Chapter 2

1Now it came to pass in the month of Nissan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, [that they brought] wine before him, and I carried the wine and gave [it] to the king. And I had never been sad in his presence.   אוַיְהִ֣י | בְּחֹ֣דֶשׁ נִיסָ֗ן שְׁנַ֥ת עֶשְׂרִ֛ים לְאַרְתַּחְשַׁ֥סְתְּא הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ יַ֣יִן לְפָנָ֑יו וָֽאֶשָּׂ֚א אֶת־הַיַּ֙יִן֙ וָֽאֶתְּנָ֣ה לַמֶּ֔לֶךְ וְלֹֽא־הָיִ֥יתִי רַ֖ע לְפָנָֽיו:
of… Artaxerxes: That was Darius, and because of his kingship he was called this.  
wine before him: They brought wine before the king in the court.  
and I carried the wine: And I carried the cup of wine and gave it to the king, and so is the custom, that the one who brings wine into the king’s court does not carry it and give it to the king, but the chief butler receives it from the hand of the one who brings it, and carries it and gives it to the king.  
And I had never been sad in his presence: And I was not accustomed to being sad in his presence, to have a sad face, but to be happy and cheerful, but now I was sad with a sad face.  
2And the king said to me, "Why do you have a sad countenance? You are not ill. This is nothing but wickedness of heart." And I became very frightened.   בוַיֹּאמֶר֩ לִ֨י הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ מַדּ֣וּעַ | פָּנֶ֣יךָ רָעִ֗ים וְאַתָּה֙ אֵֽינְךָ֣ חוֹלֶ֔ה אֵ֣ין זֶ֔ה כִּי־אִ֖ם רֹ֣עַ לֵ֑ב וָֽאִירָ֖א הַרְבֵּ֥ה מְאֹֽד:
You are not ill: Is it not so that you are not ill?  
This is nothing: This incident is only wickedness of heart, that you have in your heart to put me to death by poisoning this cup.  
And I became very frightened: And I became very frightened about this, lest the king accuse me falsely.  
3And I said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my countenance not be sad when the city, the place of my forefathers' graves, is laid waste, and its gates are consumed by fire?"   גוָֽאֹמַ֣ר לַמֶּ֔לֶךְ הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ לְעוֹלָ֣ם יִֽחְיֶ֑ה מַדּ֜וּעַ לֹא־יֵֽרְע֣וּ פָנַ֗י אֲשֶׁ֨ר הָעִ֜יר בֵּֽית־קִבְר֚וֹת אֲבֹתַי֙ חֲרֵבָ֔ה וּשְׁעָרֶ֖יהָ אֻכְּל֥וּ בָאֵֽשׁ:
Why should my countenance not be sad: [as translated,] why should my countenance not be sad.  
when the city: Jerusalem, which is the place of the graves of my forefathers, is laid waste.  
4And the king said to me, "For what do you make request?" And I prayed to the God of heaven.   דוַיֹּ֚אמֶר לִי֙ הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ עַל־מַה־זֶּ֖ה אַתָּ֣ה מְבַקֵּ֑שׁ וָֽאֶתְפַּלֵּ֖ל אֶל־אֱלֹהֵ֥י הַשָּׁמָֽיִם:
For what do you make request: What do you request of me and I shall do it for you.  
And I prayed: And I said before the king in my prayer, “May it be Your will, O God of the heavens, that You fulfill my petition and my request.”  
5And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant is pleasing before you, that you send me to Judea, to the city of the graves of my forefathers, and I shall build it."   הוָֽאֹמַ֣ר לַמֶּ֔לֶךְ אִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ ט֔וֹב וְאִם־יִיטַ֥ב עַבְדְּךָ֖ לְפָנֶ֑יךָ אֲשֶׁ֧ר תִּשְׁלָחֵ֣נִי אֶל־יְהוּדָ֗ה אֶל־עִ֛יר קִבְר֥וֹת אֲבֹתַ֖י וְאֶבְנֶֽנָּה:
that you send me: that you grant me permission to ascend to Jerusalem and build it.  
