1. At that time they were reading to the people from the Book of Moses, when they found this written in it, 'No Ammonite or Moabite is to be admitted to the assembly of God, and this is for all time,
2. since they did not come to meet the Israelites with bread and water, and even hired Balaam to oppose them by cursing them; but our God turned the curse into a blessing.'
3. Having heard the Law, they excluded all foreigners from Israel.
4. Earlier, Eliashib the priest, who was in charge of the rooms of the Temple of our God, and who was close to Tobiah,
5. had provided him with a large room where they previously used to store the meal offerings, incense, utensils, tithes of corn, wine and oil, that is, the part of the Levites, singers and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests.
6. While all this was going on I was away from Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had gone to see the king. But after some time I asked the king for permission to leave,
7. and returned to Jerusalem, where I learned about the crime which Eliashib had committed for Tobiah's benefit, by providing him with a room in the courts of the Temple of God.
8. I was extremely displeased and threw all Tobiah's household goods out of the room and into the street.
9. I then gave orders for the room to be purified, and had the utensils of the Temple of God, the meal offerings and the incense, all replaced.
10. I also learned that the Levites had not been receiving their allocations, as a result of which the Levites and singers who performed the liturgy had all withdrawn to their farms.
11. I then reprimanded the officials. 'Why is the Temple of God deserted?' I asked. And I collected them together again and brought them back to their posts;
12. and all Judah then delivered the tithe of corn, wine and oil to the storehouses.
13. As supervisors of the storehouses I appointed Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, Pedaiah one of the Levites and, as their assistant, Hanan son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, since they were considered reliable people; their duty was to make the distributions to their kinsmen.
14. Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out the good deeds which I have done for the Temple of my God and its observances!
15. At the same time I saw people in Judah treading the winepress, bringing in sacks of grain and loading donkeys on the Sabbath; they were also bringing wine, grapes, figs and every kind of merchandise into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So I forbade them to sell the food.
16. Tyrians living there were bringing in fish and every kind of merchandise which they were selling to the Judaeans on the Sabbath in Jerusalem itself.
17. So I also reprimanded the leading men of Judah, saying to them, 'What a wicked way to behave, profaning the Sabbath day!
18. Was this not exactly what your ancestors did, with the result that our God brought all this misery down on us and on this city? And now you are adding to the wrath hanging over Israel by profaning the Sabbath yourselves!'
19. So when the gates of Jerusalem were getting dark at the approach of the Sabbath, I gave orders for the doors to be shut and directed that they were not to be opened again until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my attendants at the gates to make sure that no merchandise was brought in on the Sabbath day.
20. So the traders and dealers in goods of all kinds spent the night outside Jerusalem once or twice,
21. until I reprimanded them. I said to them, 'Why are you spending the night in front of the wall? Do it again, and I shall use force on you.' After this, they did not come on the Sabbath.
22. I then ordered the Levites to purify themselves and act as guards at the gates, so that the Sabbath day might be kept holy. Remember this also to my credit, have pity on me in the greatness of your faithful love.
23. At that time too, I saw Jews who had married wives from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab;
24. as regards their children, half of them spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, but could no longer speak the language of Judah.
25. I reprimanded them, I cursed them, I struck several of them and tore out their hair and adjured them by God, 'You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons or let their daughters marry your sons, or marry them yourselves!
26. Was it not because of women like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Although among many nations there was no king like him and he was loved by his God, and God made him king of all Israel, even then foreign women led him into sinning!
27. Were you obedient when you committed this very grave crime: breaking faith with our God by marrying foreign wives?'
28. One of the sons of Jehoiada, son of Eliashib the high priest, was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; I drove him from my presence.
29. Remember them, my God, for having defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priests and Levites!
30. And so I purged them of everything foreign; I drew up regulations for the priests and Levites, defining each man's duty,
31. as well as for the deliveries of wood at the proper times, and for the first-fruits. Remember this, my God, to my credit!