8 the sons of Parosh, 2,172; 9 the sons of Shephatiah, 372; 10 the sons of Arah, 652; 11 the sons of Pahath-moab of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,818; 12 the sons of Elam, 1,254; 13 the sons of Zattu, 845; 14 the sons of Zaccai, 760; 15 the sons of Binnui, 648; 16 the sons of Bebai, 628; 17 the sons of Azgad, 2,322; 18 the sons of Adonikam, 667; 19 the sons of Bigvai, 2,067; 20 the sons of Adin, 655; 21 the sons of Ater, of Hezekiah, 98; 22 the sons of Hashum, 328; 23 the sons of Bezai, 324; 24 the sons of Hariph, 112; 25 the sons of Gibeon, 95; 26 the men of Bethlehem and Netophah, 188; 27 the men of Anathoth, 128; 28 the men of Beth-azmaveth, 42; 29 the men of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah and Beeroth, 743; 30 the men of Ramah and Geba, 621; 31 the men of Michmas, 122; 32 the men of Bethel and Ai, 123; 33 the men of the other Nebo, 52; 34 the sons of the other Elam, 1,254; 35 the sons of Harim, 320; 36 the sons of Jericho, 345; 37 the sons of Lod, Hadid and Ono, 721; 38 the sons of Senaah, 3,930.
39 These are the priests: the sons of Jedaiah of the house of Jeshua, 973; 40 the sons of Immer, 1,052; 41 the sons of Pashhur, 1,247; 42 the sons of Harim, 1,017.
43 These are the Levites: the sons of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodevah, 74. 44 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 148. 45 The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, and the sons of Shobai, 138.
46 The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, 47 the sons of Keros, the sons of Sia, the sons of Padon, 48 the sons of Lebana, the sons of Hagaba, the sons of Shalmai, 49 the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, 50 the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, 51 the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, 52 the sons of Besai, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephushesim, 53 the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, 54 the sons of Bazlith, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, 55 the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Temah, 56 the sons of Neziah, the sons of Hatipha.
57 The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of Perida, 58 the sons of Jaala, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, 59 the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth-hazzebaim, the sons of Amon.
60 All the temple servants and the sons of Solomon’s servants, totaled 392.
61 And these were the ones who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon and Immer; but they [had no birth records and] could not prove their fathers’ houses or their descent, whether they were of Israel: 62 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 642. 63 Of the priests: the sons of Hobaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, and the sons of Barzillai, who [was so named because he had] married one of the daughters of Barzillai, the [well-known] Gileadite, and was named after them. 64 These men searched for their ancestral registration among those recorded in the genealogies, but it was not located; so they were excluded from the priesthood as [ceremonially] unclean. 65 The governor told them that they should not eat any of the most holy food until a priest arose with [ag]Urim and Thummim [to determine God’s will in the matter].
Total of People and Gifts
66 The entire assembly together was 42,360, 67 besides their male and their female servants, of whom there were 7,337; and they had 245 male and female singers. 68 [ah]Their horses were 736; their mules, 245; 69 [ai]their camels, 435; their donkeys, 6,720.
70 Some from among the heads of fathers’ households gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 gold drachmas, 50 basins, 530 priests’ garments. 71 Some of the heads of fathers’ households gave to the treasury for the work 20,000 gold drachmas and 2,200 silver minas. 72 And what the rest of the people gave was 20,000 gold drachmas, 2,000 silver minas, and 67 priests’ garments.
73 So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, along with all Israel, lived in their cities.
And when the seventh month came, the sons (descendants) of Israel (Jacob) were in their cities.
Ezra Reads the Law
8 Then all the people gathered together as one man at the open square in front of the Water Gate; and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses which the Lord had given to Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 Then he read from it, in front of the open square which was in front of the Water Gate, from [aj]early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and women, those who could understand; and [ak]all the people listened carefully to the Book of the Law. 4 Ezra the scribe stood on a [large] wooden platform which they had constructed for this purpose. And beside him [on the platform] stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left. 5 Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above them; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands; and they knelt down and worshiped the Lord with their faces toward the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, explained the Law to the people, and the people remained in their places. 8 So they read from the Book of the Law of God, translating and explaining it so that the people understood the reading.
“This Day Is Holy”
9 Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then Ezra said to them, “Go [your way], eat the rich festival food, drink the sweet drink, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be worried, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and your stronghold.” 11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be worried.” 12 Then all the people went on their way to eat, to drink, to send portions [of food to others] and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been [al]communicated to them.
