THEN it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artakhshisht the king, I was serving wine before the king;
and I took up the wine and gave it to the king.
Now I had never been sad before in his presence.
Wherefore the king said to me, Why is your countenance sad, seeing you are not sick?
This is nothing else but sorrow of the heart.
Then I was exceedingly afraid,
And said to the king, Let the king live for ever;
why should not my countenance be sad, when the capital city of the kingdom of my fathers is in ruin, and its gates have been burned with fire?
Then the king said to me, For what did you make supplications and pray before the God of heaven?
And I said to the king, If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you would send me to Judah, to the city of David, to my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may rebuild it.
And the king said to me, You are foolish.
For how long shall your journey be?
And when will you return?
So it pleased the king to send me;
and he set me a time.
Moreover I said to the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river Euphrates, that they may escort me over till I come to Judah;
And a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the temple and for the castle and for the walls of the city and for the house that I shall dwell in it.
And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.
Then I came to the governor beyond the River, and I gave him the king’s letter.
Now the king had sent a commander of the horsemen with me.
But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days.
And I arose in the night, I and the men who had come with me;
and I told no man what my God had put in my heart to do in Jerusalem;
neither was there any beast with me, except the beast that I rode upon.
And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, toward the dragon fountain and to the dung gate, and I viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and its gates were consumed with fire.
Then I went on to the gate of the valley and to the king’s pool;
but there was no place for the beast that I was riding to pass.
Then I went up in the night by the valley and viewed the wall, and turned back and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned.
And the authorities did not know where I had gone or what I was doing: neither had I as yet told it to the Jews nor to the priests nor to the governors nor to the scribes nor to the rest that did the work.
Then I said to them, You see the distress that we are in;
for, behold, Jerusalem is lying waste and its gates are burned with fire;
come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may be no longer a reproach.
Then f told them of the hand of my God which was with me for good, and also the king’s words that he had spoken to me.
And they said, Let us rise up and build.
So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and mocked us, saying, What is this thing that you do?
Perhaps you are rebelling against the king?
Then I answered them and said, The God of heaven has delivered us: therefore we are working, standing firm, and building;
but you have no right nor memorial nor portion in Jerusalem.