Nehemiah’s Grief for the Exiles
1The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah:
Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year [of the Persian king], as I was in the capitol of Susa, 2Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them about the surviving Jews who had escaped and survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. 3They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its [fortified] gates have been burned (destroyed) by fire.”
4Now it came about when I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying [constantly] before the God of heaven. 5And I said, “Please, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, 6please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You, day and night, on behalf of Your servants, the sons (descendants) of Israel (Jacob), confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have committed against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. 7We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. 8Please remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful and violate your obligations to Me I will scatter you [abroad] among the peoples; 9but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered are in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen for My Name to dwell.’ 10Now they are Your servants and Your people whom You have redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. 11Please, O Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to [reverently] fear Your Name [Your essence, Your nature, Your attributes, with awe]; and make Your servant successful this day and grant him compassion in the sight of this man [the king].”
For I was cupbearer to the king [of Persia].