81By the seventh month the people of Israel were all settled in their towns. On the first day of that month they all assembled in Jerusalem, in the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra, the priest and scholar of the Law which the LORD had given Israel through Moses, to get the book of the Law. 2So Ezra brought it to the place where the people had gathered — men, women, and the children who were old enough to understand. 3There in the square by the gate he read the Law to them from dawn until noon, and they all listened attentively.
4Ezra was standing on a wooden platform that had been built for the occasion. The following men stood at his right: Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and the following stood at his left: Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
5As Ezra stood there on the platform high above the people, they all kept their eyes fixed on him. As soon as he opened the book, they all stood up. 6Ezra said, “Praise the LORD, the great God!”
All the people raised their arms in the air and answered, “Amen! Amen!” They knelt in worship, with their faces to the ground.
7Then they rose and stood in their places, and the following Levites explained the Law to them: Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah. 8They gave an oral translation8.8 translation: The Law was written in Hebrew, but in Babylonia the Jews had adopted Aramaic as the language for daily life. Because of this a translation was necessary. of God's Law and explained8.8 They gave… explained; or They read God's Law and then translated it, explaining. it so that the people could understand it.
9When the people heard what the Law required, they were so moved that they began to cry. So Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra, the priest and scholar of the Law, and the Levites who were explaining the Law told all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God, so you are not to mourn or cry. 10Now go home and have a feast. Share your food and wine with those who haven't enough. Today is holy to our Lord, so don't be sad. The joy that the LORD gives you will make you strong.”
11The Levites went about calming the people and telling them not to be sad on such a holy day. 12So all the people went home and ate and drank joyfully and shared what they had with others, because they understood what had been read to them.
13The next day the heads of the clans, together with the priests and the Levites, went to Ezra to study the teachings of the Law. 14
They discovered that the Law, which the LORD gave through Moses, ordered the people of Israel to live in temporary shelters during the Festival of Shelters. 15So they gave the following instructions and sent them8.15 Probable text So they… sent them; Hebrew It also ordered that the following instructions be sent. all through Jerusalem and the other cities and towns: “Go out to the hills and get branches from pines, olives, myrtles, palms, and other trees to make shelters according to the instructions written in the Law.”
16So the people got branches and built shelters on the flat roofs of their houses, in their yards, in the temple courtyard, and in the public squares by the Water Gate and by the Ephraim Gate. 17All the people who had come back from captivity built shelters and lived in them. This was the first time it had been done since the days of Joshua son of Nun, and everybody was excited and happy. 18From the first day of the festival to the last they read a part of God's Law every day. They celebrated for seven days, and on the eighth day there was a closing ceremony, as required in the Law.
91-2On the 24th day of the same month the people of Israel assembled to fast in order to show sorrow for their sins. They had already separated themselves from all foreigners. They wore sackcloth and put dust on their heads as signs of grief. Then they stood and began to confess the sins that they and their ancestors had committed. 3For about three hours the Law of the LORD their God was read to them, and for the next three hours they confessed their sins and worshipped the LORD their God.
4There was a platform for the Levites, and on it stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani. They prayed aloud to the LORD their God.
5The following Levites gave a call to worship: Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah. They said:
“Stand up and praise the LORD your God;
praise him for ever and ever!
Let everyone praise his glorious name,
although no human praise is great enough.”
6And then the people of Israel prayed this prayer:
“You, LORD, you alone are LORD;
you made the heavens and the stars of the sky.
You made land and sea and everything in them;
you gave life to all.
The heavenly powers bow down and worship you.
You, LORD God, chose Abram
and led him out of Ur in Babylonia;
you changed his name to Abraham.
You found that he was faithful to you,
and you made a covenant with him.
You promised to give him the land of the Canaanites,
the land of the Hittites and the Amorites,
the land of the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites,
to be a land where his descendants would live.
You kept your promise, because you are faithful.
“You saw how our ancestors suffered in Egypt;
you heard their call for help at the Red Sea.
You worked amazing miracles against the king,
against his officials and the people of his land,
because you knew how they oppressed your people.
You won then the fame you still have today.
Through the sea you made a path for your people
and led them through on dry ground.
Those who pursued them drowned in deep water,
as a stone sinks in the raging sea.
With a cloud you led them in daytime,
and at night you lighted their way with fire.
At Mount Sinai you came down from heaven;
you spoke to your people
and gave them good laws and sound teachings.
14You taught them to keep your Sabbaths holy,
and through your servant Moses you gave them your laws.
“When they were hungry, you gave them bread from heaven,
and water from a rock when they were thirsty.
You told them to take control of the land
which you had promised to give them.
But our ancestors grew proud and stubborn
and refused to obey your commands.
They refused to obey; they forgot all you did;
they forgot the miracles you had performed.
In their pride they chose a leader
to take them back to slavery in Egypt.
But you are a God who forgives;
you are gracious and loving, slow to be angry.
Your mercy is great; you did not forsake them.
They made an idol in the shape of a bull calf
and said it was the god who led them from Egypt!
How much they insulted you, LORD!
But you did not abandon them there in the desert,
for your mercy is great.
You did not take away the cloud or the fire
that showed them the path by day and night.
