Nehemiah – Chapter 4

The Bible – Old Testament

Nehemiah

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Nehemiah

Chapter 4

1

When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem was progressing – for the gaps were beginning to be closed up – they became extremely angry.

2

Thereupon they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and thus to throw us into confusion.

3

We prayed to our God and posted a watch against them day and night for fear of what they might do.

4

Meanwhile the Judahites were saying: “Slackened is the bearers’ strength, there is no end to the rubbish; Never shall we be able the wall to rebuild.”

5

Our enemies thought, “Before they are aware of it or see us, we shall come into their midst, kill them, and put an end to the work.”

6

When the Jews who lived near them had come to us from one place after another, and had told us ten times over that they were about to attack us,

7

I stationed guards down below, behind the wall, near the exposed points, assigning them by family groups with their swords, their spears, and their bows.

8

I made an inspection, then addressed these words to the nobles, the magistrates, and the rest of the people: “Have no fear of them! Keep in mind the LORD, who is great and to be feared, and fight for your brethren, your sons and daughters, your wives and your homes.”

9

When our enemies became aware that we had been warned and that God had upset their plan, we all went back, each to his own task at the wall.

10

From that time on, however, only half my able men took a hand in the work, while the other half, armed with spears, bucklers, bows, and breastplates, stood guard behind the whole house of Judah

11

as they rebuilt the wall. The load carriers, too, were armed; each did his work with one hand and held a weapon with the other.

12

Every builder, while he worked, had his sword girt at his side. Also, a trumpeter stood beside me,

13

for I had said to the nobles, the magistrates, and the rest of the people: “Our work is scattered and extensive, and we are widely separated from one another along the wall;

14

wherever you hear the trumpet sound, join us there; our God will fight with us.”

15

Thus we went on with the work, half of the men with spears at the ready, from daybreak till the stars came out.

16

At the same time I told the people to spend the nights inside Jerusalem, each man with his own attendant, so that they might serve as a guard by night and a working force by day.

17

Neither I, nor my kinsmen, nor any of my attendants, nor any of the bodyguard that accompanied me took off his clothes; everyone kept his weapon at his right hand.

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Nehemiah – Chapter 3

The Bible – Old Testament

Nehemiah

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Nehemiah

Chapter 3

1

1 Eliashib the high priest and his priestly brethren took up the task of rebuilding the Sheep Gate. They timbered it and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, then continued the rebuilding to the Tower of Hananel.

2

At their side the men of Jericho were rebuilding, and next to them was Zaccur, son of Imri.

3

The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah; they timbered it and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

4

At their side Meremoth, son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz, carried out the work of repair; next to him was Meshullam, son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel; and next to him was Zadok, son of Baana.

5

Next to him the Tekoites carried out the work of repair; however, some of their outstanding men would not submit to the labor asked by their lords.

6

The New City Gate was repaired by Joiada, son of Paseah; and Meshullam, son of Besodeiah; they timbered it and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

7

At their side were Melatiah the Gibeonite, Jadon the Meronothite, and the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, who were under the jurisdiction of the governor of West-of-Euphrates.

8

2 Next to them the work of repair was carried out by Uzziel, son of Harhaiah, a member of the goldsmiths’ guild, and at his side was Hananiah, one of the perfumers’ guild. They restored Jerusalem as far as the wall of the public square.

9

Next to them the work of repair was carried out by Rephaiah, son of Hur, leader of half the district of Jerusalem,

10

and at his side was Jedaiah, son of Harumaph, who repaired opposite his own house. Next to him Hattush, son of Hashabneiah, carried out the work of repair.

11

The adjoining sector, as far as the Oven Tower, was repaired by Malchijah, son of Harim, and Hasshub, of Pahath-moab.

12

At their side the work of repair was carried out by Shallum, son of Hallohesh, leader of half the district of Jerusalem, by himself and his daughters.

13

The Valley Gate was repaired by Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah; they rebuilt it and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. They also repaired a thousand cubits of the wall up to the Dung Gate.

14

The Dung Gate was repaired by Malchijah, son of Rechab, leader of the district of Beth-haccherem; he rebuilt it and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

15

The Spring Gate was repaired by Shallum, son of Colhozeh, leader of the district of Mizpah; he rebuilt it, roofed it over, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. He also repaired the wall of the Aqueduct Pool near the king’s garden as far as the steps that lead down from the City of David.

16

After him, the work of repair was carried out by Nehemiah, son of Azbuk, leader of half the district of Beth-zur, to a place opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool and the barracks.

17

After him, the Levites carried out the work of repair: Rehum, son of Bani. Next to him, for his own district, was Hashabiah, leader of half the district of Keilah.

18

After him, their brethren carried out the work of repair: Binnui, son of Henadad, leader of half the district of Keilah;

19

next to him Ezer, son of Jeshua, leader of Mizpah, who repaired the adjoining sector, the Corner, opposite the ascent to the arsenal.

20

After him, Baruch, son of Zabbai, repaired the adjoining sector from the Corner to the entrance of the house of Eliashib, the high priest.

21

After him, Meremoth, son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz, repaired the adjoining sector from the entrance of Eliashib’s house to the end of the house.

