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Ezra Reads the Law to the People

All of the people gathered as one to the public square before the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law[a] of Moses that Yahweh had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the law[b] before the assembly for each man and woman to hear with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. He read from it facing the public square before the Water Gate from dawn until noon that day, opposite the men, women, and those with understanding. The ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.[c] Then Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden podium that had been made for the occasion. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right. On his left was Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, because he was above all of the people. When he opened it all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed Yahweh the great God, and all of the people answered, “Amen! Amen!” while lifting their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped Yahweh with their noses to the ground. And Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites were teaching the people from the law[d] while the people were in their places. So they read the book from the law[e] of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that they could understand the reading.

Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all of the people, “This day is holy to Yahweh your God. Do not mourn nor weep.” For all of the people wept when they heard the words of the law.[f] 10 Then he said to them, “Go, eat festive food and drink sweet drinks, and send a share to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our lord. Do not be grieved because the joy of Yahweh is your refuge.” 11 So the Levites silenced all of the people, saying, “Silence, for this day is holy. Do not be grieved.” 12 All of the people went to eat, to drink, to send a share, and to have great joy because they understood the words that they had made known to them.

Festival of Booths

13 On the second day the heads of the families[g] of all the people, the priests, and the Levites gathered together to Ezra the scribe to study the words of the law.[h] 14 They found written in the law,[i] which Yahweh had commanded by the hand of Moses, that the Israelites[j] should live in booths during the festival of the seventh month, 15 and that they should proclaim and give voice in all of their cities in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the hill and bring olive tree branches, olive oil wood branches, myrtle shrub branches, palm tree branches, and other leafy tree branches to make booths, as it is written.” 16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, in their courtyards, in the courtyards of the house of God, in the public square of the Water Gate, and in the public square of the Gate of Ephraim. 17 And all of the assembly of those who returned from captivity made booths and lived in the booths because the Israelites[k] had not done it from the days of Jeshua son of Nun until that day. And there was very great joy. 18 And he read from the scroll of the law[l] of God day by day from the first day up to the last day. They celebrated the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day there was an assembly according to the rule.


  1. Nehemiah 8:1 Hebrew torah
  2. Nehemiah 8:2 Hebrew torah
  3. Nehemiah 8:3 Hebrew torah
  4. Nehemiah 8:7 Hebrew torah
  5. Nehemiah 8:8 Hebrew torah
  6. Nehemiah 8:9 Hebrew torah
  7. Nehemiah 8:13 Literally “fathers”
  8. Nehemiah 8:13 Hebrew torah
  9. Nehemiah 8:14 Hebrew torah
  10. Nehemiah 8:14 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  11. Nehemiah 8:17 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  12. Nehemiah 8:18 Hebrew torah