1. The words of Nehemiah, son of Hacaliah. In the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, I was in the Citadel of Susa when
2. Hanani, one of my brothers, came with some men from Judah. I asked them about the Jewish survivors who had returned from exile and about Jerusalem.
3. They answered me, "The people now live there in the province, in the midst of great poverty and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates burned."
4. When I heard these words, I sat down, wept and mourned for days. I fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
5. And I said, "O Yahweh, God of heaven, you are fearsome and great. You keep your covenant and your kindness towards those who love you and fulfill your commandments.
6. May your ears be attentive and your eyes open to listen to the prayer of your servant! I am now in your presence day and night, for your servants, the children of Israel. I confess to you the sins we children of Israel have committed against you: I myself and the family of my father have sinned.
7. We have acted very badly. We did not fulfill your commandments, laws and instructions which you gave to your servant Moses.
8. But remember, too, what you said to Moses: If you are not faithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations.
9. But if you fulfill my commandments and put them into practice, I shall again lead you back to the place where I have chosen to dwell. I shall gather you, though you be dispersed to the ends of the world.
10. So then, Lord, do not forget that they are your servants; they are your people, whom you have saved with your great power and strong hand.
11. Listen to my prayer and to the prayer of those who only wish to honor your Name. I ask you to help me now. May I be well received by the king." I was then in charge of preparing the drinks of the king.