22

After him, the work of repair was carried out by the priests, men of the surrounding country.

23

After them, Benjamin and Hasshub carried out the repair in front of their houses; after them, Azariah, son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah, made the repairs alongside his house.

24

After him, Binnui, son of Henadad, repaired the adjoining sector from the house of Azariah to the Corner (that is, to the Angle).

25

After him, Palal, son of Uzai, carried out the work of repair opposite the Corner and the tower projecting from the Upper Palace at the quarters of the guard. After him, Pedaiah, son of Parosh, carried out the work of repair

26

to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east, and the projecting tower.

27

After him, the Tekoites repaired the adjoining sector opposite the great projecting tower, to the wall of Ophel (the temple slaves were dwelling on Ophel).

28

Above the Horse Gate the priests carried out the work of repair, each before his own house.

29

After them Zadok, son of Immer, carried out the repair before his house, and after him the repair was carried out by Shemaiah, son of Shecaniah, keeper of the East Gate.

30

After him, Hananiah, son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired the adjoining sector; after them, Meshullam, son of Berechiah, repaired the place opposite his own lodging.

31

After him, Malchijah, a member of the goldsmiths’ guild, carried out the work of repair as far as the quarters of the temple slaves and the merchants, before the Gate of Inspection and as far as the upper chamber of the Angle.

32

Between the upper chamber of the Angle and the Sheep Gate, the goldsmiths and the merchants carried out the work of repair.

33

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, it roused his anger and he became very much incensed. He ridiculed the Jews,

34

saying in the presence of his brethren and the troops of Samaria: “What are these miserable Jews trying to do? Will they complete their restoration in a single day? Will they recover these stones, burnt as they are, from the heaps of dust?”

35

Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said: “It is a rubble heap they are building. Any fox that attacked it would breach their wall of stones!”

36

Take note, O our God, how we were mocked! Turn back their derision upon their own heads and let them be carried away to a land of captivity!

37

Hide not their crime and let not their sin be blotted out in your sight, for they insulted the builders to their face!

38

We, however, continued to build the wall, which was soon filled in and completed up to half its height. The people worked with a will.

1 [1-32] The construction work on the gates and walls of the city is described in counterclockwise direction, beginning and ending at the Sheep Gate (to the north of the temple). The exact sites of many of the topographical points mentioned are uncertain.

2 [8] Wall of the public square: that is, the section of wall bounding the place of assembly outside the Gate of Ephraim, or New City Gate; cf  Nehemiah 3:6;  8:16.

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Nehemiah – Chapter 2

The Bible – Old Testament

Nehemiah

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Nehemiah

Chapter 2

1

In the month Nisan of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when the wine was in my charge, I took some and offered it to the king. As I had never before been sad in his presence,

2

the king asked me, “Why do you look sad? If you are not sick, you must be sad at heart.” Though I was seized with great fear,

3

I answered the king: “May the king live forever! How could I not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been eaten out by fire?”

4

The king asked me, “What is it, then, that you wish?” I prayed to the God of heaven

5

and then answered the king: “If it please the king, and if your servant is deserving of your favor, send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves, to rebuild it.”

6

Then the king, and the queen seated beside him, asked me how long my journey would take and when I would return. I set a date that was acceptable to him, and the king agreed that I might go.

7

I asked the king further: “If it please the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of West-of-Euphrates, that they may afford me safe-conduct till I arrive in Judah;

8

also a letter for Asaph, the keeper of the royal park, that he may give me wood for timbering the gates of the temple-citadel and for the city wall and the house that I shall occupy.” The king granted my requests, for the favoring hand of my God was upon me.

9

Thus I proceeded to the governors of West-of-Euphrates and presented the king’s letters to them. The king also sent with me army officers and cavalry.

10

1 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite slave had heard of this, they were very much displeased that someone had come to seek the welfare of the Israelites.

11

When I had arrived in Jerusalem, I first rested there for three days.

12

Then I set out by night with only a few other men (for I had not told anyone what my God had inspired me to do for Jerusalem) and with no other animals but my own mount.

13

2 I rode out at night by the Valley Gate, passed by the Dragon Spring, and came to the Dung Gate, observing how the walls of Jerusalem lay in ruins and its gates had been eaten out by fire.

14

Then I passed over to the Spring Gate and to the King’s Pool. Since there was no room here for my mount to pass with me astride,

15

I continued on foot up the wadi by night, inspecting the wall all the while till I once more reached the Valley Gate, by which I went back in.

16

The magistrates knew nothing of where I had gone or what I was doing, for as yet I had disclosed nothing to the Jews, neither to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the magistrates, nor to the others who would be concerned about the matter.

17

Afterward I said to them: “You see the evil plight in which we stand: how Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been gutted by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no longer be an object of derision!”

18

Then I explained to them how the favoring hand of my God had rested upon me, and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us be up and building!” And they undertook the good work with vigor.

19

On hearing of this, Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite slave, and Geshem the Arab mocked us and ridiculed us. “What is this that you are about?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”

20

3 My answer to them was this: “It is the God of heaven who will grant us success. We, his servants, shall set about the rebuilding; but for you there is to be neither share nor claim nor memorial in Jerusalem.”

