Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 156

Nehemiah 8–13

Bible text(s)

Ezra Reads the Law to the People

1By the seventh month the people of Israel were all settled in their towns. On the first day of that month they all assembled in Jerusalem, in the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra, the priest and scholar of the Law which the LORD had given Israel through Moses, to get the book of the Law. 2So Ezra brought it to the place where the people had gathered — men, women, and the children who were old enough to understand. 3There in the square by the gate he read the Law to them from dawn until noon, and they all listened attentively.

4Ezra was standing on a wooden platform that had been built for the occasion. The following men stood at his right: Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and the following stood at his left: Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

5As Ezra stood there on the platform high above the people, they all kept their eyes fixed on him. As soon as he opened the book, they all stood up. 6Ezra said, “Praise the LORD, the great God!”

All the people raised their arms in the air and answered, “Amen! Amen!” They knelt in worship, with their faces to the ground.

7Then they rose and stood in their places, and the following Levites explained the Law to them: Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah. 8They gave an oral translation of God's Law and explained it so that the people could understand it.

9When the people heard what the Law required, they were so moved that they began to cry. So Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra, the priest and scholar of the Law, and the Levites who were explaining the Law told all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God, so you are not to mourn or cry. 10Now go home and have a feast. Share your food and wine with those who haven't enough. Today is holy to our Lord, so don't be sad. The joy that the LORD gives you will make you strong.”

11The Levites went about calming the people and telling them not to be sad on such a holy day. 12So all the people went home and ate and drank joyfully and shared what they had with others, because they understood what had been read to them.

The Festival of Shelters

13The next day the heads of the clans, together with the priests and the Levites, went to Ezra to study the teachings of the Law. 14They discovered that the Law, which the LORD gave through Moses, ordered the people of Israel to live in temporary shelters during the Festival of Shelters. 15So they gave the following instructions and sent them all through Jerusalem and the other cities and towns: “Go out to the hills and get branches from pines, olives, myrtles, palms, and other trees to make shelters according to the instructions written in the Law.”

16So the people got branches and built shelters on the flat roofs of their houses, in their yards, in the temple courtyard, and in the public squares by the Water Gate and by the Ephraim Gate. 17All the people who had come back from captivity built shelters and lived in them. This was the first time it had been done since the days of Joshua son of Nun, and everybody was excited and happy. 18From the first day of the festival to the last they read a part of God's Law every day. They celebrated for seven days, and on the eighth day there was a closing ceremony, as required in the Law.

Nehemiah 8GNBOpen in Bible reader

The People Confess their Sins

1-2On the 24th day of the same month the people of Israel assembled to fast in order to show sorrow for their sins. They had already separated themselves from all foreigners. They wore sackcloth and put dust on their heads as signs of grief. Then they stood and began to confess the sins that they and their ancestors had committed. 3For about three hours the Law of the LORD their God was read to them, and for the next three hours they confessed their sins and worshipped the LORD their God.

4There was a platform for the Levites, and on it stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani. They prayed aloud to the LORD their God.

5The following Levites gave a call to worship: Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah. They said:

“Stand up and praise the LORD your God;

praise him for ever and ever!

Let everyone praise his glorious name,

although no human praise is great enough.”

The Prayer of Confession

6And then the people of Israel prayed this prayer:

“You, LORD, you alone are LORD;

you made the heavens and the stars of the sky.

You made land and sea and everything in them;

you gave life to all.

The heavenly powers bow down and worship you.

7You, LORD God, chose Abram

and led him out of Ur in Babylonia;

you changed his name to Abraham.

8You found that he was faithful to you,

and you made a covenant with him.

You promised to give him the land of the Canaanites,

the land of the Hittites and the Amorites,

the land of the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites,

to be a land where his descendants would live.

You kept your promise, because you are faithful.

9“You saw how our ancestors suffered in Egypt;

you heard their call for help at the Red Sea.

10You worked amazing miracles against the king,

against his officials and the people of his land,

because you knew how they oppressed your people.

You won then the fame you still have today.

11Through the sea you made a path for your people

and led them through on dry ground.

Those who pursued them drowned in deep water,

as a stone sinks in the raging sea.

12With a cloud you led them in daytime,

and at night you lighted their way with fire.

