September 28, Nehemiah 11-13; Psalm 126

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11 Now the leaders of the people stayed in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people cast lots for one out of ten to come and live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the other nine-tenths remained in their towns. The people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.

These are the heads of the province who stayed in Jerusalem (but in the villages of Judah each lived on his own property in their towns—the Israelites, priests, Levites, temple servants, and descendants of Solomon’s servants— while some of the descendants of Judah and Benjamin settled in Jerusalem):

Judah’s descendants:

Athaiah son of Uzziah, son of Zechariah, son of Amariah, son of Shephatiah, son of Mahalalel, of Perez’s descendants; and Maaseiah son of Baruch, son of Col-hozeh, son of Hazaiah, son of Adaiah, son of Joiarib, son of Zechariah, a descendant of the Shilonite. The total number of Perez’s descendants, who settled in Jerusalem, was 468 capable men.

These were Benjamin’s descendants:

Sallu son of Meshullam, son of Joed, son of Pedaiah, son of Kolaiah, son of Maaseiah, son of Ithiel, son of Jeshaiah, and after him Gabbai and Sallai: 928. Joel son of Zichri was the officer over them, and Judah son of Hassenuah was second in command over the city.

10 The priests:

Jedaiah son of Joiarib, Jachin, and 11 Seraiah son of Hilkiah, son of Meshullam, son of Zadok, son of Meraioth, son of Ahitub, the chief official of God’s temple, 12 and their relatives who did the work at the temple: 822. Adaiah son of Jeroham, son of Pelaliah, son of Amzi, son of Zechariah, son of Pashhur, son of Malchijah 13 and his relatives, the heads of families: 242. Amashsai son of Azarel, son of Ahzai, son of Meshillemoth, son of Immer, 14 and their relatives, capable men: 128. Zabdiel son of Haggedolim, was their chief.

15 The Levites:

Shemaiah son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, son of Bunni; 16 and Shabbethai and Jozabad, from the heads of the Levites, who supervised the work outside the house of God; 17 Mattaniah son of Mica, son of Zabdi, son of Asaph, the one who began the thanksgiving in prayer; Bakbukiah, second among his relatives; and Abda son of Shammua, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun. 18 All the Levites in the holy city: 284.

19 The gatekeepers:

Akkub, Talmon, and their relatives, who guarded the city gates: 172.

20 The rest of Israel, the priests, and the Levites were in all the villages of Judah, each on his own inherited property. 21 The temple servants lived on Ophel; Ziha and Gishpa supervised the temple servants.

22 The leader of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi son of Bani, son of Hashabiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Mica, of the descendants of Asaph, who were singers for the service of God’s house. 23 There was, in fact, a command of the king regarding them, and an ordinance regulating the singers’ daily tasks. 24 Pethahiah son of Meshezabel, of the descendants of Zerah son of Judah, was the king’s agent in every matter concerning the people.

25 As for the farming settlements with their fields:

Some of Judah’s descendants lived in Kiriath-arba

and Dibon and their surrounding villages, and Jekabzeel and its settlements;

26 in Jeshua, Moladah, Beth-pelet,

27 Hazar-shual, and Beer-sheba and its surrounding villages;

28 in Ziklag and Meconah and its surrounding villages;

29 in En-rimmon, Zorah, Jarmuth, and

30 Zanoah and Adullam with their settlements;

in Lachish with its fields and Azekah and its surrounding villages.

So they settled from Beer-sheba to Hinnom Valley.

31 Benjamin’s descendants:

from Geba, Michmash, Aija,

and Bethel and its surrounding villages,

32 Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah,

33 Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim,

34 Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat,

35 Lod, and Ono, in Craftsmen’s Valley.

36 Some of the Judean divisions of Levites were in Benjamin.

12 These are the priests and Levites who went up with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Jeshua:

Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,

Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,

Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,

Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah,

Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,

Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah,

Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah.

These were the heads of the priests and their relatives in the days of Jeshua.

The Levites:

Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel,

Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah—

he and his relatives were in charge of the songs of praise.

