This is the account of what Nehemiah son of Hacaliah accomplished. In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year that Artaxerxes was emperor of Persia, I, Nehemiah, was in Susa, the capital city.
Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived from Judah with another group, and I asked them about Jerusalem and about the other Jews who had returned from exile in Babylonia.
They told me that those who had survived and were back in the homeland were in great difficulty and that the foreigners who lived nearby looked down on them. They also told me that the walls of Jerusalem were still broken down and that the gates had not been restored since the time they were burned.
When I heard all this, I sat down and wept. For several days I mourned and did not eat. I prayed to God,
"Lord God of Heaven! You are great, and we stand in fear of you. You faithfully keep your covenant with those who love you and do what you command.
Look at me, Lord, and hear my prayer, as I pray day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess that we, the people of Israel, have sinned. My ancestors and I have sinned.
We have acted wickedly against you and have not done what you commanded. We have not kept the laws which you gave us through Moses, your servant.
Remember now what you told Moses: "If you people of Israel are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the other nations.
But then if you turn back to me and do what I have commanded you, I will bring you back to the place where I have chosen to be worshiped, even though you are scattered to the ends of the earth.'
"Lord, these are your servants, your own people. You rescued them by your great power and strength.
Listen now to my prayer and to the prayers of all your other servants who want to honor you. Give me success today and make the emperor merciful to me." In those days I was the emperor's wine steward.
One day four months later, when Emperor Artaxerxes was dining, I took the wine to him. He had never seen me look sad before,
so he asked, "Why are you looking so sad? You aren't sick, so it must be that you're unhappy." I was startled
and answered, "May Your Majesty live forever! How can I keep from looking sad when the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?"
The emperor asked, "What is it that you want?" I prayed to the God of Heaven,
and then I said to the emperor, "If Your Majesty is pleased with me and is willing to grant my request, let me go to the land of Judah, to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I can rebuild the city."
The emperor, with the empress sitting at his side, approved my request. He asked me how long I would be gone and when I would return, and I told him.
Then I asked him to grant me the favor of giving me letters to the governors of West-of-Euphrates Province, instructing them to let me travel to Judah.
I asked also for a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests, instructing him to supply me with timber for the gates of the fort that guards the Temple, for the city walls, and for the house I was to live in. The emperor gave me all I asked for, because God was with me.
The emperor sent some army officers and a troop of cavalry with me, and I made the journey to West-of-Euphrates. There I gave the emperor's letters to the governors.
But Sanballat, from the town of Beth Horon, and Tobiah, an official in the province of Ammon, heard that someone had come to work for the good of the people of Israel, and they were highly indignant.
I went on to Jerusalem, and for three days
I did not tell anyone what God had inspired me to do for Jerusalem. Then in the middle of the night I got up and went out, taking a few of my companions with me. The only animal we took was the donkey that I rode on.
It was still night as I left the city through the Valley Gate on the west and went south past Dragon's Fountain to the Rubbish Gate. As I went, I inspected the broken walls of the city and the gates that had been destroyed by fire.
Then on the east side of the city I went north to the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool. The donkey I was riding could not find any path through the rubble,
so I went down into Kidron Valley and rode along, looking at the wall. Then I returned the way I had come and went back into the city through the Valley Gate.
None of the local officials knew where I had gone or what I had been doing. So far I had not said anything to any of the other Jews - the priests, the leaders, the officials, or anyone else who would be taking part in the work.
But now I said to them, "See what trouble we are in because Jerusalem is in ruins and its gates are destroyed! Let's rebuild the city walls and put an end to our disgrace."
And I told them how God had been with me and helped me, and what the emperor had said to me. They responded, "Let's start rebuilding!" And they got ready to start the work.
When Sanballat, Tobiah, and an Arab named Geshem heard what we were planning to do, they laughed at us and said, "What do you think you're doing? Are you going to rebel against the emperor?"
I answered, "The God of Heaven will give us success. We are his servants, and we are going to start building. But you have no right to any property in Jerusalem, and you have no share in its traditions."