13At Mount Sinai you came down from heaven;

you spoke to your people

and gave them good laws and sound teachings.

14You taught them to keep your Sabbaths holy,

and through your servant Moses you gave them your laws.

15“When they were hungry, you gave them bread from heaven,

and water from a rock when they were thirsty.

You told them to take control of the land

which you had promised to give them.

16But our ancestors grew proud and stubborn

and refused to obey your commands.

17They refused to obey; they forgot all you did;

they forgot the miracles you had performed.

In their pride they chose a leader

to take them back to slavery in Egypt.

But you are a God who forgives;

you are gracious and loving, slow to be angry.

Your mercy is great; you did not forsake them.

18They made an idol in the shape of a bull calf

and said it was the god who led them from Egypt!

How much they insulted you, LORD!

19But you did not abandon them there in the desert,

for your mercy is great.

You did not take away the cloud or the fire

that showed them the path by day and night.

20In your goodness you told them what they should do;

you fed them with manna and gave them water to drink.

21Through forty years in the desert

you provided all that they needed;

their clothing never wore out,

and their feet were not swollen with pain.

22“You let them conquer nations and kingdoms,

lands that bordered their own.

They conquered the land of Heshbon, where Sihon ruled,

and the land of Bashan, where Og was king.

23You gave them as many children as there are stars in the sky,

and let them conquer and live in the land

that you had promised their ancestors to give them.

24They conquered the land of Canaan;

you overcame the people living there.

You gave your people the power to do as they pleased

with the people and kings of Canaan.

25Your people captured fortified cities,

fertile land, houses full of wealth,

cisterns already dug,

olive trees, fruit trees, and vineyards.

They ate all they wanted and grew fat;

they enjoyed all the good things you gave them.

26“But your people rebelled and disobeyed you;

they turned their backs on your Law.

They killed the prophets who warned them,

who told them to turn back to you.

They insulted you time after time,

27so you let their enemies conquer and rule them.

In their trouble they called to you for help,

and you answered them from heaven.

In your great mercy you sent them leaders

who rescued them from their foes.

28When peace returned, they sinned again,

and again you let their enemies conquer them.

Yet when they repented and asked you to save them,

in heaven you heard, and time after time

you rescued them in your great mercy.

29You warned them to obey your teachings,

but in pride they rejected your laws,

although keeping your Law is the way to life.

Obstinate and stubborn, they refused to obey.

30Year after year you patiently warned them.

You inspired your prophets to speak,

but your people were deaf,

so you let them be conquered by other nations.

31And yet, because your mercy is great,

you did not forsake or destroy them.

You are a gracious and merciful God!

32“O God, our God, how great you are!

How terrifying, how powerful!

You faithfully keep your covenant promises.

From the time when Assyrian kings oppressed us,

even till now, how much we have suffered!

Our kings, our leaders, our priests and prophets,

our ancestors, and all our people have suffered.

Remember how much we have suffered!

33You have done right to punish us;

you have been faithful, even though we have sinned.

34Our ancestors, our kings, leaders, and priests

have not kept your Law.

They did not listen to your commands and warnings.

35With your blessing, kings ruled your people

when they lived in the broad, fertile land you gave them;

but they failed to turn from sin and serve you.

36And now we are slaves in the land that you gave us,

this fertile land which gives us food.

37What the land produces goes to the kings

that you put over us because we sinned.

They do as they please with us and our livestock,

and we are in deep distress!”

The People Sign an Agreement

38Because of all that has happened, we, the people of Israel, hereby make a solemn written agreement, and our leaders, our Levites, and our priests put their seals to it.

Nehemiah 9GNBOpen in Bible reader

1The first to sign was the governor, Nehemiah son of Hacaliah, and then Zedekiah signed. The following also signed:

2-8Priests:
    Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah,
    Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah,
    Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch,
    Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah,
    Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch,
    Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin,
    Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaiah.
9-13Levites:
    Jeshua son of Azaniah,
    Binnui of the clan of Henadad,
    Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Hodiah,
    Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan,
    Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah,
    Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah,
    Hodiah, Bani, and Beninu.
14-27Leaders of the people:
    Parosh, Pahath Moab,
    Elam, Zattu, Bani,
    Bunni, Azgad, Bebai,
    Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin,
    Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur,
    Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai,
    Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai,
    Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir,
    Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua,
    Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah,
    Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub,
    Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek,
    Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah,
    Ahiah, Hanan, Anan,
    Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.

