1These are the words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah.
I, Nehemiah, was in the capital city of Susa. It was in the month of Kislev. This was in the twentieth year.# This is probably referring to the twentieth year King Artaxerxes I ruled Persia. 2One of my brothers named Hanani came from Judah. Some other men were with him. I asked them about the Jews who lived through the captivity. And I also asked about Jerusalem.
3They answered, “Nehemiah, those who are left from the captivity are back in the area of Judah. But they are in much trouble and are full of shame. The wall around Jerusalem is broken down. And its gates have been burned.”
4When I heard these things, I sat down and cried for several days. I was sad and did not eat food. I prayed to the God of heaven. 5I said, “Lord, God of heaven, you are the great God who is to be respected. You keep your agreement of love with those who love you and obey your commands. 6Listen carefully. Look at me. Hear the prayer your servant is praying to you day and night. I am praying for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites have done against you. My father’s family and I have sinned against you. 7We have been wicked toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, rules and laws you gave your servant Moses.
8“Remember what you taught your servant Moses. You said, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations. 9But if you come back to me and obey my commands, I will gather your people. I will gather them from the far ends of the earth. And I will bring them from captivity to where I have chosen to be worshiped.’
10“They are your servants and your people. You have saved them with your great strength and power. 11Lord, listen carefully to my prayer. I am your servant. And listen to the prayers of your servants who love to honor you. Give me, your servant, success today. Allow this king to show kindness to me.”
I was the one who served wine to the king.