1And it came to pass in the month Nissan, in the twentieth year of king Artaxerxes, that wine stood before him; and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. But I had never been sad in his presence.
2Then said the king unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing but an illness of heart. Then was I very greatly afraid.
3And I said unto the king, May the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth ruined, and her gates are consumed by fire?
4Then said the king unto me, For what then dost thou make request? Then did I pray to the God of heaven.
5And I said unto the king, If it seem good to the king, and if thy servant might be pleasing in thy presence, I desire that thou wouldst send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it.
6And the king said unto me, while the queen was sitting beside him, When is thy journey to be undertaken? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to let me go; and I indicated to him a time.
7And I said unto the king, If it seem good to the king, let letters be given unto me for the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till the time that I come into Judah;
8Also a letter unto Assaph the keeper of the king's forests, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress which appertaineth to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall move into. And the king gave them to me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.
9And so came I to the governors beyond the river, and I gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent with me captains of the army and horsemen.
10When Sanballat the Choronite, and Tobiyah the servant, the 'Ammonite, heard of it, it displeased them exceedingly, that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
11So came I to Jerusalem, and remained there three days.
12Then arose I in the night, I and some few men with me; but I had not told any man what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem: nor was there any beast with me, save the beast on which I rode.
13And I went out through the gate of the valley by night, even toward the direction of the dragon-well, and to the dung-gate; and I was viewing the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates whereof were consumed by fire.
14Then passed I on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king's pool; but there was no space for the beast that was under me to pass through.
15Then went I up through the valley in the night, and I was viewing the wall, and I returned and entered through the gate of the valley, and so returned home.
16And the rulers knew not whither I was gone, or what I was doing: nor had I as yet told it to the Jews, and to the priests, and to the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the superintendents of the work.
17Then said I unto them, Ye see the misery in which we are, how Jerusalem lieth in ruins, and its gates are burnt with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no more be for a reproach.
18And I told them of the hand of my God, which was good upon me, as also the king's words which he had spoken unto me. And they said, We will rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
19But when Sanballat the Choronite, and Tobiyah the servant, the 'Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye are doing? are ye rebelling against the king?
20And I returned them an answer, and said unto them, The God of heaven will indeed give us prosperity, and we his servants will truly rise up and build; but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.