Nehemiah Chapter 12 to 13 : Easy-to-Read Version
Priests and Levites
12 These are the priests and Levites that came back to the land of Judah. They came back with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua. This is a list of their names: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, 2Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, 3Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, 4Iddo, Ginnethon, Abijah, 5Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, 6Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, 7Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and Jedaiah. These men were the leaders of the priests and their relatives in the days of Jeshua. 8The Levites were: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and also Mattaniah. These men, with Mattaniah’s relatives, were in charge of the songs of praise to God. 9Bakbukiah and Unni were the relatives of those Levites. These two men stood across from them in the services. 10Jeshua was the father of Joiakim. Joiakim was the father of Eliashib. Eliashib was the father of Joiada. 11Joiada was the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan was the father of Jaddua. 12In the days of Joiakim, these men were the leaders of the families of priests: The leader of Seraiah’s family was Meraiah. The leader of Jeremiah’s family was Hananiah. 13The leader of Ezra’s family was Meshullam. The leader of Amariah’s family was Jehohanan. 14The leader of Malluch’s family was Jonathan. The leader of Shecaniah’s family was Joseph. 15The leader of Harim’s family was Adna. The leader of Meremoth’s family was Helkai. 16The leader of Iddo’s family was Zechariah. The leader of Ginnethon’s family was Meshullam. 17The leader of Abijah’s family was Zicri. The leader of Miniamin’s and Maadiah’s families was Piltai. 18The leader of Bilgah’s family was Shammua. The leader of Shemaiah’s family was Jehonathan. 19The leader of Joiarib’s family was Mattenai. The leader of Jedaiah’s family was Uzzi. 20The leader of Sallu’s family was Kallai. The leader of Amok’s family was Eber. 21The leader of Hilkiah’s family was Hashabiah. The leader of Jedaiah’s family was Nethanel. 22The names of the leaders of the families of the Levites and the priests in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua were written down during the rule of Darius the Persian king. 23The family leaders among the descendants* of the family of Levi and up to the time of Johanan son of Eliashib were written in the history book. 24And these were the leaders of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, and their brothers. Their brothers stood across from them to sing praise and honor to God. One group answered the other group. That is what was commanded by David the man of God. 25The gatekeepers that guarded the storerooms next to the gates were: Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub. 26Those gatekeepers served in the days of Joiakim. Joiakim was the son of Jeshua, who was the son of Jozadak. And those gatekeepers also served in the days of Nehemiah the governor and in the days of Ezra the priest and teacher.
Dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem
27The people dedicated the wall of Jerusalem. They brought all the Levites to Jerusalem. The Levites came from the towns they lived in. They came to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem. The Levites came to sing songs of praise and thanks to God. They played their cymbals,* harps, and lyres.* 28–29And all the singers also came to Jerusalem. Those singers came from the towns all around Jerusalem. They came from the town of Netophah, from Beth Gilgal, Geba, and Azmaveth. The singers had built small towns for themselves in the area around Jerusalem. 30So, the priests and Levites made themselves pure in a ceremony. Then they also made the people, the gates, and the wall of Jerusalem pure in a ceremony. 31I told the leaders of Judah to go up and stand on top of the wall. I also chose two large singing groups to give thanks to God. One group was to start going up on top of the wall on the right side, toward the Ash Pile Gate. 32Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of Judah followed those singers. 33Also following them were Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah. 35And some of the priests with trumpets also followed them up to the wall. Also Zechariah followed them. (Zechariah was the son of Jonathan, who was the son of Shemaiah, who was the son of Mattaniah, who was the son of Micaiah, who was the son of Zaccur, who was the son of Asaph.) 36There were also Asaph’s brothers, who were Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani. They had the musical instruments that David, man of God, had made. Ezra the teacher led the group of people that were there to dedicate the wall. 37They went to the Fountain Gate. They walked up the stairs all the way to the City of David.* They were on top of the city wall. They walked over the house of David and went toward the Water Gate. 38The second group of singers started out in the other direction, to the left. I followed them as they went up to the top of the wall. Half of the people also followed them. They went past the Tower of Ovens to the Broad Wall. 39Then they went over these gates: the Gate of Ephraim, the Old Gate, and the Fish Gate. And they went over the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred. They went as far as the Sheep Gate. They stopped at the Guard Gate. 40Then the two singing groups went to their places in God’s temple.* And I stood in my place. And half the officials stood in their places in the temple. 41Then these priests stood in their places: Eliakim, Maaseiah, Mijamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah. Those priests had their trumpets with them. 42Then these priests stood in their places in the temple: Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam, and Ezer. Then two singing groups began singing with Jezrahiah leading them. 43So, on that special day, the priests offered many sacrifices.* Everyone was very happy. God had made everyone happy. Even the women and children were excited and happy. People far away could hear the happy sounds coming from Jerusalem. 44Men were chosen to be in charge of the storerooms on that day. People brought their firstfruits and a tenth of their crops. So the men in charge put those things in the storerooms. The Jewish people were very happy about the priests and Levites on duty. So they brought many things to be put in the storerooms. 45The priests and Levites did their work for their God. They did the ceremonies that made people pure. And the singers and gatekeepers did their part. They did everything that David and Solomon had commanded. 46(Long ago, in the days of David, Asaph had been the director. And he had many songs of praise and thanks to God.) 47So in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all the people of Israel gave every day to support the singers and gatekeepers. The people also set aside the money for the other Levites. And the Levites set aside the money for the descendants* of Aaron (the priests).
descendants A person’s children and all of their future families. cymbals A pair of metal platters that are hit against each other to make a loud sound. lyres An instrument with several strings, like a harp. City of David The southeastern and oldest part of the city of Jerusalem. temple The special building in Jerusalem for Jewish worship. sacrifice(s) A gift to God. Usually, it was a special animal that was killed and burned on an altar.
