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Nehemiah 1:1-2:7Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah:

News from Jerusalem

During the month of Chislev[a] in the twentieth year,[b] when I was in the fortress city of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived with men from Judah, and I questioned them about Jerusalem and the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile. They said to me, “The remnant in the province, who survived the exile, are in great trouble and disgrace. Jerusalem’s wall has been broken down, and its gates have been burned down.”

Nehemiah’s Prayer

When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said,

Yahweh, the God of heaven, the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps His gracious covenant with those who love Him and keep His commands, let Your eyes be open and Your ears be attentive to hear Your servant’s prayer that I now pray to You day and night for Your servants, the Israelites. I confess the sins[c] we have committed against You. Both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted corruptly toward You and have not kept the commands, statutes, and ordinances You gave Your servant Moses. Please remember what You commanded Your servant Moses: “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples. But if you return to Me and carefully observe My commands, even though your exiles were banished to the ends of the earth,[d] I will gather them from there and bring them to the place where I chose to have My name dwell.” 10 They are Your servants and Your people. You redeemed them by Your great power and strong hand. 11 Please, Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and to that of Your servants who delight to revere Your name. Give Your servant success today, and have compassion on him in the presence of this man.[e]

At the time, I was the king’s cupbearer.

Nehemiah Sent to Jerusalem

During the month of Nisan[f] in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was set before him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had never been sad in his presence, so the king said to me, “Why are you[g] sad, when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but depression.”[h]

I was overwhelmed with fear and replied to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should I[i] not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

Then the king asked me, “What is your request?”

So I prayed to the God of heaven and answered the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried,[j] so that I may rebuild it.”

The king, with the queen seated beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you return?” So I gave him a definite time, and it pleased the king to send me.

I also said to the king: “If it pleases the king, let me have letters written to the governors of the region west of the Euphrates River, so that they will grant me safe passage until I reach Judah.

Footnotes:

  1. Nehemiah 1:1 = November–December
  2. Nehemiah 1:1 Artaxerxes reigned 465-425 b.c.
  3. Nehemiah 1:6 Lit sins of the Israelites
  4. Nehemiah 1:9 Lit skies
  5. Nehemiah 1:11 = the king
  6. Nehemiah 2:1 = March–April; called Abib in the pre-exilic period; Ex 13:4; Dt 16:1
  7. Nehemiah 2:2 Lit Why is your face
  8. Nehemiah 2:2 Lit sadness of heart
  9. Nehemiah 2:3 Lit my face
  10. Nehemiah 2:5 Lit city, the house of the graves of my fathers,

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