1. In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, I was doing my duty as cupbearer. I took up the wine and gave it to the king. I had never been sad before the king in the past.
2. So, the king said to me, "Why do you look sad? You don't look sick. Is there something that bothers you?" I became hesitant.
3. And I said, "May the king live forever! How could I afford not to be sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins and its gates are burned down?"
4. The king said to me, "What do you want, then?" I asked help of God from heaven and
5. said to the king, "If it seems good to the king and if he is pleased with my work, then may he send me to the land of Judah, to the city where my fathers are buried, that I may rebuild it."
6. The queen was sitting beside the king, and the king asked me, "How long will you be gone? When will you be back?" I told him the date and he allowed me to leave.
7. And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, may you give me letters for the governors of the province at the other side of the River that I may travel to Judah,
8. and also a letter to Asaph, the caretaker of the king's forest, for I will need wood for the gates of the Citadel near the Temple, for the walls of the city and for the house where I shall live." The good hand of God was sup-porting me, so that the king gave me what I asked.
9. I went to the governors at the other side of the River, and delivered to them the letters of the king. The king had ordered that I be accompanied by officers of the army and horsemen.
10. But in Jerusalem, Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah, the Ammonite servant, came to know of my arrival and it displeased them that someone had come to help the Israelites.
11. I came to Jerusalem and was there for three days.
12. Then I arose in the night, accompanied by a few men, without telling anyone what my God had inspired me and what I planned to do in Jerusalem. Bringing along only the horse on which I rode,
13. I went out by night by the Gate of the Garbage Dump, I inspected the ruined wall of Jerusalem and the burned gates.
14. I went on to the Fountain Gate and the King's Reservoir, but my horse could not pass through anywhere.
15. So I went up, in the night, by the ravine. I inspected the wall and turned back, entering by the Valley Gate. So I returned to the house.
16. The counselors did not know where I had been or what I was doing. Until that time I had not yet told any of the Jews or the counselors, or the priests or the nobles, or any of those in public office.
17. Then I said to them, "You your-selves see the misery we are in because Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates burned. Come, let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and put an end to this humiliating situation."
18. And I recounted to them how the good hand of God had helped me, and what the king had told me. Everyone said, "Let us begin the work." And they encouraged one another to make this good work a reality.
19. Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab heard of this. They laughed at us and came to tell us, "What are you doing? You are rebelling against the king."
20. I answered them, "The God of heaven shall grant us success. We, his servants, are now going to build. But as for you, you have neither right nor inheritance nor anything to do with Jerusalem."