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14 I was governor of Judah from the twentieth year that Artaxerxes[a] was king until the thirty-second year. And during these entire twelve years, my relatives and I refused to accept the food that I was allowed. 15 Each governor before me had been a burden to the people by making them pay for his food and wine and by demanding forty silver coins a day. Even their officials had been a burden to the people. But I respected God, and I didn’t think it was right to be so hard on them. 16 I spent all my time getting the wall rebuilt and did not buy any property. Everyone working for me did the same thing. 17 I usually fed a hundred fifty of our own Jewish people and their leaders, as well as foreign visitors from surrounding lands. 18 Each day one ox, six of the best sheep, and lots of chickens were prepared. Then every ten days, a large supply of wine was brought in. I knew what a heavy burden this would have been for the people, and so I did not ask for my food allowance as governor.
19 I pray that God will bless me for everything I have done for my people.
6 Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem, and our other enemies learned that I had completely rebuilt the wall. All I lacked was hanging the doors in the gates. 2 Then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message, asking me to meet with them in one of the villages in Ono Valley. I knew they were planning to harm me in some way. 3 So I sent messengers to tell them, “My work is too important to stop now and go there. I can’t afford to slow down the work just to visit with you.” 4 They invited me four times, but each time I refused to go.
5 Finally, Sanballat sent an official to me with an unsealed letter, 6 which said:
A rumor is going around among the nations that you and the other Jews are rebuilding the wall and planning to rebel, because you want to be their king. And Geshem[b] says it’s true! 7 You even have prophets in Jerusalem, claiming you are now the king of Judah. You know the Persian king will hear about this, so let’s get together and talk it over.
8 I sent a message back to Sanballat, saying, “None of this is true! You are making it all up.”
9 Our enemies were trying to frighten us and to keep us from our work. But I asked God to give me strength.
10 One day I went to visit Shemaiah.[c] He was looking very worried, and[d] he said, “Let’s hurry to the holy place of the temple and hide there.[e] We will lock the temple doors, because your enemies are planning to kill you tonight.”
11 I answered, “Why should someone like me have to run and hide in the temple to save my life? I won’t go!”
12 Suddenly I realized that God had not given Shemaiah this message. But Tobiah and Sanballat had paid him to trick me 13 and to frighten me into doing something wrong, because they wanted to ruin my good name.
14 Then I asked God to punish Tobiah and Sanballat for what they had done. I prayed that God would punish the prophet Noadiah and the other prophets who, together with her, had tried to frighten me.
15 On the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul,[f] the wall was completely rebuilt. It had taken fifty-two days. 16 When our enemies in the surrounding nations learned that the work was finished, they felt helpless, because they knew that our God had helped us rebuild the wall.
17 All this time the Jewish leaders and Tobiah had been writing letters back and forth. 18 Many people in Judah were loyal to Tobiah for two reasons: Shecaniah son of Arah was his father-in-law, and Tobiah’s son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah.[g] 19 The people would always tell me about the good things Tobiah had done, and then they would tell Tobiah everything I had said. So Tobiah kept sending letters, trying to frighten me.
7 After the wall had been rebuilt and the gates hung, then the temple guards, the singers, and the other Levites were assigned their work. 2 I put my brother Hanani in charge of Jerusalem, along with Hananiah, the commander of the fortress, because Hananiah could be trusted, and he respected God more than most people did. 3 I said to them, “Don’t let the gates to the city be opened until the sun has been up for a while. And make sure that they are closed and barred before the guards go off duty at sunset. Choose people from Jerusalem to stand guard at different places around the wall and others to stand guard near their own houses.”
4 Although Jerusalem covered a large area, not many people lived there, and no new houses had been built. 5-6 So God gave me the idea to bring together the people, their leaders, and officials and to check the family records of those who had returned from captivity in Babylonia, after having been taken there by King Nebuchadnezzar.[h] About this same time, I found records of those who had been the first to return to Jerusalem from Babylon Province.[i] By reading these records, I learned that they settled in their own hometowns, 7 and that they had come with Zerubbabel, Joshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah.
8-25 Here is how many had returned from each family group: 2,172 from Parosh; 372 from Shephatiah; 652 from Arah; 2,818 from Pahath Moab, who were all descendants of Jeshua and Joab; 1,254 from Elam; 845 from Zattu; 760 from Zaccai; 648 from Binnui; 628 from Bebai; 2,322 from Azgad; 667 from Adonikam; 2,067 from Bigvai; 655 from Adin; 98 from Ater, also known as Hezekiah; 328 from Hashum; 324 from Bezai; 112 from Hariph; and 95 from Gibeon.
