This is the account of what Nehemiah son of Hacaliah accomplished. In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year that Artaxerxes was emperor of Persia, I, Nehemiah, was in Susa, the capital city.
Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived from Judah with another group, and I asked them about Jerusalem and about the other Jews who had returned from exile in Babylonia.
They told me that those who had survived and were back in the homeland were in great difficulty and that the foreigners who lived nearby looked down on them. They also told me that the walls of Jerusalem were still broken down and that the gates had not been restored since the time they were burned.
When I heard all this, I sat down and wept. For several days I mourned and did not eat. I prayed to God,
" LORD God of Heaven! You are great, and we stand in fear of you. You faithfully keep your covenant with those who love you and do what you command.
Look at me, LORD, and hear my prayer, as I pray day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess that we, the people of Israel, have sinned. My ancestors and I have sinned.
We have acted wickedly against you and have not done what you commanded. We have not kept the laws which you gave us through Moses, your servant.
Remember now what you told Moses: 'If you people of Israel are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the other nations.
But then if you turn back to me and do what I have commanded you, I will bring you back to the place where I have chosen to be worshiped, even though you are scattered to the ends of the earth.'
"Lord, these are your servants, your own people. You rescued them by your great power and strength.
Listen now to my prayer and to the prayers of all your other servants who want to honor you. Give me success today and make the emperor merciful to me." In those days I was the emperor's wine steward.
One day four months later, when Emperor Artaxerxes was dining, I took the wine to him. He had never seen me look sad before,
so he asked, "Why are you looking so sad? You aren't sick, so it must be that you're unhappy." I was startled
and answered, "May Your Majesty live forever! How can I keep from looking sad when the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?"
The emperor asked, "What is it that you want?" I prayed to the God of Heaven,
and then I said to the emperor, "If Your Majesty is pleased with me and is willing to grant my request, let me go to the land of Judah, to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I can rebuild the city."
The emperor, with the empress sitting at his side, approved my request. He asked me how long I would be gone and when I would return, and I told him.
Then I asked him to grant me the favor of giving me letters to the governors of West-of-Euphrates Province, instructing them to let me travel to Judah.
I asked also for a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests, instructing him to supply me with timber for the gates of the fort that guards the Temple, for the city walls, and for the house I was to live in. The emperor gave me all I asked for, because God was with me.
The emperor sent some army officers and a troop of cavalry with me, and I made the journey to West-of-Euphrates. There I gave the emperor's letters to the governors.
But Sanballat, from the town of Beth Horon, and Tobiah, an official in the province of Ammon, heard that someone had come to work for the good of the people of Israel, and they were highly indignant.
I went on to Jerusalem, and for three days
I did not tell anyone what God had inspired me to do for Jerusalem. Then in the middle of the night I got up and went out, taking a few of my companions with me. The only animal we took was the donkey that I rode on.
It was still night as I left the city through the Valley Gate on the west and went south past Dragon's Fountain to the Rubbish Gate. As I went, I inspected the broken walls of the city and the gates that had been destroyed by fire.
Then on the east side of the city I went north to the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool. The donkey I was riding could not find any path through the rubble,
so I went down into Kidron Valley and rode along, looking at the wall. Then I returned the way I had come and went back into the city through the Valley Gate.
None of the local officials knew where I had gone or what I had been doing. So far I had not said anything to any of the other Jews---the priests, the leaders, the officials, or anyone else who would be taking part in the work.
But now I said to them, "See what trouble we are in because Jerusalem is in ruins and its gates are destroyed! Let's rebuild the city walls and put an end to our disgrace."
And I told them how God had been with me and helped me, and what the emperor had said to me. They responded, "Let's start rebuilding!" And they got ready to start the work.
When Sanballat, Tobiah, and an Arab named Geshem heard what we were planning to do, they laughed at us and said, "What do you think you're doing? Are you going to rebel against the emperor?"
I answered, "The God of Heaven will give us success. We are his servants, and we are going to start building. But you have no right to any property in Jerusalem, and you have no share in its traditions."
The time was near for the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover.
The chief priests and the teachers of the Law were afraid of the people, and so they were trying to find a way of putting Jesus to death secretly.
Then Satan entered into Judas, called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples.
So Judas went off and spoke with the chief priests and the officers of the Temple guard about how he could betray Jesus to them.
They were pleased and offered to pay him money.
Judas agreed to it and started looking for a good chance to hand Jesus over to them without the people knowing about it.
The day came during the Festival of Unleavened Bread when the lambs for the Passover meal were to be killed.
Jesus sent Peter and John with these instructions: "Go and get the Passover meal ready for us to eat."
