3379.) Nehemiah 7

March 31, 2022

Nehemiah 7   (NRSV)

Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed,

The singers and the Levites were there to lead the people in worship. We do well to remember that the walls were not rebuilt so the people of Jerusalem could look at nice walls. They were rebuilt so they could worship God with greater glory and freedom than ever before.

Psalm 68:24-26 (ESV)

Your procession is seen, O God,
   the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—
the singers in front, the musicians last,
   between them virgins playing tambourines:
“Bless God in the great congregation,
   the LORD, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!”

2I gave my brother Hanani charge over Jerusalem, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel—for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many.

Nehemiah’s brother was the one who first told him about the sad state of affairs in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:2). His initiative and concern made him well qualified to govern.

3And I said to them, “The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot; while the gatekeepers are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their watch posts, and others before their own houses.” 4The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few and no houses had been built.

Security had to be high since the people were few, so the gates of the city were opened late and closed early.

Lists of the Returned Exiles

5Then my God put it into my mind to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy. And I found the book of the genealogy of those who were the first to come back, and I found the following written in it:

This genealogical record is nearly identical to the list found in Ezra 2. Perhaps Nehemiah found Ezra’s list? Anyway, unless you are looking for an unusual name for a child or a pet, you can read the next verses quickly!

6These are the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had carried into exile; they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his town. 7They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah.

The number of the Israelite people: 8the descendants of Parosh, two thousand one hundred seventy-two. 9Of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy-two. 10Of Arah, six hundred fifty-two. 11Of Pahath-moab, namely the descendants of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred eighteen. 12Of Elam, one thousand two hundred fifty-four. 13Of Zattu, eight hundred forty-five. 14Of Zaccai, seven hundred sixty. 15Of Binnui, six hundred forty-eight. 16Of Bebai, six hundred twenty-eight. 17Of Azgad, two thousand three hundred twenty-two. 18Of Adonikam, six hundred sixty-seven. 19Of Bigvai, two thousand sixty-seven. 20Of Adin, six hundred fifty-five. 21Of Ater, namely of Hezekiah, ninety-eight. 22Of Hashum, three hundred twenty-eight. 23Of Bezai, three hundred twenty-four. 24Of Hariph, one hundred twelve. 25Of Gibeon, ninety-five. 26The people of Bethlehem and Netophah, one hundred eighty-eight. 27Of Anathoth, one hundred twenty-eight. 28Of Beth-azmaveth, forty-two. 29Of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred forty-three. 30Of Ramah and Geba, six hundred twenty-one. 31Of Michmas, one hundred twenty-two. 32Of Bethel and Ai, one hundred twenty-three. 33Of the other Nebo, fifty-two. 34The descendants of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred fifty-four. 35Of Harim, three hundred twenty. 36Of Jericho, three hundred forty-five. 37Of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty-one. 38Of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred thirty.

39The priests: the descendants of Jedaiah, namely the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy-three. 40Of Immer, one thousand fifty-two. 41Of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred forty-seven. 42Of Harim, one thousand seventeen.

43The Levites: the descendants of Jeshua, namely of Kadmiel of the descendants of Hodevah, seventy-four.

44The singers: the descendants of Asaph, one hundred forty-eight.

45The gatekeepers: the descendants of Shallum, of Ater, of Talmon, of Akkub, of Hatita, of Shobai, one hundred thirty-eight.

46The temple servants: the descendants of Ziha, of Hasupha, of Tabbaoth, 47of Keros, of Sia, of Padon, 48of Lebana, of Hagaba, of Shalmai, 49of Hanan, of Giddel, of Gahar, 50of Reaiah, of Rezin, of Nekoda, 51of Gazzam, of Uzza, of Paseah, 52of Besai, of Meunim, of Nephushesim, 53of Bakbuk, of Hakupha, of Harhur, 54of Bazlith, of Mehida, of Harsha, 55of Barkos, of Sisera, of Temah, 56of Neziah, of Hatipha.

57The descendants of Solomon’s servants: of Sotai, of Sophereth, of Perida, 58of Jaala, of Darkon, of Giddel, 59of Shephatiah, of Hattil, of Pochereth-hazzebaim, of Amon.

60All the temple servants and the descendants of Solomon’s servants were three hundred ninety-two.

61The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not prove their ancestral houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: 62the descendants of Delaiah, of Tobiah, of Nekoda, six hundred forty-two. 63Also, of the priests: the descendants of Hobaiah, of Hakkoz, of Barzillai (who had married one of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by their name). 64These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but it was not found there, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean; 65the governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food, until a priest with Urim and Thummim should come.

Only through genealogies could a person prove he was a descendant of Abraham and thus a true Jew, or a descendant of Aaron and thus able to be a priest. In cases where there were questions, a priest could use the Urim and Thummim (a means of learning God’s will) and determine the answer.

66The whole assembly together was forty-two thousand three hundred sixty (42,360), 67besides their male and female slaves, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty-seven; and they had two hundred forty-five singers, male and female. 68They had seven hundred thirty-six horses, two hundred forty-five mules, 69four hundred thirty-five camels, and six thousand seven hundred twenty donkeys.

70Now some of the heads of ancestral houses contributed to the work. The governor gave to the treasury one thousand darics of gold, fifty basins, and five hundred thirty priestly robes. 71And some of the heads of ancestral houses gave into the building fund twenty thousand darics of gold and two thousand two hundred minas of silver. 72And what the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand darics of gold, two thousand minas of silver, and sixty-seven priestly robes.

73So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, and all Israel settled in their towns.

This list was important because each of these people were important to God, in that they did what so few of their fellow Jews did –- they took the trouble to return back to the promised land after they had already set down roots for seventy years in the Babylonian empire.

 These are people who had a pioneer spirit; they were willing to endure hardship and discomfort, because they had a call from God that was more important than their own comfort. Life was easier in Babylon, but it was better in Jerusalem!

In this list several things were important.

  • Who the people were was important (specific names were mentioned).
  • What families they came from was important (many family heads are named).
  • Their gifts to support the work were important (they are specifically listed towards the end of the chapter).

This list flows beautifully after the completion of the work, because it reminds us that the work was really all about these people.