1 [10] Sanballat the Horonite: the governor of the province of Samaria [ Nehemiah 3:32(33,34)], apparently a native of one of the Beth-horons. A letter from the Jews living at Elephantine in southern Egypt, dated 408-407 B. C., mentions “Delayah and Shelemyah, the sons of Sanballat, the governor of Samaria.” Although his own name was Babylonian-Sin-uballit, i.e., “Sin (the moon god) has given life”-his two sons had names referring to Yahweh. Tobiah, the Ammonite slave: the governor of the province of Ammon in Transjordan. His honorary title, “servant” (in Hebrew, ebed), i.e., of the king, could also be understood as slave, and Nehemiah no doubt meant it in this derogatory sense. The Tobiads remained a powerful family even in Maccabean times ( 2 Macc 3:11). Sanballat and Tobiah, together with Geshem the Arab ( Nehemiah 2:19;  6:1, 2), who was probably in charge of Edom and the regions to the south and southeast of Judah, opposed the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls on political grounds; the city was the capital of a rival province.

2 [13-15] Nehemiah left Jerusalem by the Valley Gate near the northwestern end of the old City of David and went south down the Tyropoean Valley toward the Dragon Spring (or the En-rogel of  Joshua 15:7;  18:16;  2 Sam 17:17;  1 Kings 1:9 now known as Job’s Well) at the juncture of the Valley of Hinnom and the Kidron Valley; he then turned north at the Dung Gate (or the Potsherd Gate of  Jeremiah 19:2) at the southern end of the city and proceeded up the wadi, that is, the Kidron Valley, passing the Spring Gate (at the Spring of Gihon) and the King’s Pool (unidentified); finally he turned west and then south to his starting point.

3 [20] Neither share nor claim nor memorial: although Sanballat and Tobiah were Yahwist, Nehemiah would not let them participate in any of the rights of the religious community in Jerusalem.

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Nehemiah – Chapter 1

The Bible – Old Testament

Nehemiah

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Nehemiah

Chapter 1

1

The words of Nehemiah, the son of Hacaliah. 1 In the month Chislev of the twentieth year, I was in the citadel of Susa

2

when Hanani, one of my brothers, came with other men from Judah. I asked them about the Jews, the remnant preserved after the captivity, and about Jerusalem,

3

and they answered me: “The survivors of the captivity there in the province are in great distress and under reproach. Also, the wall of Jerusalem lies breached, and its gates have been gutted with fire.”

4

When I heard this report, I began to weep and continued mourning for several days; I fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

5

I prayed: “O LORD, God of heaven, great and awesome God, you who preserve your covenant of mercy toward those who love you and keep your commandments,

6

may your ear be attentive, and your eyes open, to heed the prayer which I, your servant, now offer in your presence day and night for your servants the Israelites, confessing the sins which we of Israel have committed against you, I and my father’s house included.

7

Grievously have we offended you, not keeping the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances which you committed to your servant Moses.

8

But remember, I pray, the promise which you gave through Moses, your servant, when you said: ‘Should you prove faithless, I will scatter you among the nations;

9

but should you return to me and carefully keep my commandments, even though your outcasts have been driven to the farthest corner of the world, I will gather them from there, and bring them back to the place which I have chosen as the dwelling place for my name.’

10

They are your servants, your people, whom you freed by your great might and your strong hand.

11

2 O Lord, may your ear be attentive to my prayer and that of all your willing servants who revere your name. Grant success to your servant this day, and let him find favor with this man”-for I was cupbearer to the king.

1 [1] The first mission of Nehemiah, from the twentieth year of Artaxerxes I, lasted from the spring ( Nehemiah 2:1) of 445 B. C. until 433 B. C. ( Nehemiah 5:14). It is recounted in  Nehemiah 1:1- 6:15;  12:27-43;  6:16- 7:5;  11:1-21 which may be read in that order.

2 [11] Cupbearer to the king: an important official in the royal household. Because Nehemiah could appear in the queen’s presence ( Nehemiah 2:6), it is commonly presumed that he was a eunuch; but this is not necessarily so.

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Nehemiah – Introduction

The Bible – Old Testament

Nehemiah

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Nehemiah

Introduction

Problems common to the combined Books Ezra-Nehemiah have been pointed out in the Introduction to the Book of Ezra. The achievements of the two men were complementary; each helped to make it possible for Judaism to maintain its identity during the difficult days of the Restoration. Nehemiah was the man of action who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem and introduced necessary administrative reforms. Ezra in turn was the great religious reformer who succeeded in establishing the Torah as the constitution of the returned community.

The biblical sources for Nehemiah’s life and work are the autobiographical portions scattered through the book. They are called the “Memoirs of Nehemiah,” and have been used more extensively and effectively by “the Chronicler” than the “Memoirs of Ezra.” No competent scholar questions the authenticity of Nehemiah’s memoirs. From these and other sources, the picture emerges of a man dedicated to the single purpose of the welfare of his people. Despite temperamental shortcomings, Nehemiah was a man of good practical sense combined with deep faith in God. In view of his selfless service to a community capable of severely testing any leader, we can be indulgent toward his numerous appeals to God to credit him with the work he had done. Nehemiah was a layman, and his generous dedication of talents to the service of God and of God’s people remains an example of undiminished force for laymen today.

