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Nehemiah 13

1 - On that day they read in the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and it was found written in it that an Ammonite and a Moabite should not enter into the assembly of God forever,

2 - because they didn't meet the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, to curse them; however our God turned the curse into a blessing.

3 - It came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated all the mixed multitude from Israel.

4 - Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the rooms of the house of our God, being allied to Tobiah,

5 - had prepared for him a great room, where before they laid the meal offerings, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of the grain, the new wine, and the oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, the singers, and the gatekeepers; and the wave offerings for the priests.

6 - But in all this, I was not at Jerusalem; for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I went to the king; and after some days I asked leave of the king,

7 - and I came to Jerusalem, and understood the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing him a room in the courts of God's house.

8 - It grieved me severely. Therefore I threw all Tobiah's household stuff out of the room.

9 - Then I commanded, and they cleansed the rooms. I brought into them the vessels of God's house, with the meal offerings and the frankincense again.

10 - I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them; so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had each fled to his field.

11 - Then I contended with the rulers, and said, "Why is God's house forsaken?" I gathered them together, and set them in their place.

12 - Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, the new wine, and the oil to the treasuries.

13 - 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 business was to distribute to their brothers.

14 - Remember me, my God, concerning this, and don't wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its observances.

15 - In those days saw I in Judah some men treading wine presses on the Sabbath, bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys; also with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; and I testified against them in the day in which they sold food.

16 - Some men of Tyre also lived there, who brought in fish and all kinds of wares, and sold on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

17 - Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, "What evil thing is this that you do, and profane the Sabbath day?

18 - Didn't your fathers do thus, and didn't our God bring all this evil on us, and on this city? Yet you bring more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath."

19 - It came to pass that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut, and commanded that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. I set some of my servants over the gates, so that no burden should be brought in on the Sabbath day.

20 - So the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares camped outside of Jerusalem once or twice.

21 - Then I testified against them, and said to them, "Why do you stay around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you." From that time on, they didn't come on the Sabbath.

22 - I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember to me, my God, this also, and spare me according to the greatness of your loving kindness.

23 - In those days I also saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab;

24 - and their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people.

25 - I contended with them, and cursed them, and struck certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, "You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons, or for yourselves.

26 - Didn't Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations was there no king like him, and he was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless foreign women caused even him to sin.

27 - Shall we then listen to you to do all this great evil, to trespass against our God in marrying foreign women?"

28 - 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.

29 - Remember them, my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood and of the Levites.

30 - Thus I cleansed them from all foreigners, and appointed duties for the priests and for the Levites, everyone in his work;

31 - and for the wood offering, at times appointed, and for the first fruits. Remember me, my God, for good.

Nehemiah Images and Notes

The Book of Nehemiah

Nehemiah 1:7-9 - The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and [certain] men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province [are] in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also [is] broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

Nehemiah 13:1-3 - 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: howbeit 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.

The Old Testament - A Brief Overview

Bible Survey - Nehemiah
Hebrew Name - Nechemiyah "Nehemiah"
Greek Name - Neemias (Greek form of the Hebrew)
Author - Nehemiah (Ezra and Nehemiah were treated as one book in Jewish Tradition)
Date - From 455-420 BC Approximately
Theme of Nehemiah - The rebuilding of Jerusalem
Types and Shadows - In Nehemiah Jesus is the one who led the captives out

ARCHAEOLOGY

Tomb of Cyrus the Great at Pasargadae

The Tomb of Cyrus at Pasargadae
"O man, whoever you are and wherever you come from, for I know that you will come--I am Cyrus, son of Cambyses, who founded the Empire of the Persians and was king of the East. Do not grudge me this spot of earth which covers my body." - Cyrus

This tomb of the great Persian ruler, Cyrus, was discovered in 1951 at the ruins of Pasargadae (south-central Iran). Over 2500 years old, the tomb is in decent condition, made of white limestone and stands a total of 36 feet high. The tomb itself is 18 feet high resting on a 6 level base, also 18 feet high. It was built like a Ziggurat with Ionian and Lydian features. There is a small entrance and double doors leading to a room with no windows which once contained the "golden sarcophagus" of Cyrus, it is now an empty shell. Five huge stones make up its roof, which was slanted (gabled) to shed heavy rains. These Nordic gables were the architectural style of lands far to the north. The inscription was seen and recorded by Plutarch in AD 90.


Summary of The Book of Nehemiah

In Jewish tradition the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are regarded as one book, and it appears that they were originally two books because of the identical material in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7. Nehemiah made his journey to Jerusalem in about 445 BC, and he was not a priest or a scribe like Ezra was but he was a governor with authority given to him by the Persian king Artaxerxes to rebuild the walls and the city of Jerusalem for the Jewish people. He was originally cupbearer for the king of Persia (Nehemiah 2:1). Nehemiah completed the task in 52 days despite all the opposition from the foreigners who it settled in the land of Judah during the captivity.

The book of Nehemiah shows how God fulfilled his words written by the prophets concerning the return of the people of Israel from 70 years of captivity, and returned again to the land of their inheritance. In order to accomplish his divine will he change the hearts of the great kings of the ancient world, Cyrus Darius and Artaxerxes of Persia. He also worked through leaders like Joshua Zerubbabel Haggai Zechariah Ezra and Nehemiah in order to rebuild the wall of the city of Jerusalem and reestablish the law of Moses. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah reveal to us the history of the Jews between 536 BC and 430 BC. The book of Nehemiah covers the period from 445 BC for the next 12 years.

Quick Reference Map
Map of Jerusalem Restored by Nehemiah
Map of Jerusalem Restored by Nehemiah (Click to Enlarge)

The contents of the two books may be analyzed as follows :

Outline of the Book of Nehemiah

1 ) Nehemiah's journey to Jerusalem, made possible by Artaxerxes, for the purpose of re-building the wall (Nehemiah 1-2).
2 ) A list of the builders and the repairing of the gate (Nehemiah 3).
3 ) The rebuilding of the wall in spite of op-position led by Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem (Nehemiah 4:1-7:4).
4 ) The register of those who returned with Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 7).
5 ) The public reading and exposition of the book of the Law (Nehemiah 8).
6 ) The national repentance and the covenant of obedience (Nehemiah 9:1-10 :39).
7 ) Lists of inhabitants (Nehemiah 11:1-12:26).
8 ) Dedication of the wall and organization of the temple services (Nehemiah 12:27-47).
9 ) Nehemiah's reforms of abuses connected with tithes, the sabbath and mixed marriages (Nehemiah 13).

In order to gain a complete picture of the history of this period, these two books should be examined also with the writings of the prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

Quick Reference Maps - Nehemiah

Jerusalem Rebuilt by Nehemiah - The book of Nehemiah records in the third chapter a description of the course of the walls, beginning on the northeast side of Jerusalem and moving counterclockwise. His intention was not to be too exhaustive in the details.

Nehemiah Maps

Zerubbabel and Ezra's Journey to Restore Jerusalem - Zerubbabel, of the house of David heeded the decree of Cyrus to allow the Jews to return and restore Jerusalem and later more Jews including Ezra and Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem.

The Persian Empire in the 6th Century BC - The great rulers of the Persian Empire during the 6th century BC were Cyrus the Great, Cambyses, and Darius I the Great.

The Persian Empire in the 5th Century BC - During the 5th centuries BC the Persian Empire expanded under various rulers: Darius I, Xerxes I (Ahasuerus), and Artaxerxes I.

The First Day. Light.

Nehemiah Resources

The Return From Babylon

More About the Book of Nehemiah
Nehemiah in the Picture Study Bible
Timeline of the Ancient World
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