1: THE WORDS of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it came to pass in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the castle,
2: that Hanani, one of my brethren, came out of Judah, he and certain men; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, that were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
3: And they said unto me: 'The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.'
4: And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days; and I fasted and prayed before the G-d of heaven,
5: and said: 'I beseech Thee, O HaShem, the G-d of heaven, the great and awful G-d, that keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments;
6: let Thine ear now be attentive, and Thine eyes open, that Thou mayest hearken unto the prayer of Thy servant, which I pray before Thee at this time, day and night, for the children of Israel Thy servants, while I confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against Thee; yea, I and my father's house have sinned.
7: We have dealt very corruptly against Thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which Thou didst command Thy servant Moses.
8: Remember, I beseech Thee, the word that Thou didst command Thy servant Moses, saying: If ye deal treacherously, I will scatter you abroad among the peoples;
9: but if ye return unto Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though your dispersed were in the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to cause My name to dwell there.
10: Now these are Thy servants and Thy people, whom Thou hast redeemed by Thy great power, and by Thy strong hand.
11: O L-rd, I beseech Thee, let now Thine ear be attentive to the prayer of Thy servant, and to the prayer of Thy servants, who delight to fear Thy name; and prosper, I pray Thee, Thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.' Now I was cupbearer to the king.
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 unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.
2: And the king said unto me: 'Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart.' Then I was very sore afraid.
3: And I said unto the king: 'Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?'
4: Then the king said unto me: 'For what dost thou make request?' So I prayed to the G-d of heaven.
5: And I said unto the king: 'If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it.'
6: And the king said unto me, the queen also sitting by him: 'For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return?' So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.
7: Moreover I said unto the king: 'If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the River, that they may let me pass through till I come unto Judah;
8: and a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's park, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the castle which appertaineth to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into.' And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my G-d upon me.