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 king1, 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,2 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 citadel3 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,4 the king granted my requests.59
So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king's letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry6 with me.
When Sanballat7 the Horonite and Tobiah8 the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.9
I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days1012
I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.
By night I went out through the Valley Gate11 toward the Jackala Well and the Dung Gate,12 examining the walls13 of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire.
Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate14 and the King's Pool,15 but there was not enough room for my mount to get through;
so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate.
The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire.16 Come, let us rebuild the wall17 of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.18"
I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me19 and what the king had said to me. They replied, "Let us start rebuilding." So they began this good work.
But when Sanballat20 the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem21 the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us.22 "What is this you are doing?" they asked. "Are you rebelling against the king?"
I answered them by saying, "The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding,23 but as for you, you have no share24 in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it."