2** And in the month of Nisan of the year twenty of King Artaxerxes he had wine before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. And I had not been sad before him; 2 and the king said to me “How comes your face to be sad, when you are not sick? this is nothing else but a heart sadness.”
And I was very much afraid, 3** but said to the king “May the king live forever—how should my face not be sad when the city, the burial-place of my fathers, is lying waste and its gates have been burned down?”
4 And the king said to me “What is it you want to ask for?”
And I prayed to the God of heaven 5 and said to the king “If the king thinks best and if you hold your servant in esteem, that you would send me to Jerusalem, to the city of my fathers’ graves, to rebuild it.”
6 And the king said to me, while my lady was sitting beside him, “In how long would you go and when would you be back?”
And the king approved and sent me; and I set him a date. 7 And I said to the king “If the king thinks best, let me be given letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates to pass me through till I come to Judah, 8* and a letter to Asaph the king’s forester to give me timber for constructing the citadel gates for the house and for the wall of the city and for the house I am to occupy”; and the king gave me these, in accordance with God’s kindly hand upon me.
9* And I came to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters; and the king sent with me army officers and cavalry. 10 And Sanballat the Horonite and Tobijah the ʽAmmonite slave heard of it and took it very hard that somebody had come to attempt something good for the sons of Israel.
11 And I came to Jerusalem and was there three days; 12 and I rose in the night, I and a few men with me (I had not told anybody what God had put it into my heart to do for Jerusalem), but had no beast with me except the beast I rode on. 13* And I went out by the Valley Gate in the night to the front of the Dragon Spring and to the Dump Gate, and kept inspecting the walls of Jerusalem, how they were broken and its gates had been burned down. 14* And I went over to the Spring Gate and to the King’s Reservoir, and there was no way for the beast to get over with me on its back. 15 And I kept on up the Arroyo in the night, and kept inspecting the wall; and I came back and went in by the Valley Gate, and home; 16* and the men on guard did not know where I had gone and what I was doing, and thus far I had not told the Judahites and the priests and the nobles and the magnates and the rest of the administrators.
17 And I said to them “You see for yourselves the bad state we are in, how Jerusalem is lying waste and its gates have been burned down. Come on, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and not be a butt for insults any longer”; 18 and I told them of God’s hand, how it had rested kindly on me, and all the words of the king, what he had said to me; and they said “Let us stand up and build,” and took heart for the good cause.
19 And Sanballat the Horonite and Tobijah the ʽAmmonite slave and Gusham the Arab heard of it and made fun of us and treated us contemptuously, and said “What’s that you are doing? rebelling against the king?” 20 But I gave them their answer, “The God of heaven himself will make us successful, and we his worshipers will stand up and build; but you have no share nor right nor memories in Jerusalem.”