1 The autobiography of Nehemiah, the son of Hecaliah:
In December of the twentieth year of the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia,[a] when I was at the palace at Shushan, 2 one of my fellow Jews named Hanani came to visit me with some men who had arrived from Judah. I took the opportunity to inquire about how things were going in Jerusalem.
“How are they getting along—,” I asked, “the Jews who returned to Jerusalem from their exile here?”
3 “Well,” they replied, “things are not good; the wall of Jerusalem is still torn down, and the gates are burned.”
4 When I heard this, I sat down and cried. In fact, I refused to eat for several days, for I spent the time in prayer to the God of heaven.
5 “O Lord God,” I cried out; “O great and awesome God who keeps his promises and is so loving and kind to those who love and obey him! Hear my prayer! 6-7 Listen carefully to what I say! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you; yes, I and my people have committed the horrible sin of not obeying the commandments you gave us through your servant Moses. 8 Oh, please remember what you told Moses! You said,
“‘If you sin, I will scatter you among the nations; 9 but if you return to me and obey my laws, even though you are exiled to the farthest corners of the universe, I will bring you back to Jerusalem. For Jerusalem is the place in which I have chosen to live.’
10 “We are your servants, the people you rescued by your great power. 11 O Lord, please hear my prayer! Heed the prayers of those of us who delight to honor you. Please help me now as I go in and ask the king for a great favor—put it into his heart to be kind to me.” (I was the king’s cupbearer.)
- Nehemiah 1:1 King Artaxerxes of Persia, implied.