The Book of Nehemiah is divided as follows:

I. The Deeds of Nehemiah ( Nehemiah 1:1- 7:72)

II. Promulgation of the Law ( Nehemiah 8:1- 13:31)

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

 

Ezra – Chapter 10

The Bible – Old Testament

Ezra

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ezra

Chapter 10

1

While Ezra prayed and acknowledged their guilt, weeping and prostrate before the house of God, a very large assembly of Israelites gathered about him, men, women, and children; and the people wept profusely.

2

Then Shecaniah, the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, made this appeal to Ezra: “We have indeed betrayed our God by taking as wives foreign women of the peoples of the land. Yet even now there remains a hope for Israel.

3

Let us therefore enter into a covenant before our God to dismiss all our foreign wives and the children born of them, in keeping with what you, my lord, advise, and those who fear the commandments of our God. Let the law be observed!

4

Rise, then, for this is your duty! We will stand by you, so have courage and take action!”

5

Ezra rose to his feet and demanded an oath from the chiefs of the priests, from the Levites and from all Israel that they would do as had been proposed; and they swore it.

6

1 Then Ezra retired from his place before the house of God and entered the chamber of Johanan, son of Eliashib, where he spent the night neither eating food nor drinking water, for he was in mourning over the betrayal by the exiles.

7

A proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem that all the exiles should gather together in Jerusalem,

8

and that whoever failed to appear within three days would, according to the judgment of the leaders and elders, suffer the confiscation of all his possessions, and himself be excluded from the assembly of the exiles.

9

2 All the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered together in Jerusalem within the three-day period: it was in the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month. All the people, standing in the open place before the house of God, were trembling both over the matter at hand and because it was raining.

10

Then Ezra, the priest, stood up and said to them: “Your unfaithfulness in taking foreign women as wives has added to Israel’s guilt.

11

But now, give praise to the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do his will: separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from these foreign women.”

12

In answer, the whole assembly cried out with a loud voice: “Yes, it is our duty to do as you say!

13

But the people are numerous and it is the rainy season, so that we cannot remain out-of-doors; besides, this is not a task that can be performed in a single day or even two, for those of us who have sinned in this regard are many.

14

Let our leaders represent the whole assembly; then let all those in our cities who have taken foreign women for wives appear at appointed times, accompanied by the elders and magistrates of each city in question, till we have turned away from us our God’s burning anger over this affair.”

15

Only Jonathan, son of Asahel, and Jahzeiah, son of Tikvah, were against this proposal, with Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supporting them.

16

3 The exiles did as agreed. Ezra appointed as his assistants men who were family heads, one for each family, all of them designated by name. They held sessions to examine the matter, beginning with the first day of the tenth month.

17

By the first day of the first month they had passed judgment on all the men who had taken foreign women for wives.

18

Among the priests, the following were found to have taken foreign women for wives: Of the sons of Jeshua, son of Jozadak, and his brethren: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah.

19

They pledged themselves to dismiss their wives, and as a guilt-offering for their guilt they gave a ram from the flock.

20

Of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah;

21

of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah;

22

of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.

23

Of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (also called Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah and Eliezer.

24

Of the singers: Eliashib and Zakkur; of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.

25

Among the other Israelites: Of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malchijah, and Benaiah;

26

of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah;

27

of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza;

28

of the sons of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai;

29

of the sons of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth;

30

of the sons of Pahath-moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh;

31

of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,

32

Benjamin, Malluch, Shemariah;

33

of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, Shimei;

34

of the sons of Begui: Maadai, Amram, Uel,

35

Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi,

36

Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,

37

Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasu;

38

of the sons of Binnui: Shimei,

39

Shelemiah, Nathan, and Adaiah;

40

of the sons of Zachai: Shashai, Sharai,

41

Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah,

42

Shallum, Amariah, Joseph;

43

of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, Benaiah.

44

4 All these had taken foreign wives; but they sent them away, both the women and their children.

1 [6] Johanan, son of Eliashib: actually, the grandson of Eliashib; the father of Johanan was Eliashib’s son Joiada ( Nehemiah 12:10-11,  22). Since Eliashib was high priest at the time of Nehemiah ( Nehemiah 3:1,  20-21;  13:4, 7) and Johanan, if not yet high priest, was at least old enough to have his own separate quarters (chamber) in the temple at the time of Ezra, it is practically certain that Nehemiah’s activity in Jerusalem must have preceded that of Ezra.

2 [9] Ninth month: Chislev (November-December), during the “early rains” in Palestine. Since the assembly took place in the open . . . all the people . . . were trembling . . . because it was raining.

3 [16-17] The work of the committee lasted three months, from the first day of the tenth month, Tebet (December-January), to the first day of the first month, Nisan (March-April), of the following Jewish year.

