Nehemiah Stops Oppression of the Poor
5 Now there arose fa great outcry of the people and of their wives gagainst their Jewish brothers. 2 For there were those who said, “With our sons and our daughters, we are many. So let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive.” 3 There were also those who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.” 4 And there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for hthe king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. 5 Now iour flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children are as their children. Yet jwe are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.”
6 I was very angry when I heard ftheir outcry and these words. 7 I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, k“You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them 8 and said to them, “We, as far as we are able, lhave bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!” They were silent and could not find a word to say. 9 So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk min the fear of our God nto prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? 10 Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest. 11 Return to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the percentage of money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.” 12 Then they said, “We will restore these and orequire nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and pmade them swear qto do as they had promised. 13 rI also shook out the fold1 of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” sAnd all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.
14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from tthe twentieth year to uthe thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, vneither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. 15 The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration2 forty shekels3 of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, wbecause of the fear of God. 16 I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were xat my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 yNow what was prepared at my expense4 for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this vI did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 zRemember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.
Conspiracy Against Nehemiah
6 Now when aSanballat and Tobiah and bGeshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (calthough up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of dOno.” But they intended to do me harm. 3 And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” 4 And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. 5 In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem1 also says it, that you and ethe Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. 7 And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” 8 Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” 9 For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God,2 strengthen my hands.
10 Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was fconfined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.” 11 But I said, “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live?3 I will not go in.” 12 And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, gbut he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me. 14 hRemember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also ithe prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.
The Wall Is Finished
15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And jwhen all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, kfor they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. 17 Moreover, in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18 For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of lArah: and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of mMeshullam the son of Berechiah as his wife. 19 Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to make me afraid.
7 Now when the wall had been built nand I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, 2 I gave omy brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of pthe castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was qa more faithful and God-fearing man than many. 3 And I said to them, “Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot. And while they are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their guard posts and some in front of their own homes.” 4 The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few, and no houses had been rebuilt.
Lists of Returned Exiles
5 Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy. And I found the book of the genealogy of rthose who came up at the first, and I found written in it:
6 sThese were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried into exile. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his town. 7 They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, tAzariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah.
The number of the men of the people of Israel: 8 the sons of Parosh, 2,172. 9 The sons of Shephatiah, 372. 10 The sons of Arah, u652. 11 The sons of Pahath-moab, namely the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,818. 12 The sons of vElam, 1,254. 13 The sons of Zattu, 845. 14 The sons of Zaccai, 760. 15 The sons of wBinnui, 648. 16 The sons of Bebai, 628. 17 The sons of Azgad, 2,322. 18 The sons of Adonikam, 667. 19 The sons of Bigvai, 2,067. 20 The sons of Adin, 655. 21 The sons of Ater, namely of Hezekiah, 98. 22 The sons of Hashum, 328. 23 The sons of xBezai, 324. 24 The sons of Hariph, 112. 25 The sons of yGibeon, 95. 26 The men of Bethlehem and Netophah, 188. 27 The men of Anathoth, 128. 28 The men zof Beth-azmaveth, 42. 29 The men of aKiriath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, 743. 30 The men of Ramah and Geba, 621. 31 The men of Michmas, 122. 32 The men of Bethel and Ai, 123. 33 The men of the other Nebo, 52. 34 The sons of bthe other Elam, 1,254. 35 The sons of Harim, 320. 36 The sons of Jericho, 345. 37 The sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 721. 38 The sons of Senaah, 3,930.
43 The Levites: the sons of Jeshua, namely of Kadmiel of the sons of gHodevah, 74. 44 The singers: the sons of Asaph, 148. 45 The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, 138.
46 The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, 47 the sons of Keros, the sons of hSia, the sons of Padon, 48 the sons of Lebana, the sons of iHagaba, the sons of iShalmai, 49 the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, 50 the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, 51 the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, 52 the sons of Besai, the sons of Meunim, the sons of jNephushesim, 53 the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, 54 the sons of kBazlith, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, 55 the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Temah, 56 the sons of Neziah, the sons of Hatipha.
57 The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of lPerida, 58 the sons of Jaala, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, 59 the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth-hazzebaim, the sons of mAmon.
60 All the temple servants and the sons of Solomon’s servants were 392.
61 nThe following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, oAddon, and Immer, but they could not prove their fathers’ houses nor their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: 62 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 642. 63 Also, of the priests: the sons of Hobaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai (who had taken a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by their name). 64 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but it was not found there, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 65 pThe qgovernor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food until a priest with Urim and Thummim should arise.
Totals of People and Gifts
66 The whole assembly together was 42,360, 67 besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337. And they had 245 singers, male and female. 68 Their horses were 736, their mules 245,1 69 their camels 435, and their donkeys 6,720.
