all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate.1 They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses,2 which the LORD had commanded for Israel.
So on the first day of the seventh month3 Ezra the priest brought the Law4 before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand.
He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate5 in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform6 built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.
Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing7 above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up.
Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands8 and responded, "Amen! Amen!" Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
The Levites9--Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah--instructed10 the people in the Law while the people were standing there.
They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it cleara and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.
Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites11 who were instructing the people said to them all, "This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep."12 For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing13 prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy14 of the LORD is your strength."
The Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve."
Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy,15 because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.