Series: Thru the Bible
Message: Nehemiah, Leadership Matters
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Nehemiah, Leadership Matters
“(1) On the twenty-fourth day of this same month the Israelites assembled; they were fasting and wearing sackcloth, their heads covered with dust.
(2) Those truly of Israelite descent separated from all the foreigners, standing and confessing their sins and the iniquities of their ancestors.
(3) For one-fourth of the day they stood in their place and read from the book of the law of the LORD their God, and for another fourth they were confessing their sins and worshiping the LORD their God.
(4) Then the Levites – Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Kenani – stood on the steps and called out loudly to the LORD their God.
(5) The Levites – Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah – said,
“Stand up and bless the LORD your God!”
“May You be blessed, O LORD our God, from age to age. May Your glorious name be blessed; may it be lifted up above all blessing and praise.
(6) You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, along with all their multitude of stars, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them.
You impart life to them all, and the multitudes of heaven worship You.
(7) “You are the LORD God Who chose Abram and brought him forth from Ur of the Chaldeans. You changed his name to Abraham. (8) When You perceived that his heart was faithful toward You, You established a covenant with him to give his descendants the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites.
You have fulfilled Your promise, for You are righteous.
(9) “You saw the affliction of our ancestors in Egypt, and You heard their cry at the Red Sea.
(10) You performed awesome signs against Pharaoh, against his servants, and against all the people of his land, for You knew that the Egyptians had acted presumptuously against them. You made for Yourself a name that is celebrated to this day.
(11) You split the sea before them, and they crossed through the sea on dry ground! But You threw their pursuers into the depths, like a stone into surging waters.
(12) You guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and with a pillar of fire by night to illumine for them the path they were to travel.
(13) “You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven. You provided them with just judgments, true laws, and good statutes and commandments. (14) You made known to them Your holy Sabbath; you issued commandments, statutes, and law to them through Moses your servant.
(15) You provided bread from heaven for them in their time of hunger, and You brought forth water from the rock for them in their time of thirst.
You told them to enter in order to possess the land that You had sworn to give them.
(16) “But they – our ancestors – behaved presumptuously; they rebelled and did not obey Your commandments. (17) They refused to obey and did not recall Your miracles that You had performed among them. Instead, they rebelled and appointed a leader to return to their bondage in Egypt. But You are a God of forgiveness, merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and unfailing in Your loyal love.
You did not abandon them, (18) even when they made a cast image of a calf for themselves and said, ‘This is your God Who brought you up from Egypt,’ or when they committed atrocious blasphemies.
(19) “Due to Your great compassion You did not abandon them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud did not stop guiding them in the path by day, nor did the pillar of fire stop illuminating for them by night the path on which they should travel.
(20) You imparted your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold Your manna from their mouths; You provided water for their thirst.
(21) For forty years you sustained them. Even in the wilderness they never lacked anything. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.
(22) “You gave them kingdoms and peoples, and You allocated them to every corner of the land. They inherited the land of King Sihon of Heshbon and the land of King Og of Bashan. (23) You multiplied their descendants like the stars of the sky. You brought them to the land You had told their ancestors to enter in order to possess.
(24) Their descendants entered and possessed the land. You subdued before them the Canaanites who were the inhabitants of the land. You delivered them into their hand, together with their kings and the peoples of the land, to deal with as they pleased.
(25) They captured fortified cities and fertile land. They took possession of houses full of all sorts of good things – wells previously dug, vineyards, olive trees, and fruit trees in abundance. They ate until they were full and grew fat. They enjoyed to the full your great goodness.
(26) “Nonetheless they grew disobedient and rebelled against You; they disregarded Your law. They killed Your prophets who had solemnly admonished them in order to cause them to return to You.
They committed atrocious blasphemies. (27) Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their adversaries, who oppressed them. But in the time of their distress they called to You, and You heard from heaven.
In Your abundant compassion You provided them with deliverers to rescue them from their adversaries.
