GOD’S WORD Translation
The King Shows Compassion to Nehemiah
2 In the month of Nisan, in Artaxerxes’ twentieth year as king, after some wine was brought for the king, I picked up the cup of wine and gave it to the king. I had never been sad in his presence before.
2 The king asked me, “Why do you look so sad? You aren’t sick, are you? You must be troubled about something.” (I was really afraid).
3 “May the king live forever!” I said to the king. “Why shouldn’t I look sad when the city, the place where my ancestors are buried, is in ruins and its gates are burned down?”
4 “What do you want?” the king asked me.
So I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I asked the king, “If it pleases Your Majesty, and you are willing to grant my request, let me go to Judah, to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I can rebuild it.”
6 Then, while the queen was sitting beside him, the king asked me, “How long will you be gone, and when will you come back?” When I gave him a specific date, he was willing to let me go.
7 I also asked the king, “If it pleases Your Majesty, let me have letters addressed to the governors ⌞of the province⌟ west of the Euphrates River. In the letters tell them to grant me safe conduct until I arrive in Judah. 8 Also, let me have a letter addressed to Asaph, the supervisor of Your Majesty’s forest. In the letter order him to give me wood for the gates of the fortress near the temple, for the city wall, and for the house I’ll move into.” (The king let me have the letters, because God was guiding me.)
Nehemiah Goes to Jerusalem
9 I went to the governors ⌞of the province⌟ west of the Euphrates River and gave them the king’s letters. (The king had sent army officers and cavalry to be with me.) 10 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, they were very upset that someone had come to give the people of Israel so much assistance.
Nehemiah Surveys the Damage to Jerusalem’s Walls
11 I went to Jerusalem and was there for three days. 12 During the night I went out with a few men without telling anyone what my God had inspired me to do for Jerusalem. The only animal I had was the one I was riding. 13 I went through Valley Gate that night toward Snake Fountain and Dung Gate and examined the places where the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and where its gates had been burned. 14 Passing through Fountain Gate, I arrived at King’s Pool, but the animal I was riding couldn’t get through. 15 So I went through the valley that night and examined the wall. Then I turned back, entered Valley Gate, and returned.
16 The officials didn’t know where I had gone or what I had done. I hadn’t yet told the Jews, the priests, the leaders, the other officials, or any of the rest who would be doing the work. 17 Then I told them, “You see the trouble we’re in. Jerusalem is in ruins, and its gates are burned down. Let’s rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be insulted.” 18 Then I told them that my God had been guiding me and what the king had told me.
They replied, “Let’s begin to rebuild.” So they encouraged one another to begin this God-pleasing work.
19 When Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite servant, and Geshem the Arab heard about this, they made fun of us and ridiculed us. They asked, “What are you doing? Are you going to rebel against the king?”
20 “The God of heaven will give us success,” I answered them. “We, his servants, are going to rebuild. You have no property or claim or historic right in Jerusalem.”
New International Version
Artaxerxes Sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem
2 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,(A) when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”
I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever!(B) Why should my face not look sad when the city(C) where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?(D)”
4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?”
Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
6 Then the king(E), with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.
7 I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates,(F) so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? 8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel(G) by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me,(H) the king granted my requests.(I) 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry(J) with me.
Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls
11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days(N) 12 I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.
13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate(O) toward the Jackal[a] Well and the Dung Gate,(P) examining the walls(Q) of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate(R) and the King’s Pool,(S) but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire.(T) Come, let us rebuild the wall(U) of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.(V)” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me(W) and what the king had said to me.
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.
19 But when Sanballat(X) the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem(Y) the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us.(Z) “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”
20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding,(AA) but as for you, you have no share(AB) in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”
- Nehemiah 2:13 Or Serpent or Fig