God’s Hand Was on NehemiahNow it happened in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, that 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. 2 So the king said to me, “Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3 I said to the king, “Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste and its gates have been consumed by fire?” 4 Then the king said to me, “What would you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 I said to the king, “If it is good for the king, and if your servant is good before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” 6 Then the king said to me, the queen sitting beside him, “How long will your journey be, and when will you return?” So it was good to the king to send me, and I gave him a set time. 7 And I said to the king, “If it is good to the king, let letters be given me for the governors of the provinces beyond the River, that they may allow me to pass through until I come to Judah, 8 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 fortress which is by the house of God, for the wall of the city and for the house to which I will go.” And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me. 9 Then I came to the governors of the provinces beyond the River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me commanders of the military force and horsemen. 10 Then Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about it, and it was a very great evil to them that someone had come to seek the good of the sons of Israel.
Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls11 So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 And I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my heart to do for Jerusalem; and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding. 13 So I went out at night by the Valley Gate in the direction of the Dragon’s Spring and on to the Dung Gate, inspecting the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were consumed by fire. 14 Then I passed on to the Spring Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was no place for my animal to pass. 15 So I went up at night by the ravine and inspected the wall. Then I turned and entered the Valley Gate and turned around. 16 Now the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing; nor had I as yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the rest who were doing the work. 17 Then I said to them, “You see the calamity we are in, that Jerusalem lies waste and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.” 18 And I told them how the hand of my God had been good to me and also about the king’s words which he had said to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. 19 But Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard it. And they mocked us and despised us and said, “What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 So I responded to them with a word and said to them, “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His slaves will arise and build, but you have no portion, right, or remembrance in Jerusalem.”