6And the king said to me- and the queen was sitting beside him-"How long will your trip take, and when will you return?" And it pleased the king, and he sent me, and I gave him a time.   ווַיֹּאמֶר֩ לִ֨י הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ וְהַשֵּׁגָ֣ל | יוֹשֶׁ֣בֶת אֶצְל֗וֹ עַד־מָתַ֛י יִהְיֶ֥ה מַֽהֲלָכְךָ֖ וּמָתַ֣י תָּשׁ֑וּב וַיִּיטַ֚ב לִפְנֵֽי־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ וַיִּשְׁלָחֵ֔נִי וָֽאֶתְּנָ֥ה ל֖וֹ זְמָֽן:
And the king said to me: At the time the king spoke to me, his wife, the queen, was sitting beside him.  
and the queen: Heb. וְהַשֵּׁגָל, his wife the queen, as it is stated (Dan. 5:2): “… his queen (שֵּׁגְלָתֵהּ) and his concubine,” for it is customary for Scripture to write “the queen,” next to “the concubine” ; his wives and his concubines, like (Song 6:9): “ וּפִּילַגְשִּׁים מְלָכוֹת, queens and concubines.”  
How long will your trip take: When is it your intention to return?  
and when will you return?: When is it your intention to return?  
and he sent me: He gave me permission to go.  
and I gave him a time: I gave him a time of return.  
7And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, may letters be given to me to the governors of the land beyond the river, that they escort me through until I come to Judea.   זוָֽאוֹמַר֘ לַמֶּלֶךְ֒ אִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ ט֔וֹב אִגְּרוֹת֙ יִתְּנוּ־לִ֔י עַל־פַּֽחֲו֖וֹת עֵ֣בֶר הַנָּהָ֑ר אֲשֶׁר֙ יַֽעֲבִיר֔וּנִי עַ֥ד אֲשֶׁר־אָב֖וֹא אֶל־יְהוּדָֽה:
may letters be given to me: [Let] your scribes [give me letters] by your sanction and your knowledge, sealed with your signet to the governors of the land beyond the river, on the side of the land of Israel.  
that they escort me through: and escort me in peace.  
until I come: to Jerusalem, which is in the province of Judea.  
8And a letter to Asaph, the guardian of the king's orchard, that he give me wood to make beams for the gates of the castle that belongs to the Temple and for the wall of the city and for the house to which I shall go," and the king gave me according to the good hand of my God upon me.   חוְאִגֶּ֡רֶת אֶל־אָסָף֩ שֹׁמֵ֨ר הַפַּרְדֵּ֜ס אֲשֶׁ֣ר לַמֶּ֗לֶךְ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִתֶּן־לִ֣י עֵצִ֡ים לְ֠קָרוֹת אֶת־שַֽׁעֲרֵ֨י הַבִּירָ֚ה אֲשֶׁר־לַבַּ֙יִת֙ וּלְחוֹמַ֣ת הָעִ֔יר וְלַבַּ֖יִת אֲשֶׁר־אָב֣וֹא אֵלָ֑יו וַיִּתֶּן־לִ֣י הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ כְּיַד־אֱלֹהַ֖י הַטּוֹבָ֥ה עָלָֽי:
And a letter to Asaph: and that you send a letter to Asaph.  
the guardian of the king’s orchard: He was appointed over the king’s forests.  
to make beams: This is the intensive conjugation: to make ceilings and beams for the gates of the castles of the Temple Mount, for they had built the Temple as it should be built, but the gates of the walls of the Temple Mount and the wall for the court surrounding the Temple had not yet been built.  
and for the wall of the city: and to make beams for the wall of the city.  
and for the house to which I shall go: and to make a house in which I shall dwell for my needs.  
and the king gave me: all I asked him for.  
according to the good hand: according to the hand of the Holy One, blessed be He, which was good upon me, to cause me to succeed.  
9And I came to the governors of the land beyond the river, and I gave them the king's letters, and the king sent with me officers of the army and horsemen.   טוָֽאָב֗וֹא אֶל־פַּֽחֲווֹת֙ עֵ֣בֶר הַנָּהָ֔ר וָֽאֶתְּנָ֣ה לָהֶ֔ם אֵ֖ת אִגְּר֣וֹת הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וַיִּשְׁלַ֚ח עִמִּי֙ הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ שָׂ֥רֵי חַ֖יִל וּפָֽרָשִֽׁים:
and I gave them the king’s letters: in order that they escort me in peace.  
officers of the army and horsemen: the king sent with me [officers] in my honor, in order that I go in peace.  
