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Nehemiah 12:27-13:31

Nehemiah Dedicates the City Wall

27 When the city wall of Jerusalem was dedicated, the Levites were brought in from wherever they were living, so that they could join in celebrating the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals and harps. 28 The Levite families of singers gathered from the area where they had settled around Jerusalem and from the towns around Netophah, 29 and from Bethgilgal, Geba, and Azmaveth. 30 The priests and the Levites performed ritual purification for themselves, the people, the gates, and the city wall.

31 I assembled the leaders of Judah on top of the wall and put them in charge of two large groups to march around the city, giving thanks to God.

The first group went to the right on top of the wall toward the Rubbish Gate.[a] 32 Hoshaiah marched behind the singers, followed by half the leaders of Judah. 33-35 The following priests, blowing trumpets, marched next: Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah. Next came Zechariah, the son of Jonathan and grandson of Shemaiah. (His ancestors also included Mattaniah, Micaiah, and Zaccur, of the clan of Asaph.) 36 He was followed by other members of his clan—Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani—all of whom carried musical instruments of the kind played by King David, the man of God. Ezra the scholar led this group in the procession. 37 At the Fountain Gate they went up the steps that led to David's City, past David's palace, and back to the wall at the Water Gate, on the east side of the city.

38 The other group of those who gave thanks went to the left along the top of the wall, and I followed with half of the people. We marched past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, 39 and from there we went past Ephraim Gate, Jeshanah Gate,[b] the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate. We ended our march near the gate to the Temple.

40 So both the groups that were giving thanks to God reached the Temple area.

In addition to the leaders who were with me, 41 my group included the following priests, blowing trumpets: Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah; 42 and they were followed by Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. The singers, led by Jezrahiah, sang at the top of their voices.

43 That day many sacrifices were offered, and the people were full of joy because God had made them very happy. The women and the children joined in the celebration, and the noise they all made could be heard for miles.

Providing for Worship in the Temple

44 At that time men were put in charge of the storerooms where contributions for the Temple were kept, including the tithes and the first grain and fruit that ripened each year. These men were responsible for collecting from the farms near the various cities the contributions for the priests and the Levites which the Law required. All the people of Judah were pleased with the priests and the Levites, 45 because they performed the ceremonies of purification and the other rituals that God had commanded. The Temple musicians and the Temple guards also performed their duties in accordance with the regulations made by King David and his son Solomon. 46 From the time of King David and the musician Asaph long ago, the musicians have led songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. 47 In the time of Zerubbabel and also in the time of Nehemiah, all the people of Israel gave daily gifts for the support of the Temple musicians and the Temple guards. The people gave a sacred offering to the Levites, and the Levites gave the required portion to the priests.

Separation from Foreigners

13 When the Law of Moses was being read aloud to the people, they came to the passage that said that no Ammonite or Moabite was ever to be permitted to join God's people. This was because the people of Ammon and Moab did not give food and water to the Israelites on their way out of Egypt. Instead, they paid money to Balaam to curse Israel, but our God turned the curse into a blessing. When the people of Israel heard this law read, they excluded all foreigners from the community.

Nehemiah's Reforms

The priest Eliashib, who was in charge of the Temple storerooms, had for a long time been on good terms with Tobiah. He allowed Tobiah to use a large room that was intended only for storing offerings of grain and incense, the equipment used in the Temple, the offerings for the priests, and the tithes of grain, wine, and olive oil given to the Levites, to the Temple musicians, and to the Temple guards. While this was going on, I was not in Jerusalem, because in the thirty-second year that Artaxerxes[c] was king of Babylon I had gone back to report to him. After some time I received his permission and returned to Jerusalem. There I was shocked to find that Eliashib had allowed Tobiah to use a room in the Temple. I was furious and threw out all of Tobiah's belongings. I gave orders for the rooms to be ritually purified and for the Temple equipment, grain offerings, and incense to be put back.

10 I also learned that the Temple musicians and other Levites had left Jerusalem and gone back to their farms, because the people had not been giving them enough to live on. 11 I reprimanded the officials for letting the Temple be neglected. And I brought the Levites and musicians back to the Temple and put them to work again. 12 Then all the people of Israel again started bringing to the Temple storerooms their tithes of grain, wine, and olive oil. 13 I put the following men in charge of the storerooms: Shelemiah, a priest; Zadok, a scholar of the Law; and Pedaiah, a Levite. Hanan, the son of Zaccur and grandson of Mattaniah, was to be their assistant. I knew I could trust these men to be honest in distributing the supplies to the other workers.

14 Remember, my God, all these things that I have done for your Temple and its worship.

15 At that time I saw people in Judah pressing juice from grapes on the Sabbath. Others were loading grain, wine, grapes, figs, and other things on their donkeys and taking them into Jerusalem; I warned them not to sell anything on the Sabbath. 16 Some people from the city of Tyre were living in Jerusalem, and they brought fish and all kinds of goods into the city to sell to our people on the Sabbath. 17 I reprimanded the Jewish leaders and told them, “Look at the evil you're doing! You're making the Sabbath unholy. 18 This is exactly why God punished your ancestors when he brought destruction on this city. And yet you insist on bringing more of God's anger down on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

19 So I gave orders for the city gates to be shut at the beginning of every Sabbath, as soon as evening[d] began to fall, and not to be opened again until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my men at the gates to make sure that nothing was brought into the city on the Sabbath. 20 Once or twice merchants who sold all kinds of goods spent Friday night outside the city walls. 21 I warned them, “It's no use waiting out there for morning to come. If you try this again, I'll use force on you.” From then on they did not come back on the Sabbath. 22 I ordered the Levites to purify themselves and to go and guard the gates to make sure that the Sabbath was kept holy.

