The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Esdras or the Book of Nehemias
Chapter 1
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These are the memoirs of Nehemias, son of Helchias. One day in the month of Casleu, the year, the twentieth of Artaxerxes, in the royal city of Susa,
I was visited by a kinsman of mine, Hanani, who brought with him certain travellers just come from Juda. So I asked them how it went with Jerusalem, and with the Jews still left there, survivors of the exiles who returned.
Survivors there are, said they, in various parts of the province, left over from the days of the exile. But they are in great distress, and count for nothing; Jerusalem is but broken walls and charred gates.
For a long time after hearing this news I kept my house, all tears and lament; I fasted, and sought audience with the God of heaven in prayer.

Mercy, I cried, thou God of heaven, the strong, the great, the terrible! Thou who ever keepest thy gracious promises to the souls that love thee, and are true to thy commandments!
Let thy ears be attentive, thy eyes watching still; listen to the prayer I offer thee now, thy servant, interceding day and night for my fellow-servants, the men of Israel. Listen to the confession I make of our sins; they, the men of Israel, have sinned, I and my father’s race have sinned;
led away by false aims, we have neglected decree and observance and award of thine, enjoined on thy servant Moses.
But do not forget that this servant of thine, Moses, had a promise of thee too. Far and wide though thou shouldst scatter us among the nations, when we disobeyed thee,
yet if we came back to thee, if we kept thy bidding in mind and performed it, then wouldst thou reunite us, though the furthest corner of earth were our place of banishment, and bring us home to that city which is the chosen shrine of thy name.
Are they not thy own servants, thy own people, won for thee by thy great deeds, by thy constraining power?
Let not thy ears be deaf, Lord, I beseech thee, to thy servant’s prayer, to the prayer of all these servants of thine who love to hold thy name in reverence. Speed thy servant well this day, and win for him the pity of a human heart.

It was of the king I spoke; I was the royal cup-bearer.