[When the seventh month came,] all the people gathered together in the courtyard in front of Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of Moses' Teachings, which the Lord had commanded Israel [to follow].
Then Ezra the priest brought the Teachings in front of the assembly. This included men, women, and any [children] who could understand what they heard. This took place on the first day of the seventh month.
From daybreak until noon, he read from it in the courtyard in front of Water Gate to the men, women, and [children] who could understand it. All the people listened to the Book of Moses' Teachings.
Ezra the scribe stood on a raised wooden platform made for this occasion. Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah stood beside him on his right. Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchiah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam stood beside him on his left.
Ezra, standing higher than all the other people, opened the book in front of all the people. As he opened it, all the people stood up.
Ezra thanked the LORD, the great God. All the people responded, "Amen! Amen!" as they raised their hands and then bowed with their faces to the ground and worshiped the LORD.
The Levites--Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah--explained the Teachings to the people while they were standing there.
They read the Book of God's Teachings clearly and explained the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.
Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people told them, "This is a holy day for the LORD your God. Don't mourn or cry." All the people were crying as they listened to the reading of God's Teachings.
Then he told them, "Go, eat rich foods, drink sweet drinks, and send portions to those who cannot provide for themselves. Today is a holy day for the Lord. Don't be sad because the joy you have in the LORD is your strength."
So the Levites calmed all the people by saying, "Listen. Today is a holy day. Don't be sad."
Then all the people went to eat and drink and to send portions. They had a big, joyful celebration because they understood the words that had been explained to them.
On the second day the leaders of the families of all the people, including the priests and the Levites, met with Ezra the scribe to study the words of God's Teachings.
They found written in the Teachings that the LORD had given an order through Moses that the people of Israel should live in booths during a festival in the seventh month.
They should announce this command and send this message throughout all their cities and Jerusalem: "Go to the mountains, and get branches--olive and wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other thick-leaved branches--to make booths as it is written."
So the people went to get branches to make booths for themselves. Some made booths on their roofs, others in their courtyards, in the courtyards of God's temple, in the open area by Water Gate, or in the open area at Ephraim Gate.
The whole assembly that had come back from exile made booths and lived in them. From the time of Jeshua (son of Nun) to that day, the people of Israel had not done this. There was a big, joyful celebration.
Day by day, from the first day of the festival to the last day, Ezra continued to read from the Book of God's Teachings. The people celebrated the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day, they had a closing festival assembly in accordance with the regulations.
When the Israelites assembled on the twenty-fourth day of this month, they fasted, wore sackcloth, and threw dirt on their heads.
Those who were descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood and confessed their sins as well as the wicked things their ancestors had done.
They stood in their places, and for one-fourth of the day, [they listened as] the Book of the Teachings of the LORD their God was read, and for another fourth [of the day], they confessed their sins and worshiped the LORD their God.
Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chanani stood on the stairs built for the Levites and cried loudly to the LORD their God.
Then the Levites--Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah--said, "Stand up, and thank the LORD your God: From everlasting to everlasting your glorious name is praised and lifted high above all blessing and praise.
You alone are the LORD. You made heaven, the highest heaven, with all its armies. You made the earth and everything on it, the seas and everything in them. You give life to them all, and the armies of heaven worship you.
You are the LORD, the God who chose Abram and took him from Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham.
You found that his heart was faithful to you. You made a promise to him to give the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites to his descendants. You kept your promise because you are fair.
You saw how our ancestors suffered in Egypt, and you heard them crying at the Red Sea.
You performed miraculous signs and did amazing things to Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people in his land because you knew how arrogantly they were treating our ancestors. You made a name for yourself, a name which remains to this day.
You divided the sea in front of them so that they could walk through the sea on dry ground. You threw into deep water those who pursued your people as someone throws a stone into raging water.
You led them during the day by a column of smoke and during the night by a column of fire to give them light to see the way they should go.
You came from heaven to Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven. You gave them fair rules, trustworthy teachings, and good laws and commandments.
You taught them about your holy day of worship. You gave them commandments, laws, and teachings through your servant Moses.
You gave them bread from heaven to satisfy their hunger and made water flow from a rock to quench their thirst. You told them to take possession of the land that you swore you would give them.
But they--our own ancestors--acted arrogantly. They became stubborn and wouldn't obey your commands.
They refused to listen. They forgot the miracles you performed for them. They became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to slavery [in Egypt]. But you are a forgiving God, one who is compassionate, merciful, patient, and always ready to forgive. You never abandoned them,
even when they made a metal statue of a calf for themselves and said, 'This is your god who took you out of Egypt.' They committed outrageous sins.
But because of your endless compassion, you didn't abandon them in the desert. The column of smoke didn't leave them during the day, but it led them on their way. The column of fire didn't leave them during the night, but it gave them light to see the way they should go.
You gave them your good Spirit to teach them. You didn't keep your manna to yourself. You gave them water to quench their thirst.
You provided for them in the desert for 40 years, and they had everything they needed. Their clothes didn't wear out, and their feet didn't swell.
You gave kingdoms and nations to the Israelites and assigned them their boundaries. So they took possession of the land of Sihon, the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of King Og of Bashan.
You made their children as numerous as the stars in the sky. You brought them into the land you told their parents to enter and possess.
