Nehemiah 1-5 World English Bible

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Nehemiah's Prayer for Jerusalem

1 1  The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, 2  that Hanani, one of my brothers, came, he and certain men out of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3  They said to me, The remnant who are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and its gates are burned with fire. 4  It happened, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days; and I fasted and prayed before the God of heaven,

5  and said, I beg you, Yahweh, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with those who love him and keep his commandments: 6  Let your ear now be attentive, and your eyes open, that you may listen to the prayer of your servant, which I pray before you at this time, day and night, for the children of Israel your servants while I confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Yes, I and my father’s house have sinned: 7  we have dealt very corruptly against you, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances, which you commanded your servant Moses. 8  Remember, I beg you, the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, If you trespass, I will scatter you abroad among the peoples: 9  but if you return to me, and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts were in the uttermost part of the heavens, yet will I gather them from there, and will bring them to the place that I have chosen, to cause my name to dwell there. 10  Now these are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power, and by your strong hand. 11  Lord, I beg you, let your ear be attentive now to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants, who delight to fear your name; and please prosper your servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. Now I was cup bearer to the king.

Nehemiah Sent to Jerusalem

2 1  It happened 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 not been before sad in his presence. 2  The king said to me, Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid. 3  I said to the king, Let the king live forever: why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are consumed with fire? 4  Then the king said to me, For what do you make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5  I said to the king, If it please the king, and if your servant have found favor in your sight, that you would send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may build it. 6  The king said to me (the queen also sitting by him), For how long shall your journey be? and when will you return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. 7  Moreover I said to the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah; 8  and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the castle which appertains to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. The king granted me, according to the good hand of my God on me.

9  Then I came to the governors beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me captains of the army and horsemen. 10  When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly, because a man had come to seek the welfare 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  I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God put into my heart to do for Jerusalem; neither was there any animal with me, except the animal that I rode on. 13  I went out by night by the valley gate, even toward the jackal’s well, and to the dung gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and its gates were consumed with fire. 14  Then I went on to the spring gate and to the king’s pool: but there was no place for the animal that was under me to pass. 15  Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall; and I turned back, and entered by the valley gate, and so returned. 16  The rulers didn’t know where I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest who did the work. 17  Then said I to them, You see the evil case that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. 18  I told them of the hand of my God which was good on me, as also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. They said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for the good work. 19  But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they ridiculed us, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that you do? will you rebel against the king? 20  Then answered I them, and said to them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but you have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

The Sections Assigned for Repair

3 1  Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up its doors; even to the tower of Hammeah they sanctified it, to the tower of Hananel. 2  Next to him built the men of Jericho. Next to them built Zaccur the son of Imri. 3  The fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build; they laid its beams, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 4  Next to them repaired Meremoth the son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz. Next to them repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel. Next to them repaired Zadok the son of Baana. 5  Next to them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles didn’t put their necks to the work of their lord. 6  The old gate repaired Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah; they laid its beams, and set up its doors, and its bolts, and its bars. 7  Next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite, and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon, and of Mizpah, that appertained to the throne of the governor beyond the River. 8  Next to him repaired Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths. Next to him repaired Hananiah one of the perfumers, and they fortified Jerusalem even to the broad wall. 9  Next to them repaired Rephaiah the son of Hur, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem. 10  Next to them repaired Jedaiah the son of Harumaph, over against his house. Next to him repaired Hattush the son of Hashabneiah. 11  Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hasshub the son of Pahathmoab, repaired another portion, and the tower of the furnaces. 12  Next to him repaired Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, he and his daughters. 13  The valley gate repaired Hanun, and the inhabitants of Zanoah; they built it, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and one thousand cubits of the wall to the dung gate. 14  The dung gate repaired Malchijah the son of Rechab, the ruler of the district of Beth Haccherem; he built it, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 15  The spring gate repaired Shallun the son of Colhozeh, the ruler of the district of Mizpah; he built it, and covered it, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and the wall of the pool of Shelah by the king’s garden, even to the stairs that go down from the city of David. 16  After him repaired Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of half the district of Beth Zur, to the place over against the tombs of David, and to the pool that was made, and to the house of the mighty men. 17  After him repaired the Levites, Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him repaired Hashabiah, the ruler of half the district of Keilah, for his district. 18  After him repaired their brothers, Bavvai the son of Henadad, the ruler of half the district of Keilah. 19  Next to him repaired Ezer the son of Jeshua, the ruler of Mizpah, another portion, over against the ascent to the armory at the turning of the wall. 20  After him Baruch the son of Zabbai earnestly repaired another portion, from the turning of the wall to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21  After him repaired Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz another portion, from the door of the house of Eliashib even to the end of the house of Eliashib. 22  After him repaired the priests, the men of the Plain. 23  After them repaired Benjamin and Hasshub over against their house. After them repaired Azariah the son of Maaseiah the son of Ananiah beside his own house. 24  After him repaired Binnui the son of Henadad another portion, from the house of Azariah to the turning of the wall, and to the corner. 25  Palal the son of Uzai repaired over against the turning of the wall, and the tower that stands out from the upper house of the king, which is by the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh repaired. 26  (Now the Nethinim lived in Ophel, to the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that stands out.) 27  After him the Tekoites repaired another portion, over against the great tower that stands out, and to the wall of Ophel. 28  Above the horse gate repaired the priests, everyone over against his own house. 29  After them repaired Zadok the son of Immer over against his own house. After him repaired Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the east gate. 30  After him repaired Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, another portion. After him repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah over against his chamber. 31  After him repaired Malchijah one of the goldsmiths to the house of the Nethinim, and of the merchants, over against the gate of Hammiphkad, and to the ascent of the corner. 32  Between the ascent of the corner and the sheep gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.

