Nehemiah 1

The Deeds of Nehemiah

Chapter 1

Nehemiah’s Vocation. 1 The words of Nehemiah, the son of Hacaliah.

In the month of Kislev,[a] in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived with some men from Judah. I asked them about the Jews—those who had survived the captivity—and about Jerusalem.

3 They replied: “Those who survived the captivity and remained in the province are in dire distress and badly demoralized. The wall of Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire.” 4 Upon hearing this, I sat down and wept,[b] mourning for several days while fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

5 Then I offered this prayer: “O Lord, God of heaven, you are a great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of steadfast love with those who love him and obey his commandments. 6 Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to heed the prayer of your servant that I now offer to you day and night in your presence on behalf of your servants, the people of Israel.

“I confess the sins that your servants, the Israelites, have committed against you. I and my family are equally guilty in this regard. 7 We have offended you grievously and failed to keep the commandments, the statutes, and the laws you enjoined on your servant Moses.

8 “Do not fail to remember the promise you made to your servant Moses when you said: ‘If you are unfaithful, I shall scatter you among the nations. 9 However, if you return to me and obey my commandments and fulfill them, then I will gather even those among you who have been scattered to the farthest ends of the world and bring you back to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my name.’

10 “These are your servants, your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the humble prayer of your servants who take delight in revering your name. Grant that your servant will be given success this day and win this man’s compassion”—for at that time I was cupbearer to the king.[c]


  1. Nehemiah 1:1 Month of Kislev: November–December. The twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes I was 445 B.C. Susa was one of the capitals used by the Persian kings. The others were Ecbatana, Persepolis, and Babylon.
  2. Nehemiah 1:4 Sat down and wept: there was much for Nehemiah to be saddened by in Jerusalem. Walls represented safety for the people against intruders and a sense of independence and strength. The Jews needed to rebuild to gain a sense of control but were prevented from doing so by a previous edict (Ezr 4:6-23).
  3. Nehemiah 1:11 Cupbearer to the king: one of the highest ranks at the royal court. It was Nehemiah’s job to secure the safety and quality of the king’s food and allowed him easy access to share his concerns about the Jews with the king.

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