(28) “Then, when they were at rest again, they went back to doing evil before You. Then You abandoned them to their enemies, and they gained dominion over them. When they again cried out to You, in Your compassion You heard from heaven and rescued them time and again. (29) And You solemnly admonished them in order to return them to Your law, but they behaved presumptuously and did not obey Your commandments. They sinned against Your ordinances – those by which an individual, if he obeys them, will live.
They boldly turned from You; they rebelled and did not obey. (30) You prolonged Your kindness with them for many years, and You solemnly admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets. Still they paid no attention, so You delivered them into the hands of the neighboring peoples.
(31) However, due to Your abundant mercy You did not do away with them altogether; You did not abandon them. For You are a merciful and compassionate God.
(32) “So now, our God – the great, powerful, and awesome God, Who keeps covenant fidelity – do not regard as inconsequential all the hardship that has befallen us – our kings, our leaders, our priests, our prophets, our ancestors, and all your people – from the days of the kings of Assyria until this very day!
(33) You are righteous with regard to all that has happened to us, for You have acted faithfully. It is we who have been in the wrong!
(34) Our kings, our leaders, our priests, and our ancestors have not kept Your law. They have not paid attention to Your commandments or Your testimonies by which You have solemnly admonished them.
(35) Even when they were in their kingdom and benefiting from Your incredible goodness that You had lavished on them in the spacious and fertile land You had set before them, they did not serve You, nor did they turn from their evil practices.
(36) “So today we are slaves! In the very land You gave to our ancestors to eat its fruit and to enjoy its good things – we are slaves!
(37) Its abundant produce goes to the kings you have placed over us due to our sins. They rule over our bodies and our livestock as they see fit, and we are in great distress!
(38) “Because of all of this we are entering into a binding covenant in written form; our leaders, our Levites, and our priests have affixed their names on the sealed document.”
“(1) On the sealed documents were the following names: Nehemiah the governor, son of Hacaliah, along with Zedekiah, (2) Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, (3) Pashhur, Amariah, Malkijah, (4) Hattush, Sheban-iah, Malluch, (5) Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, (6) Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, (7) Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, (8) Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaiah. These were the priests.
(9) The Levites were as follows: Jeshua son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel.
(10) Their colleagues were as follows: Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, (11) Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, (12) Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, (13) Hodiah, Bani, and Beninu.
(14) The leaders of the people were as follows: Parosh, Pahath–Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, (15) Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, (16) Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, (17) Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, (18) Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, (19) Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, (20) Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, (21) Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, (22) Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, (23) Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, (24) Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, (25) Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, (26) Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, (27) Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.
(28) “Now the rest of the people – the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple attendants, and all those who have separated themselves from the neighboring peoples because of the law of God, along with their wives, their sons, and their daughters, all of whom are able to understand – (29) hereby participate with their colleagues the town leaders and enter into a curse and an oath to adhere to the law of God which was given through Moses the servant of God, and to obey carefully all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, along with His ordinances and His statutes.
(30) “We will not give our daughters in marriage to the neighboring peoples, and we will not take their daughters in marriage for our sons. (31) We will not buy on the Sabbath or on a holy day from the neighboring peoples who bring their wares and all kinds of grain to sell on the Sabbath day.
We will let the fields lie fallow every seventh year, and we will cancel every loan.
(32) We accept responsibility for fulfilling the commands to give one third of a shekel each year for the work of the temple of our God, (33) for the loaves of presentation and for the regular grain offerings and regular burnt offerings, for the Sabbaths, for the new moons, for the appointed meetings, for the holy offerings, for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the temple of our God.
(34) “We – the priests, the Levites, and the people – have cast lots concerning the wood offerings, to bring them to the temple of our God according to our families at the designated times year by year to burn on the altar of the LORD our God, as is written in the law.
(35) We also accept responsibility for bringing the first fruits of our land and the first fruits of every fruit tree year by year to the temple of the LORD.
