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The Israelites Confess Their Sins

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting and sackcloth, and there was dirt on them. The offspring of Israel separated themselves from all the foreigners and then stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. They stood in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day. And for another fourth, they confessed and worshipped the Lord their God. Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Kenani stood up on the stairs of the Levites and cried 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 forever and ever! Let them bless Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and You preserve them all. And the host of heaven worships You.

“You are the Lord God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans. You gave him the name Abraham and found his heart faithful before You. And You made a covenant with him to give him the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites—to give it to his seed. Indeed, You have fulfilled Your words because You are righteous.

“When You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard their cry by the Red Sea, 10 You enacted signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his servants, and against all the people of his land because You knew how arrogantly they had acted against them. Thus, You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day. 11 You divided the sea before them, so they might pass through the midst of the sea on dry ground, and cast their pursuers into the deep like a stone into stormy waters. 12 By day You led them with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire to light the way for them to go.

13 “You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them just requirements, true laws, good statutes and commandments. 14 You also revealed to them Your Holy Sabbath and, by the hand of Moses Your servant, set in place for them the precepts, statutes, and laws. 15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water out of the rock for them for their thirst. You told them to enter in order to possess the land which You had sworn to give them.

16 “But they and our fathers acted proudly and hardened their necks and did not obey Your commandments. 17 They refused to obey and were not mindful of Your wonders that You performed among them. But they hardened their necks and in their rebellion appointed a leader to return to their bondage. But You are a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in kindness, and did not forsake them.

18 “Even when they had made themselves a molded calf and said, ‘This is your god that brought you out of Egypt,’ and committed terrible provocations, 19 yet You in Your great mercy did not forsake them in the wilderness: The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, to lead them in the way, nor the pillar of fire by night, to light for them the way they should go. 20 You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing—their clothing did not wear out nor did their feet swell.

22 “You gave them kingdoms and nations, and You divided them as boundaries. They possessed the land of Sihon, which was the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og, the king of Bashan. 23 Their descendants You increased like the stars of heaven, and You brought them into the land, which You had promised to their fathers that they would enter and possess it. 24 So the descendants went in and possessed the land, and You subdued for them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hands—with their kings and the peoples of the land—to do with them as they would. 25 They captured unassailable cities and a fertile land. They possessed houses full of all goods, wells dug, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance, so they ate, were filled, and became fat, and they indulged themselves in Your great goodness.

26 “Nevertheless they became disobedient, and rebelled against You, and cast Your law behind their backs, and killed Your prophets who had warned them to turn back to You. But they committed terrible provocations. 27 Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, who afflicted them. When they cried to You in the time of their affliction, You heard from heaven, and, according to Your abundant mercy, You gave them deliverers who delivered them out of the hand of their enemies.

28 “But after they had rest, they again did evil before You. Therefore You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to You, You heard from heaven, and many times You delivered them according to Your mercies.

29 “You warned them in order to restore them again to Your law, but they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments. They sinned against Your ordinances (which would enable a man to live, if he would do them), stubbornly turning away and becoming belligerent so that they would not hear. 30 For many years You endured them and warned them by Your Spirit in Your prophets, yet they would not listen. Therefore, You gave them into the hand of the people of the lands. 31 Nevertheless, for the sake of Your abundant mercy, You did not completely destroy them or forsake them. Indeed, You are a gracious and merciful God.

32 “Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and mercy, let not all the hardship, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day, that has come on us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and on all Your people seem insignificant to You. 33 You are righteous for everything that has come upon us! You have acted faithfully while we have done wickedly. 34 For our kings, princes, priests, and fathers have failed to keep Your law and did not obey Your commandments and Your warnings even when You confronted them. 35 For whether in their kingdom or in Your abundant goodness (that You gave them) or in the spacious and fertile land (that You set before them), they have neither served You nor turned away from their wicked deeds.

36 “Here we are, slaves today. The land that You gave to our fathers was for eating its fruit and its goodness. Behold, we have become slaves on account of it, 37 because its abundant produce belongs to the kings whom You have set over us due to our sins. They have control over our bodies and over our livestock, as they please. We are in great distress.”

Signatories to the Agreement

38 So on the basis of all this, we are executing a written agreement that is being sealed by our princes, Levites, and priests.