Nehemiahs Answer To A Call For
In the twentieth year of Artaxerxes' reign, in the month of November, I
(Nehemiah) was in Shushan, the royal palace, when Hanani, one of my
brothers, and certain men came from Judah. I asked them about Jerusalem
and about the Jews who were left from the captivity. They told me,
"Those still living there in the province are in great trouble and
disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been
yed by fire."
When I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned several days.
Then I fasted and offered this prayer to the God of heaven, "I pray
thee, O Jehovah, the God of heaven, who showest kindness to those who
love and follow thy commands, let thine ears now be open to hear the
prayers of thy servant which I am now making before thee day and night
for the Israelites, thy servants, while I confess the sins which we have
committed. These are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast saved
by thy great power and by thy strong hand. O Lord, I pray thee, let
thine ear be open to the petition of thy servant and to the petitions of
thy servants who take pleasure in worshipping thee, and give success to
thy servant this day, and grant that he may win this man's sympathy."
Now I was cupbearer to the king, and in the month of March in the
twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, the king, I had charge of the
wine offered to the king. Up to this time I had not been sad; so the
king said to me, "Why is your face sad, for you are not sick? This is
nothing else but sorrow of heart." Then I was greatly afraid, and I said
to the king, "Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad,
when the city, the place where my fathers are buried, lies in ruins and
its gates are destroyed by fire?" Then the king said to me, "What do you
wish?" So I prayed to the God of heaven and said to the king, "If it
please the king and if your servant has won your favor, then send me to
Judah, to the city where my fathers lie buried, that I may rebuild it."
The king said to me (and the queen was also sitting by him), "How long
will your journey take, and when will you return?" Then I told him when
I would return, so that the king was willing to let me go.
I also said to the king, "If the king is willing, let letters be given
me to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates, that they may
let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the
keeper of the king's park, that he may give me timber to make beams for
the gates of the castle which guards the temple and for the wall of the
city and for the house in which I shall live." The king granted me all
this, for my God kindly cared for me.
Then I went to the governors of the province and gave them the king's
letters. The king had sent with me officers and horsemen; and when
Sanballat, the Horonite, and Tobiah, the Ammonite slave, heard of it, it
troubled them greatly, that one had come to look out for the welfare of
So I arrived at Jerusalem. After I had been there three days I rose in
the night, together with a few of my followers. I told no one what my
God had put into my mind to do for Jerusalem, and I had no animal with
me except the one upon which I rode. I went out by night through the
Valley Gate, toward the Dragon's Well and to the Dung Gate; and I
examined carefully the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and the
places where its gates had been destroyed by fire. Then I went on to the
Fountain Gate and to the King's Pool, but there was no place for the
animal on which I rode to pass.
I also went up in the night along the Brook Kidron and examined the
wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate and so returned.
The rulers did not know where I went or what I did, and I had not as
yet told my plan to the Jews or to the priests or to the nobles or to
the rulers or to the others who did the work.
Then I said to them, "You see the bad condition in which we are, how
Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates are destroyed by fire. Come and
let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be in
disgrace." I told them too how my God had kindly cared for me and the
words which the king had spoken to me. They said, "Let us go to work and
build?" So they entered heartily into the good work.