Old Testament

Nehemiah 13
Enforcing the Terms of the Covenant
131On that day, when the Book of Moses was being read in the hearing of the people, it was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite may ever come into the assembled congregation of God, 2because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God had turned the curse into a blessing. 3As the people heard the Law, they separated everyone of mixed foreign descent from Israel.
4But before this, the priest Eliashib, who had been put in charge of the storerooms of the house of our God, and who was related to Tobiah, 5had provided a large storeroom for him.
Previously they had been putting the offerings, the incense, and the vessels, as well as the tithes of grain, new wine, and olive oil there. This had been done according to the command concerning the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests.
6But when all this was happening, I was not in Jerusalem, because in the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes of Babylon, I had gone to the king. Then sometime later, I asked the king for permission to return, 7and I came back to Jerusalem. Then I found out about the evil thing that Eliashib had done for Tobiah by providing a room for him in the courtyards of the house of God. 8This was very offensive to me, so I threw all of Tobiah's household property out of the storeroom. 9I gave orders to purify the storerooms, and I restored the articles of the house of God, the offerings, and the incense.
10Then I learned that the portions for the Levites had not been distributed and that the Levites and singers who performed the work of God's house had all gone back to their own fields. 11I accused the officials and said, “Why has the house of God been abandoned?” So I gathered them and stationed them at their places. 12Then all Judah brought the tithes of grain and new wine and olive oil to the storerooms. 13I appointed treasurers in charge of the storerooms: the priest Shelemiah, the scribe Zadok, Pedaiah from the Levites, and as their assistant, Hanan the son of Zakkur, the son of Mattaniah, because they were considered to be trustworthy. It was their responsibility to distribute the portions to their relatives.
14Remember me, my God, because of this, and do not wipe away my faithful deeds, which I have done for the sake of the house of my God and for the sake of its services.
15In those days I saw in Judah some people who were treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing heaps of grain and loading them on donkeys, and also wine, grapes, and figs and all kinds of loads, and then bringing them to Jerusalem on the Sabbath. So I warned them on the day when they were selling food.
16Moreover, some people from Tyre lived in the city. They were bringing fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling it on the Sabbath to the Jews—even in Jerusalem! 17So I accused the Judean nobles and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, by which you are profaning the Sabbath day? 18Didn't your ancestors do this, and as a result our God brought all this calamity upon us and upon this city? You are adding more to his wrath by profaning the Sabbath.”
19As it began to grow dark within the gates of Jerusalem before the beginning of the Sabbath, I gave orders to close the doors and not to open them until after the Sabbath. I also stationed some of my servants at the gates to ensure that no load would come in on the Sabbath day. 20Once or twice the merchants and those who sell all kinds of merchandise spent the night outside of Jerusalem. 21However, I warned them and said to them, “Why are you spending the night next to the wall? If you do this again, I will use force against you.” From that time onward they did not come on the Sabbath. 22Then I told the Levites that they should purify themselves and come to guard the gates in order to sanctify the Sabbath day.
Remember this also in my favor, my God, and spare me according to your great faithfulness.
23Also in those days I saw the Judeans who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24Half of their children spoke the dialect of Ashdod or the language of other peoples and were not able to understand how to speak Judean. 25So I accused them and cursed them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. Then I made them take an oath by God: “May God punish us if we give our daughters to their sons or if we take some of their daughters for our sons or for ourselves.”
26I said, “Wasn't it because of these foreign wives that King Solomon of Israel sinned, although there was no king like him among the many nations? He was loved by his God, and God placed him as king over all Israel. Yet foreign wives made even him sin. 27Should we listen to you and be led to do all this great evil, so that we end up being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?”
28One of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib, the high priest, was the son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite. So I chased him away from me.
29Remember them, my God, because of their defiling of the priesthood and because of the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.
30So I purified them of everything foreign, and I established duties for the priests and the Levites—each man had his own work. 31I also provided wood for the offerings at the appropriate times and for the offerings of the firstfruits.
Remember me, my God, for good.