Nehemiah goes to Jerusalem
1 It was the month of Nisan, when King Artaxerxes had ruled Babylon for 20 years. I had the king's wine ready for him to drink. I took it to give to him. He saw that I was sad. I had not been sad in front of the king before. 2 The king asked me, ‘Why are you sad? You are not ill. This must mean that you are very upset.’ I was very frightened.
2:2Nehemiah was afraid because the king might be angry with him. The king wanted his servants to look happy when they served him.
3 I replied to the king, ‘May the king live for ever! I am sad because enemies have destroyed the city where my ancestors are buried. They burned the city's gates.’
4 The king asked me, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ So I prayed to our God who rules from heaven. 5 Then I said to the king, ‘Please sir, if you think it is a good idea and you are pleased with me, let me go to Judah. If you agree to send me there, I can build again the city where my ancestors are buried.’
2:4Nehemiah prayed quietly that God would show him what he should say to the king.
6 The king was sitting with the queen next to him. The king asked me, ‘How long will you be away? When will you return?’ I told the king how long I would be away. Because the king was happy to send me, I told him when I would leave. 7 I said to the king, ‘If the king agrees, please give me some letters to say that I have your authority. I will show the letters to your officers who rule the region on the west side of the Euphrates river. Then I will be able to travel safely on the journey to Judah. 8 Also give me a letter for Asaph, who takes care of the king's forest there. Tell him to give me wood from the trees. I need to make beams to mend the gates of the strong place near the temple. I also need to mend the city's wall. And I need to build a house for myself to live in.’
The king agreed to do what I asked him, because my God was with me.
9 The king sent officers of his army to keep my safe on the journey. He also sent soldiers who rode on horses. I went to the king's officers on the west side of the Euphrates river. I gave them the letters which the king had written. 10 But two important men were not happy when they heard that I had come to help the Israelite people. They were Sanballat, who came from Horon, and Tobiah, an Ammonite officer.
2:10Sanballat and Tobiah thought that they might lose their authority over Jerusalem's people. They did not want the Jews to make the city strong again.