1. And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had never been sad before in his presence.
2. Therefore the king said unto me, Why is your countenance sad, seeing you are not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very much afraid,
3. And said unto the king, Let the king live forever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lies waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?
4. Then the king said unto me, For what do you make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
5. And I said unto the king, If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you would send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may rebuild it.
6. And the king said unto 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. 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 over till I come into Judah;
8. And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress which pertains to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the temple that I shall enter into. And the king so granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.
9. Then I came to the governors 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 Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there had come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
11. So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.
12. And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any animal with me, except the animal that I rode upon.
13. And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even to the jackal’s well, and to the refuse gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down; and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.
14. Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king’s pool: but there was no place for the animal that was under me to pass.
15. Then went I up in the night by the valley, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned.
16. And the rulers knew not where I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.
17. Then said I unto them, You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we are no more a reproach.
18. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
19. But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed at us, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that you do? will you rebel against the king?
20. Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but you have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.