Nehemiah 2

1In the month of Nisan in the 20th year ˻of King Artaxerxes˼, some wine was brought to the king. I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had never been sad when I was with the king, but now I was sad. 2So the king asked me, “Are you sick? Why do you look sad? I think your heart is full of sadness.” Then I was very much afraid. 3But even though I was afraid, I said to the king, “May the king live forever! I am sad because the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins. And the gates of that city have been destroyed by fire.” 4Then the king said to me, “What do you want me to do?” Before I answered, I prayed to the God of Heaven. 5Then I answered the king, “If it would please the king, and if I have been good to you, please send me to ˻Jerusalem,˼ the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried. I want to go there and build that city again.” 6The queen was sitting next to the king. The king and queen asked me, “How long will your trip take? When will you get back here?” The king was happy to send me, so I gave him a certain time. 7I also said to the king, “If it would please the king to do something else for me, let me ask. Please give me some letters to show the governors of the area west of the Euphrates River. I need these letters so those governors will give me permission to pass safely through their lands on my way to Judah. 8I also need lumber for the heavy wooden beams for the gates, the walls, the walls around the temple, and my house. So I need a letter from you to Asaph. Asaph is in charge of your forests.” The king gave me the letters and everything I asked for. The king did that because God was kind to me. 9So I went to the governors of the area west of the Euphrates River. I gave those governors the letters from the king. The king had also sent army officers and soldiers on horses with me. 10Sanballat and Tobiah were two men that heard about what I was doing. They were very upset and angry that someone had come to help the people of Israel. Sanballat was from Horon and Tobiah is an Ammonite official. 11- 12I went to Jerusalem and stayed there three days. Then at night I started out with a few men. I had not said anything to anyone about what God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no horses with me except the horse I was riding. 13While it was dark I went out through the Valley Gate. I rode toward the Dragon Well and the Gate of the Ash Piles. I was inspecting the walls of Jerusalem that had been broken down. And the gates in the wall that had been burned with fire. 14Then I rode on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool. But as I got close, I could see there was not enough room for my horse to get through. 15So I went up the valley in the dark, inspecting the wall. Finally, I turned back and went back in through the Valley Gate. 16The officials and important people of Israel didn’t know where I had gone. They didn’t know what I was doing. I had not yet said anything to the Jews, the priests, the king’s family, the officials, or any of the other people that would be doing the work. 17Then I said to all those people, “You can see the trouble we have here: Jerusalem is a pile of ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let’s build the wall of Jerusalem again. Then we won’t be ashamed any more.” 18I also told those people that God had been kind to me. I told them the things the king had said to me. Then those people answered, “Let’s start to work, now!” So we began this good work. 19But Sanballat from Horon, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard that we were building again. They made fun of us in a very ugly way. They said, “What are you doing? Are you turning against the king?” 20But this is what I said to those men: “The God of Heaven will help us succeed. We are God’s servants and we will build this city again. And you can’t help us in this work. None of your family lived here in Jerusalem. You don’t own any of this land. You have no right to be in this place!”

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