1 These are the words of Nehemiah, Hacaliah's son.
It was the month Kislev. This was when King Artaxerxes had ruled for 20 years. I was in the big city of Susa. 2 Hanani, my brother, and some other men arrived from Judah. I asked them for news of the Jews who had returned there from exile in Babylon. I asked them for news about Jerusalem. 3 They told me, ‘The Jews who returned to Judah are in much trouble. The walls of the city still have lots of holes in them. Fire has burned the city's gates down to the ground. So the people are very ashamed.’
4 After they told me this, I sat down and I wept. I was very sad for many days. I did not eat or drink anything and I prayed to God.
5 I prayed, ‘Lord, God of heaven, you are great and powerful. You always continue to love your people, as you have promised to do. You are kind to those people who love you and obey your commands. 6 Please listen to my prayer. I am your servant. I am praying in the day and in the night on behalf of your servants, the Israelites. I agree that we have all done wrong things. That includes me and my family. We have not obeyed you. 7 We have done wicked things against you. We have not obeyed the commands, the laws and the rules that you gave to your servant Moses.
1:5When we write Lord like this, it is a special name for God. Sometimes people write it as ‘Yahweh’, or as ‘Jehovah’. It is his own name that he told Moses. See Exodus 3:14. It means ‘I am who I am’. This shows that God has always been there and he always will be there.
8 Remember what you told your servant, Moses. You told him, “If the Israelites turn away from me, I will make them live among foreign people in many different places. 9 But if they return to me and they obey my commands, I will be kind to them. I will bring them back together again from all the different places where they are living. Even if they live far away, I will find them. I will bring them to the place that I have chosen to give honour to my name.”
10 Lord, these are your people and your servants. You used your great power and strength to rescue them. 11 Please listen to my prayer, my Lord. Hear the prayers of your people who love to respect your name. Please cause the king to be kind to me. May he give me what I ask for.’
I was the king's cupbearer.
1:11A cupbearer took care of the king's wine. He would have to make sure that the wine was safe for the king to drink. As cupbearer, Nehemiah was an important servant of the king.