–David Guzik

“Jerusalem — Damascus Gate” by Badirah Farrah

Jerusalem, My Happy Home

Hallelujah, we are on our way
Hallelujah, we are on our way to God

From Egypt lately come
Where death and darkness reign
To seek our new our better home
Where we our rest shall gain

There sin and sorrow cease
And every conflict’s o’er
There we shall dwell in endless peace
And never hunger more

We soon shall join the throng
Their pleasures we shall share
And sing the everlasting song
With all the ransomed there

There in celestial strains
Enraptured myriads sing
There love in every bosom reigns
For God Himself is King

Jerusalem, our happy home
Would God I were in Thee
Would God my woes were at an end
Thy joy that I might see



HERE  is an old gospel song. “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord” was written by Mary M. Brown, a single school teacher in New England who died in 1918. She was well-loved for her dedication to her pupils and her community. A member of the Baptist church, she belonged to the Ladies’ Aid Society and the Mission Circle. Like all these persons listed above, she bloomed where the Lord planted her!


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
heart at work.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/neh7heartatwork-wall.png
from Babylon to Jerusalem.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/scenes20from20the20return20from20exile.jpg
family tree.   https://babyzoomers.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/genealogy_tree.jpg
He cares for you.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/godcaresforyou.jpg
Badirah Farrah.   https://fineartamerica.com/featured/jerusalem-damascus-gate-badirah-farrah.html

3378.) Nehemiah 6

March 30, 2022


Nehemiah 6   (NRSV)

Intrigues of Enemies Foiled

Now when it was reported to Sanballat and Tobiah and to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had built the wall and that there was no gap left in it (though up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono.”

The wall was almost finished – the gaps were closed, but the gates were not yet finished. For the enemies of Nehemiah and the work of God, this was a “now-or-never” time. If they didn’t do something immediately to stop the work, the walls will be completely finished. At this time, Sanballat and Geshem tried to arrange a meeting with Nehemiah — by appearances, a friendly meeting, like it’s a nice lunch or something . . . 

But they intended to do me harm. 3So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?” 4They sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner.

Sanballat and crew are desperate that the walls of Jerusalem NOT be finished. But Nehemiah is NOT about to be deterred! He discerns their true motives.

5In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. 6In it was written,

“It is reported among the nations—and Geshem also says it—that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall; and according to this report you wish to become their king. 7You have also set up prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, ‘There is a king in Judah!’ And now it will be reported to the king according to these words. So come, therefore, and let us confer together.”

8Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done; you are inventing them out of your own mind” 9—for they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

Even in the face of vague accusations and blatant lies, Nehemiah keeps his focus on the Lord and the Lord’s work.

10One day when I went into the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his house, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, tonight they are coming to kill you.”

11But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Would a man like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!”

Only priests were allowed in the temple, and Nehemiah was not a priest. He would have been disobeying God if he had done what Shemaiah suggested. In 2 Chronicles 26, King Uzziah — who was not a priest — went into the temple, and God instantly struck him with leprosy.  

12Then I perceived and saw that God had not sent him at all, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13He was hired for this purpose, to intimidate me and make me sin by acting in this way, and so they could give me a bad name, in order to taunt me.

14Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.

Psalm 124 (ESV)

If it had not been the LORD who was on our side—
    let Israel now say—
if it had not been the LORD who was on our side
   when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
   when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
   the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
   the raging waters.

 Blessed be the LORD,
   who has not given us
   as prey to their teeth!
We have escaped like a bird
   from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
   and we have escaped!

 Our help is in the name of the LORD,
   who made heaven and earth.

The Wall Completed

15So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days.

At the beginning, when he saw the need, Nehemiah prayed for four months (the difference in time between Nehemiah 1:1 and 2:1). But the work itself took less than two months. Nehemiah worked longer in prayer than they needed to work to do the job. This shows the spiritual battle was actually greater than the material battle!

16And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem; for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.

17Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah son of Arah: and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah. 19Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence, and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.



HERE  is “Shout to the Lord,” sung  by Lincoln Brewster, who was born in Alaska and is now a pastor in California.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Nehemiah builds the wall.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/nehemiah-wall-complete1.jpg
The Fowler’s Snare.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/thefowlerssnare.jpg
congratulations.   http://www-static2.spulsecdn.net/pics/00/02/45/84/2458410_1_O.jpg

3377.) Nehemiah 5

March 29, 2022

Nehemiah 5   (NRSV)

Nehemiah Deals with Oppression

Now there was a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish kin.

What happened to the confident cooperation of chapter 4, where the people all worked together to build the walls of the city? No mention of building now. Instead, there is strife within the ranks of God’s people . . .

2For there were those who said, “With our sons and our daughters, we are many; we must get grain, so that we may eat and stay alive.”

3There were also those who said, “We are having to pledge our fields, our vineyards, and our houses in order to get grain during the famine.”

4And there were those who said, “We are having to borrow money on our fields and vineyards to pay the king’s tax. 5Now our flesh is the same as that of our kindred; our children are the same as their children; and yet we are forcing our sons and daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been ravished; we are powerless, and our fields and vineyards now belong to others.”

. . . because of money. Now the expenses of the rebuilding of the wall were covered by the king of Persia (Nehemiah 1:8). But if folks were working on the walls, they were not working in their fields, and their income suffered accordingly. Plus there was a famine. And taxes were due. So they had taken out loans and then could not repay them with money, so the “payment” came in the form of their land being taken, or their children being sold. The wealthy in the community were taking advantage of the poor during their times of hardship, instead of helping their brothers and sisters in the Lord.

6I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints. 7After thinking it over, I brought charges against the nobles and the officials; I said to them, “You are all taking interest from your own people.”

The Bible says it is wrong to make money off of someone’s financial need; if someone needs money for the most basic needs of life, they should be given money, not loaned it at interest.

And I called a great assembly to deal with them, 8and said to them, “As far as we were able, we have bought back our Jewish kindred who had been sold to other nations; but now you are selling your own kin, who must then be bought back by us!” They were silent, and could not find a word to say.

9So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God, to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? 10Moreover I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us stop this taking of interest. 11Restore to them, this very day, their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the interest on money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.”

12Then they said, “We will restore everything and demand nothing more from them. We will do as you say.”

Their teachable, correctable spirit was impressive. How difficult it is to be willing to admit we are wrong and to do what is right — especially if money is involved!

And I called the priests, and made them take an oath to do as they had promised. 13I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out everyone from house and from property who does not perform this promise. Thus may they be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.

The Generosity of Nehemiah

14Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. 15The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people, and took food and wine from them, besides forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God.

“No brag, just fact,” as Walter Brennan used to say on the old television show, The Real McCoys. Nehemiah did right for “the fear of God.” And we can do right because “the love of Christ constrains us.”

16Indeed, I devoted myself to the work on this wall,

and acquired no land; and all my servants were gathered there for the work.

17Moreover there were at my table one hundred fifty people, Jews and officials, beside those who came to us from the nations around us. 18Now that which was prepared for one day was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and every ten days skins of wine in abundance; yet with all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because of the heavy burden of labor on the people.

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

Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.



“The Servant Song” is likely to get stuck in your head! It was written by Richard Gillard; I do not know who sings it, but you can listen to it  HERE.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Galatians 6:9.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/galatians6-9.jpg
hissing cats.   https://www.bucksburnvethospital.com/2016/08/23/fighting-felines-5-ways-to-keep-the-peace/
loan shark.  https://fakeschwartz.blogspot.com/2008/09/?m=0
Do the right thing.   http://www.piercemarrs.com/2018/03/three-reasons-right-thing-customers/
When the walls crumble . . .   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/nehemiah-walls-crumble.jpg

3376.) Nehemiah 4

March 28, 2022

Nehemiah 4   (NRSV)

Hostile Plots Thwarted

Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he mocked the Jews. 2He said in the presence of his associates and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore things? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish it in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish—and burned ones at that?”

3Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “That stone wall they are building—any fox going up on it would break it down!”

Nehemiah’s leadership:  Determination.  When confronted by scorn and threats, he did not waste his energy in a war of words. Instead he prayed and the work continued.

4Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their taunt back on their own heads, and give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. 5Do not cover their guilt, and do not let their sin be blotted out from your sight; for they have hurled insults in the face of the builders.

Nehemiah’s leadership:  Patience.  He did not pray for revenge. Instead, he prayed that God would see that justice was done.

6So we rebuilt the wall, and all the wall was joined together to half its height; for the people had a mind to work.

Nehemiah’s leadership:  Confidence.  His calm response to the enemies encouraged the people to persevere and accomplish their task.

7But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and the gaps were beginning to be closed, they were very angry, 8and all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. 9So we prayed to our God, and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

Nehemiah’s leadership:  Courage.  In the face of “rumors of war,” he combined fervent prayer and thoughtful planning. 

10But Judah said, “The strength of the burden bearers is failing, and there is too much rubbish so that we are unable to work on the wall.”

11And our enemies said, “They will not know or see anything before we come upon them and kill them and stop the work.”

12When the Jews who lived near them came, they said to us ten times, “From all the places where they live they will come up against us.”

13So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14After I looked these things over, I stood up and said to the nobles and the officials and the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your kin, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

Nehemiah’s leadership:  Enthusiasm. When the people were daunted by the amount of work and the opposition, he reminded them to keep their eyes on the big picture and to continue working on behalf of those who were dear to them.

15When our enemies heard that their plot was known to us, and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 

16From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and body-armor; and the leaders posted themselves behind the whole house of Judah, 17who were building the wall. The burden bearers carried their loads in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and with the other held a weapon. 18And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me.

19And I said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread out, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. 20Rally to us wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet. Our God will fight for us.”

Nehemiah’s leadership:  Decisiveness. He set up a system where half the men worked while the other half stood guard. Furthermore, he set up a communication system — “the sound of the trumpet” would alert people that there was trouble. Then they could concentrate on their work, without looking over their shoulders all the time.

21So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from break of dawn until the stars came out. 22I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night inside Jerusalem, so that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me ever took off our clothes; each kept his weapon in his right hand.

Dr. Alan Redpath said, ‘The Jews in Nehemiah’s day were successful in their work and in holding the enemy at bay because they had a mind to work (v.6), a heart to pray (v. 9), an eye to watch (v. 9), and an ear to hear (v.20).’  What a good motto for us to keep in mind during our daily lives!



Good leadership in this chapter, but good teamwork, too!

HERE  is something (funny) about teamwork from Johnny and Chachi.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
LaRoyce Jones, 2003.    http://www.reformingculture.com/v2/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/nehemiah.jpg
Hand me another brick!   http://home.hiwaay.net/~wgann/powerpoint/screen_6aa.jpg
building and guarding.    http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/Captivity%20and%20Return%20Artwork/images/nehemiah,_the_king%27s_cupbearer.jpg

3375.) Nehemiah 3

March 25, 2022

Nehemiah 3   (NRSV)

Organization of the Work

Then the high priest Eliashib set to work with his fellow priests and rebuilt the Sheep Gate.

The first gate mentioned is the Sheep Gate, where the sheep and lambs used in the sacrifices were bought into the city. Jesus is “the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” The Sheep Gate, then, speaks to us of the cross and the sacrifice that was made for our sins. It is the starting point of everything, but the Sheep Gate is also mentioned at the very end —  we have come full circle. Everything starts and ends with Jesus’ death on the cross. (All the gate descriptions in this chapter are adapted from the “Jesus Plus Nothing” Christ Centered Bible Study.)

They consecrated it and set up its doors; they consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred and as far as the Tower of Hananel. 2And the men of Jericho built next to him. And next to them Zaccur son of Imri built.

3The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate;

The Fish Gate is so named because the fisherman of Galilee would bring their catch in to be sold through this gate. It speaks of evangelism as it reminds us that we have been called to be ‘fishers of men.’ It is a natural progression in our Christian life — after seeing that Jesus died for our sins, we would want to tell others about it. 

they laid its beams and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 4Next to them Meremoth son of Uriah son of Hakkoz made repairs. Next to them Meshullam son of Berechiah son of Meshezabel made repairs. Next to them Zadok son of Baana made repairs. 5Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord.

6Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate;

The Old Gate speaks to us of the old ways of truth that never change. Jeremiah 6:16 states ‘Thus says the Lord, Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.’

they laid its beams and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 7Next to them repairs were made by Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite—the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah—who were under the jurisdiction of the governor of the province Beyond the River. 8Next to them Uzziel son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs; and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9Next to them Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. 10Next to them Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house; and next to him Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs. 11Malchijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12Next to him Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs, he and his daughters.

Dr. Viggo Olsen, who helped rebuild ten thousand houses in war-raved Bangladesh in 1972, derived unexpected inspiration from reading a chapter ordinarily considered one of the least interesting in the Bible: ‘I was struck . . . that no expert builders were listed in the “Holy Land brigade.” There were priests, priests’ helpers, goldsmiths, perfume makers, and women, but no expert builders or carpenters were named.’”

13Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate;

Sooner or later the Valley Gate must come. The Valley Gate speaks to us of humbling and trials – valley-type experiences used by the Lord for our personal growth. Nothing really grows on the mountain tops, but it certainly does down in the valleys. So it is in the spiritual.

they rebuilt it and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall, as far as the Dung Gate.

