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it. Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.
And Judah said: "The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. And our adversaries have said: They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease." And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times over: "From all places they come up against us." Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, in the open places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked, and rose up, aud said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people: "Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses."
And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work. And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; 1 and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me. And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people : "The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another. In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us."
So we labored in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared. Likewise at the same time said I unto the people: "Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labor on the day." So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes.
1 habergeons. The word is hardly correct here, for the defensive armor of Nehemiah's followers could hardly have been coats of mail. It was probably made of tough leather,
Nehemiah's Social Reforms (Neh. v.). And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews. For there were that said: "We, our sons, and our daughters, are many let us get corn, that we may eat, and live." Some also there were that said: "We have mortgaged our fields, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth." There were also that said: "We have borrowed money for the king's tribute. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power to help it; for other men have our lands and vineyards."
And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words. Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them: "Ye exact usury, every one of his brother." And I set a great assembly against them. And I said unto them: "We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us?" Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer. Also I said: "It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies? I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, do lend them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury. Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them."
Then said they: "We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do as thou sayest." Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise. Also I shook my lap, and said: "So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied." And all the congregation said: "Amen," and praised the Lord. And the people did according to this promise.
Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, 1 two and thirtieth year. 433 B. C.
twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor. But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, at the rate of forty shekels of silver daily; yea, even their servants lorded it over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God. Yea, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any land: and all my servants were gathered thither unto the work. Moreover there were at my table an hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers, beside those that came unto us from among the heathen that are about us. Now that which was prepared for me daily was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine: yet for all this required not I the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy upon this people. Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.
Unsuccessful Plots against the Work (Neh. vi.; vii. 1–5; xi. 1, 2; Ezra iv. 11-16). Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein (though at that time I had not set up the doors in the gates); that Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying: "Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono." But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying: "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?" Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner. Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand; wherein was written: "It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king. And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together." Then I sent unto him, saying: "There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart." For they all would have made us afraid, saying: "Their hands shall be weakened from the
work, that it be not done." Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.
Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said: "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee.' And said: "Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am,' would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in." And lo, I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. Therefore was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me. My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.
So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul,2 in fifty and two days. And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.
Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters unto Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them. For there were many in Judah sworn unto him, because he was the son in law of Shechaniah the son of Arah; and his son Johanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. Also they reported his good deeds before me, and uttered my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.
This is a copy of the letter that they sent unto Artaxerxes the king:
"Thy servants the men on this side the River, and so forth. "Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and repaired the foundations. Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and it will endamage the
1 being as I am. That is, being a layman.
2 Elul, the sixth month, fell in August-September.
revenue of the kings. Now because we have maintenance from the king's palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king's dishonor, therefore have we sent and certified the king, that search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers, so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed. We certify the king that, if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the River.”
Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters were appointed, that I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many. And I said unto them: "Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar them: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one to be over against his house."
Now the city was large and great: but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded. And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people. And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities. And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.
Dedication of the Walls (Neh. xii. 27-32, 37-40, 42, 43). And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps. And the sons of Levi, the singers, gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi; also from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth: for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem. And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.
Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and