Ezra Reads the Law to the People
8 1 By the time the seventh month arrived, the People of Israel were settled in their towns. Then all the people gathered as one person in the town square in front of the Water Gate and asked the scholar Ezra to bring the Book of The Revelation of Moses that God had commanded for Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought The Revelation to the congregation, which was made up of both men and women - everyone capable of understanding. It was the first day of the seventh month. 3 He read it facing the town square at the Water Gate from early dawn until noon in the hearing of the men and women, all who could understand it. And all the people listened - they were all ears - to the Book of The Revelation. 4 The scholar Ezra stood on a wooden platform constructed for the occasion. He was flanked on the right by Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, and on the left by Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 Ezra opened the book. Every eye was on him (he was standing on the raised platform) and as he opened the book everyone stood. 6 Then Ezra praised God, the great God, and all the people responded, "Oh Yes! Yes!" with hands raised high. And then they fell to their knees in worship of God, their faces to the ground. 7 Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, all Levites, explained The Revelation while people stood, listening respectfully. 8 They translated the Book of The Revelation of God so the people could understand it and then explained the reading.
9 Nehemiah the governor, along with Ezra the priest and scholar and the Levites who were teaching the people, said to all the people, "This day is holy to God, your God. Don't weep and carry on." They said this because all the people were weeping as they heard the words of The Revelation. 10 He continued, "Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don't have anything: This day is holy to God. Don't feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!" 11 The Levites calmed the people, "Quiet now. This is a holy day. Don't be upset." 12 So the people went off to feast, eating and drinking and including the poor in a great celebration. Now they got it; they understood the reading that had been given to them.
13 On the second day of the month the family heads of all the people, the priests, and the Levites gathered around Ezra the scholar to get a deeper understanding of the words of The Revelation. 14 They found written in The Revelation that God commanded through Moses that the People of Israel are to live in booths during the festival of the seventh month. 15 So they published this decree and had it posted in all their cities and in Jerusalem: "Go into the hills and collect olive branches, pine branches, myrtle branches, palm branches, and any other leafy branches to make booths, as it is written." 16 So the people went out, brought in branches, and made themselves booths on their roofs, courtyards, the courtyards of The Temple of God, the Water Gate plaza, and the Ephraim Gate plaza. 17 The entire congregation that had come back from exile made booths and lived in them. The People of Israel hadn't done this from the time of Joshua son of Nun until that very day - a terrific day! Great joy! 18 Ezra read from the Book of The Revelation of God each day, from the first to the last day - they celebrated the feast for seven days. On the eighth day they held a solemn assembly in accordance with the decree.
Ezra's Confession of Israel's Sins
9 1 Then on the twenty-fourth day of this month, the People of Israel gathered for a fast, wearing burlap and faces smudged with dirt as signs of repentance. 2 The Israelites broke off all relations with foreigners, stood up, and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their parents. 3 While they stood there in their places, they read from the Book of The Revelation of God, their God, for a quarter of the day. For another quarter of the day they confessed and worshiped their God.