The Dung Gate is the gate used to take all the refuse and rubbish out of Jerusalem, down to the valley of Hinnom to be burned. This is what happens in our own life. Valley experiences are used by the Lord to clear away the rubbish so that true faith, refined by the fire, can come forth and produce fruit.

14Malchijah son of Rechab, ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem, repaired the Dung Gate; he rebuilt it and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

15And Shallum son of Col-hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate;

The Fountain Gate is located extremely close to the Dung Gate. In other words, after a valley type experience where rubbish in our lives is cleared out and true faith comes forth, then the fountains begin to flow — and it doesn’t take long! The fountain speaks to us of the living waters of the Holy Spirit that cleanse our lives and empower us for our Christian life.

he rebuilt it and covered it and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars; and he built the wall of the Pool of Shelah of the king’s garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the City of David.

Charles Spurgeon preached a beautiful sermon on this text, where he spoke of six different gardens of the King: Eden, Gethsemane, the Garden Tomb, the human heart, the church as a whole, and the garden of Paradise in heaven.

16After him Nehemiah son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired from a point opposite the graves of David, as far as the artificial pool and the house of the warriors.

17After him the Levites made repairs: Rehum son of Bani; next to him Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, made repairs for his district. 18After him their kin made repairs: Binnui, son of Henadad, ruler of half the district of Keilah; 19next to him Ezer son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at the Angle. 20After him Baruch son of Zabbai repaired another section from the Angle to the door of the house of the high priest Eliashib. 21After him Meremoth son of Uriah son of Hakkoz repaired another section from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib.

22After him the priests, the men of the surrounding area, made repairs. 23After them Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs opposite their house. After them Azariah son of Maaseiah son of Ananiah made repairs beside his own house. 24After him Binnui son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the Angle and to the corner. 25Palal son of Uzai repaired opposite the Angle and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah son of Parosh 26and the temple servants living on Ophel made repairs up to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower.

The Water Gate is a picture of the Word of God and its effect in our life. Ephesians 5:26 states ‘… having washed her by the water of the word.’ It is no coincidence that this gate was located next to the fountain gate as the two often go together. The Holy Spirit is the one who makes the word of God alive to us personally, allowing cleansing, encouragement, and direction to take place in our life.

27After him the Tekoites repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel.

28Above the Horse Gate

The Horse Gate speaks of warfare as horses were used in battle. Revelation 19:11 — ‘I saw Heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness does He judge and make war.’ Spiritual warfare, as we will see in the book of Nehemiah, is the reality of every Christian. We are all in a battle as soldiers for Christ to bring salvation to the world.

the priests made repairs, each one opposite his own house. 29After them Zadok son of Immer made repairs opposite his own house. After him Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, made repairs.

The East Gate (above — the blocked Eastern Gate in Jerusalem, also known as the Golden Gate) is known by Jews for one particular event – the coming of the Messiah! Ezekiel 44:1-3 ‘… the gate that looked toward the east, and it was shut. The Lord said to me, ‘This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it.’ The East Gate opens and looks toward the Mount of Olives, where Jesus will return (Zechariah 14:4). He will then enter Jerusalem by the East Gate. So the East Gate also speaks of the return of Jesus Christ. Scripture encourages us to live with this hope and to long for His return. A specific crown is even given to those who do this (2 Timothy 4:8).

30After him Hananiah son of Shelemiah and Hanun sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. After him Meshullam son of Berechiah made repairs opposite his living quarters. 31After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, opposite the Muster (Inspection) Gate,

The final gate is the Inspection Gate. This gate speaks to us of the judgment seat of Christ where our lives are inspected and rewarded appropriately. In our Christian experience we should be living with this in mind. We are called to live our lives with eternity in view, caring more for the things of eternity than the temporal that we see around us. Prophetically this gate also speaks of the judgement of the nations that takes place when Jesus returns. This is recorded in the sheep and the goats judgement in Mathew 25:31-46.

and to the upper room of the corner. 32And between the upper room of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants made repairs.



When I think of the gates of Jerusalem, I think of our Savior, who was crucified outside the gates.

Hebrews 13:11-13 (NIV)

The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp.  And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.  Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.

HERE  is “Revelation Song”  with Kari Jobe. Let us worship.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
map of Nehemiah’s Jerusalem.      https://veteranstochrist.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/nehem3.gif
lamb of God.   http://lambofgod.altervista.org/lamb-of-god/
fish market.     https://tamil.news.lk/news/politics/item/19222-2017-10-28-17-07-01
old iron gate.  http://www.homeworkshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Rusted-Iron-Gate-with-Chartreuse-Elderberries.jpg
Lower Engadine Valley, Switzerland.   http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4026/4642406596_e616b9478e.jpg
present-day Dung Gate in Jerusalem.  https://yishaifleisher.com/the-dingy-dung-gate/
fountain.   http://cerejasnoquintal.blogspot.com/2012/10/fontes-no-jardim.html
The kiss of the sun . . .  http://cf.mp-cdn.net/e2/1d/243b73b775e7de947d34cf628248.jpg
Niagara Falls, Canada.  http://ridzwan-bakar.blogspot.com/2010/07/
Christ on a white horse.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/revelation1911.jpg
Golden Gate.    http://www.planetware.com/i/photo/golden-gate-jerusalem-jer108.jpg
Jesus as Judge (Matthew 25).   https://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~engdc/hhjw6/124833a.JPG

3374.) Nehemiah 2

March 24, 2022

Nehemiah 2   (NRSV)

Nehemiah Sent to Judah

At the time, I was cupbearer to the king.

— a significant position in any ancient royal court. The cupbearer was a personal bodyguard to the king, being the one who tasted wine and food before the king did, making certain no one could poison the king. The king, therefore, had to have a tremendous amount of trust in his cupbearer, who had to be a man of faithful and impressive character. If the cupbearer could be turned against the king, assassination would be easy.

The cupbearer also was a servant to the king; he was responsible for choosing most of the foods and wines the king and the court would enjoy.

The cupbearer was also a trusted adviser to the king; since he was constantly in the king’s presence, and greatly trusted, and a man of character, it was natural the cupbearer would often be asked his opinion on different matters coming before the king.

–David Guzik

In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was served him, I carried the wine and gave it to the king. Now, I had never been sad in his presence before. 2So the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This can only be sadness of the heart.”

Then I was very much afraid.

Afraid because it was dangerous to show any unhappiness in the presence of the king; simply to be with him was delight and gladness! To be sad when one was with such a wonderful person could be interpreted as an insult to the king!