The Agreement

28We, the people of Israel, the priests, the Levites, the temple guards, the temple musicians, the temple workmen, and all others who in obedience to God's Law have separated themselves from the foreigners living in our land, we, together with our wives and all our children old enough to understand, 29do hereby join with our leaders in an oath, under penalty of a curse if we break it, that we will live according to God's Law, which God gave through his servant Moses; that we will obey all that the LORD, our Lord, commands us; and that we will keep all his laws and requirements.

30We will not intermarry with the foreigners living in our land.

31If foreigners bring corn or anything else to sell to us on the Sabbath or on any other holy day, we will not buy from them.

Every seventh year we will not farm the land, and we will cancel all debts.

32Every year we will each contribute five grammes of silver to help pay the expenses of the Temple.

33We will provide for the temple worship the following: the sacred bread, the daily grain offering, the animals to be burnt each day as sacrifices, the sacred offerings for Sabbaths, New Moon Festivals, and other festivals, the other sacred offerings, the offerings to take away the sins of Israel, and anything else needed for the Temple.

34We, the people, priests, and Levites, will draw lots each year to determine which clans are to provide wood to burn the sacrifices offered to the LORD our God, according to the requirements of the Law.

35We will take to the Temple each year an offering of the first corn we harvest and of the first fruit that ripens on our trees.

36The first son born to each of us we will take to the priests in the Temple and there, as required by the Law, dedicate him to God. We will also dedicate the first calf born to each of our cows, and the first lamb or kid born to each of our sheep or goats.

37We will take to the priests in the Temple the dough made from the first corn harvested each year and our other offerings of wine, olive oil, and all kinds of fruit.

We will take to the Levites, who collect tithes in our farming villages, the tithes from the crops that grow on our land. 38Priests who are descended from Aaron are to be with the Levites when tithes are collected, and for use in the Temple the Levites are to take to the temple storerooms one tenth of all the tithes they collect. 39The people of Israel and the Levites are to take the contributions of corn, wine, and olive oil to the storerooms where the utensils for the Temple are kept and where the priests who are on duty, the temple guards, and the members of the temple choir have their quarters.

We will not neglect the house of our God.

Nehemiah 10GNBOpen in Bible reader

The People who Lived in Jerusalem

1The leaders settled in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people drew lots to choose one family out of every ten to go and live in the holy city of Jerusalem, while the rest were to live in the other cities and towns. 2The people praised anyone else who volunteered to live in Jerusalem. 3In the other towns and cities the people of Israel, the priests, the Levites, the temple workmen, and the descendants of Solomon's servants lived on their own property in their own towns.

The following is the list of the leading citizens of the province of Judah who lived in Jerusalem:

4Members of the tribe of Judah:
    Athaiah, the son of Uzziah and grandson of Zechariah. His other ancestors included Amariah, Shephatiah, and Mahalalel, descendants of Judah's son Perez.
    5Maaseiah, the son of Baruch and grandson of Colhozeh. His other ancestors included Hazaiah, Adaiah, Joiarib, and Zechariah, descendants of Judah's son Shelah.

6Of the descendants of Perez, 468 outstanding men lived in Jerusalem.

7Members of the tribe of Benjamin:
    Sallu, the son of Meshullam and grandson of Joed. His other ancestors included Pedaiah, Kolaiah, Maaseiah, Ithiel, and Jeshaiah.
    8Gabbai and Sallai, close relatives of Sallu.

In all, 928 Benjaminites lived in Jerusalem. 9Joel son of Zichri was their leader, and Judah son of Hassenuah was the second senior official in the city.

