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The Bible Story Part 199

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"For they all would have made us afraid, saying, 'Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done.' But now, O G.o.d, strengthen thou my hands.

"And I went to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabel, who was shut up; and he said, 'Let us meet together in the house of G.o.d, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee.'

"And I said, 'Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being such as I, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.'

"And I discerned, and, lo, G.o.d had not sent him: but he p.r.o.nounced this prophecy against me: and Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this cause was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me. Remember, O my G.o.d, Tobiah and Sanballat {227} according to these their works, and also the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets that would have put me in fear.

"So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. And it came to pa.s.s, when all our enemies heard thereof, that all the heathen that were about us feared, and were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our G.o.d."

_The People Celebrate the Great Event_.

"And when the seventh month was come, the children of Israel were in their cities. And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the broad place that was before the water gate; and they spoke unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation, both men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the broad place that was before the water gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women, and of those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose.

"And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people (for he was above all the people); and when he {228} opened it, all the people stood up: and Ezra blessed the Lord, the great G.o.d. And all the people answered, 'Amen, Amen,' with the lifting up of their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. And the Levites caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. And they read in the book, in the law of G.o.d, distinctly; and they gave the sense, so that they understood the reading. And Nehemiah, which was the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said to all the people, 'This day is holy unto the Lord your G.o.d; mourn not, nor weep.' For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.

"Then he said unto them, 'Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto him for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye grieved; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'

"So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, 'Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.' "And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.

"And on the second day were gathered together the heads of fathers'

houses of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to give attention to the words of the law. And they found written in the law, how the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: and that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, 'Go forth to the mount, and fetch olive branches, and branches of wild olive, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.'

{229}{230}

[Ill.u.s.tration]

JERUSALEM

This view shows the city from the Mount of Olives. The present wall surrounding the city can be plainly seen. Very differently it looked when Nehemiah saw it, with broken walls and ruined houses, swept by the fierce tides of war. The modern city of Jerusalem, connected with the coast by a railroad, is growing very rapidly in size and importance [End ill.u.s.tration]

{231}

"So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, everyone upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of G.o.d, and in the broad place of the water gate, and in the broad place of the gate of Ephraim. And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and dwelt in the booths: for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.

"Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of G.o.d. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn a.s.sembly, according unto the ordinance."

_The Vows of the People and the Dedication Ceremonies_.

"The people entered into an oath, to walk in G.o.d's law, which was given by Moses the servant of G.o.d, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes.

"And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, {232} and with harps. And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain round about Jerusalem, and from the villages. Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies that gave thanks and went in procession; with the musical instruments of David the man of G.o.d; and Ezra the scribe was before them: and by the fountain gate, and straight before them, they went up by the stairs of the city of David, at the going up of the wall, above the house of David, even unto the water gate eastward. And the other company of them that gave thanks went to meet them, and I after them, with the half of the people, upon the wall, above the tower of the furnaces, even unto the broad wall.

"So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of G.o.d, and I, and the half of the rulers with me: and the priests with trumpets. And the singers sang loud. And they offered great sacrifices that day, and rejoiced; for G.o.d had made them rejoice with great joy; and the women also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off."

_How Nehemiah Enforced the Law_.

(After the walls were built, and the city brought into a state of law and order, Nehemiah went back to his post in the Persian court. After he went away, trouble arose. The people began to disobey the laws.

Nehemiah knew that law abiding people are as necessary to national greatness as stout walls and great armies, so he came back, and enforced the laws with a strong {233} hand. How he made the people keep the Sabbath, he tells as follows:)--

"In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine-presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading a.s.ses therewith; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.

"There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought in fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath to the children of Judah and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the n.o.bles of Judah, and said to them, 'What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our G.o.d bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath.'

"And it came to pa.s.s that, when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut, and commanded that they should not be opened till after the Sabbath: and some of my servants set I over the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the Sabbath day. So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.

"Then I testified against them, and said to them, 'Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you.'

"From that time forth came they no more on the Sabbath. And I commanded the Levites that they should {234} purify themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day.

"Remember unto me, O my G.o.d, this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy."

(The story of Nehemiah's life, told by himself, breaks off abruptly, but we know that he lived and died in high honor. Josephus, the Jewish historian, says of him, "He was a man of good and righteous character, and very ambitious to make his nation happy; and he hath left the walls of Jerusalem as an eternal monument of himself.")

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THE STORY OF A DIVIDED KINGDOM

{236}

THE KINGS OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH

SAUL, 1037 B. C. 20 years

DAVID, 40 years

SOLOMON, 40 years

JUDAH 937 B. C. ISRAEL

King Length of Reign King Length of Reign Prophet

REHOBOAM, 17 years JEROBOAM, 22 years

ABIJAH, 3 years

ASA, 41 years

NADAB, 2 years

BAASHA, 24 years

ELAH, 2 years

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The Bible Story Part 199 summary

You're reading The Bible Story. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): Newton Marshall Hall and Irving Francis Wood. Already has 207 views.

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