1These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah.
Nehemiah’s Concern for Jerusalem
In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign,# Hebrew In the month of Kislev of the twentieth year. A number of dates in the book of Nehemiah can be cross-checked with dates in surviving Persian records and related accurately to our modern calendar. This month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred within the months of November and December 446 B.C. The twentieth year probably refers to the reign of King Artaxerxes I; compare 2:1; 5:14. I was at the fortress of Susa. 2Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.
3They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
4When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. 5Then I said,
“O lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! 7We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.
8“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. 9But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth,# Hebrew of the heavens. I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’
10“The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants. 11O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me.# Hebrew today in the sight of this man. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”
In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer.