1This is the account of what Nehemiah son of Hacaliah accomplished.
Nehemiah's Concern for Jerusalem
In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year that Artaxerxes was emperor of Persia, I, Nehemiah, was in Susa, the capital city. 2Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived from Judah with another group, and I asked them about Jerusalem and about our fellow-Jews who had returned from exile in#1.2 had returned from exile in; or had not been exiled to. Babylonia. 3They told me that those who had survived and were back in the homeland#1.3 had survived and… homeland; or had remained in the homeland and had not gone into exile. were in great difficulty and that the foreigners who lived near by looked down on them. They also told me that the walls of Jerusalem were still broken down and that the gates had not been restored since the time they were burnt. 4When I heard all this, I sat down and wept.
For several days I mourned and did not eat. I prayed to God, 5“Lord God of Heaven! You are great, and we stand in fear of you. You faithfully keep your covenant with those who love you and do what you command. 6Look at me, Lord, and hear my prayer, as I pray day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess that we, the people of Israel, have sinned. My ancestors and I have sinned. 7We have acted wickedly against you and have not done what you commanded. We have not kept the laws which you gave us through Moses, your servant. 8#Lev 26.33Remember now what you told Moses: ‘If you people of Israel are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the other nations. 9#Deut 30.1–5But then if you turn back to me and do what I have commanded you, I will bring you back to the place where I have chosen to be worshipped, even though you are scattered to the ends of the earth.’
10“Lord, these are your servants, your own people. You rescued them by your great power and strength. 11Listen now to my prayer and to the prayers of all your other servants who want to honour you. Give me success today and make the emperor merciful to me.”
In those days I was the emperor's wine steward.