Further Reforms by Nehemiah
1 On that day the book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing1 of the people. They found2 written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite may ever enter the assembly of God, 2 for they had not met the Israelites with food3 and water, but instead had hired Balaam to curse them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into blessing.) 3 When they heard the law, they removed from Israel all who were of mixed ancestry.
4 But prior to this time, Eliashib the priest, a relative of Tobiah, had been appointed over the storerooms4 of the temple of our God. 5 He made for himself a large storeroom where previously they had been keeping5 the grain offering, the incense, and the vessels, along with the tithes of the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil as commanded for the Levites, the singers, the gate keepers, and the offering for the priests.
6 During all this time I was not in Jerusalem,6 for in the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes of Babylon, I had gone back to the king. After some time7 I had requested leave of the king, 7 and I returned to Jerusalem. Then I discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah by supplying him with a storeroom in the courts of the temple of God. 8 I was very upset, and I threw all of Tobiah’s household possessions out of the storeroom. 9 Then I gave instructions that the storerooms should be purified, and I brought back the equipment8 of the temple of God, along with the grain offering and the incense.
10 I also discovered that the grain offerings for the Levites had not been provided, and that as a result the Levites and the singers who performed this work had all gone off to their fields. 11 So I registered a complaint with the leaders, asking “Why is the temple of God neglected?” Then I gathered them and reassigned them to their positions.9
12 Then all of Judah brought the tithe of the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil to the storerooms. 13 I gave instructions10 that Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and a certain Levite named Pedaiah be put in charge of11 the storerooms, and that Hanan son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah, be their assistant,12 for they were regarded as trustworthy. It was then their responsibility to oversee the distribution to their colleagues.13
14 Please remember me for this, O my God, and do not wipe out the kindness that I have done for the temple of my God and for its services!
15 In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath, bringing in heaps of grain and loading them onto donkeys, along with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of loads, and bringing them to Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So I warned them on the day that they sold these provisions. 16 The people from Tyre14 who lived there were bringing fish and all kinds of merchandise and were selling it on the Sabbath to the people of Judah – and in Jerusalem, of all places!15 17 So I registered a complaint with the nobles of Judah, saying to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day? 18 Isn’t this the way your ancestors16 acted, causing our God to bring on them and on this city all this misfortune? And now you are causing even more wrath on Israel, profaning the Sabbath like this!”
19 When the evening shadows17 began to fall on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered18 the doors to be closed. I further directed that they were not to be opened until after the Sabbath. I positioned19 some of my young men at the gates so that no load could enter on the Sabbath day. 20 The traders and sellers of all kinds of merchandise spent the night outside Jerusalem once or twice. 21 But I warned them and said,20 “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you repeat this, I will forcibly remove you!”21 From that time on they did not show up on the Sabbath.22 22 Then I directed the Levites to purify themselves and come and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy.
For this please remember me, O my God, and have pity on me in keeping with your great love.
23 Also in those days I saw the men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod (or the language of one of the other peoples mentioned23) and were unable to speak the language of Judah. 25 So I entered a complaint with them. I called down a curse on them, and I struck some of the men and pulled out their hair. I had them swear by God saying, “You will not marry off24 your daughters to their sons, and you will not take any of their daughters as wives for your sons or for yourselves! 26 Was it not because of things like these that King Solomon of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made25 him king over all Israel. But the foreign wives made even him sin! 27 Should we then in your case hear that you do all this great evil, thereby being unfaithful to our God by marrying26 foreign wives?”
28 Now one of the sons of Joiada son of Eliashib the high priest was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite. So I banished him from my sight.
29 Please remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, the covenant of the priesthood,27 and the Levites.
30 So I purified them of everything foreign, and I assigned specific28 duties to the priests and the Levites. 31 I also provided for29 the wood offering at the appointed times and also for the first fruits.
Please remember me for good, O my God.