Feast of Booths Restored
13 On the second day, all of the heads of fathers’ households of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, were gathered before Ezra the scribe to gain insight into the words of [am]the Law (divine instruction). 14 They found written in the Law how the Lord had commanded through Moses that the Israelites should live in booths (huts) during the feast of the seventh month. 15 So they proclaimed and published an announcement in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the hills and bring olive branches, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy branches to make booths, as it is written.” 16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on the roof of his house, and in their courtyards and the courtyards of God’s house, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the square of the Gate of Ephraim. 17 The entire assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in them. Indeed since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that very day, the Israelites had not done so. And there was great rejoicing and celebration. 18 Every day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the feast for seven days; on the eighth day there was a [closing] solemn assembly in accordance with the ordinance.
The People Confess Their Sin
9 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the Israelites assembled with fasting and in sackcloth and with dirt [an]on their heads. 2 The [ao]descendants of Israel (Jacob) separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the wrongdoings of their fathers. 3 While they stood in their places, they read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day and for another fourth [of it] they confessed [their sins] and worshiped the Lord their God. 4 On the platform of the Levites stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani, and they called out with a loud voice to the Lord their God.
5 Then the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah—said, “Stand up and bless (praise, honor) the Lord your God from [ap]everlasting to everlasting.
May Your glorious name be blessed
A Covenant Results
Signers of the Document
10 [ba]Now these were the names on the sealed document: Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah. And Zedekiah, 2 Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, 3 Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, 4 Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, 5 Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, 6 Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, 7 Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, 8 Maaziah, Bilgai, Shemaiah—these were the priests. 9 And the Levites: Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel, 10 and their brothers: Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, 11 Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, 12 Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, 13 Hodiah, Bani, Beninu. 14 The leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, 15 Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, 16 Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, 17 Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, 18 Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, 19 Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, 20 Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, 21 Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, 22 Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, 23 Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, 24 Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, 25 Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, 26 Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, 27 Malluch, Harim, Baanah.
Obligations of the Document
28 Now the rest of the people—the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all those who had knowledge and understanding— 29 are joining with their fellow Israelites, their nobles, and are taking on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given through Moses the servant of God, and to keep and to observe all the commandments of [bb]God our Lord, and His ordinances and statutes: 30 and that we will not give our daughters [as wives] to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons. 31 As for the peoples of the land who bring merchandise or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on a holy day; and we will give up raising crops during the seventh year [leaving the land uncultivated], and forgive every [bc]debt.
32 Also we pledge ourselves to contribute yearly one third of a shekel for the service [expenses] of the house of our God: 33 for the showbread; for the continual grain offerings and the continual burnt offerings; [for the offerings on] the Sabbaths, the New Moons, the [feasts at] appointed times; for the holy things, for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel; and for all the work of the house of our God.
34 We have also cast lots—the priests, the Levites, and the people—for [contributing] [bd]the supply of wood, to bring it to the house of our God, according to our fathers’ households, at set times annually, to burn on the altar of the Lord our God, as it is written in the Law; 35 and [we obligate ourselves] to bring the first fruits of our ground and the first fruits of all the fruit of every tree to the house of the Lord annually, 36 as well as the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and flocks, to bring to the house of our God, for the priests who minister in the house of our God. 37 We will bring the first [and best] of our dough, our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the new wine and the [olive] oil to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God, and the tithe of our ground to the Levites, for the Levites are the ones who receive the tithes in all the [be]rural towns. 38 The priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when they receive tithes, and they shall bring one-tenth of the tithes up to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse. 39 For the Israelites and the sons of Levi shall bring the offering of the grain, the new wine, and the oil to the chambers; the utensils of the sanctuary, the priests who are ministering, the gatekeepers, and the singers are there. In this manner, we will not neglect the house of our God.
Time Passes; Heads of Provinces
11 Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem; but the rest of the people cast lots to bring one [person] out of ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while nine-tenths remained in the other cities. 2 And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.
3 These are the heads of the provinces who lived in Jerusalem, but in the cities of Judah everyone lived on his property in their cities—the Israelites, the priests, the Levites, the temple servants, and the descendants of Solomon’s servants. 4 And some of the sons of Judah and some of the sons of Benjamin lived in Jerusalem. From the sons of Judah: Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalalel, of the sons of Perez; 5 Maaseiah the son of Baruch, the son of Col-hozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, the son of the Shilonite. 6 All the sons of Perez who lived at Jerusalem were 468 able men.
7 These are the sons of Benjamin: Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, son of Jeshaiah; 8 and after him Gabbai and Sallai, 928. 9 Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer, and Judah the son of Hassenuah was second in command of the city.
10 Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin, 11 Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, the leader of the house of God, 12 and their brothers (relatives, fellow workers) who did the work of the house, 822; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, 13 and his brothers, heads of fathers’ households, 242; and Amashsai the son of Azarel, the son of Ahzai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer, 14 and their brothers, brave men, 128. Their overseer was Zabdiel the son of Haggedolim [one of the great men].
