1. The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. It happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa,

2. that Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived with some men from Judah. I asked them about the Jews -- those who had escaped and those who survived from the captivity -- and about Jerusalem.

3. They replied, 'The survivors remaining there in the province since the captivity are in a very bad and demoralised condition: the walls of Jerusalem are in ruins and its gates have been burnt down.'

4. On hearing this I sat down and wept; for some days I mourned, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

5. I said, 'Yahweh, God of heaven -- the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps a covenant of faithful love with those who love him and obey his commandments-

6. let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to listen to your servant's prayer, which I now offer to you day and night on behalf of your servants the Israelites. I admit the sins of the Israelites, which we have committed against you. Both I and my father's House have sinned;

7. we have acted very wickedly towards you by not keeping the commandments, laws and rulings which you enjoined on your servant Moses.

8. Remember, I beg you, the promise which you solemnly made to your servant Moses, "If you are unfaithful, I shall scatter you among the peoples;

9. but if you come back to me and keep my commandments and practise them, even though those who have been banished are at the very sky's end, I shall gather them from there and bring them back to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling-place for my name."

10. Since they are your servants, your people, whom you have redeemed with your mighty power and strong hand,

11. O Lord, let your ear now be attentive to your servant's prayer and to the prayer of your servants who want to revere your name. I beg you let your servant be successful today and win this man's compassion.' At the time I was cupbearer to the king.



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