Foreigners Are Separated from IsraelOn that day they read from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and there was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, 2 because they did not meet the sons of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing. 3 So when they heard the law, they separated all foreigners from Israel.
Tobiah’s Goods Removed from God’s House4 Now prior to this, Eliashib the priest, who was put in charge over the chambers of the house of our God, being related to Tobiah, 5 had prepared a large room for him, where formerly they put the grain offerings, the frankincense, the utensils, and the tithes of grain, also new wine and oil commanded for the Levites, the singers, and the gatekeepers, as well as the contributions for the priests. 6 But during all this time I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had gone to the king. After some time, however, I asked leave from the king, 7 and I came to Jerusalem and discerned the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, by preparing a chamber for him in the courts of the house of God. 8 It was very evil to me, so I threw all of Tobiah’s household goods out of the chamber. 9 Then I said the word, and they cleansed the chambers; and I returned there the utensils of the house of God with the grain offerings and the frankincense.
Why Is the House of God Forsaken?10 I also came to know that the portions of the Levites had not been given them, so the Levites and the singers who did the work had fled, each to his own field. 11 So I contended against the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” Then I gathered them together and had them stand in their posts. 12 All Judah then brought the tithe of the grain, new wine, and oil into the storehouses. 13 In charge of the storehouses I appointed Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites, and in addition to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were counted as faithful, and it was their task to apportion everything to their relatives. 14 Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out my lovingkindnesses which I have shown for the house of my God and its responsibilities.
Keep the Sabbath Day Holy15 In those days I saw in Judah some who were treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sacks of grain and loading them on donkeys, as well as wine, grapes, figs and all kinds of loads, and they brought them into Jerusalem on the sabbath day. So I testified against them on the day they sold food. 16 Also men of Tyre were living there who brought in fish and all kinds of merchandise, and sold them to the sons of Judah on the sabbath, even in Jerusalem. 17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing you are doing, even profaning the sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers do the same, so our God brought on us and on this city all this calamity? Yet you are adding to His anger on Israel by profaning the sabbath.” 19 Now it happened that just as it grew dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the sabbath, I said the word, and the doors were shut. Then I said that they should not open them until after the sabbath. Then I had some of my young men stand at the gates so that no load would enter on the sabbath day. 20 Once or twice the traders and merchants of every kind of merchandise spent the night outside Jerusalem. 21 Then I warned them and said to them, “Why do you spend the night in front of the wall? If you do so again, I will send forth my hand against you.” From that time on they did not come on the sabbath. 22 And I said to the Levites that they should cleanse themselves and come as gatekeepers to keep the sabbath day holy. For this also remember me, O my God, and have compassion on me according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness.
You Shall Not Marry Foreigners23 In those days I also saw that the Jews had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 As for their children, half spoke in the language of Ashdod, and none of them was able to speak the language of Judah, but only the tongue of his own people. 25 So I contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair and made them swear by God, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take up their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin regarding these things? Yet among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was loved by his God, and God gave him to be king over all Israel; nevertheless the foreign women caused even him to sin. 27 Do we then hear about you that you have done all this great evil by acting unfaithfully against our God by marrying foreign women?” 28 And even one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite, so I made him flee away from me. 29 Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites. 30 Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign and ensured that the responsibilities stood for the priests and the Levites, each in his work, 31 and I arranged for the supply of wood at fixed times and for the first fruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.