1 ON THAT day they read in the Book of Moses in the audience of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God,
2 For they met not the Israelites with food and drink but hired Balaam to curse them; yet our God turned the curse into a blessing. [Num. 22:3-11; Deut. 23:5, 6.]
3 When [the Jews] heard the law, they separated from Israel all who were of foreign descent.
4 Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and was related [by marriage] to Tobiah [our adversary],
5 Prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where previously they had put the cereal offerings, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, new wine, and oil which were given by commandment to the Levites, the singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests.
6 But in all this time I was not at Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes [Persian] king of Babylon I went to the king. Then later I asked leave of him
7 And came to Jerusalem. Then I discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah in preparing him [an adversary] a chamber in the courts of the house of God!
8 And it grieved me exceedingly, and I threw all the house furnishings of Tobiah out of the chamber.
9 Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers; and I brought back there the vessels of the house of God, with the cereal offerings and the frankincense.
10 And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them, so that the Levites and the singers who did the work [forced by necessity] had each fled to his field.
11 Then I contended with the officials and said, Why is the house of God neglected and forsaken? I gathered the Levites and singers and set them in their stations.
12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, the new wine, and the oil to the storerooms.
13 I set treasurers over the storerooms: Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites; assisting them was Hanan son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah, for they were counted faithful, and their task was to distribute to their brethren.
14 O my God, [earnestly] remember me concerning this and wipe not out my good deeds and kindnesses done for the house of my God and for His service.
15 In those days I saw in Judah men treading winepresses on the Sabbath, bringing in sheaves or heaps of grain with which they loaded donkeys, as well as wine, grapes, figs, and all sorts of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I protested and warned them on the day they sold the produce.
16 There dwelt men of Tyre there also who brought fish and all kinds of wares and sold on the Sabbath to the people of Judah and in Jerusalem.
17 Then I reproved the nobles of Judah and said, What evil thing is this that you do–profaning the Sabbath day?
18 Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us and upon this city? Yet you bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath.
19 And when it began to get dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath [day began], I commanded that the gates should be shut and not be opened till after the Sabbath. And I set some of my servants at the gates to prevent any burden being brought in on the Sabbath day.
20 So the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice.
21 But I reproved and warned them, saying, Why do you lodge by the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you. Then they stopped coming on the Sabbath.
22 And I commanded the Levites to cleanse themselves and come and guard the gates to keep the Sabbath day holy. O my God, [earnestly] remember me concerning this also and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy and loving-kindness.
23 In those days also I saw Jews who had married wives from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab.
24 And their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak the Hebrew, but in the language of each people.
25 And I contended with them and reviled them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair and made them swear by God, saying, You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves.
26 Did not Solomon king of Israel act treacherously against God and miss the mark on account of such women? Among many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; yet strange women even caused him to sin [when he was old he turned treacherously away from the Lord to other gods, and God rent his kingdom from him]. [I Kings 11:1-11.]
27 Shall we then listen to you to do all this great evil and act treacherously against our God by marrying strange (heathen) women?
28 One of the sons of Joiada son of Eliashib the high priest was son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite; therefore I chased him from me.
29 O my God, [earnestly] remember them, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priests and Levites.
30 Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign (heathen), and I defined the duties of the priests and Levites, everyone in his work;
31 And I provided for the wood offering at appointed times, and for the firstfruits. O my God, [earnestly] remember me for good and imprint me [on Your heart]!