In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,1 when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before;
so the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart." I was very much afraid,
but I said to the king, "May the king live forever!2 Why should my face not look sad when the city3 where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?4"
The king said to me, "What is it you want?" Then I prayed to the God of heaven,
and I answered the king, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it."
Then the king5, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, "How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?" It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.
I also said to him, "If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates,6 so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah?
And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king's forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel7 by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?" And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me,8 the king granted my requests.9