Nehemiah 4–6

1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly irritated, and he mocked the Jews. 2 He spoke before his relatives and the army of Samaria and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they fortifying themselves? Will they make sacrifices? Can they complete this in a day? Can they revive the burned-up stones out of the rubbish heaps?”

3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Even what they are rebuilding, if even a fox climbed it, that would break down their stone wall.”

4 Hear, O our God, that we are despised. Turn their reproach back upon their own head, and give them as spoil in a land of captivity: 5 No longer cover their iniquity nor blot out their sin, which is before You since they have made insults against the builders.

6 So we rebuilt the wall until all of it was solidified up to half its height. The people had a passion for the work.

7 When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabians, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard how the restoration of Jerusalem’s walls was progressing and how the breaches had begun to be sealed, it made them extremely furious. 8 So they all conspired together to fight against Jerusalem in order to cause it chaos. 9 Nevertheless we prayed to our God, and, because of them, we set up a watch for them day and night.

10 Judah had said, “The strength of the burden bearers is failing though there is much rubble. And we ourselves are unable to rebuild the wall.”

11 Our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see until we have entered in among them and slain them. Indeed, we will stop the work!”

12 When the Jews living near them came, they told us ten times, “From every place where you turn, they will be against us.”

13 Therefore I set guards at the lowest positions along the wall and just inside the wall at the unrepaired areas. I also stationed the people by families providing them individually their own swords, spears, and bows. 14 After I looked around, I stood up and said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “Stop being terrified because of them! Remember instead that the Lord is great and awesome. So fight for each other—and for your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

15 Now when our enemies heard that this had become known to us and that God had brought their counsel to nothing, then we all returned to the wall, everyone to his work.

16 After that day, half of my servants did the work while the other half handled the spears, shields, bows, and body armor. Commanders were appointed to support every house of Judah. 17 Those rebuilding the wall and those hauling the loads were working with one hand doing the task, but with the other hand holding the weapon. 18 For the builders, everyone had his sword bound to his side, even while rebuilding. The trumpet blower worked beside me.

19 I said to the nobles, the rulers, and to the rest of the people, “The work is vast and over a large area. Since we are spread along the wall far from each other, 20 assemble to us there at the place where you hear the trumpet sounded. Our God shall fight for us.”

21 So we labored in the work with half of them holding spears from sunrise to the rising of the stars. 22 Likewise at the same time I said to the people, “Every man and his servant must lodge within Jerusalem. By night, they may be a guard to us; by day, a laborer for the work.” 23 So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me took off our clothes. Each carried his weapon, even when washing.

Chapter 5

1 Now there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their fellow Jews. 2 Some were saying, “We and our sons and our daughters are many. Therefore, let us acquire grain so that we may eat and live.”

3 Others were saying, “We have mortgaged our fields, vineyards, and houses so that we might acquire grain because of hunger.”

4 Still others were saying, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tribute against the value of our fields and vineyards. 5 Now our flesh is the same as the flesh of our countrymen. Our children are like their children, but we are subjugating our sons and our daughters as servants. Indeed, some of our daughters are in bondage already, and we are powerless to do anything because our fields and vineyards belong to others.”

6 I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 So I contemplated about this for myself and, as a result, I rebuked the nobles and officials and said to them, “Based on the claim of each against his brother, you are exacting usury.” Then I convened a great assembly against them, 8 and I said to them, “By whatever means we had, we purchased our Jewish countrymen who were being sold to the nations. So, will you once more sell your countrymen so that they might again be sold to us?” Then they kept silent, because they found nothing to answer.

9 Also I said, “What you are doing is not good! Should not you walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? 10 Moreover, I, my relatives, and my servants are loaning them money and grain. So, I urge you, cease from this practice of usury. 11 Please restore to them, even this day, their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, along with a hundredth part of the money, the grain, the wine, and the oil that you had exacted from them.”

