Israel Separates Itself
1On that day the book of Moses was read in the hearing of the people and it was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God 2because they did not come to meet the Israelites#Literally “sons/children of Israel” with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them in order to curse them—but our God changed the curse into a blessing. 3So it happened when they heard the law#Hebrew torah that they separated all of the foreign people from Israel.
Nehemiah Brings Reform
4Before this, Eliashib the priest who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God—the one related to Tobiah— 5prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where they had formerly put the grain offering, the frankincense, the temple objects, tithes of grain, wine, and oil commanded for the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the offerings of the priests. 6During all of this, I was not in Jerusalem because in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I went to the king. At the end of some days I asked permission from the king to leave. 7So I came to Jerusalem. And I came to learn of the wrong that Eliashib had done for Tobiah by making him a room in the courtyard of the house of God. 8It was very displeasing for me, and I threw all of the objects from the house of Tobiah outside of the chamber. 9And I spoke in order, and they cleansed the chambers. Then I returned the objects of the house of God—the grain offering and the frankincense.
10And then I came to learn that the food of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, the doers of the work, had gone back each to his field. 11So I quarreled with the prefects, and I said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them and set them at their station. 12So all of Judah brought the tithe of grain, new wine, and olive oil into the storehouses. 13I appointed as treasurer over the storehouses Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, Pedaiah from the Levites, and as their hand Hanan son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, for they were considered faithful. The responsibility given to them was to distribute to their brothers. 14Remember me, my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my loyal acts which I have done in the house of my God and in his service.
Nehemiah Begins Sabbath Reforms
15In those days I saw in Judah people treading the wine press on the Sabbath, bringing in heaps of grain and loading them on donkeys along with wine, grapes and figs, and every kind of burden and bringing it all to Jerusalem on the day of the Sabbath. And I warned them at that time against selling food. 16Tyrian men who lived in Jerusalem brought fish and every kind of merchandise and sold it on the Sabbath to the descendants#Or “sons” of Judah and in Jerusalem. 17So I quarreled with the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the day of the Sabbath? 18Did not your ancestors#Or “fathers” do this also, and our God brought on us all of this disaster and on this city too? Now you are adding fierce wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath!”
19So when it became dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors be shut and said that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I appointed some of my young men over the gates to prevent any goods#Literally “burden” being brought in on the day of the Sabbath. 20So the merchants and the sellers of merchandise spent the night outside of Jerusalem once or twice. 21But I warned them and said to them, “Why are you spending the night opposite the wall? If you do it again, I will lay hands against you.” From that time on they did not come on the Sabbath. 22And then I told two Levites that they must purify themselves and come to guard the gates in order to consecrate the day of the Sabbath. Remember this also, my God, and take pity on me according to the greatness of your loyal love.
Mixed Marriages are Condemned
23Also in those days I saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24Half of their children spoke Ashdodite and could not speak Judean, but only the tongues of other nations. 25So I quarreled with them and cursed them and beat some of their men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath by God: “Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. 26Did not King Solomon of Israel sin in this way? And among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Yet the foreign women made even him sin. 27Should we listen to you all and do this great evil, acting unfaithfully against our God by marrying foreign women?”
28One from the sons of Jehoiada, son of the high priest Eliashib, who was the son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonote was there. I chased him away from me. 29Remember them, my God, because of their defilements of the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.
30So I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established responsibilities for the priests and Levites, each in his own work, 31a contribution of the wood offering at appointed times, and for the first fruits. Remember me, my God, for good.
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