Nehemiah 8 & 9 - Ezra Reads the Law; The People Confess Their Sin

8 Ezra Reads the Law

1 And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel. 2 Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law. 4 Ezra the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam on his left hand. 5 Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, explained the law to the people while the people remained in their place. 8 They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.

"This Day Is Holy"

9 Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, "Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved." 12 All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.

Feast of Booths Restored

13 Then on the second day the heads of fathers' households of all the people, the priests and the Levites were gathered to Ezra the scribe that they might gain insight into the words of the law. 14 They found written in the law how the LORD had commanded through Moses that the sons of Israel should live in booths during the feast of the seventh month. 15 So they proclaimed and circulated a proclamation in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the hills, and bring olive branches and wild olive branches, myrtle branches, palm branches and branches of other leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written." 16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17 The entire assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in them. The sons of Israel had indeed not done so from the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day. And there was great rejoicing. 18 He read from the book of the law of God daily, from the first day to the last day. And they celebrated the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly according to the ordinance.

9 The People Confess Their Sin

1 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them. 2 The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. 3 While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God. 4 Now on the Levites' platform stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani and Chenani, and they cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God.

5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah, said, "Arise, bless the LORD your God forever and ever!

O may Your glorious name be blessed

And exalted above all blessing and praise!

6 "You alone are the LORD.

You have made the heavens,

The heaven of heavens with all their host,

The earth and all that is on it,

The seas and all that is in them.

You give life to all of them

And the heavenly host bows down before You.

7 "You are the LORD God,

Who chose Abram

And brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees,

And gave him the name Abraham.

8 "You found his heart faithful before You,

And made a covenant with him

To give him the land of the Canaanite,

Of the Hittite and the Amorite,

Of the Perizzite, the Jebusite and the Girgashite--

To give it to his descendants.

And You have fulfilled Your promise,

For You are righteous.

9 "You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt,

And heard their cry by the Red Sea.

10 "Then You performed signs and wonders

against Pharaoh,

Against all his servants and all the people

of his land;

For You knew that they acted arrogantly

toward them,

And made a name for Yourself as it is this day.

11 "You divided the sea before them,

So they passed through the midst of the sea

on dry ground;

And their pursuers You hurled into the depths,

Like a stone into raging waters.

12 "And with a pillar of cloud You led

them by day,

And with a pillar of fire by night

To light for them the way

In which they were to go.

13 "Then You came down on Mount Sinai,

And spoke with them from heaven;

You gave them just ordinances and true laws,

Good statutes and commandments.

14 "So You made known to them Your holy


And laid down for them commandments,

statutes and law,

Through Your servant Moses.

15 "You provided bread from heaven

for them for their hunger,

You brought forth water from a rock for them

for their thirst,

And You told them to enter in order to


The land which You swore to give them.

16 "But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly;

They became stubborn and would not listen

to Your commandments.

17 "They refused to listen,

And did not remember Your wondrous deeds

which You had performed among them;

So they became stubborn and appointed a leader

to return to their slavery in Egypt.

But You are a God of forgiveness,

Gracious and compassionate,

Slow to anger and abounding in


And You did not forsake them.

18 "Even when they made for themselves

A calf of molten metal

And said, `This is your God

Who brought you up from Egypt,'

And committed great blasphemies,

19 You, in Your great compassion,

Did not forsake them in the wilderness;

The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day,

To guide them on their way,

Nor the pillar of fire by night, to light for

them the way in which they were to go.

20 "You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them,

Your manna You did not withhold from their


And You gave them water for their thirst.

21 "Indeed, forty years You provided for them

in the wilderness and they were not in want;

Their clothes did not wear out, nor did

their feet swell.

22 "You also gave them kingdoms and peoples,

And allotted them to them as a boundary.

They took possession of the land of Sihon

the king of Heshbon

And the land of Og the king of Bashan.

23 "You made their sons numerous as

the stars of heaven,

And You brought them into the land

Which You had told their fathers to enter

and possess.

24 "So their sons entered and possessed

the land.

And You subdued before them the inhabitants

of the land, the Canaanites,

And You gave them into their hand,

with their kings and the peoples of the land,

To do with them as they desired.

25 "They captured fortified cities and a

fertile land.

They took possession of houses full of

every good thing,

Hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves,

Fruit trees in abundance.

So they ate, were filled and grew fat,

And reveled in Your great goodness.

26 "But they became disobedient and

rebelled against You,

And cast Your law behind their backs

And killed Your prophets who had

admonished them

So that they might return to You,

And they committed great blasphemies.

27 "Therefore You delivered them into

the hand of their oppressors who

oppressed them,

But when they cried to You in the

time of their distress,

You heard from heaven, and according

to Your great compassion

You gave them deliverers who delivered

them from the hand of their oppressors.

28 "But as soon as they had rest, they did

evil again before You;

Therefore You abandoned them to the

hand of their enemies, so that they

ruled over them.

When they cried again to You,

You heard from heaven,

And many times You rescued them

according to Your compassion,

29 And admonished them in order to turn

them back to Your law.

Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen

to Your commandments but sinned against

Your ordinances,

By which if a man observes them he shall live.

And they turned a stubborn shoulder and

stiffened their neck, and would not listen.

30 "However, You bore with them for many


And admonished them by Your Spirit through

Your prophets,

Yet they would not give ear.

Therefore You gave them into the hand of the

peoples of the lands.

31 "Nevertheless, in Your great compassion

You did not make an end of them or

forsake them,

For You are a gracious and compassionate God.

32 "Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty,

and the awesome God, who keeps covenant

and lovingkindness,

Do not let all the hardship seem insignificant

before You,

Which has come upon us, our kings, our princes,

our priests, our prophets, our fathers and

on all Your people,

From the days of the kings of Assyria to this day.

33 "However, You are just in all that has come

upon us;

For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted


34 "For our kings, our leaders, our priests and

our fathers have not kept Your law

Or paid attention to Your commandments and

Your admonitions with which You have

admonished them.

35 "But they, in their own kingdom,

With Your great goodness which You gave them,

With the broad and rich land which You set

before them,

Did not serve You or turn from their evil deeds.

36 "Behold, we are slaves today,

And as to the land which You gave to our fathers

to eat of its fruit and its bounty,

Behold, we are slaves in it.

37 "Its abundant produce is for the kings

Whom You have set over us because of our sins;

They also rule over our bodies

And over our cattle as they please,

So we are in great distress.

A Covenant Results

38 "Now because of all this

We are making an agreement in writing;

And on the sealed document are the names of

our leaders, our Levites and our priests."

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