1 This is the account of what Nehemiah son of Hacaliah accomplished.
In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year that Artaxerxes was emperor of Persia, I, Nehemiah, was in Susa, the capital city. 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived from Judah with another group, and I asked them about Jerusalem and about the other Jews who had returned from exile in[a] Babylonia. 3 They told me that those who had survived and were back in the homeland[b] were in great difficulty and that the foreigners who lived nearby looked down on them. They also told me that the walls of Jerusalem were still broken down and that the gates had not been restored since the time they were burned. 4 When I heard all this, I sat down and wept.
For several days I mourned and did not eat. I prayed to God, 5 “Lord God of Heaven! You are great, and we stand in fear of you. You faithfully keep your covenant with those who love you and do what you command. 6 Look at me, Lord, and hear my prayer, as I pray day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess that we, the people of Israel, have sinned. My ancestors and I have sinned. 7 We have acted wickedly against you and have not done what you commanded. We have not kept the laws which you gave us through Moses, your servant. 8 Remember now what you told Moses: ‘If you people of Israel are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the other nations. 9 But then if you turn back to me and do what I have commanded you, I will bring you back to the place where I have chosen to be worshiped, even though you are scattered to the ends of the earth.’
10 “Lord, these are your servants, your own people. You rescued them by your great power and strength. 11 Listen now to my prayer and to the prayers of all your other servants who want to honor you. Give me success today and make the emperor merciful to me.”
In those days I was the emperor's wine steward.
2 One day four months later, when Emperor Artaxerxes was dining, I took the wine to him. He had never seen me look sad before, 2 so he asked, “Why are you looking so sad? You aren't sick, so it must be that you're unhappy.”
I was startled 3 and answered, “May Your Majesty live forever! How can I keep from looking sad when the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
4 The emperor asked, “What is it that you want?”
I prayed to the God of Heaven, 5 and then I said to the emperor, “If Your Majesty is pleased with me and is willing to grant my request, let me go to the land of Judah, to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I can rebuild the city.”
6 The emperor, with the empress sitting at his side, approved my request. He asked me how long I would be gone and when I would return, and I told him.
7 Then I asked him to grant me the favor of giving me letters to the governors of West-of-Euphrates Province,[c] instructing them to let me travel to Judah. 8 I asked also for a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests, instructing him to supply me with timber for the gates of the fort that guards the Temple, for the city walls, and for the house I was to live in. The emperor gave me all I asked for, because God was with me.
9 The emperor sent some army officers and a troop of cavalry with me, and I made the journey to West-of-Euphrates. There I gave the emperor's letters to the governors. 10 But Sanballat, from the town of Beth Horon, and Tobiah, an official in the province of Ammon, heard that someone had come to work for the good of the people of Israel, and they were highly indignant.
11 I went on to Jerusalem, and for three days 12 I did not tell anyone what God had inspired me to do for Jerusalem. Then in the middle of the night I got up and went out, taking a few of my companions with me. The only animal we took was the donkey that I rode on. 13 It was still night as I left the city through the Valley Gate on the west and went south past Dragon's Fountain to the Rubbish Gate. As I went, I inspected the broken walls of the city and the gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then on the east side of the city I went north to the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool. The donkey I was riding could not find any path through the rubble, 15 so I went down into Kidron Valley and rode along, looking at the wall. Then I returned the way I had come and went back into the city through the Valley Gate.
16 None of the local officials knew where I had gone or what I had been doing. So far I had not said anything to any of the other Jews—the priests, the leaders, the officials, or anyone else who would be taking part in the work. 17 But now I said to them, “See what trouble we are in because Jerusalem is in ruins and its gates are destroyed! Let's rebuild the city walls and put an end to our disgrace.” 18 And I told them how God had been with me and helped me, and what the emperor had said to me.
They responded, “Let's start rebuilding!” And they got ready to start the work.
19 When Sanballat, Tobiah, and an Arab named Geshem heard what we were planning to do, they laughed at us and said, “What do you think you're doing? Are you going to rebel against the emperor?”
20 I answered, “The God of Heaven will give us success. We are his servants, and we are going to start building. But you have no right to any property in Jerusalem, and you have no share in its traditions.”
3 This is how the city wall was rebuilt.[d] The High Priest Eliashib and his fellow priests rebuilt the Sheep Gate, dedicated it, and put the gates in place. They dedicated the wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred and the Tower of Hananel.
2 The men of Jericho built the next section.
Zaccur son of Imri built the next section.
3 The clan of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They put the beams and the gates in place, and put in the bolts and bars for locking the gate.