10Priests:
    Jedaiah son of Joiarib, and Jachin.
    11Seraiah, the son of Hilkiah and grandson of Meshullam. His ancestors included Zadok, Meraioth, and Ahitub, who was the High Priest. 12In all, 822 members of this clan served in the Temple.
    Adaiah, the son of Jeroham and grandson of Pelaliah. His ancestors included Amzi, Zechariah, Pashhur, and Malchijah. 13In all, 242 members of this clan were heads of families.
    Amashsai, the son of Azarel and grandson of Ahzai. His ancestors included Meshillemoth and Immer. 14There were 128 members of this clan who were outstanding soldiers. Their leader was Zabdiel, a member of a leading family.
15Levites:
    Shemaiah, the son of Hasshub and grandson of Azrikam. His ancestors included Hashabiah and Bunni.
    16Shabbethai and Jozabad, prominent Levites in charge of the work outside the Temple.
    17Mattaniah, the son of Mica and grandson of Zabdi, a descendant of Asaph. He led the temple choir in singing the prayer of thanksgiving.
    Bakbukiah, who was Mattaniah's assistant.
    Abda, the son of Shammua and grandson of Galal, a descendant of Jeduthun.

18In all, 284 Levites lived in the holy city of Jerusalem.

19Temple guards:
    Akkub, Talmon, and their relatives, 172 in all.

20The rest of the people of Israel and the remaining priests and Levites lived on their own property in the other cities and towns of Judah. 21The temple workmen lived in the part of Jerusalem called Ophel and worked under the supervision of Ziha and Gishpa.

22The supervisor of the Levites who lived in Jerusalem was Uzzi, the son of Bani and grandson of Hashabiah. His ancestors included Mattaniah and Mica, and he belonged to the clan of Asaph, the clan that was responsible for the music in the temple services. 23There were royal regulations stating how the clans should take turns in leading the temple music each day.

24Pethahiah son of Meshezabel, of the clan of Zerah and the tribe of Judah, represented the people of Israel at the Persian court.

The People in Other Towns and Cities

25Many of the people lived in towns near their farms. Those who were of the tribe of Judah lived in Kiriath Arba, Dibon, and Jekabzeel, and in the villages near these cities. 26They also lived in the cities of Jeshua, Moladah, Bethpelet, 27and Hazarshual, and in Beersheba and the villages around it. 28They lived in the city of Ziklag, in Meconah and its villages, 29in Enrimmon, in Zorah, in Jarmuth, 30in Zanoah, in Adullam, and in the villages near these towns. They lived in Lachish and on the farms near by, and in Azekah and its villages. That is to say, the people of Judah lived in the territory between Beersheba in the south and the Valley of Hinnom in the north.

31The people of the tribe of Benjamin lived in Geba, Michmash, Ai, Bethel and the nearby villages, 32Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah, 33Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim, 34Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat, 35Lod, and Ono, and in the Valley of Craftsmen. 36Some groups of Levites that had lived in the territory of Judah were assigned to live with the people of Benjamin.

Nehemiah 11GNBOpen in Bible reader

List of Priests and Levites

1The following is a list of the priests and Levites who returned from exile with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with the High Priest Joshua:

2-7Priests:
    Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
    Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,
    Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,
    Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah,
    Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,
    Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah,
    Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and Jedaiah.

These men were leaders among all their fellow-priests in the days of Joshua.

8Levites:
    The following were in charge of the singing of hymns of thanksgiving: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah.
    9The following formed the choir that sang the responses: Bakbukiah, Unno, and their fellow-Levites.

Descendants of the High Priest Joshua

10Joshua was the father of Joiakim; Joiakim was the father of Eliashib; Eliashib was the father of Joiada; 11Joiada was the father of Jonathan; and Jonathan was the father of Jaddua.

Heads of the Priestly Clans

12-21When Joiakim was High Priest, the following priests were the heads of the priestly clans:

Priest Clan
Meraiah Seraiah
Hananiah Jeremiah
Meshullam Ezra
Jehohanan Amariah
Jonathan Malluchi
Joseph Shebaniah
Adna Harim
Helkai Meraioth
Zechariah Iddo
Meshullam Ginnethon
Zichri Abijah
Miniamin
Piltai Moadiah
Shammua Bilgah
Jehonathan Shemaiah
Mattenai Joiarib
Uzzi Jedaiah
Kallai Sallai
Eber Amok
Hashabiah Hilkiah
Nethanel Jedaiah

Record of the Priestly and Levite Families

22A record was kept of the heads of the Levite families and of the priestly families during the lifetimes of the following High Priests: Eliashib, Joiada, Jonathan, and Jaddua. This record was finished when Darius was emperor of Persia.