3I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my ancestors’ graves, lies waste, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

4Then the king said to me, “What do you request?”

So I prayed to the God of heaven.

A quick prayer. Like, “Help!”

5Then I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves, so that I may rebuild it.”

6The king said to me (the queen also was sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me, and I set him a date.

Nehemiah ended up spending 12 years in Jerusalem (see Nehemiah 13:6).

7Then I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the (Euphrates) River, that they may grant me passage until I arrive in Judah; 8and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, directing him to give me timber to make beams for the gates of the temple fortress, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the gracious hand of my God was upon me.

Tomb of King Artaxerxes

God uses a sympathetic pagan king to help his servant accomplish God’s purposes!

9Then I came to the governors of the province Beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent officers of the army and cavalry with me.

10When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.

Sanballat was the governor of Samaria, and Tobiah some other governmental man of influence. They objected because a weak Jerusalem helped them be strong; a strong Jerusalem threatened their power and positions.

Nehemiah’s Inspection of the Walls

11So I came to Jerusalem and was there for three days. 12Then I got up during the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. The only animal I took was the animal I rode.

13I went out by night by the Valley Gate past the Dragon’s Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that had been broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire.

Thank you, King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army! 

The word viewed or inspected in Nehemiah 2:13 and 2:15 is a medical term for “probing a wound to see the extent of its damage.”

14Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool; but there was no place for the animal I was riding to continue.

The walls were so badly broken down that his horse couldn’t find footing; Nehemiah had to climb around himself to inspect things.

15So I went up by way of the valley by night and inspected the wall.


The Psalmist David said, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite [crushed] spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

Brokenness means more than sorrow and weeping, more than a crushed spirit, more than humility. True brokenness releases in the heart the greatest power God can entrust to mankind—greater than power to raise the dead or heal sickness and disease. When we are truly broken before God, we are given a power that restores ruins, a power that brings a special kind of glory and honor to our Lord.

You see, brokenness has to do with walls—broken down, crumbling walls. David associated the crumbling walls of Jerusalem with the brokenheartedness of God’s people. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart…. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness”  (Psalm 51:17–19).

Nehemiah was a brokenhearted man, and his example has to do with those broken walls of Jerusalem (see Nehemiah 2:12–15). In the dark of the night, Nehemiah “viewed the wall.” The Hebrew word shabar is used here. It is the same word used in Psalm 51:17 for “broken heart.” In the fullest Hebrew meaning, Nehemiah’s heart was breaking in two ways. It broke first with anguish for the ruin, and second with a hope for rebuilding (bursting with hope).

This is truly a broken heart: one that first sees the church and families in ruin and feels the Lord’s anguish. Such a heart grieves over the reproach cast on the Lord’s name. It also looks deep inside and sees, as David did, its own shame and failure. But there is a second important element to this brokenness, and that is hope. The truly broken heart has heard from God: “I will heal, restore and build. Get rid of the rubbish, and get to work rebuilding the breaches!”

–David Wilkerson

Then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest that were to do the work.

“You will often find it best not to commit your plans to others. If you want to serve God, go and do it, and then let other people find it out afterwards. You have no need to tell what you are going to do, and, I may add, there is no need for you retelling what you have done, for very, very frequently God withdraws himself when we boast of what is being done.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Decision to Restore the Walls

17Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no longer suffer disgrace.” 18I told them that the hand of my God had been gracious upon me, and also the words that the king had spoken to me.

Then they said, “Let us start building!” So they committed themselves to the common good.

19But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they mocked and ridiculed us, saying, “What is this that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?”

20Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven is the one who will give us success,

Psalm 118:24-25 (ESV)

This is the day that the LORD has made;
   let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Save us, we pray, O LORD!
   O LORD, we pray, give us success!

and we his servants are going to start building; but you have no share or claim or historic right in Jerusalem.”



HERE  is Chris Tomlin and “God of This City.” Roughly 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That figure is somewhat lower worldwide — Today, around 55 percent of the world’s population is thought to be living in an urban area or city, with that figure set to rise to 68 percent over the coming decades, according to the UN. And God is over all!

You’re the God of this City
You’re the King of these people
You’re the Lord of this nation
You are

You’re the Light in this darkness
You’re the Hope to the hopeless
You’re the Peace to the restless
You are

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater thing have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Send me to the city.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/nehemiah-send.gif
cupbearer.   http://biblewalk.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/nehemiah.jpg
tomb of Artaxerxes.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4e/Tomb_ascribed_to_Xerxes_I.jpg
broken heart.   http://s3.hubimg.com/u/205410_f260.jpg
shhh.  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rebecca-minky

3373.) Nehemiah 1

March 23, 2022

Nehemiah 1   (NRSV)

Nehemiah Prays for His People

Some 1,000 years after the time of Moses and some 400 years before the birth of Jesus, the nation of Israel and the Jewish people were in a desperate state. Their nations were destroyed — first the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel and then the southern Jewish kingdom of Judah. The city of Jerusalem was completely conquered by the Babylonians and the once-glorious temple of Solomon was destroyed.

When the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, they deported almost everyone from the city and the region, and for some 70 years, Jerusalem was a ghost town, with the potential to end up like many ancient cities — completely forgotten except to history.

When the Jews were deported to Babylon, they began to make homes for themselves there. They settled down, and many still followed the God of their Fathers, but they did it from Babylon, with no desire to return to the land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Some of these faithful Jews were raised up to places of prominence in the governments they were deported to. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego became leaders in Babylon; Esther was made queen in the courts of a Persian king.

But after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, they were given the opportunity to return to their homeland, the Promised Land. Out of the some two or three million Jews deported from the land, only 50,000 decided to return to the Promised Land. That’s only something like 2%! But they did return, and in the days of Ezra, they rebuilt the temple and laid a spiritual foundation for Israel once again.

The Book of Nehemiah begins 15 years after the Book of Ezra ends, almost 100 years after the first captives came back to the Promised Land, and some 150 years after the city of Jerusalem was destroyed. After this long time, the walls of the city of Jerusalem were still in rubble. Before this, citizens of Jerusalem had tried to rebuild the walls but had failed. In Ezra 4:6-23, we see that some 75 years before they tried to rebuild the walls, but were stopped by their enemies. No one thought this obstacle could be overcome, so the walls lay in ruin and the people stayed in trouble.

–David Guzik

The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. In the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capital, 2one of my brothers, Hanani, came with certain men from Judah; and I asked them about the Jews that survived, those who had escaped the captivity, and about Jerusalem.

Psalm 137:5-6 (NIV)

If I forget you, Jerusalem,
   may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
   if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
   my highest joy.

3They replied, “The survivors there in the province who escaped captivity are in great trouble and shame; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire.”

4When I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

5I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments;

Nehemiah praises God for who God is.

6let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned. 7We have offended you deeply, failing to keep the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances that you commanded your servant Moses.

Nehemiah confesses his sins and the sins of the people.

8Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples; 9but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place at which I have chosen to establish my name.’

Nehemiah holds God to his promises.

10They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great power and your strong hand. 11O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man!”

Nehemiah volunteers to work for God’s purposes.

At the time, I was cupbearer to the king.



When singer/songwriter Jodi Lavender Aldredge read Nehemiah’s prayer (Nehemiah 1:5-11), she was moved by his passion and was inspired to put Nehemiah’s prayer into song —  HERE.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Nehemiah.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/nehemiah_t.jpg
city of Jerusalem.   http://book-of-revelation.blogspot.com/2012/10/luke-2120.html
Pray for the impossible.  http://gbcdecatur.org/files/PrayForTheImpossible.jpg

3372.) Ezra 10

March 22, 2022

The Bible tells us: Do not be unequally yoked 🙂 with unbelievers.

Ezra 10 (New Century Version)

The People Confess Sin

1 As Ezra was praying and confessing and crying and throwing himself down in front of the Temple, a large group of Israelite men, women, and children gathered around him who were also crying loudly. 2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel the Elamite said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying women from the peoples around us. But even so, there is still hope for Israel.3 Now let us make an agreement before our God. We will send away all these women and their children as you and those who respect the commands of our God advise. Let it be done to obey God’s Teachings.

We learn later in the chapter that most of the wives had embraced the faith of their husbands and were raising their children in the fear of the Lord.

4Get up, Ezra. You are in charge, and we will support you. Have courage and do it.”

Joshua 1:7-9 (NIV)

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

5 So Ezra got up and made the priests, Levites, and all the people of Israel promise to do what was suggested; and they promised.6 Then Ezra left the Temple and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While Ezra was there, he did not eat or drink, because he was still sad about the unfaithfulness of the captives who had returned.

One Bible commentator has said — “The man who sets himself ‘to seek, to do, to teach’ the law of God invariably brings himself into places where sorrow will be his portion, and intrepid courage necessary.”

7 They sent an order in Judah and Jerusalem for all the captives who had returned to meet together in Jerusalem. 8 Whoever did not come to Jerusalem within three days would lose his property and would no longer be a member of the community of the returned captives. That was the decision of the officers and elders.

9 So within three days all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered in Jerusalem. It was the twentieth day of the ninth month. All the men were sitting in the open place in front of the Temple and were upset because of the meeting and because it was raining.

Ahoghill, Northern Ireland

Ezra 10:9 (ESV)

And all the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain.

This response has been seen again as the Holy Spirit has moved upon the people of God. In March of 1859, at the beginning of a great move of God that would bring more than one million souls to conversion in Great Britain, some unordained men with a passion for revival preached at the First Presbyterian Church in Ahoghill, Northern Ireland. There was such a large crowd at that meeting that they had to dismiss the meeting out of fear that the balconies would collapse under the weight of so many people. They took the meeting to the street outside, and in the freezing rain James McQuilkin preached to 3,000 people in the streets, with many of the listeners falling to their knees in the wet and muddy street because they were so moved by the conviction of sin under the preaching of these laymen.

–David Guzik

10 Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful and have married non-Jewish women. You have made Israel more guilty.11 Now, confess it to the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Do his will and separate yourselves from the people living around you and from your non-Jewish wives.”

12 Then the whole group answered Ezra with a loud voice, “Ezra, you’re right! We must do what you say.13 But there are many people here, and it’s the rainy season. We can’t stand outside, and this problem can’t be solved in a day or two, because we have sinned badly. 14 Let our officers make a decision for the whole group. Then let everyone in our towns who has married a non-Jewish woman meet with the elders and judges of each town at a planned time, until the hot anger of our God turns away from us.” 15 Only Jonathan son of Asahel, Jahzeiah son of Tikvah, Meshullam, and Shabbethai the Levite were against the plan.

16 So the returned captives did what was suggested. Ezra the priest chose men who were leaders of the family groups and named one from each family division. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to study each case.17 By the first day of the first month, they had finished with all the men who had married non-Jewish women.

The whole process took many weeks, because so many men had taken pagan wives. The questioning was necessary because they needed to examine if one of these wives had genuinely decided to serve the Lord God and to forsake her native religions.

If the pagan wife had decided to keep her primary allegiance with her former people and their idols, she could not live among the covenant community and had to be divorced.

To the end of the chapter, there is a list showing that only about 114 of these pagan wives refused to embrace the God of Israel and had to be divorced. Yamauchi calculates that it was less than one-half of one percent of the people who were guilty of this pagan intermarriage and who had to divorce their wives. Though it was such a small percentage, it still had to be dealt with strongly – and it was. It also shows that most of the foreign wives joined the people of God in their heart as well as their home.

–David Guzik



HERE  is “Sweetly Broken,” lyrics by Jeremy Riddle. We all need to face our sins honestly. Christ will help us do that — and then forgive us.


Those Guilty of Marrying Non-Jewish Women

18These are the descendants of the priests who had married foreign women:

From the descendants of Jeshua son of Jozadak and Jeshua’s brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah.19 (They all promised to divorce their wives, and each one brought a male sheep from the flock as a penalty offering.)

20 From the descendants of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah.

21 From the descendants of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah.

22 From the descendants of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.

23 Among the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (also called Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.

24 Among the singers: Eliashib.

Among the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.

25 And among the other Israelites, these married non-Jewish women:

From the descendants of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malkijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malkijah, and Benaiah.

26 From the descendants of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah.

27 From the descendants of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza.

28 From the descendants of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.

29 From the descendants of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth.

30 From the descendants of Pahath-Moab: Adna, Kelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh.

31 From the descendants of Harim: Eliezer, Ishijah, Malkijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,32 Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.

33 From the descendants of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.

34 From the descendants of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel,35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Keluhi,36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,37 Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasu.

38 From the descendants of Binnui: Shimei,39 Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah,40 Macnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,41 Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah,42 Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.

43 From the descendants of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah.

44 All these men had married non-Jewish women, and some of them had children by these wives.

Ezra here disappears from the Biblical record for about thirteen years, when he appears again in the Book of Nehemiah. His passion then was the same as it was at the end of the Book of Ezra: to transform the people of God by bringing them the Word of God.

