It was the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king. At the hour for serving wine I brought it in and gave it to the king. I had never been hangdog in his presence before,
so he asked me, "Why the long face? You're not sick are you? Or are you depressed?"
I said, "Long live the king! And why shouldn't I be depressed when the city, the city where all my family is buried, is in ruins and the city gates have been reduced to cinders?"
The king then asked me, "So what do you want?"
I said, "If it please the king, and if the king thinks well of me, send me to Judah, to the city where my family is buried, so that I can rebuild it."
The king, with the queen sitting alongside him, said, "How long will your work take and when would you expect to return?" I gave him a time, and the king gave his approval to send me.
Then I said, "If it please the king, provide me with letters to the governors across the Euphrates that authorize my travel through to Judah;
and also an order to Asaph, keeper of the king's forest, to supply me with timber for the beams of The Temple fortress, the wall of the city, and the house where I'll be living."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)