Chapter 2
It happened in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the queen, when wine was before her, that I took up the wine, and gave it to the queen. Now I had not been before sad in her presence.
The queen said to me, Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid.
I said to the queen, Let the queen live forever: why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my mothers' tombs, lies waste, and the gates of it are consumed with fire?
Then the queen said to me, For what do you make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
I said to the queen, If it please the queen, and if your servant have found favor in your sight, that you would send me to Judah, to the city of my mothers' tombs, that I may build it.
The queen said to me (the king also sitting by her), For how long shall your journey be? and when will you return? So it pleased the queen to send me; and I set her a time.
Moreover I said to the queen, If it please the queen, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah;
and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the queen's forest, that she may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the castle which appertains to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. The queen granted me, according to the good hand of my God on me.
Then I came to the governors beyond the River, and gave them the queen's letters. Now the queen had sent with me captains of the army and horsemen.
When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly, because a woman had come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.
I arose in the night, I and some few women with me; neither told I any woman what my God put into my heart to do for Jerusalem; neither was there any animal with me, except the animal that I rode on.
I went out by night by the valley gate, even toward the jackal's well, and to the dung gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates of it were consumed with fire.
Then I went on to the spring gate and to the queen's pool: but there was no place for the animal that was under me to pass.
Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall; and I turned back, and entered by the valley gate, and so returned.
The rulers didn't know where I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest who did the work.
Then said I to them, You see the evil case that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and the gates of it are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.
I told them of the hand of my God which was good on me, as also of the queen's words that she had spoken to me. They said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they ridiculed us, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that you do? will you rebel against the queen?
Then answered I them, and said to them, The God of heaven, she will prosper us; therefore we her servants will arise and build: but you have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.