Nehemiah 1-5 Amplified 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.
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