Nehemiah 2:3
New International Version
but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

New Living Translation
but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

English Standard Version
I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

Berean Study Bible
and replied to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should I not be sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

King James Bible
And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?

New King James Version
and said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?”

New American Standard Bible
And I said to the king, “May the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the site of my fathers’ tombs, is desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?”

NASB 1995
I said to the king, “Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?”

NASB 1977
And I said to the king, “Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?”

Amplified Bible
and I said to the king, “Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?”

Christian Standard Bible
and replied to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire? ”

Holman Christian Standard Bible
and replied to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

American Standard Version
And I said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers'sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And I said to the King: “King, live for eternity! Why would my face not be sad, because the city of the house of the kingdom of my fathers is wasted and its gates burned up in fire?”

Brenton Septuagint Translation
and I said to the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be said, forasmuch as the city, even the home of the sepulchres of my fathers, has been laid waste, and her gates have been devoured with fire?

Contemporary English Version
I answered, "Your Majesty, I hope you live forever! I feel sad because the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and its gates have been burned down."

Douay-Rheims Bible
And I said to the king: O king, live for ever: why should not my countenance be sorrowful, seeing the city of the place of the sepulchres of my fathers is desolate, and the gates thereof are burnt with fire?

English Revised Version
And I said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?

Good News Translation
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?"

GOD'S WORD® Translation
"May the king live forever!" I said to the king. "Why shouldn't I look sad when the city, the place where my ancestors are buried, is in ruins and its gates are burned down?"

International Standard Version
I replied to the king, "May the king live forever. Why shouldn't I be troubled, since the city where my ancestral sepulchers are located lies waste, with its gates burned by fire?"

JPS Tanakh 1917
And I said unto the king: 'Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?'

Literal Standard Version
and say to the king, “Let the king live for all time! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of the graves of my fathers, [is] a desolation, and its gates have been consumed with fire?”

NET Bible
I replied to the king, "O king, live forever! Why would I not appear dejected when the city with the graves of my ancestors lies desolate and its gates destroyed by fire?"

New Heart English Bible
I said to the king, "Let the king live forever. Why shouldn't my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies waste, and its gates have been consumed with fire?"

World English Bible
I said to the king, "Let the king live forever! Why shouldn't my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies waste, and its gates have been consumed with fire?"

Young's Literal Translation
and say to the king, 'Let the king to the age live! wherefore should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of the graves of my fathers, is a waste, and its gates have been consumed with fire?'

Additional Translations ...
Context
Nehemiah Sent to Jerusalem
2so the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, though you are not ill? This could only be sadness of the heart.” I was overwhelmed with fear 3and replied to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should I not be sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4“What is your request?” replied the king. So I prayed to the God of heaven…

Cross References
Leviticus 26:31
I will reduce your cities to rubble and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will refuse to smell the pleasing aroma of your sacrifices.

2 Kings 25:8
On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign over Babylon, Nebuzaradan captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, entered Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 36:19
Then the Chaldeans set fire to the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem. They burned down all the palaces and destroyed every article of value.

Nehemiah 1:3
And they told me, "The remnant who survived the exile are there in the province, in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are burned with fire."

Nehemiah 2:13
So I went out at night through the Valley Gate toward the Well of the Serpent and the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that had been broken down and the gates that had been destroyed by fire.

Psalm 137:6
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem as my greatest joy!

Jeremiah 52:12
On the tenth day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign over Babylon, Nebuzaradan captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, entered Jerusalem.


Treasury of Scripture

And said to the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchers, lies waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?

1 Kings 1:31
Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live for ever.

Daniel 2:4
Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.

Daniel 3:9
They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.

the city

Nehemiah 1:3
And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

Psalm 102:14
For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof.

Psalm 137:6
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

the place

2 Chronicles 21:20
Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years, and departed without being desired. Howbeit they buried him in the city of David, but not in the sepulchres of the kings.

2 Chronicles 28:27
And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem: but they brought him not into the sepulchres of the kings of Israel: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.

2 Chronicles 32:33
And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death. And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.









(3) Nehemiah's family was of Jerusalem. He does not as yet betray to the king the deepest desire of his heart, but simply refers to the desecration of his fathers' sepulchres, an appeal which had great force with the Persians, who respected the tomb.

Verse 3. - May the king live for ever. A common form of Oriental compliment (1 Kings 1:31; Daniel 2:4; Daniel 3:9, etc. ), but said now with special intention to conciliate, and meant to express a deep interest in the royal life and person. The city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres. We see by this that Nehemiah's family must have belonged to the capital. The Persians, like the Jews, had a great respect for the tomb, and regarded its violation with horror. Artaxerxes would naturally sympathise with the wish of his follower to give security to the city where his ancestors were interred. It would seem that the Persians generally at this time (Herod., 1:140), the kings certainly ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 3. p. 231, second edition), buried their dead. Lieth waste. Nehemiah's warmth of feeling exaggerates the fact; but he may have been unconscious of the exaggeration. He repeats the phrase to the chief men of Jerusalem after making his survey of the wall (ver. 17).

Parallel Commentaries ...


Hebrew
and replied
וָאֹמַ֣ר (wā·’ō·mar)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Consecutive imperfect - first person common singular
Strong's 559: To utter, say

to the king,
לַמֶּ֔לֶךְ (lam·me·leḵ)
Preposition-l, Article | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 4428: A king

“May the king
הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ (ham·me·leḵ)
Article | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 4428: A king

live forever!
יִחְיֶ֑ה (yiḥ·yeh)
Verb - Qal - Imperfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's 2421: To live, to revive

Why
מַדּ֜וּעַ (mad·dū·a‘)
Interrogative
Strong's 4069: Why? for what reason?

should I not
לֹא־ (lō-)
Adverb - Negative particle
Strong's 3808: Not, no

be sad
יֵרְע֣וּ (yê·rə·‘ū)
Verb - Qal - Imperfect - third person masculine plural
Strong's 7489: To spoil, to make, good for, nothing, bad

when
אֲשֶׁ֨ר (’ă·šer)
Pronoun - relative
Strong's 834: Who, which, what, that, when, where, how, because, in order that

the city
הָעִ֜יר (hā·‘îr)
Article | Noun - feminine singular
Strong's 5892: Excitement

where
בֵּית־ (bêṯ-)
Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's 1004: A house

my fathers
אֲבֹתַי֙ (’ă·ḇō·ṯay)
Noun - masculine plural construct | first person common singular
Strong's 1: Father

are buried
קִבְר֤וֹת (qiḇ·rō·wṯ)
Noun - masculine plural construct
Strong's 6913: A grave, sepulcher

lies in ruins,
חֲרֵבָ֔ה (ḥă·rê·ḇāh)
Adjective - feminine singular
Strong's 2717: To parch, to desolate, destroy, kill

and its gates
וּשְׁעָרֶ֖יהָ (ū·šə·‘ā·re·hā)
Conjunctive waw | Noun - masculine plural construct | third person feminine singular
Strong's 8179: An opening, door, gate

have been destroyed
אֻכְּל֥וּ (’uk·kə·lū)
Verb - QalPass - Perfect - third person common plural
Strong's 398: To eat

by fire?”
בָאֵֽשׁ׃ (ḇā·’êš)
Preposition-b, Article | Noun - common singular
Strong's 784: A fire


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OT History: Nehemiah 2:3 I said to the king Let (Neh Ne)
Nehemiah 2:2
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