10Now Sanbalat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite slave heard, and it displeased them greatly, that a man had come to request good for the Children of Israel.   יוַיִּשְׁמַ֞ע סַנְבַלַּ֣ט הַחֹֽרֹנִ֗י וְטֽוֹבִיָּה֙ הָעֶ֣בֶד הָֽעַמֹּנִ֔י וַיֵּ֥רַע לָהֶ֖ם רָעָ֣ה גְדֹלָ֑ה אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֣א אָדָ֔ם לְבַקֵּ֥שׁ טוֹבָ֖ה לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:
Now Sanballat etc., heard: When they heard that I had come to request good for Israel and to build the walls of Jerusalem it displeased them greatly, for they were the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin.  
11And I came to Jerusalem, and I was there for three days.   יאוָֽאָב֖וֹא אֶל־יְרֽוּשָׁלִָ֑ם וָֽאֱהִי־שָׁ֖ם יָמִ֥ים שְׁלֹשָֽׁה:
and I was there for three days: I was in Jerusalem for three days, and at the end of three days, I and a few men with me arose at night, and I did not tell any person what the Holy One, blessed be He, had put into my heart.  
12And I and a few men with me arose at night, and I did not tell anyone what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem, and there were no animals with me except the animal upon which I was riding.   יבוָאָק֣וּם | לַ֗יְלָה אֲנִי֘ וַֽאֲנָשִׁ֣ים | מְעַט֘ עִמִּי֒ וְלֹֽא־הִגַּ֣דְתִּי לְאָדָ֔ם מָ֗ה אֱלֹהַי֙ נֹתֵ֣ן אֶל־לִבִּ֔י לַֽעֲשׂ֖וֹת לִירֽוּשָׁלִָ֑ם וּבְהֵמָה֙ אֵ֣ין עִמִּ֔י כִּי אִם־הַבְּהֵמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲנִ֖י רֹכֵ֥ב בָּֽהּ:
and there were no animals with me: The few men who were with me went by foot and I alone rode on an animal. They did not ride their horses because they wanted to leave the city in secret, without anyone knowing. They went to break and cast down the walls of the city at night and to increase their breaches in order that on the morrow, the people of the city would be eager and agree unanimously with Nehemiah to build the walls of the city. So it appears from the text.  
13And I went out through the Gate of the Valley at night and toward En Hattannin and to the Dung Gate, and I was breaking the walls of Jerusalem, which were breached, and its gates [which were] consumed by fire.   יגוָאֵֽצְאָ֨ה בְשַֽׁעַר־הַגַּ֜יְא לַ֗יְלָה וְאֶל־פְּנֵי֙ עֵ֣ין הַתַּנִּ֔ין וְאֶל־שַׁ֖עַר הָֽאַשְׁפֹּ֑ת וָאֱהִ֨י שׂבֵ֜ר בְּחוֹמֹ֚ת יְרֽוּשָׁלִַ֙ם֙ אֲשֶׁר־הֵ֣ם (כתיב הֵ֣מ) פְּרוּצִ֔ים וּשְׁעָרֶ֖יהָ אֻכְּל֥וּ בָאֵֽשׁ:
And I went out through the Gate of the Valley: I went out through that gate at night with the men who were with me toward En Hattannin and the Dung Gate in the wall of the city; and I broke the wall, and the wall was easily cast down and broken because it had been burned with fire.  
which were breached: which are those places that were breached, and they breached them more.  
14And I passed to the Fountain Gate and to the king's pool, and there was no place for the animal that was under me to pass.   ידוָאֶֽעֱבֹר֙ אֶל־שַׁ֣עַר הָעַ֔יִן וְאֶל־בְּרֵכַ֖ת הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וְאֵֽין־מָק֥וֹם לַבְּהֵמָ֖ה לַֽעֲבֹ֥ר תַּחְתָּֽי:
And I passed to the Fountain Gate: And I wished to pass to those places in the wall of the city and in those breaches, and there was no place in those breaches for riders on animals to pass through because they were so small.  
15And I ascended by the valley at night, and I broke into the wall, and I returned and came into the gate of the valley, and I returned.   טווָֽאֱהִ֨י עֹלֶ֚ה בַנַּ֙חַל֙ לַ֔יְלָה וָֽאֱהִ֥י שֹׁבֵ֖ר בַּֽחוֹמָ֑ה וָֽאָשׁ֗וּב וָֽאָב֛וֹא בְּשַׁ֥עַר הַגַּ֖יְא וָֽאָשֽׁוּב:
And I ascended: And I was ascending from one side at night, and I was breaking the wall with the men who were with me.  
and I returned and came: And when I returned, I came by way of the Gate of the Valley.  
