8 all the people gathered together 1 in the plaza which was in front of the Water Gate. They asked 2 Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly which included men and women and all those able to understand what they heard. (This happened on the first day of the seventh month.) 3 So he read it before the plaza in front of the Water Gate from dawn till noon 3 before the men and women and those children who could understand. 4 All the people were eager to hear 5 the book of the law.
4 Ezra the scribe stood on a towering wooden platform 6 constructed for this purpose. Standing near him on his right were Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Masseiah. On his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 Ezra opened the book in plain view 7 of all the people, for he was elevated above all the people. When he opened the book, 8 all the people stood up. 6 Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people replied “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
7 Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah – all of whom were Levites 9 – were teaching the people the law, as the people remained standing. 8 They read from the book of God’s law, explaining it 10 and imparting insight. Thus the people 11 gained understanding from what was read.
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, 12 Ezra the priestly scribe, 13 and the Levites who were imparting understanding to the people said to all of them, 14 “This day is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping when they heard the words of the law. 10 He said to them, “Go and eat delicacies and drink sweet drinks and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared. For this day is holy to our Lord. 15 Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
11 Then the Levites quieted all the people saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy. Do not grieve.” 12 So all the people departed to eat and drink and to share their food 16 with others 17 and to enjoy tremendous joy, 18 for they had gained insight in the matters that had been made known to them.
13 On the second day of the month the family leaders 19 met with 20 Ezra the scribe, together with all the people, the priests, and the Levites, to consider the words of the law. 14 They discovered written in the law that the LORD had commanded through 21 Moses that the Israelites should live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month, 15 and that they should make a proclamation and disseminate this message 22 in all their cities and in Jerusalem: 23 “Go to the hill country and bring back olive branches and branches of wild olive trees, myrtle trees, date palms, and other leafy trees to construct temporary shelters, as it is written.”
16 So the people went out and brought these things 24 back and constructed temporary shelters for themselves, each on his roof and in his courtyard and in the courtyards of the temple 25 of God and in the plaza of the Water Gate and the plaza of the Ephraim Gate. 17 So all the assembly which had returned from the exile constructed temporary shelters and lived in them. The Israelites had not done so from the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day. Everyone experienced very great joy. 26 18 Ezra 27 read in the book of the law of God day by day, from the first day to the last. 28 They observed the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day they held an assembly 29 as was required. 30
9 On the twenty-fourth day of this same month the Israelites assembled; they were fasting and wearing sackcloth, their heads covered with dust. 2 Those truly of Israelite descent 1 separated from all the foreigners, 2 standing and confessing their sins and the iniquities of their ancestors. 3 3 For one-fourth of the day they stood in their place and read from the book of the law of the LORD their God, and for another fourth they were confessing their sins 4 and worshiping the LORD their God. 4 Then the Levites – Jeshua, Binnui, 5 Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Kenani – stood on the steps and called out loudly 6 to the LORD their God. 5 The Levites – Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah – said, “Stand up and bless the LORD your God!”
“May you be blessed, O LORD our God, from age to age. 7 May your glorious name 8 be blessed; may it be lifted up above all blessing and praise. 6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, 9 along with all their multitude of stars, 10 the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You impart life to them all, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
7 “You are the LORD God who chose Abram and brought him forth from Ur of the Chaldeans. You changed his name to Abraham. 8 When you perceived that his heart was faithful toward you, you established a 11 covenant with him to give his descendants 12 the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites. You have fulfilled your promise, 13 for you are righteous.
9 “You saw the affliction of our ancestors in Egypt, and you heard their cry at the Red Sea. 14 10 You performed awesome signs 15 against Pharaoh, against his servants, and against all the people of his land, for you knew that the Egyptians 16 had acted presumptuously 17 against them. You made for yourself a name that is celebrated to this day. 11 You split the sea before them, and they crossed through 18 the sea on dry ground! But you threw their pursuers 19 into the depths, like a stone into surging 20 waters. 12 You guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and with a pillar of fire by night to illumine for them the path they were to travel.
