Nehemiah 1-5 Bible in Basic English

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Nehemiah's Prayer for Jerusalem

1 1  The history of Nehemiah, the son of Hacaliah. Now it came about, in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, when I was in Shushan, the king's town, 2  That Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah; and in answer to my request for news of the Jews who had been prisoners and had got away, and of Jerusalem, 3  They said to me, The small band of Jews now living there in the land are in great trouble and shame: the wall of Jerusalem has been broken down, and its doorways burned with fire. 4  Then, after hearing these words, for some days I gave myself up to weeping and sorrow, seated on the earth; and taking no food I made prayer to the God of heaven,

5  And said, O Lord, the God of heaven, the great God, greatly to be feared, keeping faith and mercy with those who have love for him and are true to his laws: 6  Let your ear now take note and let your eyes be open, so that you may give ear to the prayer of your servant, which I make before you at this time, day and night, for the children of Israel, your servants, while I put before you the sins of the children of Israel, which we have done against you: truly, I and my father's people are sinners. 7  We have done great wrong against you, and have not kept the orders, the rules, and the decisions, which you gave to your servant Moses. 8  Keep in mind, O Lord, the order you gave your servant Moses, saying, If you do wrong I will send you wandering among the peoples: 9  But if you come back to me and keep my orders and do them, even if those of you who have been forced out are living in the farthest parts of heaven, I will get them from there, and take them back to the place marked out by me for the resting-place of my name. 10  Now these are your servants and your people, whom you have made yours by your great power and by your strong hand. 11  O Lord, let your ear take note of the prayer of your servant, and of the prayers of your servants, who take delight in worshipping your name: give help, O Lord, to your servant this day, and let him have mercy in the eyes of this man. (Now I was the king's wine-servant.)

Nehemiah Sent to Jerusalem

2 1  And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, when wine was before him, that I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never before been sad when the king was present. 2  And the king said to me, Why is your face sad, seeing that you are not ill? this is nothing but sorrow of heart. Then I was full of fear; 3  And said to the king, May the king be living for ever: is it not natural for my face to be sad, when the town, the place where the bodies of my fathers are at rest, has been made waste and its doorways burned with fire? 4  Then the king said to me, What is your desire? So I made prayer to the God of heaven. 5  And I said to the king, If it is the king's pleasure, and if your servant has your approval, send me to Judah, to the town where the bodies of my fathers are at rest, so that I may take in hand the building of it. 6  And the king said to me (the queen being seated by his side), How long will your journey take, and when will you come back? So the king was pleased to send me, and I gave him a fixed time. 7  Further, I said to the king, If it is the king's pleasure, let letters be given to me for the rulers across the river, so that they may let me go through till I come to Judah; 8  And a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king's park, so that he may give me wood to make boards for the doors of the tower of the house, and for the wall of the town, and for the house which is to be mine. And the king gave me this, for the hand of my God was on me.

9  Then I came to the rulers of the lands across the river and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent with me captains of the army and horsemen. 10  And Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, hearing of it, were greatly troubled because a man had come to the help of the children of Israel.

Nehemiah Encourages the People to Rebuild the Walls

11  So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12  And in the night I got up, taking with me a small band of men; I said nothing to any man of what God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem: and I had no beast with me but the one on which I was seated. 13  And I went out by night, through the doorway of the valley, and past the dragon's water-spring as far as the place where waste material was put, viewing the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down, and the doorways which had been burned with fire. 14  Then I went on to the door of the fountain and to the king's pool: but there was no room for my beast to get through. 15  Then in the night, I went up by the stream, viewing the wall; then turning back, I went in by the door in the valley, and so came back. 16  And the chiefs had no knowledge of where I had been or what I was doing; and I had not then said anything to the Jews or to the priests or the great ones or the chiefs or the rest of those who were doing the work. 17  Then I said to them, You see what a bad condition we are in; how Jerusalem is a waste, and its doorways burned with fire: come, let us get to work, building up the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no longer be put to shame. 18  Then I gave them an account of how the hand of my God was on me, helping me; and of the king's words which he had said to me. And they said, Let us get to work on the building. So they made their hands strong for the good work. 19  But Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, hearing of it, made sport of us, laughing at us and saying, What are you doing? will you go against the king? 20  Then answering them I said, The God of heaven, he will be our help; so we his servants will go on with our building: but you have no part or right or any name in Jerusalem.