(36) We also accept responsibility, as is written in the law, for bringing the firstborn of our sons and our cattle and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks to the temple of our God, to the priests who are ministering in the temple of our God.
(37) We will also bring the first of our coarse meal, of our contributions, of the fruit of every tree, of new wine, and of olive oil to the priests at the storerooms of the temple of our God, along with a tenth of the produce of our land to the Levites, for the Levites are the ones who collect the tithes in all the cities where we work.
(38) A priest of Aaron’s line will be with the Levites when the Levites collect the tithes, and the Levites will bring up a tenth of the tithes to the temple of our God, to the storerooms of the treasury.
(39) The Israelites and the Levites will bring the contribution of the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil to the storerooms where the utensils of the sanctuary are kept, and where the priests who minister stay, along with the gatekeepers and the singers. We will not neglect the temple of our God.”
“(1) So the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem, while the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to settle in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the other nine remained in other cities.
(2) The people gave their blessing on all the men who volunteered to settle in Jerusalem.
(3) These are the provincial leaders who settled in Jerusalem. (While other Israelites, the priests, the Levites, the temple attendants, and the sons of the servants of Solomon settled in the cities of Judah, each on his own property in their cities, (4) some of the descendants of Judah and some of the descendants of Benjamin settled in Jerusalem.)
Of the descendants of Judah: Athaiah son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalalel, from the descendants of Perez; (5) and Maaseiah son of Baruch, the son of Col–Hozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, from the descendants of Shelah. (6) The sum total of the descendants of Perez who were settling in Jerusalem was 468 exceptional men.
(7) These are the descendants of Benjamin: Sallu son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jeshaiah, (8) and his followers, Gabbai and Sallai – 928 in all.
(9) Joel son of Zicri was the officer in charge of them, and Judah son of Hassenuah was second-in-command over the city.
(10) From the priests: Jedaiah son of Joiarib, Jakin, (11) Seraiah son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, supervisor in the temple of God, (12) and their colleagues who were carrying out work for the temple – 822;
and Adaiah son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malkijah, (13) and his colleagues who were heads of families – 242;
and Amash–sai son of Azarel, the son of Ahzai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer, (14) and his colleagues who were exceptional men – 128.
The officer over them was Zabdiel the son of Hagged-olim.
(15) From the Levites: Shemaiah son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashab–iah, the son of Bunni; (16) Shabbethai and Jozabad, leaders of the Levites, were in charge of the external work for the temple of God;
(17) Mattaniah son of Mica, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the praise leader who led in thanksgiving and prayer; Bakbukiah, second among his colleagues; and Abda son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun. (18) The sum total of the Levites in the holy city was 284.
(19) And the gatekeepers: Akkub, Talmon and their colleagues who were guarding the gates – 172.
(20) And the rest of the Israelites, with the priests and the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, each on his own property.
(21) The temple attendants were living on Ophel, and Ziha and Gishpa were over them.
(22) The overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi son of Bani, the son of Hashab–iah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Mica. He was one of Asaph’s descendants who were the singers responsible for the service of the temple of God. (23) For they were under royal orders which determined their activity day by day.
(24) Pethahiah son of Meshezabel, one of the descendants of Zerah son of Judah, was an adviser to the king in every matter pertaining to the people.
(25) As for the settlements with their fields, some of the people of Judah settled in Kiriath Arba and its neighboring villages, in Dibon and its villages, in Jekabzeel and its settlements, (26) in Jeshua, in Moladah, in Beth Pelet, (27) in Hazar Shual, in Beer Sheba and its villages, (28) in Ziklag, in Meconah and its villages, (29) in En Rimmon, in Zorah, in Jarmuth, (30) Zanoah, Adullam and their settlements, in Lachish and its fields, and in Azekah and its villages.