4 [44] The account of the problem of mixed marriages at the time of Ezra is continued in  Nehemiah 9:1-5; this may be read immediately after  Ezra 10:44 though the date given in  Nehemiah 9:1 fits more precisely after  Ezra 10:15; cf  Haggai 2:10-14.

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ezra – Chapter 9

The Bible – Old Testament

Ezra

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ezra

Chapter 9

1

When these matters had been concluded, the leaders approached me with this report: “Neither the Israelite laymen nor the priests nor the Levites have kept themselves aloof from the peoples of the land and their abominations (Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites);

2

for they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and thus they have desecrated the holy race with the peoples of the land. Furthermore, the leaders and rulers have taken a leading part in this apostasy!”

3

When I had heard this thing, I tore my cloak and my mantle, plucked hair from my head and beard, and sat there stupefied.

4

Around me gathered all who were in dread of the sentence of the God of Israel on this apostasy of the exiles, while I remained motionless until the evening sacrifice.

5

Then, at the time of the evening sacrifice, I rose in my wretchedness, and with cloak and mantle torn I fell on my knees, stretching out my hands to the LORD, my God.

6

I said: “My God, I am too ashamed and confounded to raise my face to you, O my God, for our wicked deeds are heaped up above our heads and our guilt reaches up to heaven.

7

1 From the time of our fathers even to this day great has been our guilt, and for our wicked deeds we have been delivered over, we and our kings and our priests, to the will of the kings of foreign lands, to the sword, to captivity, to pillage, and to disgrace, as is the case today.

8

“And now, but a short time ago, mercy came to us from the LORD, our God, who left us a remnant and gave us a stake in his holy place; thus our God has brightened our eyes and given us relief in our servitude.

9

For slaves we are, but in our servitude our God has not abandoned us; rather, he has turned the good will of the kings of Persia toward us. Thus he has given us new life to raise again the house of our God and restore its ruins, and has granted us a fence in Judah and Jerusalem.

10

But now, O our God, what can we say after all this? For we have abandoned your commandments,

11

which you gave through your servants the prophets: the land which you are entering to take as your possession is a land unclean with the filth of the peoples of the land, with the abominations with which they have filled it from one end to the other in their uncleanness.

12

Do not, then, give your daughters to their sons in marriage, and do not take their daughters for your sons. Never promote their peace and prosperity; thus you will grow strong, enjoy the produce of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your children forever.

13

“After all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and our great guilt-though you, our God, have made less of our sinfulness than it deserved and have allowed us to survive as we do – 

14

shall we again violate your commandments by intermarrying with these abominable peoples? Would you not become so angered with us as to destroy us without remnant or survivor?

15

O LORD, God of Israel, you are just; yet we have been spared, the remnant we are today. Here we are before you in our sins. Because of all this, we can no longer stand in your presence.”

1 [7] After this verse, the next part of the prayer attributed to Ezra is perhaps to be found in  Nehemiah 9:6-37, which may be read as leading up to  Ezra 9:8-15.

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ezra – Chapter 8

The Bible – Old Testament

Ezra

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ezra

Chapter 8

1

This is the list of the family heads who returned with me from Babylon during the reign of King Artaxerxes:

2

Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershon; of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel; of the sons of David, Hattush,

3

son of Shecaniah; of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah, and with him one hundred and fifty males were enrolled;

4

of the sons of Pahath-moab, Eliehoenai, son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred males;

5

of the sons of Zattu, Shecaniah, son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males;

6

of the sons of Adin, Ebed, son of Jonathan, and with him fifty males;

7

of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah, son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males;

8

of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah, son of Michael, and with him eighty males;

9

of the sons of Joab, Obadiah, son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males;

10

of the sons of Bani, Shelomith, son of Josiphiah, and with him one hundred and sixty males;

11

of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah, son of Bebai, and with him twenty-eight males;

12

of the sons of Azgad, Johanan, son of Hakkatan, and with him one hundred and ten males;

13

of the sons of Adonikam, younger sons, whose names were Eliphelet, Jeiel, and Shemaiah, and with them sixty males;

14

of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai, son of Zakkur, and with him seventy males.

15

1 I had them assemble by the river that flows toward Ahava, where we made camp for three days. There I perceived that both laymen and priests were present, but I could not discover a single Levite.

16

Therefore I sent Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, wise leaders,

17

with a command for Iddo, the leader in the place Casiphia, instructing them what to say to Iddo and his brethren, and to the temple slaves in Casiphia, in order to procure for us ministers for the house of our God.

18

They sent to us – for the favoring hand of our God was upon us – a well-instructed man, one of the sons of Mahli, son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah, with his sons and brethren, eighteen men.

19

They also sent us Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah, sons of Merari, and their brethren and their sons, twenty men.

20

Of the temple slaves (those whom David and the princes appointed to serve the Levites) there were two hundred and twenty. All these men were enrolled by name.

21

Then I proclaimed a fast, there by the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God to petition from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our possessions.

22

For I would have been ashamed to ask the king for troops and horsemen to protect us against enemies along the way, since we had said to the king, “The favoring hand of our God is upon all who seek him, but his mighty wrath is against all who forsake him.”

23

So we fasted, and prayed to our God for this, and our petition was granted.

24

Next I selected twelve of the priestly leaders along with Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren,

25

and I weighed out before them the silver and the gold and the utensils offered for the house of our God by the king, his counselors, his officials, and all the Israelites of that region.

26

I consigned it to them in these amounts: silver, six hundred and fifty talents; silver utensils, one hundred; gold, one hundred talents;

27

twenty golden bowls valued at a thousand darics; two vases of excellent polished bronze, as precious as gold.

28

I addressed them in these words: “You are consecrated to the LORD, and the utensils are also consecrated; the silver and the gold are a free-will offering to the LORD, the God of your fathers.

29

Keep good watch over them till you weigh them out in Jerusalem in the presence of the chief priests and Levites and the family leaders of Israel, in the chambers of the house of the LORD.”

30

The priests and the Levites then took over the silver, the gold, and the utensils that had been weighed out, to bring them to Jerusalem, to the house of our God.

31

We set out for Jerusalem from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month. The hand of our God remained upon us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way.

32

Thus we arrived in Jerusalem, where we first rested for three days.

33

On the fourth day, the silver, the gold, and the utensils were weighed out in the house of our God and consigned to the priest Meremoth, son of Uriah, who was assisted by Eleazar, son of Phinehas; they were assisted by the Levites Jozabad, son of Jeshua, and Noadiah, son of Binnui.

34

Everything was in order as to number and weight, and the total weight was registered. At that same time,

35

those who had returned from the captivity, the exiles, offered as holocausts to the God of Israel twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and twelve goats as sin-offerings: all these as a holocaust to the LORD.

36

2 Finally, the orders of the king were presented to the king’s satraps and to the governors in West-of-Euphrates, who gave their support to the people and to the house of God.

1 [15] Ahava: a town at an unidentified site in Babylonia. The river that flowed toward it was probably a branch or canal of the Euphrates.

2 [36] The story of Ezra’s mission is seemingly continued from this point by  Nehemiah 7:72b- 8:18 which may be read before  Ezra 9:1.

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ezra – Chapter 7

The Bible – Old Testament

Ezra

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ezra

Chapter 7

1

1 After these events, during the reign of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, Ezra, son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah,

2

son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub,

3

son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth,

4

son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki,

5

son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of the high priest Aaron – 

6

this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a scribe, well-versed in the law of Moses which was given by the LORD, the God of Israel. Because the hand of the LORD, his God, was upon him, the king granted him all that he requested.

7

Some of the Israelites and some priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, and temple slaves also came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.

8

Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month of that seventh year of the king.

9

On the first day of the first month he resolved on the journey up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he arrived at Jerusalem, for the favoring hand of his God was upon him.

10

Ezra had set his heart on the study and practice of the law of the LORD and on teaching statutes and ordinances in Israel.

11

This is a copy of the rescript which King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest-scribe, the scribe of the text of the LORD’S commandments and statutes for Israel:

12

“Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, scribe of the law of the God of heaven (then, after greetings):

13

I have issued this decree, that anyone in my kingdom belonging to the people of Israel, its priests or Levites, who is minded to go up to Jerusalem with you, may do so.

14

You are the envoy from the king and his seven counselors to supervise Judah and Jerusalem in respect of the law of your God which is in your possession,

15

and to bring with you the silver and gold which the king and his counselors have freely contributed to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem,

16

as well as all the silver and gold which you may receive throughout the province of Babylon, together with the free-will offerings which the people and priests freely contribute for the house of their God in Jerusalem.

17

You must take care, therefore, to use this money to buy bulls, rams, lambs, and the cereal offerings and libations proper to these, and to offer them on the altar of the house of your God in Jerusalem.

18

You and your brethren may do whatever seems best to you with the remainder of the silver and gold, conformably to the will of your God.

19

The utensils consigned to you for the service of the house of your God you are to deposit before the God of Jerusalem.

20

Whatever else you may be required to supply for the needs of the house of your God, you may draw from the royal treasury.

21

I, Artaxerxes the king, issue this decree to all the treasurers of West-of-Euphrates: Whatever Ezra the priest, scribe of the law of the God of heaven, requests of you, dispense to him accurately,

22

within these limits: silver, one hundred talents; wheat, one hundred kors; wine, one hundred baths; oil, one hundred baths; salt, without limit.

23

Let everything that is ordered by the God of heaven be carried out exactly for the house of the God of heaven, that wrath may not come upon the realm of the king and his sons.

24

We also inform you that it is not permitted to impose taxes, tributes, or tolls on any priest, Levite, singer, gatekeeper, temple slave, or any other servant of that house of God.

25

2 “As for you, Ezra, in accordance with the wisdom of your God which is in your possession, appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people in West-of-Euphrates, to all, that is, who know the laws of your God. Instruct those who do not know these laws.

26

Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king, let strict judgment be executed upon him, whether death, or corporal punishment, or a fine on his goods, or imprisonment.”

27

Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who thus disposed the mind of the king to glorify the house of the LORD in Jerusalem,

28

and who let me find favor with the king, with his counselors, and with all the most influential royal officials. I therefore took courage and, with the hand of the LORD, my God, upon me, I gathered together Israelite family heads to make the return journey with me.

