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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[a] 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!
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[b] 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[c] 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,
inside the temple itself.
Let’s shut the doors of the temple,
for they are coming to kill you;
they are coming to kill you tonight!”
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.[d] 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.
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[e] said to them, “The gates of Jerusalem aren’t to be opened during the hottest time of the day. While the gatekeepers[f] 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.”
4 Now although the city was wide and large, only a few people were living within it, and no[g] 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:
|8 The family of Parosh||2,172|
|9 of Shephatiah||372|
|10 of Arah||652|
|11 of Pahath-moab, that is, of the descendants of Jeshua and Joab||2,818|
|12 of Elam||1,254|
|13 of Zattu||845|
|14 of Zaccai||760|
|15 of Binnui||648|
|16 of Bebai||628|
|17 of Azgad||2,322|
|18 of Adonikam||667|
|19 of Bigvai||2,067|
|20 of Adin||655|
|21 of Ater, that is, of the descendants of Hezekiah||98|
|22 of Hashum||328|
|23 of Bezai||324|
|24 of Hariph||112|
|25 of Gibeon||95|
|26 The people of Bethlehem and Netophah||188|
|27 of Anathoth||128|
|28 of Beth-azmaveth||42|
|29 of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth||743|
|30 of Ramah and Geba||621|
|31 of Michmas||122|
|32 of Bethel and Ai||123|
|33 of the other Nebo||52|
|34 the inhabitants of the other Elam||1,254|
|35 of Harim||320|
|36 of Jericho||345|
|37 of Lod, Hadid, and Ono||721|
|38 of Senaah||3,930|
|39 The priests: the descendants of Jedaiah, that is, of the house of Jeshua||973|
|40 of Immer||1,052|
|41 of Pashhur||1,247|
|42 of Harim||1,017|
|43 The Levites: the descendants of Jeshua, that is, of Kadmiel, of the descendants of Hodaviah||74|
|44 The singers: the descendants of Asaph||148|
|45 The descendants of gatekeepers: of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita, and Shobai||138|
46 The temple servants: the descendants of Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,
|47 Keros, Sia, Padon,|
|48 Lebanah, Hagabah, Shalmai,|
|49 Hanan, Giddel, Gahar,|
|50 Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda,|
|51 Gazzam, Uzza, Paseah,|
|52 Besai, Meunim, Nephushesim,|
|53 Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,|
|54 Bazlith, Mehida, Harsha,|
|55 Barkos, Sisera, Temah,|
|56 Neziah, and Hatipha.|
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[h] 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,[i] 69 [j] 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys.
70 [k] 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.
8 Now concerning meat that has been sacrificed to a false god: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes people arrogant, but love builds people up. 2 If anyone thinks they know something, they don’t yet know as much as they should know. 3 But if someone loves God, then they are known by God.
4 So concerning the actual food involved in these sacrifices to false gods, we know that a false god isn’t anything in this world, and that there is no God except for the one God. 5 Granted, there are so-called “gods,” in heaven and on the earth, as there are many gods and many lords. 6 However, for us believers,
There is one God the Father.
All things come from him, and we belong to him.
And there is one Lord Jesus Christ.
All things exist through him, and we live through him.
7 But not everybody knows this. Some are eating this food as though it really is food sacrificed to a real idol, because they were used to idol worship until now. Their conscience is weak because it has been damaged. 8 Food won’t bring us close to God. We’re not missing out if we don’t eat, and we don’t have any advantage if we do eat. 9 But watch out or else this freedom of yours might be a problem for those who are weak. 10 Suppose someone sees you (the person who has knowledge) eating in an idol’s temple. Won’t the person with a weak conscience be encouraged to eat the meat sacrificed to false gods? 11 The weak brother or sister for whom Christ died is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 You sin against Christ if you sin against your brothers and sisters and hurt their weak consciences this way. 13 This is why, if food causes the downfall of my brother or sister, I won’t eat meat ever again, or else I may cause my brother or sister to fall.
33 All you who are righteous,
shout joyfully to the Lord!
It’s right for those who do right to praise God.
2 Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre!
Sing praises to him with the ten-stringed harp!
3 Sing to him a new song!
Play your best with joyful shouts!
4 Because the Lord’s word is right,
his every act is done in good faith.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
the Lord’s faithful love fills the whole earth.
6 The skies were made by the Lord’s word,
all their starry multitude by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathered the ocean waters into a heap;
he put the deep seas into storerooms.
8 All the earth honors the Lord;
all the earth’s inhabitants stand in awe of him.
9 Because when he spoke, it happened!
When he commanded, there it was!
10 The Lord overrules what the nations plan;
he frustrates what the peoples intend to do.
11 But the Lord’s plan stands forever;
what he intends to do lasts from one generation to the next.
8 The ways of some people are twisted and strange,
but the behavior of those who do right is pure.
9 Better to live on the edge of a roof
than with a contentious woman in a large house.
10 Wicked people desire evil;
their neighbors receive no mercy from them.