4 Meremoth, the son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz, built the next section.
Meshullam, the son of Berechiah and grandson of Meshezabel, built the next section.
Zadok son of Baana built the next section.
5 The men of Tekoa built the next section, but the leading men of the town refused to do the manual labor assigned them by the supervisors.
6 Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah rebuilt Jeshanah Gate.[e] They put the beams and the gates in place, and put in the bolts and bars for locking the gate.
7 Melatiah from Gibeon, Jadon from Meronoth, and the men of Gibeon and Mizpah built the next section, as far as the residence of the governor of West-of-Euphrates.
8 Uzziel son of Harhaiah, a goldsmith, built the next section.
Hananiah, a maker of perfumes, built the next section, as far as Broad Wall.
9 Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of half of the Jerusalem District, built the next section.
10 Jedaiah son of Harumaph built the next section, which was near his own house.
Hattush son of Hashabneiah built the next section.
11 Malchijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath Moab built both the next section and the Tower of the Ovens.
12 Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of the other half of the Jerusalem District, built the next section. (His daughters helped with the work.)
13 Hanun and the inhabitants of the city of Zanoah rebuilt the Valley Gate. They put the gates in place, put in the bolts and the bars for locking the gate, and repaired the wall for fifteen hundred feet, as far as the Rubbish Gate.
14 Malchijah son of Rechab, ruler of the Beth Haccherem District, rebuilt the Rubbish Gate. He put the gates in place, and put in the bolts and the bars for locking the gate.
7 Now, to deal with the matters you wrote about.
A man does well not to marry.[a] 2 But because there is so much immorality, every man should have his own wife, and every woman should have her own husband. 3 A man should fulfill his duty as a husband, and a woman should fulfill her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other's needs. 4 A wife is not the master of her own body, but her husband is; in the same way a husband is not the master of his own body, but his wife is. 5 Do not deny yourselves to each other, unless you first agree to do so for a while in order to spend your time in prayer; but then resume normal marital relations. In this way you will be kept from giving in to Satan's temptation because of your lack of self-control.
6 I tell you this not as an order, but simply as a permission. 7 Actually I would prefer that all of you were as I am; but each one has a special gift from God, one person this gift, another one that gift.
8 Now, to the unmarried and to the widows I say that it would be better for you to continue to live alone as I do. 9 But if you cannot restrain your desires, go ahead and marry—it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
10 For married people I have a command which is not my own but the Lord's: a wife must not leave her husband; 11 but if she does, she must remain single or else be reconciled to her husband; and a husband must not divorce his wife.
12 To the others I say (I, myself, not the Lord): if a Christian man has a wife who is an unbeliever and she agrees to go on living with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a Christian woman is married to a man who is an unbeliever and he agrees to go on living with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made acceptable to God by being united to his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made acceptable to God by being united to her Christian husband. If this were not so, their children would be like pagan children; but as it is, they are acceptable to God. 15 However, if the one who is not a believer wishes to leave the Christian partner, let it be so. In such cases the Christian partner, whether husband or wife, is free to act. God has called you to live in peace. 16 How can you be sure, Christian wife, that you will not save[b] your husband? Or how can you be sure, Christian husband, that you will not save[c] your wife?
17 Each of you should go on living according to the Lord's gift to you, and as you were when God called you. This is the rule I teach in all the churches. 18 If a circumcised man has accepted God's call, he should not try to remove the marks of circumcision; if an uncircumcised man has accepted God's call, he should not get circumcised. 19 For whether or not a man is circumcised means nothing; what matters is to obey God's commandments. 20 Each of you should remain as you were when you accepted God's call. 21 Were you a slave when God called you? Well, never mind; but if you have a chance to become free, use it.[d] 22 For a slave who has been called by the Lord is the Lord's free person; in the same way a free person who has been called by Christ is his slave. 23 God bought you for a price; so do not become slaves of people. 24 My friends, each of you should remain in fellowship with God in the same condition that you were when you were called.
19 How wonderful are the good things
you keep for those who honor you!
Everyone knows how good you are,
how securely you protect those who trust you.
20 You hide them in the safety of your presence
from the plots of others;
in a safe shelter you hide them
from the insults of their enemies.
21 Praise the Lord!
How wonderfully he showed his love for me
when I was surrounded and attacked!
22 I was afraid and thought
that he had driven me out of his presence.
But he heard my cry,
when I called to him for help.
23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people.
The Lord protects the faithful,
but punishes the proud as they deserve.
24 Be strong, be courageous,
all you that hope in the Lord.
4 Wicked people are controlled by their conceit and arrogance, and this is sinful.