The Sections Assigned for Repair

3 1  Then Eliashib, the chief priest, got up with his brothers the priests, and took in hand the building of the sheep doorway; they made it holy and put its doors in position; as far as the tower of Hammeah they made it holy, even to the tower of Hananel. 2  And by his side the men of Jericho were building. And after them, Zaccur, the son of Imri. 3  The sons of Hassenaah were the builders of the fish doorway; they put its boards in place and put up its doors, with their locks and rods. 4  By their side Meremoth, the son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, was making good the walls. Then Meshullam, the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel; and by him, Zadok, the son of Baana. 5  Near them, the Tekoites were at work; but their chiefs did not put their necks to the work of their Lord. 6  Joiada, the son of Paseah, and Meshullam, the son of Besodeiah, made good the old doorway; they put its boards in place and put up its doors, with their locks and rods. 7  By their side were working Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah from the seat of the ruler across the river. 8  Near them was working Uzziel, the son of Harhaiah, the gold-worker. And by him was Hananiah, one of the perfume-makers, building up Jerusalem as far as the wide wall. 9  Near them was working Rephaiah, the son of Hur, the ruler of half Jerusalem. 10  By his side was Jedaiah, the son of Harumaph, opposite his house. And by him was Hattush, the son of Hashabneiah. 11  Malchijah, the son of Harim, and Hasshub, the son of Pahath-moab, were working on another part, and the tower of the ovens. 12  Near them was Shallum, the son of Hallohesh, the ruler of half Jerusalem, with his daughters. 13  Hanun and the people of Zanoah were working on the doorway of the valley; they put it up and put up its doors, with their locks and rods, and a thousand cubits of wall as far as the doorway where the waste material was placed. 14  And Malchijah, the son of Rechab, the ruler of the division of Beth-haccherem, made good the doorway of the waste, building it up and putting up its doors, with their locks and rods. 15  And Shallun, the son of Col-hozeh, the ruler of the division of Mizpah, made good the doorway of the fountain, building it up and covering it and putting up its doors, with their locks and rods, with the wall of the pool of Shelah by the king's garden, as far as the steps which go down from the town of David. 16  By his side was working Nehemiah, the son of Azbuk, ruler of half the division of Beth-zur, as far as the place opposite the last resting-places of David's family, and the pool which was made and the house of the men of war. 17  Then came the Levites, Rehum, the son of Bani. By his side was working Hashabiah, ruler of half the division of Keilah, for his division. 18  After him were working their brothers, Bavvai, the son of Henadad, ruler of half the division of Keilah. 19  And by his side was working Ezer, the son of Jeshua, the ruler of Mizpah, making good another part opposite the way up to the store of arms at the turning of the wall. 20  After him Baruch, the son of Zabbai, was hard at work on another part, from the turning of the wall to the door of the house of Eliashib, the chief priest. 21  After him Meremoth, the son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, was working on another part, from the door of the house of Eliashib as far as the end of his house. 22  After him were working the priests, the men of the lowland. 23  After them came Benjamin and Hasshub, opposite their house. After them Azariah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made good the wall by the house where he himself was living. 24  After him Binnui, the son of Henadad, was working on another part, from the house of Azariah as far as the turning of the wall and the angle. 25  Palal, the son of Uzai, made good the wall opposite the angle and the tower which comes out from the higher part of the king's house, by the open space of the watch. After him was Pedaiah, the son of Parosh. 26  (Now the Nethinim were living in the Ophel, as far as the place facing the water doorway to the east, and the tower which comes out.) 27  After him the Tekoites were making good another part, opposite the great tower which comes out, and up to the wall of the Ophel. 28  Further on, past the horse doorway, the priests were at work, every one opposite his house. 29  After them Zadok, the son of Immer, was working opposite his house. And after him Shemaiah, the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the east door. 30  After him Hananiah, the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, were making good another part. After him Meshullam, the son of Berechiah, made good the wall opposite his room. 31  After him Malchijah, one of the gold-workers to the Nethinim and the traders, made good the wall opposite the doorway of Hammiphkad and as far as the way up to the angle. 32  And between the way up to the angle and the sheep door, the gold-workers and the traders made good the wall.

The Workmen Guard against the Adversaries

4 1  Now, Sanballat, hearing that we were building the wall, was very angry, and in his wrath made sport of the Jews. 2  And in the hearing of his countrymen and the army of Samaria he said, What are these feeble Jews doing? will they make themselves strong? will they make offerings? will they get the work done in a day? will they make the stones which have been burned come again out of the dust? 3  Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Such is their building that if a fox goes up it, their stone wall will be broken down. 4  Give ear, O our God, for we are looked down on: let their words of shame be turned back on themselves, and let them be given up to wasting in a land where they are prisoners: 5  Let not their wrongdoing be covered or their sin washed away from before you: for they have made you angry before the builders. 6  So we went on building the wall; and all the wall was joined together half-way up: for the people were working hard.