Bakbukiah, Unni, and their relatives stood opposite them in the services.

10 Jeshua fathered Joiakim,

Joiakim fathered Eliashib,

Eliashib fathered Joiada,

11 Joiada fathered Jonathan,

and Jonathan fathered Jaddua.

12 In the days of Joiakim, the heads of the priestly families were

Meraiahof Seraiah,
Hananiahof Jeremiah,
13 Meshullamof Ezra,
Jehohananof Amariah,
14 Jonathanof Malluchi,
Josephof Shebaniah,
15 Adnaof Harim,
Helkaiof Meraioth,
16 Zechariahof Iddo,
Meshullamof Ginnethon,
17 Zichriof Abijah,
Piltaiof Moadiah, of Miniamin,
18 Shammuaof Bilgah,
Jehonathanof Shemaiah,
19 Mattenaiof Joiarib,
Uzziof Jedaiah,
20 Kallaiof Sallai,
Eberof Amok,
21 Hashabiahof Hilkiah,
and Nethanelof Jedaiah.

22 In the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, the heads of the families of the Levites and priests were recorded while Darius the Persian ruled. 23 Levi’s descendants, the family heads, were recorded in the Book of the Historical Events during the days of Johanan son of Eliashib. 24 The heads of the Levites—Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua son of Kadmiel, along with their relatives opposite them—gave praise and thanks, division by division, as David the man of God had prescribed. 25 This included Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, and Obadiah. Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers who guarded the storerooms at the city gates. 26 These served in the days of Joiakim son of Jeshua, son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and Ezra the priest and scribe.

27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, they sent for the Levites wherever they lived and brought them to Jerusalem to celebrate the joyous dedication with thanksgiving and singing accompanied by cymbals, harps, and lyres. 28 The singers gathered from the region around Jerusalem, from the settlements of the Netophathites, 29 from Beth-gilgal, and from the fields of Geba and Azmaveth, for they had built settlements for themselves around Jerusalem. 30 After the priests and Levites had purified themselves, they purified the people, the city gates, and the wall.

31 Then I brought the leaders of Judah up on top of the wall, and I appointed two large processions that gave thanks. One went to the right on the wall, toward the Dung Gate. 32 Hoshaiah and half the leaders of Judah followed, 33 along with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, 35 and some of the priests’ sons with trumpets, and Zechariah son of Jonathan, son of Shemaiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Micaiah, son of Zaccur, son of Asaph followed 36 as well as his relatives—Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of David, the man of God. Ezra the scribe went in front of them. 37 At the Fountain Gate they climbed the steps of the city of David on the ascent of the wall and went above the house of David to the Water Gate on the east.

38 The second thanksgiving procession went to the left, and I followed it with half the people along the top of the wall, past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, 39 above the Ephraim Gate, and by the Old Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate. They stopped at the Gate of the Guard. 40 The two thanksgiving processions stood in the house of God. So did I and half of the officials accompanying me, 41 as well as the priests:

Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin,

Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah,

and Hananiah, with trumpets;

42 and Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar,

Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer.

Then the singers sang, with Jezrahiah as the leader. 43 On that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy. The women and children also celebrated, and Jerusalem’s rejoicing was heard far away.

44 On that same day men were placed in charge of the rooms that housed the supplies, contributions, firstfruits, and tenths. The legally required portions for the priests and Levites were gathered from the village fields, because Judah was grateful to the priests and Levites who were serving. 45 They performed the service of their God and the service of purification, along with the singers and gatekeepers, as David and his son Solomon had prescribed. 46 For long ago, in the days of David and Asaph, there were heads of the singers and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. 47 So in the days of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the singers and gatekeepers. They also set aside daily portions for the Levites, and the Levites set aside daily portions for Aaron’s descendants.

13 At that time the book of Moses was read publicly to the people. The command was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, because they did not meet the Israelites with food and water. Instead, they hired Balaam against them to curse them, but our God turned the curse into a blessing. When they heard the law, they separated all those of mixed descent from Israel.