70 Now some of the heads of fathers’ houses gave to the work. The qgovernor gave to the treasury 1,000 darics2 of gold, 50 basins, 30 priests’ garments and 500 minas3 of silver.4 71 And some of the heads of fathers’ houses gave into the treasury of the work 20,000 darics of gold and 2,200 minas of silver. 72 rAnd what the rest of the people gave was 20,000 darics of gold, 2,000 minas of silver, and 67 priests’ garments.
73 So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, and all Israel, lived in their towns.
sAnd when the seventh month had come, the people of Israel were in their towns.
Ezra Reads the Law
8 And all the people gathered as one man into the square before tthe Water Gate. And they told uEzra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest vbrought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, won the first day of the seventh month. 3 xAnd he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. 4 And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, y“Amen, Amen,” zlifting up their hands. aAnd they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 7 bAlso Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites,1 chelped the people to understand the Law, dwhile the people remained in their places. 8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly,2 and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
This Day Is Holy
9 And Nehemiah, who was ethe governor, and Ezra fthe priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, g“This day is holy to the Lord your God; hdo not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and isend portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because jthey had understood the words that were declared to them.
Feast of Booths Celebrated
13 On the second day the heads of fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. 14 And they found it written in the Law that the Lord had commanded by Moses kthat the people of Israel should dwell in booths3 during the feast of the seventh month, 15 and that they should proclaim it and lpublish it in all their towns and min Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bring nbranches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.” 16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each oon his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at pthe Water Gate and in the square at qthe Gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day rthe people of Israel had not done so. And there was svery great rejoicing. 18 And day by day, from the first day to the last day, the read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and uon the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.
The People of Israel Confess Their Sin
9 Now on the twenty-fourth day of vthis month the people of Israel were assembled wwith fasting xand in sackcloth, yand with earth on their heads. 2 zAnd the Israelites1 separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. 3 aAnd they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God. 4 On the stairs of the Levites stood bJeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani; and they cried with a loud voice to the Lord their God. 5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. cBlessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.2
6 d“You are the Lord, you alone. eYou have made heaven, fthe heaven of heavens, gwith all their host, ethe earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; hand you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. 7 You are the Lord, the God iwho chose Abram and brought him out of jUr of the Chaldeans kand gave him the name Abraham. 8 lYou found his heart faithful before you, mand made with him the covenant to give to his offspring nthe land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. oAnd you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.
9 p“And you saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard qtheir cry at the Red Sea, 10 rand performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for you knew that sthey acted arrogantly against our fathers. And tyou made a name for yourself, as it is to this day. 11 uAnd you divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land, and you cast their pursuers into the depths, vas a stone into mighty waters. 12 By wa pillar of cloud you led them in the day, and by a pillar of fire in the night to light for them the way in which they should go. 13 xYou came down on Mount Sinai yand spoke with them from heaven and gave them zright rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments, 14 aand you made known to them your holy Sabbath and commanded them commandments and statutes and a law by Moses your servant. 15 bYou gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and cbrought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you dtold them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.
16 “But they and our fathers eacted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17 They refused to obey fand were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.3 But you are a God ready to forgive, ggracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. 18 Even hwhen they had made for themselves a golden4 calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ iand had committed great blasphemies, 19 you jin your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. kThe pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, knor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. 20 lYou gave your good Spirit to instruct them mand did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. 21 nForty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.
22 “And you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. oSo they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon pand the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You multiplied their children qas the stars of heaven, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess. 24 rSo the descendants went in and possessed the land, sand you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would. 25 And they captured tfortified cities and ua rich land, and took possession of vhouses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled wand became fat and delighted themselves in xyour great goodness.
26 y“Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you zand cast your law behind their back aand killed your prophets, who bhad warned them in order to turn them back to you, cand they committed great blasphemies. 27 dTherefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. eAnd in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them fsaviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. 28 gBut after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, hand many times you delivered them according to your mercies. 29 bAnd you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet ithey acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, jwhich if a person does them, he shall live by them, kand they turned a stubborn shoulder land stiffened their neck and would not obey. 30 Many years myou bore with them nand warned them oby your Spirit through your prophets. pYet they would not give ear. qTherefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless, rin your great mercies syou did not make an end of them or forsake them, tfor you are a gracious and merciful God.
32 “Now, therefore, our God, uthe great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, vsince the time of the kings of Assyria until this day. 33 wYet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully xand we have acted wickedly. 34 Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them. 35 Even in their own kingdom, yand amid your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and yrich land that you set before them, zthey did not serve you or turn from their wicked works. 36 Behold, awe are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. 37 bAnd its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress.5