The memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah.
Hanani, one of my brothers, had just arrived from Judah with some fellow Jews. I asked them about the conditions among the Jews there who had survived the exile, and about Jerusalem.
They told me, "The exile survivors who are left there in the province are in bad shape. Conditions are appalling. The wall of Jerusalem is still rubble; the city gates are still cinders."
When I heard this, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God-of-Heaven.
I said, "God, God-of-Heaven, the great and awesome God, loyal to his covenant and faithful to those who love him and obey his commands:
Look at me, listen to me. Pay attention to this prayer of your servant that I'm praying day and night in intercession for your servants, the People of Israel, confessing the sins of the People of Israel. And I'm including myself, I and my ancestors, among those who have sinned against you.
"We've treated you like dirt: We haven't done what you told us, haven't followed your commands, and haven't respected the decisions you gave to Moses your servant.
All the same, remember the warning you posted to your servant Moses: 'If you betray me, I'll scatter you to the four winds,
but if you come back to me and do what I tell you, I'll gather up all these scattered peoples from wherever they ended up and put them back in the place I chose to mark with my Name.'
"Well, there they are - your servants, your people whom you so powerfully and impressively redeemed.
O Master, listen to me, listen to your servant's prayer - and yes, to all your servants who delight in honoring you - and make me successful today so that I get what I want from the king." I was cupbearer to the king.
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)