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Nehemiah 2:1-6 (The Message)

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1 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, 2 so he asked me, "Why the long face? You're not sick are you? Or are you depressed?" 3 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?" 4 The king then asked me, "So what do you want?" 5 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." 6 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.
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