1 [1-8] The date of Ezra’s journey to Palestine is not known with certainty. The seventh year of King Artaxerxes I would be 458 B.C., and the present order of the text suggests that date. The narratives of Ezra and Nehemiah make it seem to many, however, that the arrival of Nehemiah in 445 B.C. should precede that of Ezra. If so, Ezra may be thought to have come in 398 B.C., the seventh year of King Artaxerxes II. Others argue for the thirty-seventh year of Artaxerxes I, that is, 428 B.C.; this would suppose that the date given in the text has suffered in transmission.

2 [25] The wisdom of your God: the Mosaic law; cf  Ezra 7:6,  14.

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ezra – Chapter 6

The Bible – Old Testament

Ezra

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ezra

Chapter 6

1

Thereupon King Darius issued an order to search the archives in which the Babylonian records were stored away;

2

and in Ecbatana, the stronghold in the province of Media, a scroll was found containing the following text: “Memorandum.

3

In the first year of King Cyrus, King Cyrus issued a decree: The house of God in Jerusalem. The house is to be rebuilt as a place for offering sacrifices and bringing burnt offerings. Its height is to be sixty cubits and its width sixty cubits.

4

It shall have three courses of cut stone for each one of timber. The costs are to be borne by the royal palace.

5

Also, the gold and silver utensils of the house of God which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple of Jerusalem and brought to Babylon are to be sent back: to be returned to their place in the temple of Jerusalem and deposited in the house of God.

6

“Now, therefore, Tattenai, governor of West-of-Euphrates, and Shethar-bozenai, and you, their fellow officials in West-of-Euphrates, do not interfere in that place.

7

Let the governor and the elders of the Jews continue the work on that house of God; they are to rebuild it on its former site.

8

I also issue this decree concerning your dealing with these elders of the Jews in the rebuilding of that house of God: From the royal revenue, the taxes of West-of-Euphrates, let these men be repaid for their expenses, in full and without delay.

9

Whatever else is required – young bulls, rams, and lambs for holocausts to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the requirements of the priests who are in Jerusalem – is to be delivered to them day by day without fail,

10

that they may continue to offer sacrifices of pleasing odor to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons.

11

I also issue this decree: If any man violates this edict, a beam is to be taken from his house, and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it; and his house is to be reduced to rubble for this offense.

12

And may the God who causes his name to dwell there overthrow every king or people who may undertake to alter this or to destroy this house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have issued this decree; let it be carefully executed.”

13

Then Tattenai, the governor of West-of-Euphrates, and Shethar-bozenai, and their fellow officials carried out fully the instructions King Darius had sent them.

14

The elders of the Jews continued to make progress in the building, supported by the message of the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, son of Iddo. They finished the building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus and Darius (and of Artaxerxes, king of Persia).

15

They completed this house on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.

16

The Israelites – priests, Levites, and the other returned exiles – celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy.

17

For the dedication of this house of God, they offered one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, and four hundred lambs, together with twelve he-goats as a sin-offering for all Israel, in keeping with the number of the tribes of Israel.

18

Finally, they set up the priests in their classes and the Levites in their divisions for the service of God in Jerusalem, as is prescribed in the book of Moses.

19

The exiles kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.

20

The Levites, every one of whom had purified himself for the occasion, sacrificed the Passover for the rest of the exiles, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.

21

The Israelites who had returned from the exile partook of it together with all those who had separated themselves from the uncleanness of the peoples of the land to join them in seeking the LORD, the God of Israel.

22

1 They joyfully kept the feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days, for the LORD had filled them with joy by making the king of Assyria favorable to them, so that he gave them help in their work on the house of God, the God of Israel.

1 [22] Assyria: used here in a broad sense for the Persian Empire.

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ezra – Chapter 5

The Bible – Old Testament

Ezra

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ezra

Chapter 5

1

1 Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, son of Iddo, began to prophesy to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel.

2

Thereupon Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua, son of Jozadak, began again to build the house of God in Jerusalem, with the prophets of God giving them support.

3

At that time there came to them Tattenai, governor of West-of-Euphrates, and Shethar-bozenai, and their fellow officials, who asked of them: “Who issued the decree for you to build this house and raise this edifice?

4

What are the names of the men who are building this structure?”

5

But their God watched over the elders of the Jews so that they were not hindered, until a report could go to Darius and then a written order be sent back concerning this matter.

6

A copy of the letter sent to King Darius by Tattenai, governor of West-of-Euphrates, and Shethar-bozenai, and their fellow officials from West-of-Euphrates;

7

they sent him a report in which was written the following: “To King Darius, all good wishes!

8

Let it be known to the king that we have visited the province of Judah and the house of the great God: it is being rebuilt of cut stone and the walls are being reinforced with timber; the work is being carried on diligently and is making good progress under their hands.

9

We then questioned the elders, addressing to them the following words: ‘Who issued the decree for you to build this house and raise this edifice?’

10

We also asked them their names, to report them to you in a list of the men who are their leaders.

11

This was their answer to us: ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the house built here long years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished.