15 Now from the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni; 16 and Shabbethai and Jozabad, from the leaders of the Levites, who were in charge of the outside work of the house of God; 17 Mattaniah the son of Mica, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, who was the leader to begin the thanksgiving in prayer, and Bakbukiah, second among his brothers; and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun. 18 All the Levites in the holy city totaled 284.
19 The gatekeepers: Akkub, Talmon, and their kinsmen, who kept watch at the gates, totaled 172.
20 Now the rest of Israel, the priests and the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, each on his own inheritance. 21 But the temple servants were living in Ophel; Ziha and Gishpa were in charge of the temple servants.
22 The overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Mica, from Asaph’s sons, who were the singers in regard to the work of the house of God. 23 For there was a [bf]command from the [[bg]Persian] king regarding the singers, as to their daily task. 24 Pethahiah the son of Meshezabel, of the sons of Zerah the son of Judah, was the king’s representative in all matters concerning the people.
25 As for the villages with their fields, some sons (descendants) of Judah lived in Kiriath-arba and its [bh]towns, Dibon and its towns, and Jekabzeel and its villages, 26 in Jeshua, in Moladah, in Beth-pelet, 27 in Hazar-shual and in Beersheba and its towns, 28 in Ziklag and in Meconah and its towns, 29 in En-rimmon, in Zorah, and in Jarmuth, 30 Zanoah, Adullam, and their villages, Lachish and its fields, and Azekah and its towns. So they camped from Beersheba as far as the Hinnom Valley. 31 The sons (descendants) of Benjamin also lived from Geba onward, at Michmash, Aija, Bethel and its towns, 32 at Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah, 33 Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim, 34 Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat, 35 Lod, and Ono, the Valley of the Craftsmen. 36 And certain divisions of the Levites in Judah belonged to Benjamin.
Priests and Levites who Returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel
12 Now these are the priests and Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and with Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, 2 Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, 3 Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, 4 Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, 5 Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, 6 Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, 7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and Jedaiah. These were the heads of the priests and their [bi]kinsman in the days of Jeshua.
8 The Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah who was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving and praise, he and his brothers. 9 Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brothers, stood opposite them in their divisions of service. 10 Now Jeshua became the father of Joiakim, Joiakim of Eliashib, Eliashib of Joiada, 11 and Joiada became the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan of Jaddua.
12 And in the days of Joiakim, the priests, the heads of fathers’ households were: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah; 13 of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan; 14 of [bj]Malluchi, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph; 15 of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai; 16 of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam; 17 of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin and of Moadiah, Piltai; 18 of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan; 19 of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi; 20 of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber; 21 of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethanel.
The Chief Levites
22 As for the Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, the heads of fathers’ households were registered; so were the priests, during the reign of Darius the Persian. 23 The sons of Levi, heads of fathers’ households, were recorded in the Book of the Chronicles until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib. 24 The heads of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, and their brothers opposite them, to praise and to give thanks, as commanded by David the man of God, [one] division [singing] in response to [the men in the opposite] division. 25 Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers keeping watch at the storehouses of the gates. 26 These men served in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and Ezra the priest and scribe.
Dedication of the Wall
27 Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites from all their places in order to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with hymns of thanksgiving, and with songs to the accompaniment of cymbals, harps, and lyres. 28 So the sons of the singers gathered together from the district around Jerusalem, and from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 from Beth-gilgal and from the fields of Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. 30 The priests and the Levites purified themselves; they also purified the people, the gates, and the wall.
Procedures for the Temple
31 Then I had the leaders of Judah come up on the wall, and I appointed two large thanksgiving choirs, the first one proceeding to the right on top of the wall toward the Refuse Gate. 32 Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of Judah followed them, 33 with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, 35 and some of the priests’ sons with trumpets, and Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph, 36 and his brothers, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God. And Ezra the scribe went in front of them. 37 At the Fountain Gate they went directly up the steps of the City of David by the stairway of the wall above David’s house to the Water Gate on the east.
38 The second [bk]choir went to the left; I followed with half of the people on the wall, above the Tower of the Furnaces, to the Broad Wall, 39 and above the Gate of Ephraim, and by the Old Gate, by the Fish Gate, by the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate; and they stopped at the Gate of the Guard. 40 Then the two choirs stood in the house of God. So did I, and half of the officials with me; 41 and the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah and Hananiah, with trumpets; 42 and Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang, with Jezrahiah as their leader. 43 Also on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy; the women and children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard from far away.
