10 While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself to the ground before the temple of God, a very large crowd of Israelites – men, women, and children alike – gathered around him. The people wept loudly. 1 2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, from the descendants of Elam, 2 addressed Ezra:
“We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying 3 foreign women from the local peoples. 4 Nonetheless, there is still hope for Israel in this regard. 5 3 Therefore let us enact 6 a covenant with our God to send away all these women and their offspring, in keeping with your counsel, my lord, 7 and that of those who respect 8 the commandments of our God. And let it be done according to the law. 4 Get up, for this matter concerns you. We are with you, so be strong and act decisively!”
5 So Ezra got up and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take an oath to carry out this plan. 9 And they all took a solemn oath. 6 Then Ezra got up from in front of the temple of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he stayed 10 there, he did not eat food or drink water, for he was in mourning over the infidelity of the exiles.
7 A proclamation 11 was circulated 12 throughout Judah and Jerusalem 13 that all the exiles were to be assembled in Jerusalem. 8 Everyone who did not come within three days would thereby forfeit all his property, in keeping with the counsel of the officials and the elders. Furthermore, he himself would be excluded from the assembly of the exiles.
9 All the men of Judah and Benjamin were gathered in Jerusalem within the three days. (It was in the ninth month, on the twentieth day of that month.) All the people sat in the square at the temple of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the rains.
10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have behaved in an unfaithful manner by taking foreign wives! This has contributed to the guilt of Israel. 11 Now give praise to the Lord God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the local residents 14 and from these foreign wives.”
12 All the assembly replied in a loud voice: “We will do just as you have said! 15 13 However, the people are numerous and it is the rainy season. 16 We are unable to stand here outside. Furthermore, this business cannot be resolved in a day or two, for we have sinned greatly in this matter. 14 Let our leaders take steps 17 on behalf of all the assembly. Let all those in our towns who have married foreign women come at an appointed time, and with them the elders of each town and its judges, until the hot anger of our God is turned away from us in this matter.”
15 Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah were 18 against this, assisted by Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite. 16 So the exiles proceeded accordingly. Ezra the priest separated out 19 by name men who were leaders in their family groups. 20 They sat down to consider this matter on the first day of the tenth month, 17 and on the first day of the first month they finished considering all the men who had married foreign wives.
18 It was determined 21 that from the descendants of the priests, the following had taken foreign wives: from the descendants of Jeshua son of Jozadak, and his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah. 19 (They gave their word 22 to send away their wives; their guilt offering was a ram from the flock for their guilt.)
20 From the descendants of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah.
21 From the descendants of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah.
22 From the descendants of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.
23 From the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (also known as Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.
24 From the singers: Eliashib. From the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.
25 From the Israelites: from the descendants of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malkijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malkijah, and Benaiah.
26 From the descendants of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah.
27 From the descendants of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza.
28 From the descendants of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.
29 From the descendants of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth.
30 From the descendants of Pahath-Moab: Adna, Kelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh.
31 From 23 the descendants of Harim: Eliezer, Ishijah, Malkijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, 32 Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.
33 From the descendants of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.
34 From the descendants of Bani: 24 Maadai, Amram, Uel, 35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Keluhi, 36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, 37 Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasu.
38 From 25 the descendants of Binnui: Shimei, 39 Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, 40 Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, 41 Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, 42 Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.
43 From the descendants of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah.
44 All these had taken foreign wives, and some of them also had children by these women. 26
1 These are the words of Nehemiah 2 son of Hacaliah:
It so happened that in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year, 3 I was in Susa 4 the citadel. 2 Hanani, who was one of my relatives, 5 along with some of the men from Judah, came to me, 6 and I asked them about the Jews who had escaped and had survived the exile, and about Jerusalem. 7
3 They said to me, “The remnant that remains from the exile there in the province are experiencing considerable 8 adversity and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem lies breached, and its gates have been burned down!” 9
4 When I heard these things I sat down abruptly, 10 crying and mourning for several days. I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said, “Please, O LORD God of heaven, great and awesome God, who keeps his loving covenant 11 with those who love him and obey 12 his commandments, 6 may your ear be attentive and your eyes be open to hear the prayer of your servant that I am praying to you today throughout both day and night on behalf of your servants the Israelites. I am confessing the sins of the Israelites that we have committed 13 against you – both I myself and my family 14 have sinned. 7 We have behaved corruptly against you, not obeying the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments that you commanded your servant Moses. 8 Please recall the word you commanded your servant Moses: ‘If you act unfaithfully, I will scatter you among the nations. 15 9 But if you repent 16 and obey 17 my commandments and do them, then even if your dispersed people are in the most remote location, 18 I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen for my name to reside.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your mighty strength and by your powerful hand. 11 Please, 19 O Lord, listen attentively 20 to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who take pleasure in showing respect 21 to your name. Grant your servant success today and show compassion to me 22 in the presence of this man.”
Now 23 I was cupbearer for the king.
2 Then in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought to me, 1 I took the wine and gave it to the king. Previously 2 I had not been depressed 3 in the king’s presence. 4 2 So the king said to me, “Why do you appear to be depressed when you aren’t sick? What can this be other than sadness of heart?” This made me very fearful.
3 I replied to the king, “O king, live forever! Why would I not appear dejected when the city with the graves of my ancestors 5 lies desolate and its gates destroyed 6 by fire?” 4 The king responded, 7 “What is it you are seeking?” Then I quickly prayed to the God of heaven 5 and said to the king, “If the king is so inclined 8 and if your servant has found favor in your sight, dispatch me to Judah, to the city with the graves of my ancestors, so that I can rebuild it.” 6 Then the king, with his consort 9 sitting beside him, replied, “How long would your trip take, and when would you return?” Since the king was amenable to dispatching me, 10 I gave him a time. 7 I said to the king, “If the king is so inclined, let him give me letters for the governors of Trans-Euphrates 11 that will enable me to travel safely until I reach Judah, 8 and a letter for Asaph the keeper of the king’s nature preserve, 12 so that he will give me timber for beams for the gates of the fortress adjacent to the temple and for the city wall 13 and for the house to which I go.” So the king granted me these requests, 14 for the good hand of my God was on me. 9 Then I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, and I presented to them the letters from the king. The king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official 15 heard all this, they were very displeased that someone had come to seek benefit for the Israelites.
11 So I came to Jerusalem. 16 When I had been there for three days, 12 I got up during the night, along with a few men who were with me. But I did not tell anyone what my God was putting on my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no animals with me, except for the one 17 I was riding. 13 I proceeded through the Valley Gate by night, in the direction of the Well of the Dragons 18 and the Dung Gate, 19 inspecting 20 the walls of Jerusalem that had been breached and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 I passed on to the Gate of the Well and the King’s Pool, where there was not enough room for my animal to pass with me. 15 I continued up the valley during the night, inspecting the wall. Then I turned back and came to the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I had been doing, for up to this point I had not told any of the Jews or the priests or the nobles or the officials or the rest of the workers. 17 Then I said to them, “You see the problem that we have: Jerusalem is desolate and its gates are burned. Come on! Let’s rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that this reproach will not continue.” 18 Then I related to them how the good hand of my God was on me and what 21 the king had said to me. Then they replied, “Let’s begin rebuilding right away!” 22 So they readied themselves 23 for this good project. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard all this, 24 they derided us and expressed contempt toward us. They said, “What is this you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 I responded to them by saying, “The God of heaven will prosper us. We his servants will start the rebuilding. 25 But you have no just or ancient right in Jerusalem.” 26