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Nehemiah 2 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Nehemiah Is Permitted to Go to Jerusalem

Then in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought to me,[a] I took the wine and gave it to the king. Previously[b] I had not been depressed[c] in the king’s presence.[d] So the king said to me, “Why do you appear to be depressed when you aren’t sick? What can this be other than sadness of heart?” This made me very fearful.

I replied to the king, “O king, live forever! Why would I not appear dejected when the city with the graves of my ancestors[e] lies desolate and its gates destroyed[f] by fire?” The king responded,[g] “What is it you are seeking?” Then I quickly prayed to the God of heaven and said to the king, “If the king is so inclined[h] and if your servant has found favor in your sight, dispatch me to Judah, to the city with the graves of my ancestors, so that I can rebuild it.” Then the king, with his consort[i] sitting beside him, replied, “How long would your trip take, and when would you return?” Since the king was pleased to send me,[j] I gave him a time. I said to the king, “If the king is so inclined, let him give me letters for the governors of Trans-Euphrates[k] that will enable me to travel safely until I reach Judah, and a letter for Asaph the keeper of the king’s nature preserve,[l] so that he will give me timber for beams for the gates of the fortress adjacent to the temple and for the city wall[m] and for the house to which I go.” So the king granted me these requests,[n] for the good hand of my God was on me. Then I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, and I presented to them the letters from the king. The king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official[o] heard all this, they were very displeased that someone had come to seek benefit for the Israelites.

Nehemiah Arrives in Jerusalem

11 So I came to Jerusalem. When I had been there for three days, 12 I got up during the night, along with a few men who were with me. But I did not tell anyone what my God was putting on my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no animals with me, except for the one[p] I was riding. 13 I proceeded through the Valley Gate by night, in the direction of the Well of the Dragons[q] and the Dung Gate,[r] inspecting[s] the walls of Jerusalem that had been breached and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 I passed on to the Gate of the Well and the King’s Pool, where there was not enough room for my animal to pass with me. 15 I continued up the valley during the night, inspecting the wall. Then I turned back and came to the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I had been doing, for up to this point I had not told any of the Jews or the priests or the nobles or the officials or the rest of the workers. 17 Then I said to them, “You see the problem that we have—Jerusalem is desolate and its gates are burned. Come on! Let’s rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that this reproach will not continue.” 18 Then I related to them how the good hand of my God was on me and what[t] the king had said to me. Then they replied, “Let’s begin rebuilding right away!”[u] So they readied themselves[v] for this good project. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard all this,[w] they derided us and expressed contempt toward us. They said, “What is this you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 I responded to them by saying, “The God of heaven will prosper us. We his servants will start the rebuilding.[x] But you have no just or ancient right in Jerusalem.”[y]

Footnotes:

  1. Nehemiah 2:1 tc The translation reads with the LXX וְיַיִן לְפָנַי (veyayin lefanay, “and wine before me”) rather than יַיִן לְפָנָיו (yayin lefanayv, “wine before him”) of the MT. The initial vav (ו) of the original וְיַיִן probably dropped out due to haplograpy or orthographic confusion with the two yods (י) which follow. The final vav on לְפָנָיו in the MT was probably added due to dittography with the vav on the immediately following word.
  2. Nehemiah 2:1 tc The translation reads לְפָנִים (lefanim, “formerly”) rather than לְפָנָיו (lefanayv, “to his face”) of the MT. The MT seems to suggest that Nehemiah was not sad before the king, which is contrary to what follows.
  3. Nehemiah 2:1 tn Or “showed him a sullen face.” See HALOT 1251 s.v. רַע, רָע 9.
  4. Nehemiah 2:1 tn This expression is either to be inferred from the context, or perhaps one should read לְפָנָיו (lefanayv, “before him”; cf. the MT) in addition to לְפָנִים (lefanim, “formerly”). See preceding note on the word “previously.”
  5. Nehemiah 2:3 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 5).
  6. Nehemiah 2:3 tn Heb “devoured” or “eaten” (so also in Neh 2:13).
  7. Nehemiah 2:4 tn Heb “said to me.”
  8. Nehemiah 2:5 tn Heb “If upon the king it is good.” So also in v. 7.
  9. Nehemiah 2:6 tn Or “queen,” so most English versions (cf. HALOT 1415 s.v. שֵׁגַל); TEV “empress.”
  10. Nehemiah 2:6 tn Heb “It was good before the king and he sent me.”
  11. Nehemiah 2:7 tn Heb “beyond the river,” here and often elsewhere in the Book of Nehemiah.
  12. Nehemiah 2:8 tn Or “forest.” So HALOT 963 s.v. פַּרְדֵּס 2.
  13. Nehemiah 2:8 tc One medieval Hebrew ms, the Syriac Peshitta, Vulgate, and the Arabic read here the plural וּלְחוֹמוֹת (ulekhomot, “walls”) against the singular וּלְחוֹמַת (ulekhomat) in the MT. The plural holem vav (וֹ) might have dropped out due to dittography or the plural form might have been written defectively.
  14. Nehemiah 2:8 tn The Hebrew text does not include the expression “these requests,” but it is implied.
  15. Nehemiah 2:10 tn Heb “servant” (so KJV, ASV; NAB “slave”; NCV “officer.” This phrase also occurs in v. 19.
  16. Nehemiah 2:12 tn Heb “the animal.”
  17. Nehemiah 2:13 tn Or “Well of the Serpents”; or “Well of the Jackals” (cf. ASV, NIV, NLT).
  18. Nehemiah 2:13 tn Or “Rubbish Gate” (so TEV); NASB “Refuse Gate”; NCV “Trash Gate”; CEV “Garbage Gate.”
  19. Nehemiah 2:13 tc For the MT reading שֹׂבֵר (sover, “inspecting”) the LXX erroneously has שֹׁבֵר (shover, “breaking”). However, further destruction of Jerusalem’s walls was obviously not a part of Nehemiah’s purpose.
  20. Nehemiah 2:18 tn Heb “the words of the king which he had spoken to me.”
  21. Nehemiah 2:18 tn Heb “Arise! Let us rebuild!”
  22. Nehemiah 2:18 tn Heb “strengthened their hands.”
  23. Nehemiah 2:19 tn The Hebrew text does not include the words “all this,” but they have been added in the translation for clarity.
  24. Nehemiah 2:20 tn Heb “will arise and build.” The idiom “arise and…” means to begin the action described by the second verb.
  25. Nehemiah 2:20 tn Heb “portion or right or remembrance.” The expression is probably a hendiatris: The first two nouns retain their full nominal function, while the third noun functions adjectivally (“right or remembrance” = “ancient right”).
New English Translation (NET)

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Nehemiah 2 King James Version (KJV)

And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.

Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,

And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?

Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.

And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it.

And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;

And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.

Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.

10 When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.

11 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.

12 And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon.

13 And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.

14 Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king's pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass.

15 Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned.

16 And the rulers knew not whither 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 that did the work.

17 Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.

18 Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?

20 Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

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