And it came about in the monthNisan, 1in the twentiethyear of King2Artaxerxes, that wine was before him, and 3I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not beensad in his presence.
So the kingsaid to me, "Why is your facesad though you are not sick? 4This is nothing but sadness of heart." Then I was verymuchafraid.
I said to the king, "5Let the kingliveforever. Why should my face not be sad6when the city, the place of my fathers'tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?"
Then the kingsaid to me, "What would you request?" 7So I prayed to the God of heaven.
I said to the king, "If it please the king, and if your servant has foundfavorbefore you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers'tombs, that I may rebuild it."
Then the kingsaid to me, the queensittingbeside him, "Howlong will your journey be, and when will you return?" So it pleased the king to send me, and 8I gave him a definitetime.
And I said to the king, "If it please the king, let letters be given me 9for the governors of the provinces beyond the River, that they may allow me to passthroughuntil I come to Judah,
and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's10forest, that he may give me timber to makebeams for the gates of 11the fortresswhich is by the atemple, for the wall of the city and for the house to which I will go." And the kinggranted them to me because 12the goodhand of my God was on me.
Then I came to 13the governors of the provinces beyond the River and gave them the king'sletters. Now 14the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen.
When 15Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonitebofficialheard about it, it was verydispleasing to them that someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel.