1The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. It happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year,while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2that Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived with some men from Judah. I asked them about the Jews --those who had escaped and those who survived from the captivity -- and about Jerusalem. 3They replied, 'The survivors remaining there in the province since the captivity are in a very bad anddemoralised condition: the wal s of Jerusalem are in ruins and its gates have been burnt down.' 4On hearing this I sat down and wept; for some days I mourned, fasting and praying before the God ofheaven. 5I said, 'Yahweh, God of heaven -- the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps a covenant of faithfullove with those who love him and obey his commandments- 6let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to listen to your servant's prayer, which I now offer to youday and night on behalf of your servants the Israelites. I admit the sins of the Israelites, which we havecommitted against you. Both I and my father's House have sinned; 7we have acted very wickedly towards you by not keeping the commandments, laws and rulings whichyou enjoined on your servant Moses. 8Remember, I beg you, the promise which you solemnly made to your servant Moses, "If you areunfaithful, I shal scatter you among the peoples; 9but if you come back to me and keep my commandments and practise them, even though those whohave been banished are at the very sky's end, I shal gather them from there and bring them back to the placewhich I have chosen as a dwel ing-place for my name." 10Since they are your servants, your people, whom you have redeemed with your mighty power andstrong hand, 11O Lord, let your ear now be attentive to your servant's prayer and to the prayer of your servants whowant to revere your name. I beg you let your servant be successful today and win this man's compassion.' At thetime I was cupbearer to the king.