The End of the book of Ezra.


New Century Version (NCV)   The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Images courtesy of:
eggs.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/yolks.jpg
The task ahead of you . . .   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/task-in-front-of-you1.gif
Ahoghill, Northern Ireland.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/northern-ireland.jpg

3371.) Ezra 9

March 21, 2022

“Ezra in prayer” — engraving by Gustave Dore, 1865. (Coloring added.)

Ezra 9 (New Century Version)

Ezra’s Prayer

1 After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “Ezra, the Israelites, including the priests and Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the people around us. Those neighbors do evil things, as the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites did. 2The Israelite men and their sons have married these women. They have mixed the people who belong to God with the people around them. The leaders and officers of Israel have led the rest of the Israelites to do this unfaithful thing.”

The problem is not primarily ethnic. Rather, it is religious — the Jews have adopted the evil practices, the abominations (as the King James Version puts it) of their neighbors and wives.

Ezra 9:1-2 seems to recall passages from the Law of Moses against intermarriage with the surrounding Canaanite tribes – in particular, Exodus 34:11-16 and Deuteronomy 7:1-4. We may see this conviction of sin on the part of the people and their leaders, and the way that the conviction of sin was phrased, to indicate (spiritually speaking) that Ezra’s arrival to bring the ministry of teaching God’s word was bearing fruit. The people heard the word, looked at their lives, and saw that the two did not match.

–David Guzik (and all following comments in purple)

3 When I heard this, I angrily tore my robe and coat, pulled hair from my head and beard, and sat down in shock.4 Everyone who trembled in fear at the word of the God of Israel gathered around me because of the unfaithfulness of the captives who had returned. I sat there in shock until the evening sacrifice.

Ezra had just finished a dangerous four-month journey from Babylonia to Jerusalem. He had perhaps over-romanticized the spiritual commitment of the return-from-exile pioneers and had expected to find something completely different than the culture of compromise that he found. Certainly, one of the reasons for his mourning was that Ezra remembered that it was these sins of idolatry and compromise that caused the tribes of Israel to be exiled before. He no doubt wondered how the people could endanger themselves like this again.

5 At the evening sacrifice I got up from where I had shown my shame. My robe and coat were torn, and I fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God.

Solomon prayed on his knees (1 Kings 8:54), the Psalmist called us to kneel (Psalm 95:6), Daniel prayed on his knees (Daniel 6:10), people came to Jesus kneeling (Matthew 17:14, Matthew 20:20, Mark 1:40), Stephen prayed on his knees (Acts 7:60), Peter prayed on his knees (Acts 9:40), Paul prayed on his knees (Acts 20:36, Ephesians 3:14), and other early Christians prayed on their knees (Acts 21:5). Most importantly, Jesus prayed on His knees (Luke 22:41). The Bible has enough prayer not on the knees to show us that it isn’t required, but it also has enough prayer on the knees to show us that it is good.

Ezra also spread out his hands to the Lord. This was the most common posture of prayer in the Old Testament. Many modern people close their eyes, bow their head, and fold their hands as they pray, but the Old Testament tradition was to spread out the hands toward heaven in a gesture of surrender, openness, and ready reception.

6 I prayed,

“My God, I am too ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are so many. They are higher than our heads. Our guilt even reaches up to the sky.

Ezra had a heart for holiness. When he found out that God’s people had been faithless in matters of worship and marriage, he tore his clothes, pulled his own hair, and sat in mourning for an entire day. Then at the time of the evening sacrifice he bowed down before God and offered a prayer of confession, in which he numbered himself among the transgressors.

7 From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we, our kings, and our priests have been punished by the sword and captivity. Foreign kings have taken away our things and shamed us, even as it is today.

8 “But now, for a short time, the Lord our God has been kind to us. He has let some of us come back from captivity and has let us live in safety in his holy place. And so our God gives us hope and a little relief from our slavery.

“The Jewish commentator Slotki observes poignantly: ‘A little grace had been granted by God to his people; a small remnant had found its weary way back to its home and driven a single peg into its soil; a solitary ray of light was shining; a faint breath of freedom lightened their slavery. How graphically Ezra epitomizes Jewish experience in these few words!’”

Even though we are slaves, our God has not left us. He caused the kings of Persia to be kind to us and has given us new life. We can rebuild the Temple and repair its ruins. And he has given us a wall to protect us in Judah and Jerusalem.

10 “But now, our God, what can we say after you have done all this? We have disobeyed your commands11 that you gave through your servants the prophets. You said, ‘The land you are entering to own is ruined; the people living there have spoiled it by the evil they do. Their evil filled the land with uncleanness from one end to the other.12 So do not let your daughters marry their sons, and do not let their daughters marry your sons. Do not wish for their peace or success. Then you will be strong and eat the good things of the land. Then you can leave this land to your descendants forever.’

13 “What has happened to us is our own fault. We have done evil things, and our guilt is great. But you, our God, have punished us less than we deserve; you have left a few of us alive.14 We should not again break your commands by allowing marriages with these wicked people. If we did, you would get angry enough to destroy us, and none of us would be left alive.15 Lord, God of Israel, by your goodness a few of us are left alive today. We admit that we are guilty and none of us should be allowed to stand before you.”

As the tribes of Israel piled sin upon sin before the fall of the northern and southern kingdoms, God still showed remarkable mercy to them. He did not have to preserve them in exile; there could have been genocide instead. As well, He did not have to bring them back from exile into the Promised Land once again. Each of these was a wonderful example of God’s mercy in the midst of judgment.



“Nothing in my hands I bring — simply to thy cross I cling.”  No excuses, no justifications, no spin — just confession.

HERE  is “I Lay My Sins on Jesus” — forgive us, Lord.


New Century Version (NCV)   The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Images courtesy of:
Dore.   http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/bible-images/hires/Ezra-Chapter-9-Ezra-Kneels-in-Prayer.jpg
praying on her knees.   https://tukwankohweabrokyire.blogspot.com/2019/04/thursday-4th-april-2019.html
verse 8.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/ezra9-8.jpg

3370.) Ezra 8

March 18, 2022

At least when they packed to travel, they didn’t have weight limits on their bags or size limits on their liquids!

Ezra 8 (New Century Version)

Leaders Who Returned with Ezra

1These are the leaders of the family groups and those who were listed with them who came back with me from Babylon during the rule of King Artaxerxes.

One Bible commentator has said, “There was little at Jerusalem to attract a new expedition; for the glamour which had surrounded the first return, with a son of David at its head, had faded in grievous disappointments; and the second series of pilgrims had to carry with them the torch with which to rekindle the flames of devotion.”

2 From the descendants of Phinehas: Gershom.

From the descendants of Ithamar: Daniel.

From the descendants of David: Hattush3 of the descendants of Shecaniah.

From the descendants of Parosh: Zechariah, with one hundred fifty men.

4 From the descendants of Pahath-Moab: Eliehoenai son of Zerahiah, with two hundred men.

5 From the descendants of Zattu: Shecaniah son of Jahaziel, with three hundred men.

6 From the descendants of Adin: Ebed son of Jonathan, with fifty men.

7 From the descendants of Elam: Jeshaiah son of Athaliah, with seventy men.

8 From the descendants of Shephatiah: Zebadiah son of Michael, with eighty men.

9 From the descendants of Joab: Obadiah son of Jehiel, with two hundred eighteen men.

10 From the descendants of Bani: Shelomith son of Josiphiah, with one hundred sixty men.

11 From the descendants of Bebai: Zechariah son of Bebai, with twenty-eight men.

12 From the descendants of Azgad: Johanan son of Hakkatan, with one hundred ten men.

13 From the descendants of Adonikam, these were the last ones: Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, with sixty men.

14 From the descendants of Bigvai: Uthai and Zaccur, with seventy men.

“The interest of this forbidding list of names and numbers lies in the fact that in every case but one of these groups are joining, at long last, the descendants of the pioneers from Babylon eighty years before.”

–Derek Kidner

Adding the counts of the male members of the group together, there was a total count of at least 1,496 men in the group. Adding an estimated number of women and children (Ezra 8:21), we can surmise that the total number of the party coming with Ezra in the days of King Artaxerxes was something between 6,000 to 7,000 people.

–David Guzik

The Return to Jerusalem

15 I called all those people together at the canal that flows toward Ahava, where we camped for three days. I checked all the people and the priests, but I did not find any Levites.

Ezra needed Levites. They were the “worker bees” of the temple. So he plans to recruit some.

16 So I called these leaders: Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And I called Joiarib and Elnathan, who were teachers.17 I sent these men to Iddo, the leader at Casiphia, and told them what to say to Iddo and his relatives, who are the Temple servants in Casiphia. I sent them to bring servants to us for the Temple of our God.18 Our God was helping us, so Iddo’s relatives gave us Sherebiah, a wise man from the descendants of Mahli son of Levi, who was the son of Israel. And they brought Sherebiah’s sons and brothers, for a total of eighteen men.19 And they brought to us Hashabiah and Jeshaiah from the descendants of Merari, and his brothers and nephews. In all there were twenty men.20They also brought two hundred twenty of the Temple servants, a group David and the officers had set up to help the Levites. All of those men were listed by name.

21 There by the Ahava Canal, I announced we would all fast and deny ourselves before our God. We would ask God for a safe trip for ourselves, our children, and all our possessions. 22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road. We had said to the king, “Our God helps everyone who obeys him, but he is very angry with all who reject him.”

They needed protection because the danger was real. There was a constant threat of robbers and bandits, especially because they were transporting so many valuables. Yet because of their dependence on God, expressed through prayer and fasting, God protected them.

“Thus we see that this good man had more anxiety for the glory of God than for his own personal safety.”

— Adam Clarke

23 So we fasted and prayed to our God about our trip, and he answered our prayers.

24 Then I chose twelve of the priests who were leaders, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their relatives.25 I weighed the offering of silver and gold and the utensils given for the Temple of our God, and I gave them to the twelve priests I had chosen. The king, the people who advised him, his officers, and all the Israelites there with us had given these things for the Temple.26 I weighed out and gave them about fifty thousand pounds of silver, about seventy-five hundred pounds of silver objects, and about seventy-five hundred pounds of gold.27 I gave them twenty gold bowls that weighed about nineteen pounds and two fine pieces of polished bronze that were as valuable as gold.

These are enormous amounts of treasure! And these priests are responsible for all of it on a long journey, facing robbers or bandits . . .

28 Then I said to the priests, “You and these utensils belong to the Lord for his service. The silver and gold are gifts to the Lord, the God of your ancestors.29 Guard these things carefully. In Jerusalem, weigh them in front of the leading priests, Levites, and the leaders of the family groups of Israel in the rooms of the Temple of the Lord.”30 So the priests and Levites accepted the silver, the gold, and the utensils that had been weighed to take them to the Temple of our God in Jerusalem.

31 On the twelfth day of the first month we left the Ahava Canal and started toward Jerusalem. Our God helped us and protected us from enemies and robbers along the way.32 Finally we arrived in Jerusalem where we rested three days.

A four month journey from Babylonia to Jerusalem.

33 On the fourth day we weighed out the silver, the gold, and the utensils in the Temple of our God. We handed them to the priest Meremoth son of Uriah. Eleazar son of Phinehas was with him, as were the Levites Jozabad son of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui.34 We checked everything by number and by weight, and the total weight was written down.

“According to Babylonian tradition, almost every transaction, including sales and marriages, had to be recorded in writing. Ezra may have had to send back a signed certification of the delivery of the treasures.”

–Edwin M. Yamauchi

35 Then the captives who returned made burnt offerings to the God of Israel. They sacrificed twelve bulls for all Israel,

This is touching. Although officially only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remain, they offer sacrifices for all twelve tribes.

ninety-six male sheep, and seventy-seven lambs. For a sin offering there were twelve male goats. All this was a burnt offering to the Lord.36 They took King Artaxerxes’ orders to the royal officers and to the governors of Trans-Euphrates. Then these men gave help to the people and the Temple of God.

This reminds us of the great purpose of Ezra’s expedition. In the final two chapters we will see Ezra administering strict correction as a reformer; but he did not come primarily as a disciplinarian. He came to give support to the people and the house of God, and only dealt with the problems of sin and compromise as necessary in the course of this greater goal.

–David Guzik



HERE  is “O, God, Our Help in Ages Past” sung by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.  Pieces of Bach’s “St. Anne” fugue open and close the vocal portion.


New Century Version (NCV)   The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Images courtesy of:
luggage.   http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/08/03/article-1203999-05EF9803000005DC-609_470x288.jpg
prayers at the canal.   http://workersforjesus.com/ezra7-10.htm
verse 23.  https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2019/02/19/2557-ezra-8/#jp-carousel-47634
12 tribes.   http://www.kidsbiblemaps.com/12-tribes-israel.html