These are the words of Nehemiah, son of Hacaliah: During the month of Chislev, in Artaxerxes' twentieth year as king, while I was in the fortress at Susa,
one of my brothers, Hanani, arrived with some men from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had survived captivity and about Jerusalem.
They told me, "Those who survived captivity are in the province. They are enduring serious troubles and being insulted. The wall of Jerusalem has been broken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire."
When I heard this, I sat down and cried. I mourned for days. I continued to fast and pray to the God of heaven.
I said, "LORD God of heaven, great and awe-inspiring God, you faithfully keep your promise and show mercy to those who love you and obey your commandments.
Open your eyes, and pay close attention with your ears to what I, your servant, am praying. I am praying to you day and night about your servants the Israelites. I confess the sins that we Israelites have committed against you as well as the sins that my father's family and I have committed.
We have done you a great wrong. We haven't obeyed the commandments, laws, or regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.
Please remember what you told us through your servant Moses: 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations.
But if you return to me and continue to obey my commandments, though your people may be driven to the most distant point on the horizon, I will come and get you from there and bring you to the place where I chose to put my name.'
These are your servants and your people whom you have saved by your great power and your strong hand.
Lord, please pay attention to my prayer and to the prayers of all your other servants who want to worship your name. Please give me success today and make this man, King Artaxerxes, show me compassion." I was cupbearer to the king at this time.