Nehemiah 13

1On that day, the Book of Moses was read out loud so all the people could hear. They found this law written in the Book of Moses: No Ammonite person and no Moabite person would be permitted to join in the meetings with God. 2That law was written because those people didn’t give the people of Israel food and water. And those people had paid Balaam to say a curse against the people of Israel. But our God changed that curse and made it a blessing for us. 3So when the people of Israel heard that law, they obeyed it. They separated themselves from the people that were descendants of foreigners. 4- 5But, before that happened, Eliashib had given a room in the temple to Tobiah. Eliashib was the priest in charge of the storerooms in God’s temple. And Eliashib was a close friend of Tobiah. That room had been used for storing the grain offerings, incense, and the temple dishes and things. They also kept the tenth of grain, new wine, and oil for the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers in that room. And they also kept the gifts for the priests in that room. But Eliashib gave that room to Tobiah. 6I was not in Jerusalem while all of this was happening. I had gone back to the king of Babylon. I went back to Babylon in the 32nd year that Artaxerxes was king of Babylon. Later, I asked the king for permission to go back to Jerusalem. 7So I came back to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem I heard about the sad thing that Eliashib had done. Eliashib had given Tobiah a room in the temple of our God! 8I was very angry about what Eliashib had done. So I threw all of Tobiah’s things out of the room. 9I gave commands for those rooms to be made pure and clean. Then I put the temple dishes and things, the grain offerings, and the incense back into those rooms. 10I also heard that the people had not given the Levites their share. So the Levites and singers had gone back to work in their own fields. 11So I told the officials that they were wrong. I asked them, “Why didn’t you take care of God’s temple?” Then I called all Levites together. I told them to go back to their places and duties in the temple. 12Then, everyone in Judah brought their tenth of grain, new wine, and oil to the temple. Those things were put into the storerooms. 13I put these men in charge of the storerooms: Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the teacher, and a Levite named Pedaiah. And I made Hanan son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, their helper. I knew I could trust these men. They were responsible for giving the supplies to their relatives. 14God, please remember me for these things I have done. And don’t forget all I have faithfully done for the temple of my God and for its services. 15In those days in Judah, I saw people working on the Sabbath day. I saw people pressing grapes to make wine. I saw people bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys. I saw people carrying grapes, figs, and all kinds of things in the city. They were bringing all these things into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So I warned them about this. I told them they must not sell food on the Sabbath day. 16There were some men from the city of Tyre living in Jerusalem. Those men were bringing fish and all kinds of things into Jerusalem and selling them on the Sabbath day. And the Jews were buying those things. 17I told the important people of Judah that they were wrong. I said to those important people, “You are doing a very bad thing. You are ruining the Sabbath. You are making the Sabbath day like it was any other day. 18You know that your ancestors did the same things. That is why our God brought all the troubles and disaster to us and to this city. Now you people are making it so more of these bad things will happen to Israel. Why? Because you are ruining the Sabbath day and making it like it is not an important day.” 19So, this is what I did: Every Friday evening, just before dark, I commanded the gatekeepers to shut and lock the gates to Jerusalem. They were not to be opened until the Sabbath day was over. I put some of my own men at the gates. Those men were commanded to make sure that no load was brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. 20One or two times businessmen and merchants had to stay the night outside Jerusalem. 21But I warned those businessmen and merchants. I said to them, “Don’t stay the night in front of the wall. If you do that again, I will arrest you.” So from that time on they didn’t come on the Sabbath day to sell their things. 22Then I commanded the Levites to make themselves pure. After they did that, they were to go and guard the gates. This was done to make sure the Sabbath day was kept a holy day. God, please remember me for doing these things. Be kind to me and show me your great love! 23In those days I also noticed that some Jewish men had married women from the countries of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24And half of the children from those marriages didn’t know how to speak the Jewish language. Those children spoke the language of Ashdod, Ammon, or Moab. 25So I told those men that they were wrong. I said bad things to them. I hit some of those men, and I pulled out their hair. I forced them to make a promise in God’s name. I said to them, “You must not marry the daughters of those people. Don’t let the daughters of those foreign people marry your sons. And don’t let your daughters marry the sons of those foreign people. 26You know that marriages like this caused Solomon to sin. In all the many nations, there was not a king as great as Solomon. God loved Solomon. And God made Solomon king over the whole nation of Israel. But even Solomon was made to sin because of foreign women. 27And now, we hear that you also are doing this terrible sin. You are not being true to God. You are marrying foreign women.” 28Joiada was the son of Eliashib the high priest. One of Joiada’s sons was a son-in-law of Sanballat from Horon. I forced that man to leave this place. I forced him to run away. 29My God, punish those people. They made the priesthood unclean. They treated it like it was not important. They did not obey the agreement that you made with the priests and Levites. 30So I made the priests and Levites clean and pure. I took away all the foreigners and the strange things they taught. And I gave the Levites and priests their own duties and responsibilities. 31And I made sure that people will bring gifts of wood and firstfruits at the right times. My God, remember me for doing these good things.

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