So they were encamped from Beer Sheba to the Valley of Hinnom. (31) Some of the descendants of Benjamin settled in Geba, Micmash, Aija, Bethel and its villages, (32) in Anathoth, Nob, and Ananiah, (33) in Hazor, Ramah, and Gittaim, (34) in Hadid, Zeboim, and Neballat, (35) in Lod, Ono, and the Valley of the Craftsmen. (36) Some of the Judean divisions of the Levites settled in Benjamin.”
“(1) These are the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, (2) Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, (3) Shecan–iah, Rehum, Meremoth, (4) Iddo, Ginnethon, Abijah, (5) Mijamin, Moadiah, Bilgah, (6) Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, (7) Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and Jedaiah. These were the leaders of the priests and their colleagues in the days of Jeshua.
(8) And the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattan-iah, who together with his colleagues was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving.
(9) Bakbukiah and Unni, their colleagues, stood opposite them in the services.
(10) Jeshua was the father of Joiakim,
Joiakim was the father of Eliashib,
Eliashib was the father of Joiada,
(11) Joiada was the father of Jonathan,
and Jonathan was the father of Jaddua.
(12) In the days of Joiakim, these were the priests who were leaders of the families: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah; (13) of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan; (14) of Malluch, Jonathan; of Shecaniah, Joseph; (15) of Harim, Adna; of Meremoth, Helkai; (16) of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam;
(17) of Abijah, Zicri; of Miniamin and of Moadiah, Piltai; (18) of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan; (19) of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi; (20) of Sallu, Kallai; of Amok, Eber; (21) of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethanel.
(22) As for the Levites, in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan and Jaddua the heads of families were recorded, as were the priests during the reign of Darius the Persian.
23) The descendants of Levi were recorded in the Book of the Chronicles as heads of families up to the days of Johanan son of Eliashib. (24) And the leaders of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua son of Kadmiel, and their colleagues, who stood opposite them to offer praise and thanks, one contingent corresponding to the other, as specified by David the man of God.
(25) Mattaniah, Bakbuk–iah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers who were guarding the storerooms at the gates. (26) These all served in the days of Joiakim son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priestly scribe.
(27) At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, they sought out the Levites from all the places they lived to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication joyfully with songs of thanksgiving and songs accompanied by cymbals, harps, and lyres.
(28) The singers were also assembled from the district around Jerusalem and from the settlements of the Netophathites (29) and from Beth Gilgal and from the fields of Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built settlements for themselves around Jerusalem.
(30) When the priests and Levites had purified themselves, they purified the people, the gates, and the wall. (31) I brought the leaders of Judah up on top of the wall, and I appointed two large choirs to give thanks.
One was to proceed on the top of the wall southward toward the Dung Gate. (32) Going after them were Hoshaiah, half the leaders of Judah, (33) Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, (34) Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah,
(35) some of the priests with trumpets, Zechariah son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph, (36) and his colleagues – Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani – with musical instruments of David the man of God. (Ezra the scribe led them.)
(37) They went over the Fountain Gate and continued directly up the steps of the City of David on the ascent to the wall. They passed the house of David and continued on to the Water Gate toward the east.
(38) The second choir was proceeding in the opposite direction. I followed them, along with half the people, on top of the wall, past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, (39) over the Ephraim Gate, the Jeshanah 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) Then the two choirs that gave thanks took their stations in the temple of God. I did also, along with half the officials with me, (41) and the priests – Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with their trumpets – (42) and also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam, and Ezer.
The choirs sang loudly under the direction of Jezrahiah. (43) And on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced, for God had given them great joy.
The women and children also rejoiced. The rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard from far away.
(44) On that day men were appointed over the storerooms for the contributions, first fruits, and tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions prescribed by the law for the priests and the Levites, for the people of Judah took delight in the priests and Levites who were ministering.
(45) They performed the service of their God and the service of purification, along with the singers and gatekeepers, according to the commandment of David and his son Solomon.
(46) For long ago, in the days of David and Asaph, there had been directors for the singers and for the songs of praise and thanks to God.