Their children took possession of the land. You defeated for them the Canaanites, who lived in the land. You handed the Canaanite kings and their people over to them to do whatever they wanted with the Canaanites.
The Israelites captured fortified cities and a rich land. They took possession of houses filled with all sorts of good things, cisterns, vineyards, olive trees, and plenty of fruit trees. So they ate and were satisfied and grew fat. They enjoyed the vast supply of good things you gave them.
But they were defiant and rebelled against you. They threw your teachings over their shoulders and killed your prophets who warned them to turn back to you. They committed outrageous sins.
You handed them over to their enemies, who made them suffer. When they began to suffer, they cried to you. You heard them from heaven. You gave them saviors to rescue them from their enemies because of your endless compassion.
As soon as they felt some relief, they were again doing what you considered evil. You abandoned them to their enemies, who conquered them. They cried to you again, and you heard them from heaven. You rescued them many times because of your compassion.
You warned them in order to bring them back to your teachings, but they became arrogant and would not obey your commandments. They sinned by not following your regulations. If anyone follows them, he will find life in them. But they gave you the cold shoulder, became impossible to deal with, and wouldn't listen.
You were patient with them for many years. You warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. However, they wouldn't listen. So you handed them over to the people in the surrounding nations.
But your compassion is endless. You didn't destroy them or abandon them. You are a merciful and compassionate God.
And now, our God, you are the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God. You faithfully keep your promises. Do not consider all the hardships that we have been going through as unimportant. The hardships have come to our kings, leaders, priests, prophets, ancestors, and all your people from the time of the kings of Assyria until now.
But you were fair about everything that has happened to us. You have been faithful, but we have been wicked.
Our kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors didn't obey your teachings. They didn't pay attention to your commandments or the warnings that you gave them.
When they lived in their own kingdom and enjoyed the many good things that you gave them in a vast, fertile land which was set in front of them, they didn't serve you or turn away from their wicked lives.
Look [at us] now. We're slaves! In the land you gave our ancestors, they could eat its produce and [enjoy] its good things. But now we're slaves!
The many products [from our land] go to the kings you put over us. This is because of our sins. These kings have control over our bodies, and they do as they please with our livestock. We are in agony.
"We are making a binding agreement [and putting it] in writing because of all this. Our leaders, Levites, and priests are putting their seals on the document."
The following people sealed the agreement: Governor Nehemiah (son of Hacaliah), Zedekiah,
Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah,
Pashhur, Amariah, Malchiah,
Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch,
Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah,
Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch,
Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin,
Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaiah. These were the priests.
These were the Levites: Jeshua (son of Azaniah), Binnui (of the sons of Henadad), Kadmiel,
and their relatives Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan,
Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah,
Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah,
Hodiah, Bani, and Beninu.
These were the leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani,
Bunni, Azgad, Bebai,
Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin,
Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur,
Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai,
Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai,
Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir,
Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua,
Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah,
Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub,
Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek,
Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah,
Ahiah, Hanan, Anan,
Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.
The rest of the people took an oath. These people included the priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants, and all who had separated themselves from the inhabitants of the land for the sake of God's Teachings. Their wives, sons, daughters, and everyone who is capable of understanding also took an oath.
They joined their relatives, the nobles, in binding themselves with a curse and an oath to follow God's teachings given by Moses, God's servant. They also bound themselves to follow all the commandments, rules, and regulations of the LORD our Lord.
We will not allow our daughters to marry the inhabitants of the land or allow their daughters to marry our sons.
If the inhabitants of the land bring merchandise or grain to sell on the day of worship, we won't buy anything from them on the day of worship or any other holy day. During the seventh year, we won't plant the fields or collect any debts.
Also, we take upon ourselves the obligation to give an eighth of an ounce of silver every year for worship in our God's temple:
for rows of the bread of the presence, and for the daily grain offerings and daily burnt offerings, on the weekly days of worship, and on the New Moon Festivals, and at the appointed annual festivals, for the holy gifts and offerings for sin that make peace with God for Israel, and for all the other work in the temple of our God.
We priests, Levites, and laypeople have drawn lots to decide the order in which the heads of our families should bring wood to our God's temple to burn on the altar of the LORD our God at appointed times every year according to the directions in the Teachings.
We have drawn lots to decide who should bring the first produce harvested and the first fruit from every tree each year to the LORD's temple.
Following the directions in the Teachings, we have drawn lots to decide who should bring the firstborn of our sons, our cattle, and our flocks to the priests serving in our God's temple.
Also, we have drawn lots to decide who should bring the best of our coarse flour, contributions, fruit from every tree, new wine, and olive oil to the priests, to the storerooms. We will bring for the Levites one-tenth of the produce from our fields, because the Levites are the ones who collect one-tenth of the produce from all our farm communities.
A priest--one of Aaron's descendants--should be with the Levites when they collect the tenth. Then the Levites should bring one-tenth of these tenths to our God's temple, into the rooms of the storehouses there.
The Israelites and the Levites should bring into the storerooms their contributions of grain, new wine, and olive oil. They should bring these products to the place where the utensils of the holy place are and where the priests who serve and the gatekeepers and the singers are. We won't neglect our God's temple.