Nehemiah Chapter 13 |
1At that time they read to the people from the Book of Moses, and it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite might ever enter the congregation of God, 2since they did not meet Israel with bread and water, and hired Balaam against them to curse them; but our God turned the curse into a blessing. 3When they heard the Teaching, they separated all the alien admixture from Israel.
4Earlier, the priest Eliashib, a relative of Tobiah, who had been appointed over the rooms in the House of our God, 5had assigned to him a large room where they used to store the meal offering, the frankincense, the equipment, the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, the dues of the Levites, singers and gatekeepers, and the gifts for the priests. 6During all this time, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes of Babylon, I went to the king, and only after a while did I ask leave of the king [to return]. 7When I arrived in Jerusalem, I learned of the outrage perpetrated by Eliashib on behalf of Tobiah in assigning him a room in the courts of the House of God. 8I was greatly displeased, and had all the household gear of Tobiah thrown out of the room; 9I gave orders to purify the rooms, and had the equipment of the House of God and the meal offering and the frankincense put back.
10I then discovered that the portions of the Levites had not been contributed, and that the Levites and the singers who performed the [temple] service had made off, each to his fields. 11I censured the prefects, saying, “How is it that the House of God has been neglected?” Then I recalled [the Levites] and installed them again in their posts; 12and all Judah brought the tithes of grain, wine, and oil into the treasuries. 13I put the treasuries in the charge of the priest Shelemiah, the scribe Zadok, and Pedaiah of the Levites; and assisting them was Hanan son of Zaccur son of Mattaniah—for they were regarded as trustworthy persons, and it was their duty to distribute the portions to their brothers.
14O my God, remember me favorably for this, and do not blot out the devotion I showed toward the House of my God and its attendants.
15At that time I saw men in Judah treading winepresses on the sabbath, and others bringing heaps of grain and loading them onto asses, also wine, grapes, figs, and all sorts of goods, and bringing them into Jerusalem on the sabbath. I admonished them there and then for selling provisions. 16Tyrians who lived there brought fish and all sorts of wares and sold them on the sabbath to the Judahites in Jerusalem. 17I censured the nobles of Judah, saying to them, “What evil thing is this that you are doing, profaning the sabbath day! 18This is just what your ancestors did, and for it God brought all this misfortune on this city; and now you give cause for further wrath against Israel by profaning the sabbath!”
19When shadows filled the gateways of Jerusalem at the approach of the sabbath, I gave orders that the doors be closed, and ordered them not to be opened until after the sabbath. I stationed some of my servants at the gates, so that no goods should enter on the sabbath.
20Once or twice the merchants and the vendors of all sorts of wares spent the night outside Jerusalem,
21but I warned them, saying, “What do you mean by spending the night alongside the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands upon you!” From then on they did not come on the sabbath.
22I gave orders to the Levites to purify themselves and come and guard the gates, to preserve the sanctity of the sabbath.
This too, O my God, remember to my credit, and spare me in accord with your abundant faithfulness.
23Also at that time, I saw that Jews had married Ashdodite, Ammonite, and Moabite women; 24a good number of their children spoke the language of Ashdod and the language of those various peoples, and did not know how to speak Judean. 25I censured them, cursed them, flogged them, tore out their hair, and adjured them by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters in marriage to their sons, or take any of their daughters for your sons or yourselves. 26It was just in such things that King Solomon of Israel sinned! Among the many nations there was not a king like him, and so well loved was he by his God that God made him king of all Israel, yet foreign wives caused even him to sin. 27How, then, can we acquiesce in your doing this great wrong, breaking faith with our God by marrying foreign women?” 28One of the sons of Joiada son of the high priest Eliashib was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; I drove him away from me.
29Remember to their discredit, O my God, how they polluted the priesthood, the covenant of the priests and Levites.
30I purged them of every foreign element, and arranged for the priests and the Levites to work each at his task by shifts,
31and for the wood offering [to be brought] at fixed times and for the first fruits.
O my God, remember it to my credit!