all the people gathered together at the square in front of the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses that the Lord had given Israel.
On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding.
While he was facing the square in front of the Water Gate, he read out of it from daybreak until noon before the men, the women, and those who could understand. All the people listened attentively to the book of the law.
Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform made for this purpose. Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah stood beside him on his right; to his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash-baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
Ezra opened the book in full view of all the people, since he was elevated above everyone. As he opened it, all the people stood up.
Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and with their hands uplifted all the people said, "Amen, Amen!" Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, who were Levites, explained the law to the people as they stood in their places.
They read the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.
Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all of them, "This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep." For all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.
Then he said to them, "Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because your strength [comes from] rejoicing in the Lord."
And the Levites quieted all the people, saying, "Be still, since today is holy. Do not grieve."
Then all the people began to eat and drink, send portions, and have a great celebration, because they had understood the words that were explained to them.
On the second day, the family leaders of all the people, along with the priests and Levites, assembled before Ezra the scribe to study the words of the law.
They found written in the law how the Lord had commanded through Moses that the Israelites should dwell in booths during the festival of the seventh month.
So they proclaimed and spread this news throughout all their towns and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the hill country and bring back branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and [other] leafy trees to make booths, just as it is written."
The people went out, brought back [branches], and made booths for themselves on each of their rooftops, and courtyards, the court of the house of God, the square by the Water Gate, and the square by the Gate of Ephraim.
The whole community that had returned from exile made booths and lived in them. They had not celebrated like this from the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day. And there was tremendous joy.
Ezra read out of the book of the law of God every day, from the first day to the last. The Israelites celebrated the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day there was an assembly, according to the ordinance.
On the twenty-fourth day of this month the Israelites assembled; they were fasting, [wearing] sackcloth, [and had put] dust on their heads.
Those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners, and they stood and confessed their sins and the guilt of their fathers.
While they stood in their places, they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day and [spent] another fourth of the day in confession and worship of the Lord their God.
Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the raised platform [built] for the Levites and cried out loudly to the Lord their God.
Then the Levites-Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah-said: Stand up. Bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Praise Your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.
You alone are the Lord. You created the heavens, the highest 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 worships You.
You are the Lord God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and changed his name to Abraham.
You found his heart faithful in Your sight, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites- to give it to his descendants. You have kept Your promise, for You are righteous.
You saw the oppression of our ancestors in Egypt and heard their cry at the Red Sea.
You performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, all his officials, and all the people of his land, for You knew how arrogantly they treated our ancestors. You made a name for Yourself that endures to this day.
You divided the sea before them, and they crossed through it on dry ground. You hurled their pursuers into the depths like a stone into churning waters.
You led them with a pillar of cloud by day, and with a pillar of fire by night, to illuminate the way they should go.
You came down on Mount Sinai, and spoke to them from heaven. You gave them impartial ordinances, reliable instructions, and good decrees and commandments.
You revealed Your holy Sabbath to them, and gave them commandments, statutes, and a law through Your servant Moses.
You provided bread from heaven for their hunger; You brought them water from the rock for their thirst. You told them to go in and possess the land You had sworn to give them.
But our ancestors acted arrogantly; they became stiff-necked and did not listen to Your commands.
They refused to listen and did not remember Your wonders You performed among them. They became stiff-necked and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in faithful love, and You did not abandon them.
Even after they had cast an image of a calf for themselves and said, "This is your God who brought you out of Egypt," and they had committed terrible blasphemies,
You did not abandon them in the wilderness because of Your great compassion. During the day the pillar of cloud never turned away from them, guiding them on their journey. And during the night the pillar of fire illuminated the way they should go.
You sent Your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold Your manna from their mouths, and You gave them water for their thirst.
You provided for them in the wilderness 40 years and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell.
You gave them kingdoms and peoples and assigned them to be a boundary. They took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and of the land of Og king of Bashan.
You multiplied their descendants like the stars of heaven and brought them to the land You told their ancestors to go in and take possession [of it].
So their descendants went in and possessed the land: You subdued the Canaanites who inhabited the land before them and handed their kings and the surrounding peoples over to them, to do as they pleased with them.
They captured fortified cities and fertile land and took possession of well-supplied houses, rock-hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. They ate, were filled, became prosperous, and delighted in Your great goodness.
But they were disobedient and rebelled against You. They flung Your law behind their backs and killed Your prophets who warned them to turn them back to You. They committed terrible blasphemies.
So You handed them over to their enemies, who oppressed them. In their time of distress, they cried out to You, and You heard from heaven. In Your abundant compassion You gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the power of their enemies.
But as soon as they had relief, they again did what was evil in Your sight. So You abandoned them to the power of their enemies, who dominated them. When they cried out to You again, You heard from heaven and rescued them many times in Your compassion.
You warned them to turn back to Your law, but they acted arrogantly and would not obey Your commandments. They sinned against Your ordinances, by which a person will live if he does them. They stubbornly resisted, stiffened their necks, and would not obey.
You were patient with them for many years, and Your Spirit warned them through Your prophets, but they would not listen. Therefore, You handed them over to the surrounding peoples.
However, in Your abundant compassion, You did not destroy them or abandon them, for You are a gracious and compassionate God.
So now, our God-the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God who keeps His gracious covenant- do not view lightly all the hardships that have afflicted us, our kings and leaders, our priests and prophets, our ancestors and all Your people, from the days of the Assyrian kings until today.
You are righteous concerning all that has come on us, because You have acted faithfully, while we have acted wickedly.
Our kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors did not obey Your law or listen to Your commandments and warnings You gave them.
When they were in their kingdom, with Your abundant goodness You gave them, and in the spacious and fertile land You set before them, they would not serve You or turn from their wicked ways.
Here we are today, slaves in the land You gave our ancestors so that they could enjoy its fruit and its goodness. Here we are-slaves in it!
Its abundant harvest goes to the kings You have set over us, because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and our livestock as they please. We are in great distress.