44 On that day men were appointed over the chambers for the stores, the contributions, the first fruits, and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions required by the law for the priests and the Levites; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who served. 45 And they performed the worship of their God and the service of purification; so did the singers and gatekeepers, as David and his son Solomon had commanded. 46 For in the days of David and Asaph, in ancient times, there were leaders of singers, songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving to God. 47 So in the days of Zerubbabel and [later of] Nehemiah, all Israel would give the daily portions for the singers and the gatekeepers; and they set apart the consecrated portion for the Levites, and the Levites set apart the consecrated portion for the sons of Aaron [the priests].
13 On that day they read aloud from the book of Moses so that the people could hear [its words], and in it was found written that [bl]no Ammonite or Moabite could ever enter the assembly of God, 2 because they did not meet the Israelites with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. Yet our God turned the curse into a blessing. 3 When the Jews heard the law, they separated from Israel all who were of foreign descent.
Tobiah Expelled and the Temple Cleansed
4 Now prior to this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and was [bm]related to Tobiah [our adversary], 5 had prepared for Tobiah a large room (chamber) where previously they had put the grain offerings, the frankincense, the utensils, and the tithes of grain, new wine, and [olive] oil which were given by commandment for the Levites, the singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests. 6 But during all this time I was not at Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes [Persian] king of Babylon I went to the king. Then after some time I asked for a leave [of absence] from the king, 7 and I came to Jerusalem. Then I discovered the evil [thing] that Eliashib had done for Tobiah by preparing a room for him in the courtyards of the house of God. 8 It was very displeasing to me, so I threw all of Tobiah’s household furnishings out of the room. 9 Then I gave an order, and they cleaned the rooms; and I put back there the utensils of the house of God with the grain offerings and the frankincense.
10 I also discovered that the portions due the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone away, each one back to his own field. 11 Then I reprimanded the officials and said, “Why is the house of God neglected?” So I gathered the Levites and singers together and restored them at their posts. 12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, the new wine, and the oil to the storehouses. 13 I appointed [as treasurers] over the storehouses: Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites; assisting them was Hanan son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were considered faithful and reliable, and their task was to distribute [supplies] to their brothers (fellow Levites). 14 O my God, remember me concerning this and do not wipe out my loyal deeds and kindnesses which I have done for the house of my God and for its services.
15 In those days I saw some in Judah who were treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves or sacks of grain and loading them on donkeys, as well as wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of loads, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So I protested and warned them on the day they sold the produce. 16 Also men of Tyre were living there who brought fish and all kinds of merchandise, and they were selling them to the people of Judah on the Sabbath, even in Jerusalem. 17 Then I reprimanded the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing—profaning the Sabbath day? 18 Did your fathers (ancestors) not do the same, and did our God not bring all this trouble on us and on this city? Yet you are adding to the wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”
19 Now when it began to get dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath [began], I commanded that the doors be shut and not be opened until after the Sabbath. Then I stationed some of my servants at the gates so that no load [of merchandise] would enter [Jerusalem] on the Sabbath day. 20 So once or twice the merchants and sellers of every kind of merchandise spent the night outside Jerusalem. 21 But I warned them, saying, “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do so again, I will [bn]use force against you.” From that time on, they did not come on the Sabbath. 22 And I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and come and guard the gates to keep the Sabbath day holy. O my God, remember me concerning this also and have compassion on me according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness.
Mixed Marriages Forbidden
23 In those days I also saw Jews who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 As for their children, half spoke in the language of Ashdod, and none of them knew how to speak [Hebrew] the language of Judah, but only the language of his own people. 25 So I contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters [in marriage] to their sons, nor take [any of] their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin [greatly against God] regarding these things? Yet among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless the foreign women caused even him to sin [by turning to other gods and so, judged by God, he lost his kingdom]. 27 Do we then hear about you that you have done all this great evil, acting unfaithfully against our God by marrying foreign (pagan) women?” 28 One of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite, so I chased him away from me. 29 O my God, remember them, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.
30 Thus I cleansed and purified them from everything foreign (pagan), and I defined the duties of the priests and Levites, each one in his task; 31 and I provided for the wood offering at appointed times and for the first fruits. O my God, [please] remember me for good [and imprint me on Your heart].
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
It looks like you’re already subscribed to Bible Gateway Plus! To manage your subscription, visit your Bible Gateway account settings.
Want to get the most out of Bible Gateway? Find out why Bible Gateway Plus is the ultimate toolkit for anyone seeking to grow closer to the Word. For less than the cost of a latte, Plus membership gives you access to a complete digital Bible study library and reduced banner ads. Try it free for 30 days!
Three easy steps to start your free trial subscription to Bible Gateway Plus.