Nehemiah 1:1–2:20

Nehemiah Prays for His People

1 The words of aNehemiah the son of Hachaliah.

It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the btwentieth year, as I was in cShushan 1the 2citadel, that dHanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the eprovince are there in great distress and freproach. gThe wall of Jerusalem his also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”

So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

And I said: “I pray, iLord God of heaven, O great and jawesome God, kYou who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love 3You and observe 4Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and lYour eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and mconfess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. nWe have acted very corruptly against You, and have onot kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, pIf you 5are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; qbut if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, rthough some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ 10 sNow these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. 11 O Lord, I pray, please tlet Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who udesire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

For I was the king’s vcupbearer.

Nehemiah Sent to Judah

2 And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of aKing 1Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that bI took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but csorrow of heart.”

So I became 2dreadfully afraid, and said to the king, d“May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when ethe city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with ffire?”

Then the king said to me, “What do you request?”

So I gprayed to 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, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”

Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him ha time.

Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the igovernors of the region beyond 3the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the 4citadel which pertains jto the 5temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me kaccording to the good hand of my God upon me.

Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. 10 When lSanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite 6official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.

Nehemiah Views the Wall of Jerusalem

11 So I mcame to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode. 13 And I went out by night nthrough the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the 7Refuse Gate, and 8viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were obroken down and its gates which were burned with fire. 14 Then I went on to the pFountain Gate and to the qKing’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass. 15 So I went up in the night by the rvalley, 9and 1viewed the wall; then 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 had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work.

17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies 2waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be sa reproach.” 18 And I told them of tthe hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me.

So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they uset 3their hands to this good work.

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? vWill you rebel against the king?”

20 So I answered them, and said to them, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, wbut you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”

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