1. And it came to pass in the month Nisan,in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, when wine was before him, that I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence before,
2. And the king said to me, “Why is your countenance sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.” Then I was very much afraid.
3. And I said to the king, “Let the king live forever. Why should not my countenance be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are destroyed by fire?”
4. And the king said to me, “For what do you ask?” So I prayed to the God of heaven,
5. And I said to the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you would send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, so that I may build it.”
6. And the king said to me (the queen also sitting by him), “For how long shall your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me, and I set him a time.
7. And I said to the king, “If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the River, so that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah,
8. And a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, so that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which belong to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house into which I shall enter.” And the king granted me what I asked, according to the good hand of my God upon me.
9. And I came to the governors of the province beyond the River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.
10. And when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard, it grieved them very much that there had come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
11. And I came to Jerusalem and was there three days.
12. And I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I did not tell it to anyone what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem. And there was no animal with me except the one that I rode upon.
13. And I went out by night by the Valley Gate, even towards the Dragon’s Well, and to the Dung Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down, and its gates which were burned by fire.
14. And I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no place for the animal that was under me to pass.
15. Then I went up in the night by the valley and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the Valley Gate, and returned.
16. And the rulers did not know where I had gone, nor what I was doing. Nor had I told it to the Jews as yet, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest doing the work.
17. Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and the gates of it are burned by fire. Come and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no more be a reproach.”
18. And I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me, and also the king’s words that he had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up to build.” So they made their hands strong for the good.
19. But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us. And they said, “What is this that you do? Will you rebel against the king?”
20. Then I answered them and said to them, “The God of heaven, He will prosper us, and we, His servants, will arise and build. But you have no portion or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”
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