11The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah.
In the month of Kislev of the twentieth year, I was in Susa, the citadel. 2Hanani, one of my brothers, came to me with men from Judah. I asked them about the remnant of the Jews, who had survived the captivity and had escaped from it, and about Jerusalem.
3They said to me, “The survivors from the captivity who are there in the province are in great misery and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned.”
4When I heard about these things, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of Heaven. 5I said:
Please, Lord, the God of Heaven, the great and awe-inspiring God, who preserves the covenant and faithfulness for those who love him and keep his commands: 6Let your ear be attentive and your eyes be open as you hear the prayer of your servant today, which I am now praying before you day and night, concerning the Israelites, who are your servants. I am also confessing the sins of the people of Israel that we committed against you. I and my father's house have also sinned. 7We have acted very corruptly against you, and we have not kept the commands, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances that you commanded Moses your servant.
8Please remember the command you gave to Moses your servant when you said, “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples. 9But when you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, even if you have been scattered to the end of heaven, from there I will gather them, and I will bring them to the place where I have chosen to make my name dwell.” 10They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed with your great power and your mighty hand.
11Please, my Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and to the prayers of your servants who are delighted to revere your name. Make your servant successful today, and give him mercy in this man's presence.
I was cupbearer to the king.
Nehemiah Receives a Commission From Artaxerxes
21In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, wine was being served to the king, and I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had never been sad in his presence, 2so the king said to me, “Why do you look sad, since you are not sick? This must be sadness of heart.”
Then I was very much afraid. 3I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why shouldn't I look sad when the city, the place of my ancestors' tombs, lies in ruins, and its gates have been consumed by fire?”
4Then the king said to me, “What do you want?”
So I prayed to the God of Heaven, 5and I said to the king, “If it seems good to the king, and if you look upon your servant with favor, then send me to Judah, to the city where my ancestors' tombs are, and let me rebuild it.”
6The king said to me, while the queen was sitting next to him, “How long will your journey be and when will you return?”
The king was pleased to send me, so I gave him a definite time. 7I also said to the king, “If it seems good to the king, please give me letters for the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will grant me safe passage through that province until I come to Judah, 8also a letter to Asaph, superintendent of the king's forest, so that he will give me lumber to lay beams for the gates of the citadel of the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” The king gave them to me, because the good hand of my God was upon me.
9Then I came to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, and I gave them the king's letters. The king had sent army officers and cavalry with me.
10When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very upset that a man had come to seek the welfare of the Israelites.