Page images
PDF
EPUB

appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks and went in procession, whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall toward the Dung Gate: and after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah. And at the Fountain Gate, which was over against them, they went up by the stairs of the city of David, at the going up of the wall, above the house of David, even unto the Water Gate eastward. And the other company of them that gave thanks went on the left hand, and I after them, and the half of the people upon the wall, above the Tower of the Furnaces even unto the broad wall; and above the Gate of Ephraim, and above the Old Gate, and above the Fish Gate, and the Tower of Hananeel, and the Tower of Meah, even unto the Sheep Gate: and they stood still in the Gate of the Guard.

So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me. And the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer. Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.

Nehemiah's Religious Reforms (Neh. xiii.). And before this,' Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chambers of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah: and he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meal offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil. But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king: and I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meal offering and the frankincense.

And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field. Then contended I with

1 before this. That is, before Nehemiah's return from the court, as mentioned in what follows.

the rulers, and said: "Why is the house of God forsaken ? " And I gathered them together, and set them in their place. Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries. And I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah : and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful, and their office was to distribute unto their brethren. Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof.

In those days saw I in Judah some treading winepresses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought unto Jerusalem on the sabbath day and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them: "What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath." And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day. So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice. Then I testified against them, and said unto them: "Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. "From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy.

In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: and their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language. And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying: "Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, not take their daughters unto your sons, or

for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did strange women cause to sin. Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?"

And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me. Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites.

On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever; because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: how beit our God turned the curse into a blessing. Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.

Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business; and for the wood offering, at times appointed, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.

The Mission of Ezra (Ezra vii. 1, 28; viii. 15–33). Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, went up from Babylon.

And I [Ezra] gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me. I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava; and there abode we in tents three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi. Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men; also for Joiarib, and for Elnathan, men of understanding. And I sent them with commandment unto Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia, and I told them what they should say unto Iddo, and to his brethren at the place Casiphia, that they should bring unto us ministers for the house of our God. And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel: Sherebiah, with his sons and

his brethren, eighteen; and Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brethren and their sons, twenty.

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying: "The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him." So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us.

Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests, and Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them, and weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his lords, and all Israel there present, had offered: I even weighed unto their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels an hundred talents, and of gold an hundred talents; also twenty basins of gold, of a thousand drams; and two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold. And I said unto them: "Ye are holy unto the Lord; the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the Lord God of your fathers. Watch ye, and keep them, until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the Lord."

So took the priests and the Levites the weight of the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem unto the house of our God. Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way. And we came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days.

:

Now on the fourth day was the silver and the gold and the vessels weighed in the house of our God by the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest.

The Reading of the Law (Neh. viii.). And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the Water Gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to

bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the Water Gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people (for he was above all the people); and when he opened it, all the people stood up and Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also the Levites caused the people to understand the law and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

:

And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha,' and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people: "This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them: "Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength." So the Levites stilled all the people, saying: "Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved." And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.

And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unt Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law. Ano they found written in the law which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: and that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying: "Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine

1 Tirshatha. Governor.

« PreviousContinue »