"Where do you want us to get it ready?" they asked him.
He answered, "As you go into the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters,
and say to the owner of the house: 'The Teacher says to you, Where is the room where my disciples and I will eat the Passover meal?'
He will show you a large furnished room upstairs, where you will get everything ready."
They went off and found everything just as Jesus had told them, and they prepared the Passover meal.
When the hour came, Jesus took his place at the table with the apostles.
He said to them, "I have wanted so much to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer!
For I tell you, I will never eat it until it is given its full meaning in the Kingdom of God."
Then Jesus took a cup, gave thanks to God, and said, "Take this and share it among yourselves.
I tell you that from now on I will not drink this wine until the Kingdom of God comes."
Then he took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me."
In the same way, he gave them the cup after the supper, saying, "This cup is God's new covenant sealed with my blood, which is poured out for you.
"But, look! The one who betrays me is here at the table with me!
The Son of Man will die as God has decided, but how terrible for that man who betrays him!"
Then they began to ask among themselves which one of them it could be who was going to do this.
An argument broke out among the disciples as to which one of them should be thought of as the greatest.
Jesus said to them, "The kings of the pagans have power over their people, and the rulers claim the title 'Friends of the People.'
But this is not the way it is with you; rather, the greatest one among you must be like the youngest, and the leader must be like the servant.
Who is greater, the one who sits down to eat or the one who serves? The one who sits down, of course. But I am among you as one who serves.
"You have stayed with me all through my trials;
and just as my Father has given me the right to rule, so I will give you the same right.
You will eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom, and you will sit on thrones to rule over the twelve tribes of Israel.
"Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff.
But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers."
Peter answered, "Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you and to die with you!"
"I tell you, Peter," Jesus said, "the rooster will not crow tonight until you have said three times that you do not know me."
Then Jesus asked his disciples, "When I sent you out that time without purse, bag, or shoes, did you lack anything?" "Not a thing," they answered.
"But now," Jesus said, "whoever has a purse or a bag must take it; and whoever does not have a sword must sell his coat and buy one.
For I tell you that the scripture which says, 'He shared the fate of criminals,' must come true about me, because what was written about me is coming true."
The disciples said, "Look! Here are two swords, Lord!" "That is enough!" he replied.
Jesus left the city and went, as he usually did, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples went with him.
When he arrived at the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation."
Then he went off from them about the distance of a stone's throw and knelt down and prayed.
"Father," he said, "if you will, take this cup of suffering away from me. Not my will, however, but your will be done."
An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
In great anguish he prayed even more fervently; his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Rising from his prayer, he went back to the disciples and found them asleep, worn out by their grief.
He said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you will not fall into temptation."
Jesus was still speaking when a crowd arrived, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. He came up to Jesus to kiss him.
But Jesus said, "Judas, is it with a kiss that you betray the Son of Man?"
When the disciples who were with Jesus saw what was going to happen, they asked, "Shall we use our swords, Lord?"
And one of them struck the High Priest's slave and cut off his right ear.
But Jesus said, "Enough of this!" He touched the man's ear and healed him.
Then Jesus said to the chief priests and the officers of the Temple guard and the elders who had come there to get him, "Did you have to come with swords and clubs, as though I were an outlaw?
I was with you in the Temple every day, and you did not try to arrest me. But this is your hour to act, when the power of darkness rules."
They arrested Jesus and took him away into the house of the High Priest; and Peter followed at a distance.
A fire had been lit in the center of the courtyard, and Peter joined those who were sitting around it.
When one of the servant women saw him sitting there at the fire, she looked straight at him and said, "This man too was with Jesus!"
But Peter denied it, "Woman, I don't even know him!"
After a little while a man noticed Peter and said, "You are one of them, too!" But Peter answered, "Man, I am not!"
And about an hour later another man insisted strongly, "There isn't any doubt that this man was with Jesus, because he also is a Galilean!"
But Peter answered, "Man, I don't know what you are talking about!" At once, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.
The Lord turned around and looked straight at Peter, and Peter remembered that the Lord had said to him, "Before the rooster crows tonight, you will say three times that you do not know me."
Peter went out and wept bitterly.
The men who were guarding Jesus made fun of him and beat him.
They blindfolded him and asked him, "Who hit you? Guess!"
And they said many other insulting things to him.
When day came, the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law met together, and Jesus was brought before the Council.
"Tell us," they said, "are you the Messiah?" He answered, "If I tell you, you will not believe me;
and if I ask you a question, you will not answer.
But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right side of Almighty God."
They all said, "Are you, then, the Son of God?" He answered them, "You say that I am."
And they said, "We don't need any witnesses! We ourselves have heard what he said!"