13 On that day, the Book of Moses was read out loud so all the people could hear. They found this law written in the Book of Moses: No Ammonite person and no Moabite person would be permitted to join in the meetings with God. 2That law was written because those people didn’t give the people of Israel food and water. And those people had paid Balaam to say a curse* against the people of Israel. But our God changed that curse and made it a blessing for us. 3So when the people of Israel heard that law, they obeyed it. They separated themselves from the people that were descendants* of foreigners. 4–5But, before that happened, Eliashib had given a room in the temple* to Tobiah. Eliashib was the priest in charge of the storerooms in God’s temple. And Eliashib was a close friend of Tobiah. That room had been used for storing the grain offerings, incense, and the temple dishes and things. They also kept the tenth of grain, new wine, and oil for the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers in that room. And they also kept the gifts for the priests in that room. But Eliashib gave that room to Tobiah. 6I was not in Jerusalem while all of this was happening. I had gone back to the king of Babylon. I went back to Babylon in the 32nd year that Artaxerxes was king of Babylon.* Later, I asked the king for permission to go back to Jerusalem. 7So I came back to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem I heard about the sad thing that Eliashib had done. Eliashib had given Tobiah a room in the temple* of our God! 8I was very angry about what Eliashib had done. So I threw all of Tobiah’s things out of the room. 9I gave commands for those rooms to be made pure and clean. Then I put the temple dishes and things, the grain offerings, and the incense back into those rooms. 10I also heard that the people had not given the Levites their share. So the Levites and singers had gone back to work in their own fields. 11So I told the officials that they were wrong. I asked them, “Why didn’t you take care of God’s temple*?” Then I called all Levites together. I told them to go back to their places and duties in the temple. 12Then, everyone in Judah brought their tenth of grain, new wine, and oil to the temple. Those things were put into the storerooms. 13I put these men in charge of the storerooms: Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the teacher, and a Levite named Pedaiah. And I made Hanan son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, their helper. I knew I could trust these men. They were responsible for giving the supplies to their relatives. 14God, please remember me for these things I have done. And don’t forget all I have faithfully done for the temple of my God and for its services. 15In those days in Judah, I saw people working on the Sabbath* day. I saw people pressing grapes to make wine. I saw people bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys. I saw people carrying grapes, figs, and all kinds of things in the city. They were bringing all these things into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So I warned them about this. I told them they must not sell food on the Sabbath day. 16There were some men from the city of Tyre living in Jerusalem. Those men were bringing fish and all kinds of things into Jerusalem and selling them on the Sabbath* day. And the Jews were buying those things. 17I told the important people of Judah that they were wrong. I said to those important people, “You are doing a very bad thing. You are ruining the Sabbath. You are making the Sabbath day like it was any other day. 18You know that your ancestors* did the same things. That is why our God brought all the troubles and disaster to us and to this city. Now you people are making it so more of these bad things will happen to Israel. Why? Because you are ruining the Sabbath day and making it like it is not an important day.” 19So, this is what I did: Every Friday evening, just before dark, I commanded the gatekeepers to shut and lock the gates to Jerusalem. They were not to be opened until the Sabbath* day was over. I put some of my own men at the gates. Those men were commanded to make sure that no load was brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. 20One or two times businessmen and merchants* had to stay the night outside Jerusalem. 21But I warned those businessmen and merchants. I said to them, “Don’t stay the night in front of the wall. If you do that again, I will arrest you.” So from that time on they didn’t come on the Sabbath* day to sell their things. 22Then I commanded the Levites to make themselves pure. After they did that, they were to go and guard the gates. This was done to make sure the Sabbath* day was kept a holy day. God, please remember me for doing these things. Be kind to me and show me your great love! 23In those days I also noticed that some Jewish men had married women from the countries of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24And half of the children from those marriages didn’t know how to speak the Jewish language. Those children spoke the language of Ashdod, Ammon, or Moab. 25So I told those men that they were wrong. I said bad things to them. I hit some of those men, and I pulled out their hair. I forced them to make a promise in God’s name. I said to them, “You must not marry the daughters of those people. Don’t let the daughters of those foreign people marry your sons. And don’t let your daughters marry the sons of those foreign people. 26You know that marriages like this caused Solomon to sin. In all the many nations, there was not a king as great as Solomon. God loved Solomon. And God made Solomon king over the whole nation of Israel. But even Solomon was made to sin because of foreign women. 27And now, we hear that you also are doing this terrible sin. You are not being true to God. You are marrying foreign women.” 28Joiada was the son of Eliashib the high priest. One of Joiada’s sons was a son-in-law of Sanballat from Horon. I forced that man to leave this place. I forced him to run away. 29My God, punish those people. They made the priesthood unclean. They treated it like it was not important. They did not obey the agreement that you made with the priests and Levites. 30So I made the priests and Levites clean and pure. I took away all the foreigners and the strange things they taught. And I gave the Levites and priests their own duties and responsibilities. 31And I made sure that people will bring gifts of wood and firstfruits at the right times. My God, remember me for doing these good things.
curse To ask for bad things to happen to someone. descendants A person’s children and all of their future families. temple The special building in Jerusalem for Jewish worship. 32nd year ... Babylon That is, 432 B.C. Sabbath Saturday, a special day of rest and worship for Jews. ancestors Literally, “fathers,” meaning a person’s parents, grandparents, and all the people they are descended from. merchants A person who earns his living by buying and selling things.