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Nehemiah 1:1–2:20

Report from Jerusalem

The words of aNehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

Now it happened in the month of bChislev, cin the twentieth year, as I was in dSusa the citadel, that eHanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and fshame. gThe wall of Jerusalem is broken down, hand its gates are destroyed by fire.”

Nehemiah’s Prayer

As soon as I heard these words I isat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the jGod of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, kthe great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, llet your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, mconfessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even nI and my father’s house have sinned. oWe have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules pthat you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, qI will scatter you among the peoples, rbut if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, sthough your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them tto the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10 uThey are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, llet your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

Now I was vcupbearer to the king.

Nehemiah Sent to Judah

In the month of Nisan, win the twentieth year of King xArtaxerxes, when wine was before him, yI took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but zsadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, a“Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, bwhen the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed cto the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (dthe queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me ewhen I had given him a time. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me fto the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of gthe fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, hfor the good hand of my God was upon me.

Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls

Then I came to ithe governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 10 But when jSanballat the Horonite and kTobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.

11 lSo I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. 13 I went out by night by mthe Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to nthe Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem othat were broken down pand its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I went on to qthe Fountain Gate and to rthe King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass. 15 Then I went up in the night sby the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.

17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, thow Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer usuffer derision.” 18 And I told them vof the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” wSo they strengthened their hands for the good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and xGeshem the Arab heard of it, ythey jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? zAre you rebelling against the king?” 20 Then I replied to them, a“The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim1 in Jerusalem.”

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