Nehemiah 5-9 Common English Bible (CEB)
5 Then there was a great protest of the people and their wives against their fellow Jews. 2 Some said, “With our sons and daughters we are many, and we all need grain to eat and stay alive.”
3 Others said, “We have to mortgage our fields, our vineyards, and our houses in order to get grain during the famine.”
4 Still others said, “We have had to borrow money against our fields and vineyards in order to pay the king’s tax.”
5 “We are of the same flesh and blood as our kin, and our children are the same as theirs. Yet we are just about to force our sons and daughters into slavery, and some of our daughters are already slaves! There is nothing we can do since our fields and vineyards now belong to others.”
6 I was very angry when I heard their protest and these complaints. 7 After thinking it over, I brought charges against the officials and the officers. I told them, “You are all taking interest from your own people!” I also called for a large assembly in order to deal with them. 8 “To the best of our ability,” I said to them, “we have bought back our Jewish kin who had been sold to other nations. But now you are selling your own kin, who must then be bought back by us!” At this they were silent, unable to offer a response.
9 So I continued, “What you are doing isn’t good! Why don’t you walk in the fear of our God? This will prevent the taunts of the nations that are our enemies! 10 I myself, along with my family and my servants, am lending them money and grain. But let’s stop charging this interest! 11 Give it back to them, right now. Return their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses. And give back the interest on money, grain, wine, and oil that you are charging them.”
12 They replied, “We’ll return everything, and we won’t charge anything else.[a] We’ll do what you’ve asked.”
So I called the priests and made them swear to do what they had promised. 13 I also shook out the fold of my robe, saying, “So may God shake out everyone from their house and property if they don’t keep this promise. So may they be shaken out and emptied!”
The whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.
Generous Governor Nehemiah
14 In addition, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah (that is, from the twentieth to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes for a total of twelve years), neither I nor my family ate from the governor’s food allowance. 15 The earlier governors who had come before me laid heavy burdens on the people. They took food and wine from them as well as[b] forty shekels of silver. Even their servants oppressed the people. But because I was God-fearing, I didn’t behave in this way.
16 Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. We acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 One hundred fifty Jews and officials, along with those who came to us from the surrounding nations, gathered around my table. 18 One ox, six choice sheep, and birds were prepared each day. Every ten days there was a large amount of wine. Yet even with this I didn’t ask for the governor’s food allowance because of the heavy burden the people had to carry.
19 Remember in my favor, my God, all that I’ve done for this people!
Nehemiah avoids his enemies
6 Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that there were no gaps left in it (although I hadn’t yet hung the doors in the gates), 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let’s meet together in one of the villages[c] in the plain of Ono.”
But they wanted to harm me, 3 so I sent messengers to tell them, “I’m doing important work, so I can’t come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?”
4 They sent me a message like this four times, and every time I gave them a similar reply. 5 But the fifth time, Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same way, except that now he carried an open letter. 6 It stated:
It is reported among the nations and confirmed by Geshem[d] that you and the Jews intend to rebel. This is why you are rebuilding the wall. According to these reports, you intend to become their king. 7 You have also appointed prophets to make this announcement about you in Jerusalem: There is a king in Judah! Now, the king will hear of these reports, so come; let’s talk together.
8 So I sent him this reply: “Nothing that you say has happened. You are simply inventing this.”
9 All of them were trying to make us afraid, saying, “They will be discouraged, and the work won’t get finished.” But now, God, strengthen me!
10 Later I went to see Shemaiah, Delaiah’s son and Mehetabel’s grandson, who was confined to his house, and he said:
“Let’s meet together in God’s house,
11 But I replied, “Should someone like me run away? Who like me would go into the temple to save his life? I won’t go in!” 12 Then I realized that God hadn’t sent him at all but that he spoke this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He was hired to frighten me and to make me sin by acting in this way. Then they could give me a bad name and discredit me. 14 My God, remember these deeds of Tobiah and Sanballat! Also remember Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to frighten me.
15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul.[e] It took fifty-two days. 16 When our enemies heard about this, all of the nations around us were afraid and their confidence was greatly shaken. They knew that this work was completed with the help of our God.
17 In addition, in those days the officials of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters were coming to them. 18 Many in Judah were bound to him by solemn pledge because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah, Arah’s son, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam, Berechiah’s son. 19 They also kept talking about his good deeds in my presence and then reported back to him what I said. In addition, Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.
The wall is complete
7 When the wall had been built and I had hung the doors, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites were appointed. 2 Then I put my brother Hanani and Hananiah the commander of the fortress in charge of Jerusalem. Hananiah was a faithful man who revered God more than many.
3 I[f] said to them, “The gates of Jerusalem aren’t to be opened during the hottest time of the day. While the gatekeepers[g] are still on duty, have them shut and bar the doors. Also, appoint guards from among those who live in Jerusalem. Station some at their watch posts and some in front of their own houses.”
