1 And it happened in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, wine [was] before him. And I took up the wine and gave [it] to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence before.
2 And the king said to me, Why [is] your face sad, since you [are] not sick? This [is] nothing but sorrow of heart. Then I was very much afraid.
3 And [I] said to the king, Let the king live forever. Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, [lies] waste, and its gates are burned with fire?
4 And the king said to me, For what do you ask? So I prayed to the God of Heaven,
5 and I said to the king, If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I pray that you would send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, so that I may build it.
6 And the king said to me (the queen also sitting by him), For how long shall your journey be? And when will you return? So it pleased the king to send me, and I set him a time.
7 And I said to the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors Beyond the River, so that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah,
8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the kings forest, so that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which [belong] to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house into which I shall enter. And the king granted me what I asked, according to the good hand of my God upon me.
9 And I came to the governors of [the province] Beyond the River and gave them the king's letters. And the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.
10 And Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard. And it grieved them very much that there had come a man to seek the good of the sons of Israel.
11 And I came to Jerusalem and was there three days.
12 And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me. And I did not tell to a man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem. And [there was] no animal with me, except the animal that I rode upon.
13 And I went out by night by the Valley Gate, even before the Jackal Fountain, and to the Dung Gate, and looked at the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down, and its gates which were burned with fire.
14 And I went on to the Fountain Gate, and to the King's Pool. But [there was] no place for the animal that was under me to pass.
15 And I went up in the night by the brook and looked at the wall, and turned back, and entered by the Valley Gate, and returned.
16 And the rulers did not know where I had gone, nor what I was doing. Nor had I told the Jews as yet, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.
17 And I said to them, You see the distress that we [are] in, how Jerusalem is wasted, and the gates of it are burned with fire. Come and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no more be a reproach.
18 And I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me, and also the king's words that he had spoken to me. And they said, Let us rise up to build. So they made their hands strong for good.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us. And they said, What [is] this that you do? Will you rebel against the king?
20 And I answered them and said to them, The God of Heaven, He will bless us, and we, His servants, will arise and build. But you have no portion or right or memorial in Jerusalem.