Chapter 1

    The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

  1. And it came to pass in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, that Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped who were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 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.
  2. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted and prayed before the God of Heaven, and said, I implore you, O Lord God of Heaven, the great and terrible God that keeps covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments, let your ear now be attentive and your 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 confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against you. Both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments which you commanded your servant Moses. Remember, I implore you, the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, If you transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations; but if you turn unto me, and keep my commandments and do them, though there were of you cast out unto the utmost part of the heaven, yet will I gather you from there and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now these are your servants and your people whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, I implore you, let now your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who desire to fear your name, and prosper, I pray you, your servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.
  3. For I was the king’s cupbearer, 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 not been previously sad in his presence, wherefore 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 and 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’ sepulchers, lies waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? Then the king said unto me, For what do you make request? So I prayed to the God of Heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if your servant have found favor in your sight, that you would send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchers, that I may build it. 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. Moreover, I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given to me, to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over until I come into Judah, 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 palace which appertained 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 God upon me.