20In your goodness you told them what they should do;
you fed them with manna and gave them water to drink.
21Through forty years in the desert
you provided all that they needed;
their clothing never wore out,
and their feet were not swollen with pain.
“You let them conquer nations and kingdoms,
lands that bordered their own.
They conquered the land of Heshbon, where Sihon ruled,
and the land of Bashan, where Og was king.
You gave them as many children as there are stars in the sky,
and let them conquer and live in the land
that you had promised their ancestors to give them.
They conquered the land of Canaan;
you overcame the people living there.
You gave your people the power to do as they pleased
with the people and kings of Canaan.
Your people captured fortified cities,
fertile land, houses full of wealth,
cisterns already dug,
olive trees, fruit trees, and vineyards.
They ate all they wanted and grew fat;
they enjoyed all the good things you gave them.
“But your people rebelled and disobeyed you;
they turned their backs on your Law.
They killed the prophets who warned them,
who told them to turn back to you.
They insulted you time after time,
27so you let their enemies conquer and rule them.
In their trouble they called to you for help,
and you answered them from heaven.
In your great mercy you sent them leaders
who rescued them from their foes.
28When peace returned, they sinned again,
and again you let their enemies conquer them.
Yet when they repented and asked you to save them,
in heaven you heard, and time after time
you rescued them in your great mercy.
You warned them to obey your teachings,
but in pride they rejected your laws,
although keeping your Law is the way to life.
Obstinate and stubborn, they refused to obey.
Year after year you patiently warned them.
You inspired your prophets to speak,
but your people were deaf,
so you let them be conquered by other nations.
31And yet, because your mercy is great,
you did not forsake or destroy them.
You are a gracious and merciful God!
“O God, our God, how great you are!
How terrifying, how powerful!
You faithfully keep your covenant promises.
From the time when Assyrian kings oppressed us,
even till now, how much we have suffered!
Our kings, our leaders, our priests and prophets,
our ancestors, and all our people have suffered.
Remember how much we have suffered!
33You have done right to punish us;
you have been faithful, even though we have sinned.
34Our ancestors, our kings, leaders, and priests
have not kept your Law.
They did not listen to your commands and warnings.
35With your blessing, kings ruled your people
when they lived in the broad, fertile land you gave them;
but they failed to turn from sin and serve you.
36And now we are slaves in the land that you gave us,
this fertile land which gives us food.
37What the land produces goes to the kings
that you put over us because we sinned.
They do as they please with us and our livestock,
and we are in deep distress!”
38Because of all that has happened, we, the people of Israel, hereby make a solemn written agreement, and our leaders, our Levites, and our priests put their seals to it.
101The first to sign was the governor, Nehemiah son of Hacaliah, and then Zedekiah signed. The following also signed:
Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah,
Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah,
Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch,
Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah,
Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch,
Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin,
Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaiah.
Jeshua son of Azaniah,
Binnui of the clan of Henadad,
Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Hodiah,
Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan,
Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah,
Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah,
Hodiah, Bani, and Beninu.
14-27Leaders 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.
28We, the people of Israel, the priests, the Levites, the temple guards, the temple musicians, the temple workmen, and all others who in obedience to God's Law have separated themselves from the foreigners living in our land, we, together with our wives and all our children old enough to understand, 29do hereby join with our leaders in an oath, under penalty of a curse if we break it, that we will live according to God's Law, which God gave through his servant Moses; that we will obey all that the LORD, our Lord, commands us; and that we will keep all his laws and requirements.
We will not intermarry with the foreigners living in our land.
If foreigners bring corn or anything else to sell to us on the Sabbath or on any other holy day, we will not buy from them.
Every seventh year we will not farm the land, and we will cancel all debts.
Every year we will each contribute five grammes of silver to help pay the expenses of the Temple.
33We will provide for the temple worship the following: the sacred bread, the daily grain offering, the animals to be burnt each day as sacrifices, the sacred offerings for Sabbaths, New Moon Festivals, and other festivals, the other sacred offerings, the offerings to take away the sins of Israel, and anything else needed for the Temple.
34We, the people, priests, and Levites, will draw lots each year to determine which clans are to provide wood to burn the sacrifices offered to the LORD our God, according to the requirements of the Law.
We will take to the Temple each year an offering of the first corn we harvest and of the first fruit that ripens on our trees.
The first son born to each of us we will take to the priests in the Temple and there, as required by the Law, dedicate him to God. We will also dedicate the first calf born to each of our cows, and the first lamb or kid born to each of our sheep or goats.
We will take to the priests in the Temple the dough made from the first corn harvested each year and our other offerings of wine, olive oil, and all kinds of fruit.
We will take to the Levites, who collect tithes in our farming villages, the tithes from the crops that grow on our land. 38
Priests who are descended from Aaron are to be with the Levites when tithes are collected, and for use in the Temple the Levites are to take to the temple storerooms one tenth of all the tithes they collect. 39The people of Israel and the Levites are to take the contributions of corn, wine, and olive oil to the storerooms where the utensils for the Temple are kept and where the priests who are on duty, the temple guards, and the members of the temple choir have their quarters.
We will not neglect the house of our God.