(47) So in the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah, all Israel was contributing the portions for the singers and gatekeepers, according to the daily need.
They also set aside the portion for the Levites, and the Levites set aside the portion for the descendants of Aaron.”
“(1) On that day the book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people. They found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite may ever enter the assembly of God, (2) for they had not met the Israelites with food and water, but instead had hired Balaam to curse them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into blessing.)
(3) When they heard the law, they removed from Israel all who were of mixed ancestry. (4) But prior to this time, Eliashib the priest, a relative of Tobiah, had been appointed over the storerooms of the temple of our God.
(5) He made for himself a large storeroom where previously they had been keeping the grain offering, the incense, and the vessels, along with the tithes of the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil as commanded for the Levites, the singers, the gate keepers, and the offering for the priests.
(6) During all this time I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes of Babylon, I had gone back to the king.
After some time I had requested leave of the king, (7) and I returned to Jerusalem.
Then I discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah by supplying him with a storeroom in the courts of the temple of God.
(8) I was very upset, and I threw all of Tobiah’s household possessions out of the storeroom. (9) Then I gave instructions that the storerooms should be purified, and I brought back the equipment of the temple of God, along with the grain offering and the incense.
(10) I also discovered that the portions for the Levites had not been provided, and that as a result the Levites and the singers who performed this work had all gone off to their fields.
(11) So I registered a complaint with the leaders, asking, “Why is the temple of God neglected?” Then I gathered them and reassigned them to their positions.
(12) Then all of Judah brought the tithe of the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil to the storerooms.
(13) I gave instructions that Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and a certain Levite named Pedaiah be put in charge of the storerooms, and that Hanan son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah, be their assistant, for they were regarded as trustworthy.
It was then their responsibility to oversee the distribution to their colleagues.
(14) Please remember me for this, O my God, and do not wipe out the kindness that I have done for the temple of my God and for its services!
(15) In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath, bringing in heaps of grain and loading them onto donkeys, along with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of loads, and bringing them to Jerusalem on the Sabbath day.
So I warned them on the day that they sold these provisions.
(16) The people from Tyre who lived there were bringing fish and all kinds of merchandise and were selling it on the Sabbath to the people of Judah – and in Jerusalem, of all places!
(17) So I registered a complaint with the nobles of Judah, saying to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day? (18) Isn’t this the way your ancestors acted, causing our God to bring on them and on this city all this misfortune? And now you are causing even more wrath on Israel, profaning the Sabbath like this!”
(19) When the evening shadows began to fall on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be closed. I further directed that they were not to be opened until after the Sabbath.
I positioned some of my young men at the gates so that no load could enter on the Sabbath day. (20) The traders and sellers of all kinds of merchandise spent the night outside Jerusalem once or twice. (21) But I warned them and said,
“Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you repeat this, I will forcibly remove you!”
From that time on they did not show up on the Sabbath.
(22) Then I directed the Levites to purify themselves and come and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy.
For this please remember me, O my God, and have pity on me in keeping with your great love.
(23) Also in those days I saw the men of Judah 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 mentioned) and were unable to speak the language of Judah. (25) So I entered a complaint with them. I called down a curse on them, and I struck some of the men and pulled out their hair.
I had them swear by God saying,
“You will not marry off your daughters to their sons, and you will not take any of their daughters as wives for your sons or for yourselves! (26) Was it not because of things like these that King Solomon of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. But the foreign wives made even him sin!
(27) Should we then in your case hear that you do all this great evil, thereby being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign wives?”
(28) Now one of the sons of Joiada son of Eliashib the high priest was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite. So I banished him from my sight.
(29) Please remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, the covenant of the priesthood, and the Levites.
(30) So I purified them of everything foreign, and I assigned specific duties to the priests and the Levites. (31) I also provided for the wood offering at the appointed times and also for the first fruits.
Please remember me for good, O my God.”