Nehemiah 4-6 Revised Standard Version

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The Workmen Guard against the Adversaries

4 1  Now when Sanbal'lat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he ridiculed the Jews. 2  And he said in the presence of his brethren and of the army of Sama'ria, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore things? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?" 3  Tobi'ah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, "Yes, what they are building--if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall! 4  Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn back their taunt upon their own heads, and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. 5  Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from thy sight; for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders. 6  So we built the wall; and all the wall was joined together to half its height. For the people had a mind to work.

7  But when Sanbal'lat and Tobi'ah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ash'dodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry; 8  and they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. 9  And we prayed to our God, and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. 10  But Judah said, "The strength of the burden-bearers is failing, and there is much rubbish; we are not able to work on the wall." 11  And our enemies said, "They will not know or see till we come into the midst of them and kill them and stop the work." 12  When the Jews who lived by them came they said to us ten times, "From all the places where they live they will come up against us." 13  So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14  And I looked, and arose, and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes." 15  When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work.

16  From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail; and the leaders stood behind all the house of Judah, 17  who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were laden in such a way that each with one hand labored on the work and with the other held his weapon. 18  And each of the builders had his sword girded at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19  And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, "The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20  In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us." 21  So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn till the stars came out. 22  I also said to the people at that time, "Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day." 23  So neither I nor my brethren nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon in his hand.

The Payment of Interest Abolished

5 1  Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brethren. 2  For there were those who said, "With our sons and our daughters, we are many; 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 the king's tax upon our fields and our vineyards. 5  Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children are as their children; yet we 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 their outcry and these words. 7  I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, "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, have bought back our Jewish brethren who have been sold to the nations; but you even sell your brethren 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 in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? 10  Moreover I and my brethren and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us leave off this interest. 11  Return to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the hundredth of money, grain, wine, and oil which you have been exacting of them." 12  Then they said, "We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say." And I called the priests, and took an oath of them to do as they had promised. 13  I also shook out my lap and said, "So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not perform this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied." And 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 the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Ar-ta-xerx'es the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brethren ate the food allowance of the governor. 15  The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens upon the people, and took from them food and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. 16  I also held to the work on this wall, and acquired no land; and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17  Moreover there were at my table a hundred and fifty men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations which were about us. 18  Now that which was prepared for one day was one ox and six choice sheep; fowls likewise were prepared for me, and every ten days skins of wine in abundance; yet with all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the servitude was heavy upon this people. 19  Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.

The Plots of the Adversaries

6 1  Now when it was reported to Sanbal'lat and Tobi'ah and to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2  Sanbal'lat and Geshem sent to me, saying, "Come and let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono." 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 Sanbal'lat 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 Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall; and you wish to become their king, according to this report. 7  And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, 'There is a king in Judah.' And now it will be reported to the king according to these words. 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, strengthen thou my hands.

10  Now when I went into the house of Shemai'ah the son of Delai'ah, son of Mehet'abel, who was shut up, he said, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple; for they are coming to kill you, at night they are coming to kill you." 11  But I said, "Should such a man as I flee? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in." 12  And I understood, and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobi'ah and Sanbal'lat 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 an evil name, in order to taunt me. 14  Remember Tobi'ah and Sanbal'lat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess No-adi'ah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.

15  So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16  And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations round about us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem; for 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 Tobi'ah, and Tobi'ah's letters came to them. 18  For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecani'ah the son of Arah: and his son Jehoha'nan had taken the daughter of Meshul'lam the son of Berechi'ah as his wife. 19  Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence, and reported my words to him. And Tobi'ah sent letters to make me afraid.

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