1. At that time, the book of the Law of Moses was read in the presence of the people, and they found this written in it: "The Ammonite and Moabite will never enter the assembly of God,

2. for they did not welcome the sons of Israel with bread and water. They gave money to Balaam to curse them, but our God turned their curse into a blessing."

3. When they heard this Law, they excluded from Israel all those of foreign descent.

4. Before this, the priest Eliashib had been caretaker of the chambers of the House of God. Since he was related to Tobiah,

5. he had allotted to him a spacious chamber which used to be the storage room for the offerings, incense, utensils, tithes of the wheat, wine and oil, that is, for what belonged to the Levites, singers and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests.

6. I was not in Jerusalem when this happened, because in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes, king of Babylon, I had gone to see the king. Then after some time, the king allowed me to return.

7. I returned to Jerusalem and I was informed of the evil Eliashib had done just to please Tobiah, allotting to him a chamber inside the court to the House of God.

8. This made me very angry. So I threw all of Tobiah's furniture out of the chamber and

9. ordered the chamber to be purified, and had the utensils of the House of God, the offerings and the incense put back in place.

10. I also learned that the portions were not given to the Levites. And because of this, the Levites and the singers in charge of the ceremonies had gone back to their fields.

11. I was angry with the counselors and said to them, "Why is the House of God abandoned?" Then I gathered together the Levites and the singers, and sent them back to work according to their respective duties.

12. With this, all the Jews turned over to the storehouses the tenth part of their wheat, wine and oil.

13. I entrusted the administration of the storehouses to the priest Shelemiah, to the teacher of the Law Zadok, to the Levite Pedaiah, and to Hanan, son of Zaccur, as assistant. I appointed them since they were regarded as responsible men. Their work consisted in distributing the food to their brothers.

14. My God, remember the things I have done. Do not forget the good works I did for your House and its ceremonies.

15. In those days, I found men of Judah working in the winepress on the sabbath. Others took sheaves of wheat and loaded them on their asses together with wine, grapes, figs and every kind of produce they wanted to bring into Jerusalem on the sabbath day. I reprimanded them as they were selling their produce.

16. Some Tyrians who had settled in Jerusalem brought in fish and every sort of merchandise to sell to the Jews on the Sabbath day.

17. So I reprimanded the leaders of Judah, saying to them, "You have done great evil by not respecting the sabbath day.

18. When your fathers did not observe the sabbath, our God brought all those misfortunes on us and on this city. You increase the wrath of God against Israel by not respecting his sabbaths."

19. So I ordered that as the shadows were falling on the gates of Jerusalem in the evening before the sabbath, the gates were to be closed and not to be opened until after the sabbath was over. Moreover, I also stationed some of my men by the gates so that no goods would be brought in on the sabbath day.

20. Once or twice, some merchants who sold every kind of merchandise spent the night outside Jerusalem,

21. but I warned them, saying, "Why do you spend the night by the wall? Do this again, and I shall use force against you." From then on, they did not return any more on the sabbath day.

22. I also ordered the Levites to purify themselves and to come and guard the gates in order to sanctify the sabbath. For this, too, remember me, my God, and have pity on me according to your great mercy.

23. In those days, I also saw that some Jews had remarried Ashdodite, Ammonite and Moabite women,

24. and half of their children spoke Ashdodite and did not know our own language.

25. I reprimanded them and cursed them; I had some of them flogged and tore out their hair, and made them swear in the name of Yahweh, saying to them: "You shall not marry your daughters to the sons of those people, nor take any of their daughters as wife, neither you nor your sons.

26. Did Solomon, king of Israel, not sin in this? Among the many nations, there had not been a king like him. He was loved by God, and God made him king of all Israel. But foreign women also made him sin.

27. Will it also be said of you that you committed the same grave crime by rebelling against our God in marrying foreign women?"

28. I also sent away from my side one of the sons of Jehoiada, son of the high priest Eliashib, who was the son-in-law of Sanballat, the Horonite.

29. Remember this people, my God, for they defiled the priesthood and your covenant with the priests and Levites.

30. So I purified them from everything foreign. And I established regulations for the priests and the Levites, defining the tasks of everyone.

31. I also fixed the time for the wood offering and for the firstfruits. Remember me, my God, for my good!

“O Coração de Jesus não deixará cair no vazio a nossa oração se ela for plena de fé e de confiança.” São Padre Pio de Pietrelcina