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In the early morning hours of January 20, 2017, at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. for the inauguration prayer service, Pastor Robert Jeffress selected a reading from the biblical Book of Nehemiah with Donald and Melania Trump in attendance.

The following is my condensation of the Book of Nehemiah, focusing on the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem:

(1:1) The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah.  (1:3) “. . . the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire.”

(2:3) I said to the king . . . “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?”  (2:4) Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.  (2:5) Then 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.” . . . (2:7) Then I said to the king, “. . . let . . . (2:8) . . . a letter [be given] 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. . . . (2:17) Then I said to them [the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest that were to do the work], “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.”  (2:18) I 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.

(4:1) Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he mocked the Jews.  (4:2) He 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?”  (4:3) Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “That stone wall they are building—any fox going up on it would break it down!” . . . (4:7) But 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, (4:8) and all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. . . . (4:11) And our enemies said, “They will not know or see anything before we come upon them and kill them and stop the work. . . . (4:14) After 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.”  (4:15) When our enemies heard that their plot was known to us, and the God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall each to his work.

(6:15) So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days.  (6:16) And 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.

(7:1) 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, (7:2) I 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.  (7:3) And 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.” . . . (7:73) So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, and all Israel settled in their towns.

(12:27) Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with rejoicing, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. . . . (12:30) And the priests and the Levites purified themselves; and they purified the people and the gates and the wall.

Translation used was the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

artwork from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nehemiah

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