Old Testament

Nehemiah 2
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.
Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem's Wall
11So I arrived at Jerusalem and was there for three days. 12Then I got up in the middle of the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what God had placed into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding. 13At night I went out through the Valley Gate and went toward the vicinity of the Jackal Well[] and the Dung Gate. I began inspecting the walls of Jerusalem, which had been breached, and its gates, which had been consumed by fire. 14Then I crossed over to the Fountain Gate and to the King's Pool, but there was no place for the animal that I was riding to get through. 15So I kept going up the valley and inspecting the wall during the night. Then I turned around and went back the same way and came in through the Valley Gate.
16The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing. I had not yet told the Jews—the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the rest of the people who would be doing the work. 17So I said to them, “You see the very bad situation we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned. Come, let's rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be disgraced.” 18Then I told them that the hand of my God had been good to me, and I also told them the words the king had said to me.
They said, “Let's get up and rebuild!” Then they encouraged each other for this good work.
19When Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they ridiculed us and held us in contempt. They said, “What are you doing? Are you rebelling against the king?”
20I responded to them by saying, “The God of Heaven will make us successful. We, his servants, will rise up and rebuild. But you have no portion or right or heritage in Jerusalem.”


  • 2:1 Hebrew Artachshasta. The EHV uses the names of the Persian kings that have become the standard English names. These names derive from the Greek versions of the names rather than directly from the Hebrew or Persian forms of the names.
  • 2:7 That is, the territory west of the Euphrates River, Syria-Palestine
  • 2:10 Literally servant. The Hebrew term here refers to a government official of secondary rank.
  • 2:13 Or Serpent Well or Dragon Well