1. In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, since I was in charge of the wine, I took the wine and offered it to the king. Now, he had never seen me looking depressed before.
2. So the king said to me, 'Why are you looking depressed? You are not sick! This must be a sadness of the heart.' Thoroughly alarmed by this,
3. I said to the king, 'May the king live for ever! How can I not look depressed when the city where the tombs of my ancestors are lies in ruins and its gates have been burnt down?'
4. The king then said to me, 'What would you like me to do?' Praying to the God of heaven,
5. I said to the king, 'If the king approves and your servant enjoys your favour, send me to Judah, to the city of the tombs of my ancestors, so that I can rebuild it.'
6. The king -- with the queen sitting beside him-said, 'How long will your journey take, and when will you come back?' Once I had given him a definite time, the king approved my mission.
7. I then said to the king, 'If the king approves, may I be given orders for the governors of Transeuphrates to let me pass through on my way to Judah?
8. Also an order for Asaph, keeper of the king's forest, to supply me with timber for the beams of the gates of the citadel of the Temple, for the city walls and for the house which I am to occupy?' These the king granted me because the kindly hand of my God was over me.
9. When I reached the governors of Transeuphrates, I gave them the king's orders. The king had sent an escort of army officers and cavalry along with me.
10. When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the official of Ammon heard about this, they were exceedingly displeased that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.
11. And so I reached Jerusalem. After I had been there three days,
12. I got up during the night with a few other men -- I had not told anyone what my God had inspired me to do for Jerusalem -- taking no animal with me other than my own mount.
13. Under cover of dark I went out through the Valley Gate towards the Dragon's Fountain as far as the Dung Gate, and examined the wall of Jerusalem where it was broken down and its gates burnt out.
14. I then crossed to the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool, but it was impassable to my mount.
15. So I went up the Valley in the dark, examining the wall; I then went in again through the Valley Gate, coming back
16. without the officials knowing where I had gone or what I had been doing. So far I had said nothing to the Jews: neither to the priests, the nobles, the officials nor any other persons involved in the undertaking.
17. I then said to them, 'You see what a sorry state we are in: Jerusalem is in ruins and its gates have been burnt down. Come on, we must rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and put an end to our humiliating position!'
18. And I told them how the kindly hand of my God had been over me, and the words which the king had said to me. At this they said, 'Let us start building at once!' and they set their hands to the good work.
19. When Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the official of Ammon, and Geshem the Arab heard about this, they laughed at us and jeered. They said, 'What is this you are doing? Are you going to revolt against the king?'
20. But I gave them this answer, 'The God of heaven will grant us success and we, his servants, mean to start building; as for you, you have neither share nor right nor memorial in Jerusalem.'