Remember me, O God, for this also, and spare me because of your great love.

23 At that time I also discovered that many of the Jewish men had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or some other language and didn't know how to speak our language. 25 I reprimanded the men, called down curses on them, beat them, and pulled out their hair. Then I made them take an oath in God's name that never again would they or their children intermarry with foreigners. 26 I told them, “It was foreign women that made King Solomon sin. Here was a man who was greater than any of the kings of other nations. God loved him and made him king over all of Israel, and yet he fell into this sin. 27 Are we then to follow your example and disobey our God by marrying foreign women?”

28 Joiada was the son of Eliashib the High Priest, but one of Joiada's sons married the daughter of Sanballat, from the town of Beth Horon, so I made Joiada leave Jerusalem.

29 Remember, God, how those people defiled both the office of priest and the covenant you made with the priests and the Levites.

30 I purified the people from everything foreign; I prepared regulations for the priests and the Levites so that all of them would know their duties; 31 I arranged for the wood used for burning the offerings to be brought at the proper times, and for the people to bring their offerings of the first grain and the first fruits that ripened.

Remember all this, O God, and give me credit for it.

Footnotes:

  1. Nehemiah 12:31 The two groups started somewhere on the southwestern part of the city wall and went in opposite directions until they met in front of the Temple in the northeastern part of the city.
  2. Nehemiah 12:39 Ephraim Gate, Jeshanah Gate; or Ephraim Gate (also called the Old Gate).
  3. Nehemiah 13:6 As emperor of Persia, Artaxerxes also had the title “King of Babylon.”
  4. Nehemiah 13:19 The Jewish day begins at sunset.
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1 Corinthians 11:1-16

11 Imitate me, then, just as I imitate Christ.

Covering the Head in Worship

I praise you because you always remember me and follow the teachings that I have handed on to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is supreme over every man, the husband is supreme over his wife, and God is supreme over Christ. So a man who prays or proclaims God's message in public worship with his head covered disgraces Christ. And any woman who prays or proclaims God's message in public worship with nothing on her head disgraces her husband; there is no difference between her and a woman whose head has been shaved. If the woman does not cover her head, she might as well cut her hair. And since it is a shameful thing for a woman to shave her head or cut her hair, she should cover her head. A man has no need to cover his head, because he reflects the image and glory of God. But woman reflects the glory of man; for man was not created from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for woman's sake, but woman was created for man's sake. 10 On account of the angels, then, a woman should have a covering over her head to show that she is under her husband's authority. 11 In our life in the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman was made from man, in the same way man is born of woman; and it is God who brings everything into existence.

13 Judge for yourselves whether it is proper for a woman to pray to God in public worship with nothing on her head. 14 Why, nature itself teaches you that long hair on a man is a disgrace, 15 but on a woman it is a thing of beauty. Her long hair has been given her to serve as a covering. 16 But if anyone wants to argue about it, all I have to say is that neither we nor the churches of God have any other custom in worship.

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Psalm 35:1-16

A Prayer for Help[a]

35 Oppose those who oppose me, Lord,
    and fight those who fight against me!
Take your shield and armor
    and come to my rescue.
Lift up your spear and war ax
    against those who pursue me.
Promise that you will save me.

May those who try to kill me
    be defeated and disgraced!
May those who plot against me
    be turned back and confused!
May they be like straw blown by the wind
    as the angel of the Lord pursues them!
May their path be dark and slippery
    while the angel of the Lord strikes them down!

Without any reason they laid a trap for me
    and dug a deep hole to catch me.
But destruction will catch them before they know it;
    they will be caught in their own trap
    and fall to their destruction!

Then I will be glad because of the Lord;
    I will be happy because he saved me.
10 With all my heart I will say to the Lord,
    “There is no one like you.
    You protect the weak from the strong,
    the poor from the oppressor.”

11 Evil people testify against me
    and accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.
12 They pay me back evil for good,
    and I sink in despair.
13 But when they were sick, I dressed in mourning;
    I deprived myself of food;
I prayed with my head bowed low,
14     as I would pray for a friend or a brother.
I went around bent over in mourning,
    as one who mourns for his mother.

15 But when I was in trouble, they were all glad
    and gathered around to make fun of me;
strangers beat me
    and kept striking me.
16 Like those who would mock a cripple,[b]
    they glared at me with hate.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 35:1 HEBREW TITLE: By David.
  2. Psalm 35:16 Probable text Like those … cripple; Hebrew unclear.
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Proverbs 21:17-18

17 Indulging in luxuries, wine, and rich food will never make you wealthy.

18 The wicked bring on themselves the suffering they try to cause good people.

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