The Workmen Guard against the Adversaries

4 1  But it happened that when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. 2  He spoke before his brothers and the army of Samaria, and said, What are these feeble Jews doing? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, seeing they are burned? 3  Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they are building, if a fox go up, he shall break down their stone wall. 4  Hear, our God; for we are despised: and turn back their reproach on their own head, and give them up for a spoil in a land of captivity; 5  and don’t cover their iniquity, and don’t let their sin be blotted out from before you; for they have provoked you to anger before the builders. 6  So we built the wall; and all the wall was joined together to half the height of it: for the people had a mind to work.

7  But it happened that when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabians, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem went forward, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very angry; 8  and they conspired all of them together to come and fight against Jerusalem, and to cause confusion therein. 9  But we made our prayer to our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. 10  Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. 11  Our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, until we come into the midst of them, and kill them, and cause the work to cease. 12  It happened that when the Jews who lived by them came, they said to us ten times from all places, You must return to us. 13  Therefore set I in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in the open places, I set there the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14  I looked, and rose up, and said to the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Don’t be afraid of them: remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. 15  It happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and God had brought their counsel to nothing, that we returned all of us to the wall, everyone to his work.

16  It happened from that time forth, that half of my servants worked in the work, and half of them held the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the coats of mail; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. 17  They all built the wall and those who bore burdens loaded themselves; everyone with one of his hands worked in the work, and with the other held his weapon; 18  and the builders, everyone had his sword girded by his side, and so built. He who sounded the trumpet was by me. 19  I said to the nobles, and to the rulers and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated on the wall, one far from another: 20  in whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally there to us; our God will fight for us. 21  So we worked in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning until the stars appeared. 22  Likewise at the same time said I to the people, Let everyone with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and may labor in the day. 23  So neither I, nor my brothers, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us put off our clothes, everyone went with his weapon to the water.

The Payment of Interest Abolished

5 1  Then there arose a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brothers the Jews. 2  For there were that said, We, our sons and our daughters, are many: let us get grain, that we may eat and live. 3  Some also there were that said, We are mortgaging our fields, and our vineyards, and our houses: let us get grain, because of the dearth. 4  There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king’s tribute on our fields and our vineyards. 5  Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children as their children: and behold, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought into bondage already: neither is it in our power to help it; for other men have our fields and our vineyards.

6  I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words. 7  Then I consulted with myself, and contended with the nobles and the rulers, and said to them, You exact usury, everyone of his brother. I held a great assembly against them. 8  I said to them, We after our ability have redeemed our brothers the Jews, that were sold to the nations; and would you even sell your brothers, and should they be sold to us? Then held they their peace, and found never a word. 9  Also I said, The thing that you do is not good: ought you not to walk in the fear of our God, because of the reproach of the nations our enemies? 10  I likewise, my brothers and my servants, do lend them money and grain. Please let us leave off this usury. 11  Please restore to them, even this day, their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the grain, the new wine, and the oil, that you exact of them. 12  Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do, even as you say. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they would do according to this promise. 13  Also I shook out my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that doesn’t perform this promise; even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. All the assembly said, Amen, and praised Yahweh. The people did according to this promise.

14  Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even to the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brothers have not eaten the bread of the governor. 15  But the former governors who were before me were supported by the people, and took bread and wine from them, besides forty shekels of silver; yes, even their servants ruled over the people: but I didn’t do so, because of the fear of God. 16  Yes, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any land: and all my servants were gathered there to the work. 17  Moreover there were at my table, of the Jews and the rulers, one hundred fifty men, besides those who came to us from among the nations that were around us. 18  Now that which was prepared for one day was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine: yet for all this I didn’t demand the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy on this people. 19  Remember to me, my God, for good, all that I have done for this people.

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