Nehemiah’s Final Reforms
13 On that day rthey read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people. And in it was found written sthat no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, 2 for they did not meet the people of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them—yet our God turned the curse into a blessing. 3 As soon as the people heard the law, tthey separated from Israel all uthose of foreign descent.
4 Now before this, vEliashib the priest, who wwas appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was related to xTobiah, 5 prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where they had previously put the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, ywhich were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests. 6 While this was taking place, I was not in Jerusalem, for zin the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes aking of Babylon I went to the king. And after some time I asked leave of the king 7 and came to Jerusalem, and I then discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, bpreparing for him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. 8 And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber. 9 Then I gave orders, and they ccleansed the chambers, and I brought back there the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.
10 I also found out that dthe portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each eto his field. 11 fSo I confronted the officials and said, g“Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their stations. 12 Then all Judah brought hthe tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. 13 And iI appointed as treasurers over the storehouses Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites, and as their assistant Hanan the son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, jfor they were considered reliable, and their duty was to distribute to their brothers. 14 kRemember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service.
15 In those days I saw in Judah people treading winepresses lon the Sabbath, and bringing in heaps of grain and loading them on donkeys, and also wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of loads, mwhich they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And nI warned them on the day when they sold food. 16 Tyrians also, who lived in the city, brought in fish and all kinds of goods and sold them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah, in Jerusalem itself! 17 oThen I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, pprofaning the Sabbath day? 18 qDid not your fathers act in this way, and did not our God bring all this disaster1 on us and on this city? Now you are bringing more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”
19 As soon as it rbegan to grow dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I stationed some of my servants at the gates, that no load might be brought in on the Sabbath day. 20 Then the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. 21 sBut I warned them and said to them, “Why do you lodge outside the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you.” From that time on they did not come on the Sabbath. 22 Then I commanded the Levites tthat they should purify themselves and come and guard the gates, to keep the Sabbath day holy. uRemember this also in my favor, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your steadfast love.
23 In those days also I saw the Jews vwho had married women wof Ashdod, xAmmon, and xMoab. 24 And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people. 25 oAnd I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. yAnd I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. 26 zDid not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? aAmong the many nations there was no king like him, and he was bbeloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin. 27 Shall we then listen to you and do all this great evil and cact treacherously against our God by marrying foreign women?”
28 And one of the sons of dJehoiada, the son of eEliashib the high priest, was the son-in-law of fSanballat the Horonite. Therefore I chased him from me. 29 gRemember them, O my God, because they have desecrated the priesthood hand the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.
30 iThus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; 31 and I provided jfor the wood offering kat appointed times, and for the firstfruits.
lRemember me, O my God, for good.
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 ration1 forty shekels2 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 expense3 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.
1 The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.1
The Lord’s Love for Israel
2 a“I have loved you,” says the Lord. bBut you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau cJacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet dI have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. eI have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’” 5 fYour own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”
The Priests’ Polluted Offerings
6 g“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am ha father, where is my honor? And if I am ia master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. bBut you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ 7 jBy offering polluted food upon my altar. bBut you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that kthe Lord’s table may be despised. 8 lWhen you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. 9 And now mentreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, nwill he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. 10 oOh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, pand I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name qwill be2 great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name qwill be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that rthe Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, s‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. tYou bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has ua male in his flock, and vvows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For wI am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name xwill be feared among the nations.
The Lord Rebukes the Priests
2 “And now, yO priests, zthis command is for you. 2 aIf you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send bthe curse upon you and I will curse cyour blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. 3 Behold, dI will rebuke your offspring,3 and espread dung on your faces, the fdung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it.4 4 So shall you know that I have sent gthis command to you, that hmy covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. 5 My covenant with him was one of life and ipeace, and I gave them to him. jIt was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. 6 kTrue instruction5 was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he lturned many from iniquity. 7 For mthe lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people6 should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 But you have turned aside from the way. nYou have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted othe covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, 9 and so pI make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but qshow partiality in your instruction.”
Judah Profaned the Covenant
10 Have we not all rone Father? Has not sone God created us? Why then are we tfaithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been tfaithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For uJudah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant7 of the man who does this, who vbrings an offering to the Lord of hosts!
13 And this second thing you do. wYou cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 xBut you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord ywas witness between you and the wife of your youth, zto whom tyou have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 aDid he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?8 And what was the one God9 seeking?10 bGodly offspring. So guard yourselves11 in your spirit, and let none of you be tfaithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For cthe man who does not love his wife but divorces her,12 says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers13 his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and tdo not be faithless.”
The Messenger of the Lord
17 dYou have wearied the Lord with your words. xBut you say, “How have we wearied him?” eBy saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, f“Where is the God of justice?”
3 g“Behold, I send hmy messenger, and ihe will prepare the way before me. And the Lord jwhom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and kthe messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But lwho can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For mhe is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit nas a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring oofferings in righteousness to the Lord.14 4 pThen the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be qa swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those rwho oppress the hired worker in his wages, sthe widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
6 “For tI the Lord do not change; utherefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 vFrom the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. wReturn to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. xBut you say, ‘How shall we return?’ 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. xBut you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ yIn your tithes and contributions. 9 zYou are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 aBring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby bput me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open cthe windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke dthe devourer15 for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then eall nations will call you blessed, for you will be fa land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.
13 g“Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. hBut you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14 You have said, i‘It is vain to serve God. jWhat is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15 And now we call kthe arrogant blessed. kEvildoers not only prosper but lthey put God to the test and they escape.’”
The Book of Remembrance
16 Then those who feared the Lord mspoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and na book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. 17 “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, oin the day when I make up pmy treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you shall qsee the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.16
The Great Day of the Lord
4 “For behold, rthe day is coming, sburning like an oven, when tall the arrogant and tall evildoers uwill be stubble. The day that is coming ushall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you vwho fear my name, wthe sun xof righteousness shall rise ywith healing in its wings. You shall go out zleaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, aon the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.
5 d“Behold, I will send you eElijah the prophet fbefore the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will gturn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and hstrike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”18