23The heads of the Levite families, however, were recorded in the official records only until the time of Jonathan, the grandson of Eliashib.

Assignment of Duties in the Temple

24Under the direction of Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua, Binnui, and Kadmiel, the Levites were organized into groups. Two groups at a time praised God responsively and gave thanks to him, in accordance with the instructions given by King David, the man of God.

25The following temple guards were in charge of guarding the storerooms by the gates to the Temple: Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub.

26These people lived during the time of Joiakim, the son of Joshua and grandson of Jehozadak, and the time of Nehemiah the governor, and the time of Ezra, the priest who was a scholar of the Law.

Nehemiah Dedicates the City Wall

27When 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. 28The Levite families of singers gathered from the area where they had settled round Jerusalem and from the towns round Netophah, 29and from Bethgilgal, Geba, and Azmaveth. 30The priests and the Levites performed ritual purification for themselves, the people, the gates, and the city wall.

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

The first group went to the right on top of the wall towards the Rubbish Gate. 32Hoshaiah marched behind the singers, followed by half the leaders of Judah. 33-35The 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.) 36He 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. 37At 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.

38The other group of those who gave thanks went to the left along the top of the wall, and I followed with half the people. We marched past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, 39and from there we went past Ephraim Gate, Jeshanah Gate, 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.

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

In addition to the leaders who were with me, 41my group included the following priests, blowing trumpets: Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah; 42and 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.

43That 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 far and wide.

Providing for Worship in the Temple

44At that time men were put in charge of the storerooms where contributions for the Temple were kept, including the tithes and the first corn 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, 45because 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. 46From the time of King David and the musician Asaph long ago, the musicians have led songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. 47In 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.

Nehemiah 12GNBOpen in Bible reader

Separation from Foreigners

1When 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. 2This 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. 3When the people of Israel heard this law read, they excluded all foreigners from the community.

Nehemiah's Reforms

4The priest Eliashib, who was in charge of the temple storerooms, had for a long time been on good terms with Tobiah. 5He allowed Tobiah to use a large room that was intended only for storing offerings of corn and incense, the equipment used in the Temple, the offerings for the priests, and the tithes of corn, wine, and olive oil given to the Levites, to the temple musicians, and to the temple guards. 6While this was going on, I was not in Jerusalem, because in the 32nd year that Artaxerxes was king of Babylon I had gone back to report to him. After some time I received his permission 7and returned to Jerusalem. There I was shocked to find that Eliashib had allowed Tobiah to use a room in the Temple. 8I was furious and threw out all Tobiah's belongings. 9I gave orders for the rooms to be ritually purified and for the temple equipment, grain offerings, and incense to be put back.

10I also learnt 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. 11I 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. 12Then all the people of Israel again started bringing to the temple storerooms their tithes of corn, wine, and olive oil. 13I 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 their fellow-workers.

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

15At that time I saw people in Judah pressing juice from grapes on the Sabbath. Others were loading corn, wine, grapes, figs, and other things on their donkeys and taking them into Jerusalem; I warned them not to sell anything on the Sabbath. 16Some 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. 17I reprimanded the Jewish leaders and said, “Look at the evil you're doing! You're making the Sabbath unholy. 18This 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.”

19So I gave orders for the city gates to be shut at the beginning of every Sabbath, as soon as evening 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. 20Once or twice merchants who sold all kinds of goods spent Friday night outside the city walls. 21I warned them, “It's no use waiting out there for morning to come. If you try this again, I'll use force against you.” From then on they did not come back on the Sabbath. 22I 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.

23At that time I also discovered that many of the Jewish men had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24Half their children spoke the language of Ashdod or some other language and didn't know how to speak our language. 25I 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. 26I said, “It was foreign women that made King Solomon sin. He was a man who was greater than any of the kings of other nations. God loved him and made him king over all Israel, and yet he fell into this sin. 27Are we then to follow your example and disobey our God by marrying foreign women?”

28Joiada 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.

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

30I purified the people from everything foreign; I prepared regulations for the priests and the Levites so that each one would know his duty; 31I 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 corn and the first fruits that ripened.

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

Nehemiah 13GNBOpen in Bible reader
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