12 Then they said, “We will restore it and will require nothing of them. We will do what you have said.”

Then I called the priests and made them swear an oath to keep this promise. 13 Also I shook out the front of my garment and said, “Like this, may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not carry out this promise. Exactly like this, may he be shaken out and emptied.”

And all the congregation said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did according to this promise.

14 Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah (from the twentieth year even until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes) twelve years had passed. And my companions and I had not eaten the governor’s food allotment. 15 The former governors preceding me had extracted a heavy burden on the people, because they took from them food and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Moreover, even their servants domineered over the people. But I myself never did so, because of the fear of God. 16 Furthermore, I stayed determined in the work on this wall. We bought no field, and all my servants were gathered there for the sake of the work.

17 Moreover there were regularly at my table one hundred and fifty Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations around us. 18 Daily there were one ox and six choice sheep prepared for me. Fowls were also prepared for me. Once in ten days all sorts of wine were supplied in abundance. Yet for all this, I never required the governor’s food allotment because it was a heavy burden on this people.

19 Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

Chapter 6

1 When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that there was not a gap in it (though at that time I had not erected the doors on the gates), 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, that we might meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono.”

But they planned to do evil to me. 3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so I am not able to come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and come down to you?” 4 Four more times they sent for me like this, but I answered them the same way.

5 Sanballat sent the same request a fifth time by his servant, but the letter was open in his hand. 6 In it was written,

“It is reported among the nations, and Geshem confirms it, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel; consequently you are rebuilding the wall. According to these words, you are their king. 7 You have also appointed prophets to preach on your behalf in Jerusalem, saying, ‘There is a king in Judah!’ According to these words, it will now be reported to the king. So come now and let us consult together.”

8 I sent him this response, saying, “Nothing like these reports that you are saying has occurred. From your own mind, you are inventing them.”

9 Because they all wanted to frighten us, they thought, “They will pull their hands back from the work.” But that would never be done.

So now, O God, strengthen my hands.

10 When I came to the house of Shemaiah the crippled son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabel, he said, “Let us meet together at the house of God, inside the temple, and then we can shut the temple doors. They are coming to kill you! Even tonight, they could come to kill you!”

11 But I said, “Should a man like me flee? Who is there like me who would go into the temple to save his life? I would never go!” 12 Then I perceived and saw that God had not sent him, but that he pronounced the prophecy against me, because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He was hired for this reason: that I might become fearful, act accordingly, and sin. Then they would have an evil report by which they could reproach me.

14 Remember, O my God, concerning Tobiah and Sanballat these deeds of theirs, as well as the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me.

15 The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 When all our enemies heard it and all the surrounding nations saw it, they were tremendously humbled. They perceived that, because of our God, this work had been accomplished.

17 Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah produced numerous letters in transit to Tobiah. Likewise, the letters of Tobiah came to them, 18 because so many in Judah were bound by oath to him since he was the son-in-law of Shekaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berekiah. 19 Also they reported his good deeds in front of me and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.

Acts 2:22–47

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth was a man attested to you by God with powerful works and wonders and signs, which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know. 23 You have taken Him, who was handed over to you by the ordained counsel and foreknowledge of God, and by lawless hands have crucified and killed Him, 24 whom God raised up by loosening the pull of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 For David says concerning Him:

‘I foresaw the Lord always before me,

for He is at my right hand,

that I may not be shaken.

26 Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;

moreover my flesh will dwell in hope.

27 For You will not abandon my soul to Hades,

nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

28 You have made known to me the ways of life;

You will make me full of joy with Your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may speak confidently to you concerning the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 But being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of his seed according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he foresaw this and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 God raised up this Jesus, of which we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 For David has not ascended to the heavens, yet he says:

‘The Lord said to my Lord,

“Sit at My right hand,

35 Until I make Your enemies

Your footstool.”’

36 “Therefore, let all the house of Israel assuredly know that God has made this Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

37 When they heard this, they were stung in the heart and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized, and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

42 They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers. 43 Fear came to every soul. And many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 They sold their property and goods and distributed them to all, according to their need. 46 And continuing daily with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.