7  But when it came to the ears of Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabians and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites, that the building of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and the broken places were being made good, they were full of wrath; 8  And they made designs, all of them together, to come and make an attack on Jerusalem, causing trouble there. 9  But we made our prayer to God, and had men on watch against them day and night because of them. 10  And Judah said, The strength of the workmen is giving way, and there is much waste material; it is impossible for us to put up the wall. 11  And those who were against us said, Without their knowledge and without their seeing us, we will come among them and put them to death, causing the work to come to a stop. 12  And it came about that when the Jews who were living near them came, they said to us ten times, From all directions they are coming against us. 13  So in the lowest part of the space at the back of the walls, in the open places, I put the people by families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14  And after looking, I got up and said to the great ones and to the chiefs and to the rest of the people, Have no fear of them: keep in mind the Lord who is great and greatly to be feared, and take up arms for your brothers, your sons, and your daughters, your wives and your houses. 15  And when it came to the ears of those who were against us, that we had knowledge of their designs and that God had made their purpose come to nothing, we all went back to the wall, everyone to his work

16  And from that time, half of my servants were doing their part of the work, and half kept the spears and body-covers and the bows and the metal war-dresses; and the chiefs were at the back of the men of Judah. 17  Those who were building the wall and those who were moving material did their part, everyone working with one hand, with his spear in the other; 18  Every builder was working with his sword at his side. And by my side was a man for sounding the horn. 19  And I said to the great ones and the chiefs and the rest of the people, The work is great and widely spaced and we are far away from one another on the wall: 20  Wherever you may be when the horn is sounded, come here to us; our God will be fighting for us. 21  So we went on with the work: and half of them had spears in their hands from the dawn of the morning till the stars were seen. 22  And at the same time I said to the people, Let everyone with his servant come inside Jerusalem for the night, so that at night they may keep watch for us, and go on working by day. 23  So not one of us, I or my brothers or my servants or the watchmen who were with me, took off his clothing, everyone went armed to the water.

The Payment of Interest Abolished

5 1  Then there was a great outcry from the people and their wives against their countrymen the Jews. 2  For there were some who said, We, our sons and our daughters, are a great number: let us get grain, so that we may have food for our needs. 3  And there were some who said, We are giving our fields and our vine-gardens and our houses for debt: let us get grain because we are in need. 4  And there were others who said, We have given up our fields and our vine-gardens to get money for the king's taxes. 5  But our flesh is the same as the flesh of our countrymen, and our children as their children: and now we are giving our sons and daughters into the hands of others, to be their servants, and some of our daughters are servants even now: and we have no power to put a stop to it; for other men have our fields and our vine-gardens.

6  And on hearing their outcry and what they said I was very angry. 7  And after turning it over in my mind, I made a protest to the chiefs and the rulers, and said to them, Every one of you is taking interest from his countryman. And I got together a great meeting of protest. 8  And I said to them, We have given whatever we were able to give, to make our brothers the Jews free, who were servants and prisoners of the nations: and would you now give up your brothers for a price, and are they to become our property? Then they said nothing, answering not a word. 9  And I said, What you are doing is not good: is it not the more necessary for you to go in the fear of our God, because of the shame which the nations may put on us? 10  Even I and my servants have been taking interest for the money and the grain we have let them have. So now, let us give up this thing. 11  Give back to them this very day their fields, their vine-gardens, their olive-gardens, and their houses, as well as a hundredth part of the money and the grain and the wine and the oil which you have taken from them. 12  Then they said, We will give them back, and take nothing for them; we will do as you say. Then I sent for the priests and made them take an oath that they would keep this agreement. 13  And shaking out the folds of my robe, I said, So may God send out from his house and his work every man who does not keep this agreement; even so let him be sent out and made as nothing. And all the meeting of the people said, So be it, and gave praise to the Lord. And the people did as they had said.

14  Now from the time when I was made ruler of the people in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year till the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, for twelve years, I and my servants have never taken the food which was the right of the ruler. 15  But earlier rulers who were before me made the people responsible for their upkeep, and took from them bread and wine at the rate of forty shekels of silver; and even their servants were lords over the people: but I did not do so, because of the fear of God. 16  And I kept on with the work of this wall, and we got no land for ourselves: and all my servants were helping with the work. 17  And more than this, a hundred and fifty of the Jews and the rulers were guests at my table, in addition to those who came to us from the nations round about us. 18  Now the food made ready for one day was one ox and six fat sheep, as well as fowls; and once in ten days a store of all sorts of wine: but all the same, I did not take the food to which the ruler had a right, because the people were crushed under a hard yoke. 19  Keep in mind, O my God, for my good, all I have done for this people.

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