Reading 130/341, Ezra 9-10; Nehemiah 1-2

...Ezra

Now when these things were done, the princes drew near to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, doing according to their abominations, of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy seed have mixed themselves with the peoples of the lands, yes, the hand of the princes and rulers has been chief in this trespass. When I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down confounded. Then were assembled to me everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the trespass of them of the captivity, and I sat confounded until the evening offering. At the evening offering I arose up from my humiliation, with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees, and spread out my hands to the Lord my God, and I said, my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our guiltiness is grown up to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers we have been exceeding guilty to this day, and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to plunder, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. Now for a little moment grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. For we are bondservants; yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended loving kindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the ruins of it, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. Now, our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken your commandments, which you have commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, The land, to which you go to possess it, is an unclean land through the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, through their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their filthiness, now therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons, nor seek their peace or their prosperity forever; that you may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever. After all that is come on us for our evil deeds, and for our great guilt, seeing that you our God have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such a remnant, shall we again break your commandments, and join in affinity with the peoples that do these abominations? would not you be angry with us until you had consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape? the Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous; for we are left a remnant that is escaped, as it is this day, behold, we are before you in our guiltiness; for none can stand before you because of this. Now while Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there was gathered together to him out of Israel a very great assembly of men and women and children; for the people wept very sore. Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have married foreign women of the peoples of the land, yet now there is hope for Israel concerning this thing. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the law. Arise; for the matter belongs to you, and we are with you, be of good courage, and do it. Then arose Ezra, and made the chiefs of the priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they would do according to this word. So they swore. Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib, and when he came there, he ate no bread, nor drank water; for he mourned because of the trespass of them of the captivity. They made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together to Jerusalem, and that whoever did not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the assembly of the captivity. Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together to Jerusalem within the three days; it was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month, and all the people sat in the broad place before the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain. Ezra the priest stood up, and said to them, You have trespassed, and have married foreign women, to increase the guilt of Israel. Now therefore make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his pleasure, and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the foreign women. Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, As you have said concerning us, so must we do. But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand outside, nor is this a work of one day or two; for we have greatly transgressed in this matter. Let now our princes be appointed for all the assembly, and let all those who are in our cities who have married foreign women come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges of it, until the fierce wrath of our God be turned from us, until this matter be dispatched. Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah stood up against this matter, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them. The children of the captivity did so. Ezra the priest, with certain heads of fathers' houses, after their fathers' houses, and all of them by their names, were set apart, and they sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter. They made an end with all the men who had married foreign women by the first day of the first month. Among the sons of the priests there were found who had married foreign women, namely, of the sons of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and his brothers, Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah. They gave their hand that they would put away their wives, and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their guilt. Of the sons of Immer, Hanani and Zebadiah. Of the sons of Harim, Maaseiah, and Elijah, and Shemaiah, and Jehiel, and Uzziah. Of the sons of Pashhur, Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah. Of the Levites, Jozabad, and Shimei, and Kelaiah (this is Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer. Of the singers, Eliashib. Of the porters, Shallum, and Telem, and Uri. Of Israel, Of the sons of Parosh, Ramiah, and Izziah, and Malchijah, and Mijamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah. Of the sons of Elam, Mattaniah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, and Abdi, and Jeremoth, and Elijah. Of the sons of Zattu, Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, and Jeremoth, and Zabad, and Aziza. Of the sons of Bebai, Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, Athlai. Of the sons of Bani, Meshullam, Malluch, and Adaiah, Jashub, and Sheal, Jeremoth. Of the sons of Pahathmoab, Adna, and Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, and Binnui, and Manasseh. of the sons of Harim, Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, Benjamin, Malluch, Shemariah. Of the sons of Hashum, Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, Shimei. Of the sons of Bani, Maadai, Amram, and Uel, Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi, Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasu, and Bani, and Binnui, Shimei, and Shelemiah, and Nathan, and Adaiah, Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, Azarel, and Shelemiah, Shemariah, Shallum, Amariah, Joseph. Of the sons of Nebo, Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Iddo, and Joel, Benaiah. All these had taken foreign wives, and some of them had wives by whom they had children.

Nehemiah...

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came, he and certain men out of Judah, and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. They said to me, The remnant who 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 of it are burned with fire. It happened, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and I fasted and prayed before the God of heaven, and said, I beg you, the Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with those who love him and keep his commandments, Let your ear now be attentive, and your eyes open, that you may listen to the prayer of your servant, which I pray before you at this time, day and night, for the children of Israel your servants while I confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Yes, I and my father's house have sinned, we have dealt very corruptly against you, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances, which you commanded your servant Moses. Remember, I beg you, the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, If you trespass, I will scatter you abroad among the peoples, but if you return to me, and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts were in the uttermost part of the heavens, yet will I gather them from there, and will bring them to the place that I have chosen, to cause my name to dwell there. Now these are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power, and by your strong hand. Lord, I beg you, let now your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants, who delight to fear your name, and please prosper your servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. Now I was cup bearer to the king. It happened in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, when wine was before him, that I took up the wine, and gave it to the king. Now I had not been before sad in his presence. The king said to me, Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid. I said to the king, Let the king live forever, why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies waste, and the gates of it are consumed with fire? Then the king said to me, For what do you make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. I said to the king, If it please the king, and if your servant have found favor in your sight, that you would send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may build it. The king said to me (the queen also sitting by him), For how long shall your journey be? and when will you return? So it pleased the king to send me, and I set him a time. Moreover I said to the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the castle which appertains to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. The king granted me, according to the good hand of my God on me. Then I came to the governors beyond the River, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent with me captains of the army and horsemen. When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly, because a man had come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel. So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; nor told I any man what my God put into my heart to do for Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the animal that I rode on. I went out by night by the valley gate, toward the jackal's well, and to the dung gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates of it were consumed with fire. Then I went on to the spring gate and to the king's pool, but there was no place for the animal that was under me to pass. Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and I turned back, and entered by the valley gate, and so returned. The rulers did not know where I went, or what I did; nor had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest who did the work. Then said I to them, You see the evil case that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and the gates of it are burned with fire, come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. I told them of the hand of my God which was good on me, as also of the king's words that he had spoken to me. They said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for the good work. But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they ridiculed us, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that you do? will you rebel against the king? Then answered I them, and said to them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

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