26-38 Here is how many people returned whose ancestors had come from the following towns: 188 from Bethlehem and Netophah; 128 from Anathoth; 42 from Beth-Azmaveth; 743 from Kiriath-Jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth; 621 from Ramah and Geba; 122 from Michmas; 123 from Bethel and Ai; 52 from Nebo;[j] 1,254 from Elam;[k] 320 from Harim; 345 from Jericho; 721 from Lod, Hadid, and Ono; and 3,930 from Senaah.
39-42 Here is how many returned from each family of priests: 973 descendants of Jeshua from Jedaiah; 1,052 from Immer; 1,247 from Pashhur; and 1,017 from Harim.
43-45 Here is how many returned from the families of Levites: 74 descendants of Hodevah from the families of Jeshua and Kadmiel; 148 descendants of Asaph from the temple musicians; and 138 descendants of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita, and Shobai from the temple guards.
46-56 Here are the names of the families of temple workers whose descendants returned: Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth, Keros, Sia, Padon, Lebana, Hagaba, Shalmai, Hanan, Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam, Uzza, Paseah, Besai, Meunim, Nephushesim, Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur, Bazlith, Mehida, Harsha, Barkos, Sisera, Temah, Neziah, and Hatipha.
57-59 Here are the names of Solomon’s servants whose descendants returned: Sotai, Sophereth, Perida, Jaala, Darkon, Giddel, Shephatiah, Hattil, Pochereth Hazzebaim, and Amon.
60 A total of 392 descendants of temple workers and of Solomon’s servants returned.
61-62 There were 642 who returned from the families of Delaiah, Tobiah, and Nekoda, though they could not prove they were Israelites. They had lived in the Babylonian towns of Tel-Melah, Tel-Harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer.
63-64 The families of Hobaiah, Hakkoz, and Barzillai could not prove they were priests. The ancestor of the family of Barzillai had married the daughter of Barzillai from Gilead and had taken his wife’s family name. But the records of these three families could not be found, and none of them were allowed to serve as priests. 65 In fact, the governor told them, “You cannot eat the food offered to God until he lets us know if you really are priests.”[l]
66-69 There were 42,360 who returned, in addition to 7,337 servants, and 245 musicians. Altogether, they brought with them 736 horses, 245 mules,[m] 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys.
70-72 Many people gave gifts to help pay for the materials to rebuild the temple. The governor himself gave 17 pounds of gold, 50 bowls to be used in the temple, and 530 robes for the priests. Family leaders gave 337 pounds of gold and 3,215 pounds of silver. The rest of the people gave 337 pounds of gold, 2,923 pounds of silver, and 67 robes for the priests.
73 And so, by the seventh month,[n] priests, Levites, temple guards, musicians, workers, and many of the ordinary people had settled in the towns of Judah.
8 In your letter you asked me about food offered to idols. All of us know something about this subject. But knowledge makes us proud of ourselves, while love makes us helpful to others. 2 In fact, people who think they know so much don’t know anything at all. 3 But God has no doubts about who loves him.
4 Even though food is offered to idols, we know that none of the idols in this world are alive. After all, there is only one God. 5 Many things in heaven and on earth are called gods and lords, but none of them really are gods or lords. 6 We have only one God, and he is the Father. He created everything, and we live for him. Jesus Christ is our only Lord. Everything was made by him, and by him life was given to us.
7 Not everyone knows these things. In fact, many people have grown up with the belief that idols have life in them. So when they eat meat offered to idols, they are bothered by a weak conscience. 8 But food doesn’t bring us any closer to God. We are no worse off if we don’t eat, and we are no better off if we do.
9 Don’t cause problems for someone with a weak conscience, just because you have the right to eat anything. 10 You know all this, and so it doesn’t bother you to eat in the temple of an idol. But suppose a person with a weak conscience sees you and decides to eat food that has been offered to idols. 11 Then what you know has destroyed someone Christ died for. 12 When you sin by hurting a follower with a weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 So if I hurt one of the Lord’s followers by what I eat, I will never eat meat as long as I live.
33 You are the Lord’s people.
Obey him and celebrate!
He deserves your praise.
2 Praise the Lord with harps!
Use harps with ten strings
to make music for him.
3 Sing a new song. Shout!
Play beautiful music.
4 The Lord is truthful;
he can be trusted.
5 He loves justice and fairness,
and he is kind to everyone
everywhere on earth.
6 The Lord made the heavens
and everything in them
by his word.
7 He scooped up the ocean
and stored the water.
8 Everyone in this world
9 As soon as he spoke
the world was created;
at his command,
the earth was formed.
10 The Lord destroys the plans
and spoils the schemes
of the nations.
11 But what the Lord has planned
will stand forever.
His thoughts never change.
8 All crooks are liars,
but anyone who is innocent
will do right.
9 It’s better to stay outside
on the roof of your house
than to live inside
with a nagging wife.
10 Evil people want to do wrong,
even to their friends.