Nehemiah 1:1-3:14Contemporary English Version (CEV)
1 I am Nehemiah son of Hacaliah, and in this book I tell what I have done.
During the month of Chislev[a] in the twentieth year that Artaxerxes[b] ruled Persia, I was in his fortress city of Susa,[c] 2 when my brother Hanani came with some men from Judah. So I asked them about the Jews who had escaped[d] from being captives in Babylonia. I also asked them about the city of Jerusalem.
3 They told me, “Those captives who have come back are having all kinds of troubles. They are terribly disgraced, Jerusalem’s walls are broken down, and its gates have been burned.”
4 When I heard this, I sat down and cried. Then for several days, I mourned; I went without eating to show my sorrow, and I prayed:
5 Lord God of heaven, you are great and fearsome. And you faithfully keep your promises to everyone who loves you and obeys your commands. 6 I am your servant, so please have mercy on me and answer the prayer that I make day and night for these people of Israel who serve you. I, my family, and the rest of your people have sinned 7 by choosing to disobey you and the laws and teachings you gave to your servant Moses.
8 Please remember the promise you made to Moses. You told him that if we were unfaithful, you would scatter us among foreign nations. 9 But you also said that no matter how far away we were, we could turn to you and start obeying your laws. Then you would bring us back to the place where you have chosen to be worshiped.
10 Our Lord, I am praying for your servants—those you rescued by your great strength and mighty power. 11 Please answer my prayer and the prayer of your other servants who gladly honor your name. When I serve the king his wine today, make him pleased with me and have him do what I ask.
Nehemiah Goes to Jerusalem
2 During the month of Nisan[e] in the twentieth year that Artaxerxes was king, I served him his wine, as I had done before. But this was the first time I had ever looked depressed. 2 So the king said, “Why do you look so sad? You’re not sick. Something must be bothering you.”
Even though I was frightened, 3 I answered, “Your Majesty, I hope you live forever! I feel sad because the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and its gates have been burned down.”
4 The king asked, “What do you want me to do?”
I prayed to the God who rules from heaven. 5 Then I told the king, “Sir, if it’s all right with you, please send me back to Judah, so that I can rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”
6 The queen was sitting beside the king when he asked me, “How long will it take, and when will you be back?” The king agreed to let me go, and I told him when I would return.
7 Then I asked, “Your Majesty, would you be willing to give me letters to the governors of the provinces west of the Euphrates River, so that I can travel safely to Judah? 8 I will need timber to rebuild the gates of the fortress near the temple and more timber to construct the city wall and to build a place for me to live. And so, I would appreciate a letter to Asaph, who is in charge of the royal forest.” God was good to me, and the king did everything I asked.
9 The king sent some army officers and cavalry troops along with me, and as I traveled through the Western Provinces, I gave the letters to the governors. 10 But when Sanballat from Horon[f] and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about what had happened, they became very angry, because they didn’t want anyone to help the people of Israel.
Nehemiah Inspects the Wall of Jerusalem
11 Three days after arriving in Jerusalem, 12 I got up during the night and left my house. I took some men with me, without telling anyone what I thought God wanted me to do for the city. The only animal I took was the donkey I rode on. 13 I went through Valley Gate on the west, then south past Dragon Spring, before coming to Garbage Gate. As I rode along, I took a good look at the crumbled walls of the city and the gates that had been torn down and burned. 14 On the east side of the city, I headed north to Fountain Gate and King’s Pool, but then the trail became too narrow for my donkey. 15 So I went down to Kidron Valley and looked at the wall from there. Then before daylight I returned to the city through Valley Gate.
16 None of the city officials knew what I had in mind. And I had not even told any of the Jews—not the priests, the leaders, the officials, or any other Jews who would be helping in the work. 17 But when I got back, I said to them, “Jerusalem is truly in a mess! The gates have been torn down and burned, and everything is in ruins. We must rebuild the city wall so that we can again take pride in our city.”
18 Then I told them how kind God had been and what the king had said.
Immediately, they replied, “Let’s start building now!” So they got everything ready.
19 When Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard about our plans, they started insulting us and saying, “Just look at you! Do you plan to rebuild the walls of the city and rebel against the king?”
20 I answered, “We are servants of the God who rules from heaven, and he will make our work succeed. So we will start rebuilding Jerusalem, but you have no right to any of its property, because you have had no part in its history.”
Rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem
3 These are the people who helped rebuild the wall and gates of Jerusalem:
The high priest Eliashib and the other priests rebuilt Sheep Gate and hung its doors. Then they dedicated Sheep Gate and the section of the wall as far as Hundred Tower and Hananel Tower.
2 The people of Jericho rebuilt the next section of the wall, and Zaccur son of Imri rebuilt the section after that.
3 The family of Hassenaah built Fish Gate. They put the beams in place and hung the doors, then they added metal bolts and wooden beams as locks.
4 Meremoth, son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz, completed the next section of the wall.
Meshullam, son of Berechiah and grandson of Meshezabel, rebuilt the next section, and Zadok son of Baana rebuilt the section beside that.
5 The next section was to be repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their town leaders refused to do the hard work they were assigned.[g]
6 Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah restored Ancient Gate. They put the beams in place, hung the doors, and added metal bolts and wooden beams as locks. 7 Melatiah from Gibeon, Jadon from Meronoth, and the men from Gibeon and Mizpah rebuilt the next section of the wall. This section reached as far as the house of the governor of West Euphrates Province.[h]
8 Uzziel son of Harhaiah the goldsmith rebuilt the next section.
Hananiah the perfume maker rebuilt the section next after that, and it went as far as Broad Wall.
9 Rephaiah son of Hur ruled half of the Jerusalem District, and he rebuilt the next section of the wall.
10 The section after that was close to the home of Jedaiah son of Harumaph, and he rebuilt it.
Hattush son of Hashabneiah constructed the next section of the wall.
11 Malchijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath Moab rebuilt the section after that, and they also built Oven Tower.
12 Shallum son of Hallohesh ruled the other half of the Jerusalem District, and he rebuilt the next section of the wall. Shallum’s daughters also worked with him.
13 Hanun and the people who lived in the town of Zanoah rebuilt Valley Gate. They hung the doors and added metal bolts and wooden beams as locks. They also rebuilt the wall for fifteen hundred feet, all the way to Garbage Gate.
14 Malchijah son of Rechab ruled the district of Beth-Haccherem, and he rebuilt Garbage Gate. He hung the doors and added metal bolts and wooden beams as locks.
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