Nehemiah registers the families
4 Now although the city was wide and large, only a few people were living within it, and no[h] houses had been rebuilt. 5 My God then prompted me to assemble the officials, the officers, and the people so that they could be registered by families. I found the record of the families who were the first to return, and I found the following written in it:
6 These are the people of the province who returned from the captivity of those exiles whom Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile. They all returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to their own town.
7 They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah.
The number of the people of Israel:
46 The temple servants: the descendants of Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,
57 The descendants of Solomon’s servants: Sotai, Sophereth, Perida,
58 Jaala, Darkon, Giddel, 59 Shephatiah, Hattil, Pochereth-hazzebaim, and Amon.
60 All of the temple servants and the descendants of Solomon’s servants totaled 392.
61 The following came up from Tel-Melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but were unable to prove that their family or their descent was from Israel:
62 the descendants of Delaiah, Tobiah, and Nekoda, 642.
63 And of the priests: the descendants of Hobaiah, Hakkoz, and Barzillai (who had married one of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by his[i] name) 64 looked for their entries in the genealogical records, but they weren’t found there, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean.
65 The governor ordered that they shouldn’t eat of the most holy food until a priest arose who could consult Urim and Thummim.
66 The whole assembly together totaled 42,360. 67 This number doesn’t include their 7,337 male and female servants; they also had 245 male and female singers, 68 736 horses, 245 mules,[j] 69 [k] 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys.
70 [l] Some of the heads of families made a donation for the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 darics of gold, 50 bowls, and 530 priestly robes. 71 Some of the heads of families gave 20,000 darics of gold and 2,200 manehs of silver to the treasury for the work. 72 The rest of the people gave 20,000 darics of gold, 2,000 manehs of silver, and 67 priestly robes.
73 So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, and all Israel settled in their towns.
Ezra reads the Instruction aloud
8 When the seventh month[m] came and the people of Israel were settled in their towns, all the people gathered together in the area in front of the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Instruction[n] scroll from Moses, according to which the Lord had instructed Israel.
2 So on the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the Instruction before the assembly. This assembly was made up of both men and women and anyone who could understand what they heard. 3 Facing the area in front of the Water Gate, he read it aloud, from early morning until the middle of the day. He read it in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand, and everyone listened attentively to the Instruction scroll.
4 Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that had been made for this purpose. And standing beside him were Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his righthand side; while Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash-baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam stood on his lefthand side.
5 Standing above all of the people, Ezra the scribe opened the scroll in the sight of all of the people. And as he opened it, all of the people stood up. 6 Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all of the people answered, “Amen! Amen!” while raising their hands. Then they bowed down and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
7 The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah[o]—helped the people to understand the Instruction while the people remained in their places. 8 They read aloud from the scroll, the Instruction from God, explaining and interpreting it so the people could understand what they heard.
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all of the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Don’t mourn or weep.” They said this[p] because all the people wept when they heard the words of the Instruction.
10 “Go, eat rich food, and drink something sweet,” he said to them, “and send portions of this to any who have nothing ready! This day is holy to our Lord. Don’t be sad, because the joy from the Lord is your strength!”
11 The Levites also calmed all of the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy. Don’t be sad!” 12 Then all of the people went to eat and to drink, to send portions, and to have a great celebration, because they understood what had been said to them.
The people celebrate the Festival of Booths
13 On the second day, the heads of the families of all the people, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered together around Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Instruction. 14 And they found written in the Instruction that the Lord had commanded through Moses that the Israelites should live in booths during the festival of the seventh month.[q]
15 They also found that they should make the following proclamation and announce it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.”
16 So the people went out and brought them, and made booths for themselves, each on the roofs of their houses or[r] their courtyards, in the courtyards of God’s house, in the area by the Water Gate, or in the area by the Gate of Ephraim.
17 The whole assembly of those who had returned from captivity made booths and lived in them. This was something that the people of Israel hadn’t done since the days of Joshua,[s] Nun’s son, and there was very great rejoicing.
18 He read from God’s Instruction scroll every day, from the first until the last day of the festival.[t] They kept the festival for seven days and held a solemn assembly on the eighth day, just as the Instruction required.
Remembering the Lord’s mighty deeds
9 On the twenty-fourth day of this month, the people of Israel were assembled. They fasted, wore funeral clothing,[u] and had dirt on their heads.[v] 2 After the Israelites separated themselves from all of the foreigners, they stood to confess their sins and the terrible behavior of their ancestors. 3 They stood in their place and read the Instruction scroll from the Lord their God for a quarter of the day. For another quarter of the day, they confessed and worshipped the Lord their God.
4 On the stairs of the Levites stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani. They cried 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 the Lord your God.
9 You saw the affliction of our ancestors in Egypt
16 But our ancestors acted arrogantly.
22 You gave them kingdoms and peoples,
26 But they were disobedient, rebelled against you,
32 Now, our God, great and mighty and awesome God,
Commitment to follow the Instruction