The Levites1--Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah--instructed2 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 Levites3 who were instructing the people said to them all, "This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep."4 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 nothing5 prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy6 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,7 because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to give attention to the words of the Law.
They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths8 during the feast of the seventh month
and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: "Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths"--as it is written.b16
So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves booths on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate9 and the one by the Gate of Ephraim.1017
The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them.11 From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated12 it like this. And their joy was very great.