Nehemiah 4–6 (Listen)

Opposition to the Work

Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves?Or Will they commit themselves to God?‘>1 Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.

So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

10 In Judah it was said,Hebrew Judah said‘>2 “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” 11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 12 At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.”The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain‘>3 13 So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

The Work Resumes

15 When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, 17 who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. 18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19 And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20 In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

21 So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. 22 I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23 So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.Or his weapon when drinking‘>4

Nehemiah Stops Oppression of the Poor

Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. For there were those who said, “With our sons and our daughters, we are many. So let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive.” There were also those who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.” And there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children are as their children. Yet we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.”

I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, “You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them and said to them, “We, as far as we are able, have bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!” They were silent and could not find a word to say. So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? 10 Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest. 11 Return to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the percentage of money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.” 12 Then they said, “We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised. 13 I also shook out the foldHebrew bosom‘>5 of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised.

Nehemiah’s Generosity

14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. 15 The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily rationCompare Vulgate; Hebrew took from them for food and wine after‘>6 forty shekelsA shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams‘>7 of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. 16 I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now what was prepared at my expenseOr prepared for me‘>8 for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.

Conspiracy Against Nehemiah

Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and GeshemHebrew Gashmu‘>9 also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God,Hebrew lacks O God‘>10 strengthen my hands.

10 Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.” 11 But I said, “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live?Or would go into the temple to save his life‘>11 I will not go in.” 12 And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me. 14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.

The Wall Is Finished

15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. 17 Moreover, in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18 For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah: and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as his wife. 19 Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to make me afraid.

Footnotes

[1] 4:2 Or Will they commit themselves to God?

[2] 4:10 Hebrew Judah said

[3] 4:12 The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain

[4] 4:23 Or his weapon when drinking

[5] 5:13 Hebrew bosom

[6] 5:15 Compare Vulgate; Hebrew took from them for food and wine after

[7] 5:15 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams

[8] 5:18 Or prepared for me

[9] 6:6 Hebrew Gashmu

[10] 6:9 Hebrew lacks O God

[11] 6:11 Or would go into the temple to save his life

(ESV)

New Testament:

Ephesians 4:1–16

Ephesians 4:1–16 (Listen)

Unity in the Body of Christ

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,


  “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
    and he gave gifts to men.”The Greek word anthropoi can refer to both men and women‘>1

(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?Or the lower parts of the earth?‘>2 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdsOr pastors‘>3 and teachers,Or the shepherd-teachers‘>4 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,Greek to a full-grown man‘>5 to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Footnotes

[1] 4:8 The Greek word anthropoi can refer to both men and women

[2] 4:9 Or the lower parts of the earth?

[3] 4:11 Or pastors

[4] 4:11 Or the shepherd-teachers

[5] 4:13 Greek to a full-grown man

(ESV)

Psalm:

Psalm 35

Psalm 35 (Listen)

Great Is the Lord

Of David.


35   Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me;
    fight against those who fight against me!
  Take hold of shield and buckler
    and rise for my help!
  Draw the spear and javelinOr and close the way‘>1
    against my pursuers!
  Say to my soul,
    “I am your salvation!”


  Let them be put to shame and dishonor
    who seek after my life!
  Let them be turned back and disappointed
    who devise evil against me!
  Let them be like chaff before the wind,
    with the angel of the LORD driving them away!
  Let their way be dark and slippery,
    with the angel of the LORD pursuing them!


  For without cause they hid their net for me;
    without cause they dug a pit for my life.The word pit is transposed from the preceding line; Hebrew For without cause they hid the pit of their net for me; without cause they dug for my life‘>2
  Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it!
  And let the net that he hid ensnare him;
    let him fall into it—to his destruction!


  Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD,
    exulting in his salvation.
10   All my bones shall say,
    “O LORD, who is like you,
  delivering the poor
    from him who is too strong for him,
    the poor and needy from him who robs him?”


11   MaliciousOr Violent‘>3 witnesses rise up;
    they ask me of things that I do not know.
12   They repay me evil for good;
    my soul is bereft.Hebrew it is bereavement to my soul‘>4
13   But I, when they were sick—
    I wore sackcloth;
    I afflicted myself with fasting;
  I prayed with head bowedOr my prayer shall turn back‘>5 on my chest.
14     I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother;
  as one who laments his mother,
    I bowed down in mourning.


15   But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered;
    they gathered together against me;
  wretches whom I did not know
    tore at me without ceasing;
16   like profane mockers at a feast,The meaning of the Hebrew phrase is uncertain‘>6
    they gnash at me with their teeth.


17   How long, O Lord, will you look on?
    Rescue me from their destruction,
    my precious life from the lions!
18   I will thank you in the great congregation;
    in the mighty throng I will praise you.


19   Let not those rejoice over me
    who are wrongfully my foes,
  and let not those wink the eye
    who hate me without cause.
20   For they do not speak peace,
    but against those who are quiet in the land
    they devise words of deceit.
21   They open wide their mouths against me;
    they say, “Aha, Aha!
    Our eyes have seen it!”


22   You have seen, O LORD; be not silent!
    O Lord, be not far from me!
23   Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication,
    for my cause, my God and my Lord!
24   Vindicate me, O LORD, my God,
    according to your righteousness,
    and let them not rejoice over me!
25   Let them not say in their hearts,
    “Aha, our heart’s desire!”
  Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”


26   Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether
    who rejoice at my calamity!
  Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor
    who magnify themselves against me!


27   Let those who delight in my righteousness
    shout for joy and be glad
    and say evermore,
  “Great is the LORD,
    who delights in the welfare of his servant!”
28   Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
    and of your praise all the day long.

Footnotes

[1] 35:3 Or and close the way

[2] 35:7 The word pit is transposed from the preceding line; Hebrew For without cause they hid the pit of their net for me; without cause they dug for my life

[3] 35:11 Or Violent

[4] 35:12 Hebrew it is bereavement to my soul

[5] 35:13 Or my prayer shall turn back

[6] 35:16 The meaning of the Hebrew phrase is uncertain

(ESV)

Proverb:

Proverbs 21:4

Proverbs 21:4 (Listen)


  Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
    the lampOr the plowing‘>1 of the wicked, are sin.

Footnotes

[1] 21:4 Or the plowing

(ESV)

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