13 “You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven. You provided them with just judgments, true laws, and good statutes and commandments. 14 You made known to them your holy Sabbath; you issued commandments, statutes, and law to them through 21 Moses your servant. 15 You provided bread from heaven for them in their time of hunger, and you brought forth water from the rock for them in their time of thirst. You told them to enter in order to possess the land that you had sworn 22 to give them.
16 “But they – our ancestors 23 – behaved presumptuously; they rebelled 24 and did not obey your commandments. 17 They refused to obey and did not recall your miracles that you had performed among them. Instead, they rebelled and appointed a leader to return to their bondage in Egypt. 25 But you are a God of forgiveness, merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and unfailing in your loyal love. 26 You did not abandon them, 18 even when they made a cast image of a calf for themselves and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up from Egypt,’ or when they committed atrocious 27 blasphemies.
19 “Due to your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. The pillar of cloud did not stop guiding them in the path by day, 28 nor did the pillar of fire stop illuminating for them by night the path on which they should travel. 20 You imparted your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths; you provided water for their thirst. 21 For forty years you sustained them. Even in the desert they never lacked anything. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.
22 “You gave them kingdoms and peoples, and you allocated them to every corner of the land. 29 They inherited the land of King Sihon of Heshbon 30 and the land of King Og of Bashan. 23 You multiplied their descendants like the stars of the sky. You brought them to the land you had told their ancestors to enter in order to possess. 24 Their descendants 31 entered and possessed the land. You subdued before them the Canaanites who were the inhabitants of the land. You delivered them into their hand, together with their kings and the peoples of the land, to deal with as they pleased. 25 They captured fortified cities and fertile land. They took possession of houses full of all sorts of good things – wells previously dug, vineyards, olive trees, and fruit trees in abundance. They ate until they were full 32 and grew fat. They enjoyed to the full your great goodness.
26 “Nonetheless they grew disobedient and rebelled against you; they disregarded your law. 33 They killed your prophets who had solemnly admonished them in order to cause them to return to you. They committed atrocious blasphemies. 27 Therefore you delivered them into the hand of their adversaries, who oppressed them. But in the time of their distress they called to you, and you heard from heaven. In your abundant compassion you provided them with deliverers to rescue them from 34 their adversaries.
28 “Then, when they were at rest again, they went back to doing evil before you. Then you abandoned them to 35 their enemies, and they gained dominion over them. When they again cried out to you, in your compassion you heard from heaven and rescued them time and again. 29 And you solemnly admonished them in order to return them to your law, but they behaved presumptuously and did not obey your commandments. They sinned against your ordinances – those by which an individual, if he obeys them, 36 will live. They boldly turned from you; 37 they rebelled 38 and did not obey. 30 You prolonged your kindness 39 with them for many years, and you solemnly admonished them by your Spirit through your prophets. Still they paid no attention, 40 so you delivered them into the hands of the neighboring peoples. 41 31 However, due to your abundant mercy you did not do away with them altogether; you did not abandon them. For you are a merciful and compassionate God.
32 “So now, our God – the great, powerful, and awesome God, who keeps covenant fidelity 42 – do not regard as inconsequential 43 all the hardship that has befallen us – our kings, our leaders, our priests, our prophets, our ancestors, and all your people – from the days of the kings of Assyria until this very day! 33 You are righteous with regard to all that has happened to us, for you have acted faithfully. 44 It is we who have been in the wrong! 34 Our kings, our leaders, our priests, and our ancestors have not kept your law. They have not paid attention to your commandments or your testimonies by which you have solemnly admonished them. 35 Even when they were in their kingdom and benefiting from your incredible 45 goodness that you had lavished 46 on them in the spacious and fertile land you had set 47 before them, they did not serve you, nor did they turn from their evil practices.
36 “So today we are slaves! In the very land you gave to our ancestors to eat its fruit and to enjoy 48 its good things – we are slaves! 37 Its abundant produce goes to the kings you have placed over us due to our sins. They rule over our bodies and our livestock as they see fit, 49 and we are in great distress!
38 50 “Because of all of this we are entering into a binding covenant 51 in written form; 52 our leaders, our Levites, and our priests have affixed their names 53 on the sealed document.”