This is how the city wall was rebuilt. The High Priest Eliashib and his fellow priests rebuilt the Sheep Gate, dedicated it, and put the gates in place. They dedicated the wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred and the Tower of Hananel.
The men of Jericho built the next section. Zaccur son of Imri built the next section.
The clan of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They put the beams and the gates in place, and put in the bolts and bars for locking the gate.
Meremoth, the son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz, built the next section. Meshullam, the son of Berechiah and grandson of Meshezabel, built the next section. Zadok son of Baana built the next section.
The men of Tekoa built the next section, but the leading men of the town refused to do the manual labor assigned them by the supervisors.
Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah rebuilt Jeshanah Gate. They put the beams and the gates in place, and put in the bolts and bars for locking the gate.
Melatiah from Gibeon, Jadon from Meronoth, and the men of Gibeon and Mizpah built the next section, as far as the residence of the governor of West-of-Euphrates.
Uzziel son of Harhaiah, a goldsmith, built the next section. Hananiah, a maker of perfumes, built the next section, as far as Broad Wall.
Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of half of the Jerusalem District, built the next section.
Jedaiah son of Harumaph built the next section, which was near his own house. Hattush son of Hashabneiah built the next section.
Malchijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath Moab built both the next section and the Tower of the Ovens.
Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of the other half of the Jerusalem District, built the next section. (His daughters helped with the work.)
Hanun and the inhabitants of the city of Zanoah rebuilt the Valley Gate. They put the gates in place, put in the bolts and the bars for locking the gate, and repaired the wall for fifteen hundred feet, as far as the Rubbish Gate.
Malchijah son of Rechab, ruler of the Beth Haccherem District, rebuilt the Rubbish Gate. He put the gates in place, and put in the bolts and the bars for locking the gate.
Shallum son of Colhozeh, ruler of the Mizpah District, rebuilt the Fountain Gate. He covered the gateway, put the gates in place, and put in the bolts and the bars. At the Pool of Shelah he built the wall next to the royal garden, as far as the stairs leading down from David's City.
Nehemiah son of Azbuk, ruler of half of the Bethzur District, built the next section, as far as David's tomb, the pool, and the barracks.
The following Levites rebuilt the next several sections of the wall: Rehum son of Bani built the next section; Hashabiah, ruler of half of the Keilah District, built the next section on behalf of his district;
Bavvai son of Henadad, ruler of the other half of the Keilah District, built the next section;
Ezer son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, built the next section in front of the armory, as far as the place where the wall turns;
Baruch son of Zabbai built the next section, as far as the entrance to the house of the High Priest Eliashib;
Meremoth, the son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz, built the next section, up to the far end of Eliashib's house.
The following priests rebuilt the next several sections of the wall: Priests from the area around Jerusalem built the next section;
Benjamin and Hasshub built the next section, which was in front of their houses; Azariah, the son of Maaseiah and grandson of Ananiah, built the next section, which was in front of his house;
Binnui son of Henadad built the next section, from Azariah's house to the corner of the wall;
Palal son of Uzai built the next section, beginning at the corner of the wall and the tower of the upper palace near the court of the guard; Pedaiah son of Parosh built the next section, to a point on the east near the Water Gate and the tower guarding the Temple. (This was near that part of the city called Ophel, where the Temple workers lived.)
The men of Tekoa built the next section, their second one, from a point opposite the large tower guarding the Temple as far as the wall near Ophel.
A group of priests built the next section, going north from the Horse Gate, each one building in front of his own house.
Zadok son of Immer built the next section, which was in front of his house. Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, keeper of the East Gate, built the next section.
Hananiah son of Shelemiah and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, built the next section, their second one. Meshullam son of Berechiah built the next section, which was in front of his house.
Malchijah, a goldsmith, built the next section, as far as the building used by the Temple workers and the merchants, which was by the Miphkad Gate to the Temple, near the room on top of the northeast corner of the wall.
The goldsmiths and the merchants built the last section, from the room at the corner as far as the Sheep Gate.