Nehemiah 2:11-20

Nehemiah looks at Jerusalem's walls

11 I arrived in Jerusalem city. After three days, 12 I went out at night. I took a few of my friends with me. I was riding on a donkey. That was the only animal that we took with us. I did not tell anyone the idea that God had put in my mind about Jerusalem. 13 I went through the Valley Gate to the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate. As I went, I looked carefully at Jerusalem's walls. They were broken. Fire had destroyed the city's gates.

2:13Each gate of the city had its own name. A jackal is a wild animal, like a dog.

14 I went to the Fountain Gate and then to the King's Pool. The path there was too narrow for my donkey to pass through. 15 So I went along the path in the valley while it was still night. I continued to look at the wall. I reached the Valley Gate again and I went back into the city. 16 The city's officers did not know that I had done this. I had not told anybody what I had decided to do. I had not told any of the other Jews, their priests, their leaders or the city's officers. I had not told any of the people who would help to do the work on the wall.

17 But then I said to them, ‘We have a big problem. Jerusalem has become a heap of stones. Fire has burned the gates. You must help to build the city's walls again. Then we will no longer be ashamed of our city.’

18 I told the people how God had helped me to come to Jerusalem. I told them what the king had said to me. Then the people said, ‘We will start to build now!’

The people prepared to start this good work. 19 But Sanballat, Tobiah and an Arab man called Geshem heard about what we were doing. They laughed at us and they insulted us. They said, ‘What are you trying to do? Have you turned against the king's authority?’

2:19Some time before Nehemiah went to Judah, enemies of the Jews had sent a letter to King Artaxerxes. The king had told the Jews to stop building the city. See Ezra 4:8-24.

20 I replied to them, ‘Our God who rules from heaven will help us. We are his servants and we will start to build. But you have never been true citizens of Jerusalem.’