These are the words of Nehemiah, Hacaliah's son. In the month of Kislev,a in the twentieth year,b while I was in the fortress city of Susa,
Hanani, one of my brothers, came with some other men from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had escaped and survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem.
They told me, "Those in the province who survived the captivity are in great trouble and shame! The wall around Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire!"
When I heard this news, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
I said: “LORD God of heaven, great and awesome God, you are the one who keeps covenant and is truly faithful to those who love you and keep your commandments.
Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant, which I now pray before you night and day for your servants, the people of Israel. “I confess the sins of the people of Israel, which we have committed against you. Both I and my family have sinned.
We have wronged you greatly. We haven't kept the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances that you commanded your servant Moses.
“Remember the word that you gave to your servant Moses when you said, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples.
But if you return to me and keep my commandments by really doing them, then, even though your outcasts livec under distant skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place that I have chosen as a dwelling for my name.'
They are your servants and your people. They are the ones whom you have redeemed by your great power and your strong hand.
"LORD, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in honoring your name. Please give success to your servant today and grant him favor in the presence of this man!" At that time, I was a cupbearer to the king.