Nehemiah 4-6 Bible in Basic English

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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.

The Plots of the Adversaries

6 1  Now when word was given to Sanballat and Tobiah and to Geshem the Arabian and to the rest of our haters, that I had done the building of the wall and that there were no more broken places in it (though even then I had not put up the doors in the doorways); 2  Sanballat and Geshem sent to me saying, Come, let us have a meeting in one of the little towns in the lowland of Ono. But their purpose was to do me evil. 3  And I sent men to them saying, I am doing a great work, so that it is not possible for me to come down: is the work to be stopped while I go away from it and come down to you? 4  And four times they sent to me in this way, and I sent them the same answer. 5  Then Sanballat sent his servant to me a fifth time with an open letter in his hand; 6  And in it these words were recorded: It is said among the nations, and Geshem says so, that you and the Jews are hoping to make yourselves free from the king's authority; and that this is why you are building the wall: and they say that it is your purpose to be their king; 7  And that you have prophets preaching about you in Jerusalem, and saying, There is a king in Judah: now an account of these things will be sent to the king. So come now, and let us have a discussion. 8  Then I sent to him, saying, No such things as you say are being done, they are only a fiction you have made up yourself. 9  For they were hoping to put fear in us, saying, Their hands will become feeble and give up the work so that it may not get done. But now, O God, make my hands strong.

10  And I went to the house of Shemaiah, the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us have a meeting in the house of God, inside the Temple, and let the doors be shut: for they will come to put you to death; truly, in the night they will come to put you to death. 11  And I said, Am I the sort of man to go in flight? what man, in my position, would go into the Temple to keep himself safe? I will not go in. 12  Then it became clear to me that God had not sent him: he had given this word of a prophet against me himself: and Tobiah and Sanballat had given him money to do so. 13  For this reason they had given him money, in order that I might be overcome by fear and do what he said and do wrong, and so they would have reason to say evil about me and put shame on me. 14  Keep in mind, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat and what they did, and Noadiah, the woman prophet, and the rest of the prophets whose purpose was to put fear into me.

15  So the wall was complete on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16  And when our haters had news of this, all the nations round about us were full of fear and were greatly shamed, for they saw that this work had been done by our God. 17  And further, in those days the chiefs of Judah sent a number of letters to Tobiah, and his letters came to them. 18  For in Judah there were a number of people who had made an agreement by oath with him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah, the son of Arah; and his son Jehohanan had taken as his wife the daughter of Meshullam, the son of Berechiah. 19  And they said much before me of the good he had done, and gave him accounts of my words. And Tobiah sent letters with the purpose of causing me fear.

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