1 Now it happened that, in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of king Artaxerxes, wine was before him; and I lifted up the wine, and I gave it to the king. And I was like someone languishing before his face.
2 And the king said to me: “Why is your expression sad, though you do not appear to be sick? This is not without cause, but some evil, I know not what, is in your heart.” And I was struck with an exceedingly great fear.
3 And I said to the king: “O king, live forever. Why should my expression not be mournful, since the city of the house of the sepulchers of my father is desolate, and its gates have been burned with fire?”
4 And the king said to me: “What would you request?” And I prayed to the God of heaven.
5 And I said to the king: “If it seems good to the king, and if your servant is pleasing before your face: that you would send me into Judea, to the city of the sepulcher of my father. And I will rebuild it.”
6 And the king said to me, with the queen who was sitting beside him: “Until what time will your journey be, and when will you return?” And it was pleasing before the countenance of the king, and so he sent me. And I established a time for him.
7 And I said to the king: “If it seems good to the king, may he give me letters to the governors of the region beyond the river, so that they may lead me through, until I arrive in Judea,
8 and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, so that he may give me timber, in order that I may be able to cover the gates of the tower of the house, and the walls of the city, and the house that I will enter.” And the king granted to me in accord with the good hand of my God, who is with me.
9 And I went to the governors of the region beyond the river, and I gave them the letters of the king. Now the king had sent with me military leaders and horsemen.
10 And Sanballat, a Horonite, and the servant Tobiah, an Ammonite, heard this. And they were saddened, with a great affliction, that a man had arrived who was seeking the prosperity of the sons of Israel.
11 And I arrived at Jerusalem, and I was there for three days.
12 And I got up in the night, I and a few men with me. And I did not reveal to anyone what God had placed in my heart to do in Jerusalem. And there was no animal with me, except the animal on which I was sitting.
13 And I departed in the night through the gate of the valley, and before the fountain of the dragon, and toward the dung gate. And I considered the wall of Jerusalem, which was broken apart, and its gates, which had been consumed by fire.
14 And I continued on to the gate of the fountain, and to the aqueduct of the king. And there was no room for the beast on which I was sitting to pass through.
15 And so I climbed up in the night along the torrent, and I considered the wall. And turning back, I went by the gate of the valley, and I returned.
16 Now the magistrates did not know where I had gone, or what I had done. For I had revealed nothing, even to that point in time, to the Jews, or to the priests, or to the nobles, or to the magistrates, or to the others who were doing the work.
17 And so I said to them: “You know the affliction in which we are, because Jerusalem is desolate, and its gates have been consumed by fire. Come, and let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and let us no longer be in disgrace.”
18 And I revealed to them how the hand of my God was with me for good, and the words of the king, which he had spoken to me. And I said: “Let us rise up, and build.” And their hands were strengthened for good.
19 But Sanballat, a Horonite, and the servant Tobiah, an Ammonite, and Geshem, an Arab, heard of it. And they ridiculed and disparaged us, and they said: “What is this thing that you are doing? Could you be rebelling against the king?”
20 And I replied to them a word, and I said to them: “The God of heaven himself is helping us, and we are his servants. Let us rise up and build. But there is no portion, or justice, or remembrance in Jerusalem for you.”