4 A group of Levites - Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Kenani - stood on the platform and cried out to God, their God, in a loud voice. 5 The Levites Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah said, "On your feet! Bless God, your God, for ever and ever!" Blessed be your glorious name, exalted above all blessing and praise! 6 You're the one, God, you alone; You made the heavens, the heavens of heavens, and all angels; The earth and everything on it, the seas and everything in them; You keep them all alive; heaven's angels worship you! 7 You're the one, God, the God who chose Abram And brought him from Ur of the Chaldees and changed his name to Abraham. 8 You found his heart to be steady and true to you and signed a covenant with him, A covenant to give him the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, and the Amorites, The Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites, - to give it to his descendants. And you kept your word because you are righteous. 9 You saw the anguish of our parents in Egypt. You heard their cries at the Red Sea; 10 You amazed Pharaoh, his servants, and the people of his land with wonders and miracle-signs. You knew their bullying arrogance against your people; you made a name for yourself that lasts to this day. 11 You split the sea before them; they crossed through and never got their feet wet; You pitched their pursuers into the deep; they sank like a rock in the storm-tossed sea. 12 By day you led them with a Pillar of Cloud, and by night with a Pillar of Fire To show them the way they were to travel. 13 You came down onto Mount Sinai, you spoke to them out of heaven; You gave them instructions on how to live well, true teaching, sound rules and commands; 14 You introduced them to your Holy Sabbath; Through your servant Moses you decreed commands, rules, and instruction. 15 You gave bread from heaven for their hunger, you sent water from the rock for their thirst. You told them to enter and take the land, which you promised to give them. 16 But they, our ancestors, were arrogant; bullheaded, they wouldn't obey your commands. 17 They turned a deaf ear, they refused to remember the miracles you had done for them; They turned stubborn, got it into their heads to return to their Egyptian slavery. And you, a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, Incredibly patient, with tons of love - you didn't dump them. 18 Yes, even when they cast a sculpted calf and said, "This is your god Who brought you out of Egypt," and continued from bad to worse, 19 You in your amazing compassion didn't walk off and leave them in the desert. The Pillar of Cloud didn't leave them; daily it continued to show them their route; The Pillar of Fire did the same by night, showed them the right way to go. 20 You gave them your good Spirit to teach them to live wisely. You never stinted with your manna, gave them plenty of water to drink. 21 You supported them forty years in that desert; they had everything they needed; Their clothes didn't wear out and their feet never blistered. 22 You gave them kingdoms and peoples, establishing generous boundaries. They took over the country of Sihon king of Heshbon and the country of Og king of Bashan. 23 You multiplied children for them, rivaling the stars in the night skies, And you brought them into the land that you promised their ancestors they would get and own. 24 Well, they entered all right, they took it and settled in. The Canaanites who lived there you brought to their knees before them. You turned over their land, kings, and peoples to do with as they pleased. 25 They took strong cities and fertile fields, they took over well-furnished houses, Cisterns, vineyards, olive groves, and lush, extensive orchards. And they ate, grew fat on the fat of the land; they reveled in your bountiful goodness. 26 But then they mutinied, rebelled against you, threw out your laws and killed your prophets, The very prophets who tried to get them back on your side - and then things went from bad to worse. 27 You turned them over to their enemies, who made life rough for them. But when they called out for help in their troubles you listened from heaven; And in keeping with your bottomless compassion you gave them saviors: Saviors who saved them from the cruel abuse of their enemies. 28 But as soon as they had it easy again they were right back at it - more evil. So you turned away and left them again to their fate, to the enemies who came right back. They cried out to you again; in your great compassion you heard and helped them again. This went on over and over and over. 29 ou warned them to return to your Revelation, they responded with haughty arrogance: They flouted your commands, spurned your rules - the very words by which men and women live! They set their jaws in defiance, they turned their backs on you and didn't listen. 30 You put up with them year after year and warned them by your spirit through your prophets; But when they refused to listen you abandoned them to foreigners. 31 Still, because of your great compassion, you didn't make a total end to them. You didn't walk out and leave them for good; yes, you are a God of grace and compassion. 32 And now, our God, the great God, God majestic and terrible, loyal in covenant and love, Don't treat lightly the trouble that has come to us, to our kings and princes, our priests and prophets, Our ancestors, and all your people from the time of the Assyrian kings right down to today. 33 You are not to blame for all that has come down on us; You did everything right, we did everything wrong. 34 None of our kings, princes, priests, or ancestors followed your Revelation; They ignored your commands, dismissed the warnings you gave them. 35 Even when they had their own kingdom and were enjoying your generous goodness, Living in that spacious and fertile land that you spread out before them, They didn't serve you or turn their backs on the practice of evil. 36 And here we are, slaves again today; and here's the land you gave our ancestors So they could eat well and enjoy a good life, and now look at us - no better than slaves on this land. 37 Its wonderful crops go to the kings you put over us because of our sins; They act like they own our bodies and do whatever they like with our cattle. We're in deep trouble.
The People Covenant to Keep the Law
38 "Because of all this we are drawing up a binding pledge, a sealed document signed by our princes, our Levites, and our priests."