16And the prefects did not know where I went and what I was doing, and the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the prefects, and the remaining performers of the work I had not yet told.   טזוְהַסְּגָנִ֗ים לֹ֚א יָֽדְעוּ֙ אָ֣נָה הָלַ֔כְתִּי וּמָ֖ה אֲנִ֣י עֹשֶׂ֑ה וְלַיְּהוּדִ֨ים וְלַכֹּֽהֲנִ֜ים וְלַֽחֹרִ֣ים וְלַסְּגָנִ֗ים וּלְיֶ֙תֶר֙ עֹשֵׂ֣ה הַמְּלָאכָ֔ה עַד־כֵּ֖ן לֹ֥א הִגַּֽדְתִּי:
And the prefects: who were in the city did not know where I had gone to and what I had done.  
yet: Heb. כֵּן עַד, until now.  
17And I said to them, "You see the sad state we are in, that Jerusalem is laid waste, and its gates have been burned with fire; come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, and we shall no longer be a reproach."   יזוָֽאוֹמַ֣ר אֲלֵהֶ֗ם אַתֶּ֚ם רֹאִים֙ הָֽרָעָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֲנַ֣חְנוּ בָ֔הּ אֲשֶׁ֚ר יְרֽוּשָׁלִַ֙ם֙ חֲרֵבָ֔ה וּשְׁעָרֶ֖יהָ נִצְּת֣וּ בָאֵ֑שׁ לְכ֗וּ וְנִבְנֶה֙ אֶת־חוֹמַ֣ת יְרֽוּשָׁלִַ֔ם וְלֹֽא־נִהְיֶ֥ה ע֖וֹד חֶרְפָּֽה:
And I said to them: On the morrow I said to them.  
and we shall no longer be a reproach: that our adversaries should not plunder and pillage us.  
18And I told them of the hand of my God, which was good upon me, and also the words of the king that he said to me. And they said, "Let us get up and build," and they strengthened their hands for good.   יחוָֽאַגִּ֨יד לָהֶ֜ם אֶת־יַ֣ד אֱלֹהַ֗י אֲשֶׁר־הִיא֙ טוֹבָ֣ה עָלַ֔י וְאַף־דִּבְרֵ֥י הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אָֽמַר־לִ֑י וַיֹּֽאמְרוּ֙ נָק֣וּם וּבָנִ֔ינוּ וַיְחַזְּק֥וּ יְדֵיהֶ֖ם לַטּוֹבָֽה:
the hand of my God: who gave me favor and success before the king.  
for good: They intended everything for good-to build the wall of the city and its towers.  
19Then Sanbalat the Horonite, and Tobiah the Ammonite slave, and Geshem the Arab heard, and they mocked us and despised us, and they said, "What is this thing that your are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?"   יטוַיִּשְׁמַע֩ סַנְבַלַּ֨ט הַחֹֽרֹנִ֜י וְטֹבִיָּ֣ה | הָעֶ֣בֶד הָֽעַמּוֹנִ֗י וְגֶ֙שֶׁם֙ הָֽעַרְבִ֔י וַיַּלְעִ֣גוּ לָ֔נוּ וַיִּבְז֖וּ עָלֵ֑ינוּ וַיֹּֽאמְר֗וּ מָֽה־הַדָּבָ֚ר הַזֶּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אַתֶּ֣ם עֹשִׂ֔ים הַעַ֥ל הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ אַתֶּ֥ם מֹרְדִֽים:
and they mocked: When our adversaries heard the news of the building of the walls of the city, they mocked us.  
are… against the king: Are you rebelling against the king by building the wall of the city in order to rebel against him?  
20And I answered them a word, and I said to them, "The God of heaven-He will make us succeed, and we, His servants, will get up and build, but you have no share, charity, or remembrance in Jerusalem."   כוָֽאָשִׁ֨יב אֹתָ֜ם דָּבָ֗ר וָֽאוֹמַ֚ר לָהֶם֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם הוּא יַצְלִ֣יחַ לָ֔נוּ וַֽאֲנַ֥חְנוּ עֲבָדָ֖יו נָק֣וּם וּבָנִ֑ינוּ וְלָכֶ֗ם אֵֽין־חֵ֧לֶק וּצְדָקָ֛ה וְזִכָּר֖וֹן בִּירֽוּשָׁלִָֽם:
but you have no share: What do you have in the building of the wall of this city, for you have no share in it.