On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads.1
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Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners.2 They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors.3
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They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.
Standing on the stairs of the Levites4 were Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani and Kenani. They cried out with loud voices to the LORD their God.
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And the Levites--Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah--said: "Stand up and praise the LORD your God,5 who is from everlasting to everlasting. " "Blessed be your glorious name,6 and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.
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You alone are the LORD.7 You made the heavens,8 even the highest heavens, and all their starry host,9 the earth10 and all that is on it, the seas11 and all that is in them.12 You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven13 worship you.
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"You are the LORD God, who chose Abram14 and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans15 and named him Abraham.16
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You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites.17 You have kept your promise18 because you are righteous.19
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"You saw the suffering of our ancestors in Egypt;20 you heard their cry at the Red Sea.21
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You sent signs22 and wonders23 against Pharaoh, against all his officials and all the people of his land, for you knew how arrogantly the Egyptians treated them. You made a name24 for yourself,25 which remains to this day.
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You divided the sea before them,26 so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths,27 like a stone into mighty waters.28
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By day29 you led30 them with a pillar of cloud,31 and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take.
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"You came down on Mount Sinai;32 you spoke33 to them from heaven.34 You gave them regulations and laws that are just35 and right, and decrees and commands that are good.36
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You made known to them your holy Sabbath37 and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses.
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In their hunger you gave them bread from heaven38 and in their thirst you brought them water from the rock;39 you told them to go in and take possession of the land you had sworn with uplifted hand40 to give them.41
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"But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked,42 and did not obey your commands.43
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They refused to listen and failed to remember44 the miracles45 you performed among them. They became stiff-necked46 and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery.47 But you are a forgiving God,48 gracious and compassionate,49 slow to anger50 and abounding in love.51 Therefore you did not desert them,52
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even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf53 and said, 'This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,' or when they committed awful blasphemies.54
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"Because of your great compassion you did not abandon55 them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud56 did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.
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You gave your good Spirit57 to instruct58 them. You did not withhold your manna59 from their mouths, and you gave them water60 for their thirst.
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For forty years61 you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing,62 their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.63
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"You gave them kingdoms and nations, allotting to them even the remotest frontiers. They took over the country of Sihon64 king of Heshbon and the country of Og king of Bashan.65
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You made their children as numerous as the stars in the sky,66 and you brought them into the land that you told their parents to enter and possess.
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Their children went in and took possession of the land.67 You subdued68 before them the Canaanites, who lived in the land; you gave the Canaanites into their hands, along with their kings and the peoples of the land, to deal with them as they pleased.
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They captured fortified cities and fertile land;69 they took possession of houses filled with all kinds of good things,70 wells already dug, vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees in abundance. They ate to the full and were well-nourished;71 they reveled in your great goodness.72
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"But they were disobedient and rebelled against you; they put your law behind their backs.73 They killed74 your prophets,75 who had warned them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies.76
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So you delivered them into the hands of their enemies,77 who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion78 you gave them deliverers,79 who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.
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"But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight.80 Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion81 you delivered them82 time after time.
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"You warned83 them in order to turn them back to your law, but they became arrogant84 and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, of which you said, 'Whoever obeys them will live by them.'85 Stubbornly they turned their backs86 on you, became stiff-necked87 and refused to listen.88
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For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you warned them through your prophets.89 Yet they paid no attention, so you gave them into the hands of the neighboring peoples.90
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But in your great mercy you did not put an end91 to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful92 God.
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"Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty93 and awesome,94 who keeps his covenant of love,95 do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes--the hardship96 that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today.
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In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous;97 you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly.98
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Our kings,99 our leaders, our priests and our ancestors100 did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the statutes you warned them to keep.
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Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness101 to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you102 or turn from their evil ways.
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"But see, we are slaves103 today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces.
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Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.104
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"In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement,105 putting it in writing,106 and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it."
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