On the twenty-fourth day of this month, the people of Israel were assembled. They fasted, wore funeral clothing, and had dirt on their heads.
After the Israelites separated themselves from all of the foreigners, they stood to confess their sins and the terrible behavior of their ancestors.
They stood in their place and read the Instruction scroll from the LORD their God for a quarter of the day. For another quarter of the day, they confessed and worshipped the LORD their God.
On the stairs of the Levites stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani. They cried out with a loud voice to the LORD their God.
Then the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah—said: Stand up and bless the LORD your God. From everlasting to everlasting bless your glorious name, which is high above all blessing and praise.
You alone are the LORD. You alone made heaven, even the heaven of heavens, with all their forces. You made the earth and all that is on it, and the seas and all that is in them. You preserve them all, and the heavenly forces worship you.
LORD God, you are the one who chose Abram. You brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham.
You found him to be faithful before you, and you made a covenant with him. You promised to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites. And you have kept your promise because you are righteous.
You saw the affliction of our ancestors in Egypt and heard their cry at the Reed Sea.
You performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, all his servants, and the people of his land. You knew that they had acted arrogantly against our ancestors. You made a name for yourself, a name that is famous even today.
You divided the sea before them so that they went through it on dry land. But you cast their pursuers into the depths, as a stone into the mighty waters.
With a pillar of cloud you led them by day and with a column of lightning by night; they lit the way in which the people should go.
You came down upon Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven. You gave them proper judgments and true Instruction, good statutes and commandments.
You made known to them your holy Sabbath, and gave them commandments, statutes, and Instruction through your servant Moses.
When they were hungry, you gave them bread from heaven; when they were thirsty, you brought water out of the rock for them. You told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.
But our ancestors acted arrogantly. They were stubborn and wouldn't obey your commandments.
They refused to obey, and didn't remember the wonders that you accomplished in their midst. They acted arrogantly and decided to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, merciful and compassionate, very patient, and truly faithful. You didn't forsake them.
Even when they had cast an image of a calf for themselves, saying, "This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt," and holding you in great contempt,
you, in your great mercy, didn't abandon them in the wilderness. The column of cloud continued to guide them on their journey during the day, and the column of lightning lit their path during the night.
You gave your good spirit to teach them. You didn't withhold your manna from them, and you gave them water for their thirst.
You kept them alive for forty years— they lacked nothing in the wilderness! Their clothes didn't wear out, and their feet didn't swell.
You gave them kingdoms and peoples, and assigned to them every side. They took possession of the land of King Sihon of Heshbon and the land of King Og of Bashan.
You multiplied their descendants as the stars of heaven. You brought them into the land that you had told their ancestors to enter and possess.
So the descendants went in and possessed the land. Before them, you subdued the Canaanites who inhabited the land. You also handed over to them their kings and the neighboring peoples, to do with as they wished.
They captured fortified cities and productive land, and took possession of houses filled with all kinds of good things: excavated cisterns, vineyards, olive orchards, and a great many fruit trees. They ate until they were satisfied and grew fat, and delighted themselves in your great goodness.
But they were disobedient, rebelled against you, and turned their back on your Instruction. They killed your prophets who had warned them so that they might return to you. They held you in great contempt.
Therefore, you handed them over to the power of their enemies who made them suffer. But when they cried out to you in their suffering, you heard them from heaven. Because you are merciful, you gave them saviors who saved them from the power of their enemies.
But after they had rest from this, they again started doing evil against you. So you gave them over to the power of their enemies who ruled over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven and rescued them many times because of your great mercy.
You also warned them to return to your Instruction, but they acted arrogantly and didn't obey your commands. They sinned against your judgments, even though life comes by keeping them. They turned a stubborn shoulder, became headstrong, and wouldn't obey.
You were patient with them for many years and warned them by your spirit through the prophets. But they wouldn't listen, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples.
In your great mercy, however, you didn't make an end of them. Neither did you forsake them, for you are a merciful and compassionate God.
Now, our God, great and mighty and awesome God, you are the one who faithfully keeps the covenant. Don't treat lightly all of the hardship that has come upon us, upon our kings, our officials, our priests, our prophets, our ancestors, and all your people, from the time of the kings of Assyria until today.
You have been just in all that has happened to us; you have acted faithfully, and we have done wrong.
Our kings, our officials, our priests, and our ancestors haven't kept your Instruction. They haven't heeded your commandments and the warnings that you gave them.
Even in their own kingdom, surrounded by the great goodness that you gave to them, even in the wide and rich land that you gave them, they didn't serve you or turn from their wicked works.
So now today we are slaves, slaves in the land that you gave to our ancestors to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts.
Its produce profits the kings whom you have placed over us because of our sins. They have power over our bodies and do as they please with our livestock. We are in great distress.
Because of all this, we are making a firm agreement in writing, with the names of our officials, our Levites, and our priests on the seal.