12

But because our fathers provoked the wrath of the God of heaven, he delivered them into the power of the Chaldean, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who destroyed this house and led the people captive to Babylon.

13

However, in the first year of Cyrus, king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree for the rebuilding of this house of God.

14

Moreover, the gold and silver utensils of the house of God which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and carried off to the temple in Babylon, King Cyrus ordered to be removed from the temple in Babylon and consigned to a certain Sheshbazzar, whom he named governor.

15

And he commanded him: Take these utensils and deposit them in the temple of Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its former site.

16

Then this same Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem. Since that time the building has been going on, and it is not yet completed.’

17

Now, if it please the king, let a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to discover whether a decree really was issued by King Cyrus for the rebuilding of this house of God in Jerusalem. And may the king’s pleasure in this matter be communicated to us.”

1 [1] The prophets Haggai and Zechariah: two of the Minor Prophets, whose books record their role in the encouragement of this work.

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ezra – Chapter 4

The Bible – Old Testament

Ezra

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Ezra

Chapter 4

1

When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel, \

2

they approached Zerubbabel and the family heads and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God just as you do, and we have sacrificed to him since the days of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, who had us brought here.”

3

But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the family heads of Israel answered them, “It is not your responsibility to build with us a house for our God, but we alone must build it for the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus of Persia has commanded us.”

4

Thereupon the people of the land set out to intimidate and dishearten the people of Judah so as to keep them from building.

5

1 They also suborned counselors to work against them and thwart their plans during the remaining years of Cyrus, king of Persia, and until the reign of Darius, king of Persia.

6

Also at the beginning of the reign of Ahashuerus they prepared a written accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

7

2 Again, in the time of Artaxerxes, Mithredath wrote in concert with Tabeel and the rest of his fellow officials to Artaxerxes, king of Persia. The document was written in Aramaic and was accompanied by a translation. (Aramaic:)

8

3 Then Rehum, the governor, and Shimshai, the scribe, wrote the following letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes:

9

“Rehum, the governor, Shimshai, the scribe, and their fellow judges, officials, and agents from among the Persian, Urukian, Babylonian, Susian (that is Elamite),

10

and the other peoples whom the great and illustrious Assurbanipal transported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in the province West-of-Euphrates, as follows. . . .”

11

This is a copy of the letter that they sent to him: “To King Artaxerxes, your servants, the men of West-of-Euphrates, as follows:

12

Let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have arrived at Jerusalem and are now rebuilding this rebellious and evil city. They are raising up its walls, and the foundations have already been laid.

13

Now let it be known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are raised up again, they will no longer pay taxes, tributes, or tolls; thus it can only result in harm to the throne.

14

Now, since we partake of the salt of the palace, we ought not simply to look on while the king is being dishonored. Therefore we have sent this message to inform you, O king,

15

so that inquiry may be made in the historical records of your fathers. In the historical records you can discover and verify that this city is a rebellious city which has proved fatal to kings and provinces, and that sedition has been fostered there since ancient times. For that reason this city was destroyed.

16

We inform you, O king, that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are raised up again, by that very fact you will no longer own any part of West-of-Euphrates.”

17

The king sent this answer: “To Rehum, the governor, Shimshai, the scribe, and their fellow officials living in Samaria and elsewhere in the province West-of-Euphrates, greetings and the following:

18

The communication which you sent us has been read plainly in my presence.

19

When at my command inquiry was made, it was verified that from ancient times this city has risen up against kings and that rebellion and sedition have been fostered there.

20

Powerful kings were once in Jerusalem who ruled over all West-of-Euphrates, and taxes, tributes, and tolls were paid to them.

21

Give orders, therefore, that will stop the work of these men. This city may not be rebuilt until a further decree has been issued by me.

22

Take care that you do not neglect this matter, lest the evil grow to the detriment of the throne.”

23

As soon as a copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter had been read before Rehum, the governor, Shimshai, the scribe, and their fellow officials, they went in all haste to the Jews in Jerusalem and stopped their work by force of arms.

24

4 Thus it was that the work on the house of God in Jerusalem was halted. This inaction lasted until the second year of the reign of Darius, king of Persia.

1 [5] Darius: Darius I (521-485 B.C.). The temple-building narrative continues in  Ezra 4:24. In between ( Ezra 4:6-23) is a series of notes about the opposition to the returned exiles voiced at the Persian court in the early fifth century B.C., after the temple had been reestablished.

2 [7] Aramaic: this word in the original text seems to be a note indicating a change of language from Hebrew to Aramaic, which in fact takes place here. The Aramaic section ends with  Ezra 6:18 but again in  Ezra 7:12-26 a royal letter is cited in Aramaic.

3 [8-23] The central question here is the rebuilding of the fortification walls of Jerusalem, not the building of the temple. The interruption of work on the city wall some time before 445 B.C. was the occasion for the coming of Nehemiah to Palestine ( Nehemiah 1:1-4;  2:1-5). Artaxerxes: Artaxerxes I (464-423 B.C.).

4 [24] The second year . . . of Darius: that is, 520 B.C.; it marks the beginning of the successful restoration of the temple, which was accomplished within the five years following ( Ezra 5:1- 6:18).

Index

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.