Now before this, the priest Eliashib had been put in charge of the storerooms of the house of our God. He was a relative of Tobiah and had prepared a large room for him where they had previously stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, and the tenths of grain, new wine, and fresh oil prescribed for the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, along with the contributions for the priests.

While all this was happening, I was not in Jerusalem, because I had returned to King Artaxerxes of Babylon in the thirty-second year of his reign. It was only later that I asked the king for a leave of absence so I could return to Jerusalem. Then I discovered the evil that Eliashib had done on behalf of Tobiah by providing him a room in the courts of God’s house. I was greatly displeased and threw all of Tobiah’s household possessions out of the room. I ordered that the rooms be purified, and I had the articles of the house of God restored there, along with the grain offering and frankincense. 10 I also found out that because the portions for the Levites had not been given, each of the Levites and the singers performing the service had gone back to his own field. 11 Therefore, I rebuked the officials, asking, “Why has the house of God been neglected?” I gathered the Levites and singers together and stationed them at their posts. 12 Then all Judah brought a tenth of the grain, new wine, and fresh oil into the storehouses. 13 I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses the priest Shelemiah, the scribe Zadok, and Pedaiah of the Levites, with Hanan son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah to assist them, because they were considered trustworthy. They were responsible for the distribution to their colleagues.

14 Remember me for this, my God, and don’t erase the deeds of faithful love I have done for the house of my God and for its services.

15 At that time I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath. They were also bringing in stores of grain and loading them on donkeys, along with wine, grapes, and figs. All kinds of goods were being brought to Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So I warned them against selling food on that day. 16 The Tyrians living there were importing fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah in Jerusalem.

17 I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil you are doing—profaning the Sabbath day? 18 Didn’t your ancestors do the same, so that our God brought all this disaster on us and on this city? And now you are rekindling his anger against Israel by profaning the Sabbath!”

19 When shadows began to fall on the city gates of Jerusalem just before the Sabbath, I gave orders that the city gates be closed and not opened until after the Sabbath. I posted some of my men at the gates, so that no goods could enter during the Sabbath day. 20 Once or twice the merchants and those who sell all kinds of goods camped outside Jerusalem, 21 but I warned them, “Why are you camping in front of the wall? If you do it again, I’ll use force against you.” After that they did not come again on the Sabbath. 22 Then I instructed the Levites to purify themselves and guard the city gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy.

Remember me for this also, my God, and look on me with compassion according to the abundance of your faithful love.

23 In those days I also saw Jews who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples but could not speak Hebrew. 25 I rebuked them, cursed them, beat some of their men, and pulled out their hair. I forced them to take an oath before God and said, “You must not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters as wives for your sons or yourselves! 26 Didn’t King Solomon of Israel sin in matters like this? There was not a king like him among many nations. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, yet foreign women drew him into sin. 27 Why then should we hear about you doing all this terrible evil and acting unfaithfully against our God by marrying foreign women?” 28 Even one of the sons of Jehoiada, son of the high priest Eliashib, had become a son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite. So I drove him away from me.

29 Remember them, my God, for defiling the priesthood as well as the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.

30 So I purified them from everything foreign and assigned specific duties to each of the priests and Levites. 31 I also arranged for the donation of wood at the appointed times and for the firstfruits.

Remember me, my God, with favor.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Our mouths were filled with laughter then,
and our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord had done great things for us;
we were joyful.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like watercourses in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears
will reap with shouts of joy.
Though one goes along weeping,
carrying the bag of seed,
he will surely come back with shouts of joy,
carrying his sheaves.

It is interesting that Nehemiah was careful to give Thanksgiving to God. He sent two thanksgiving processionals out to thank God for all he had done in their midst. In times like we are living in these days, it is easy to forget to look around and see all that God is doing in our lives. It is easy to get distracted by a virus, or riots, or politics. Today, take a few minutes to think and meditate on all of the good things God has done in your midst and spend time giving him thanks for it.

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