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Levites Tell Israel’s Story

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this same month, Bnei-Yisrael gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads. The offspring of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, standing and confessing their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. They stood in their place and read in the scroll of the Torah of Adonai their God for a quarter of the day; and for another quarter they were confessing and prostrating themselves before Adonai their God.

Then the Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani—stood on the platform and cried out with a loud voice to Adonai their God. The Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah—said: “Stand up! Bless Adonai your God, from everlasting to everlasting! May Your glorious Name be blessed; may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are Adonai. You made the heavens, even the highest heaven with all its array,[a] the earth and everything on it, the seas and everything in them. You give life to them all, and the multitudes of heaven worship You.

“You are Adonai, the God who chose Abram, brought him from Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. You found his heart faithful before You and made the covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanite, Hittite, Amorite, Perizzite, Jebusite and the Girgashite to his seed. You have fulfilled Your words, for You are righteous.

“You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard their cry by the Sea of Reeds. 10 You gave signs and wonders against Pharaoh, all his servants, and all the people of his land, for You knew how insolently they treated them. You made a name for Yourself which remains to this day. 11 You divided the sea before them, so that they passed through the midst of the sea on dry land! But their pursuers You threw into the depths like a stone into mighty waters. 12 You led them with a pillar of cloud by day and with a pillar of fire by night to illuminate for them the way they were to go.

13 “You descended on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven. You gave them just judgments, reliable laws, and good statutes and mitzvot. 14 You made known to them Your holy Shabbat and ordained for them mitzvot, statutes and Torah by the hand of Your servant Moses. 15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger, and brought them water from the rock for their thirst. You told them to go in to possess the land that You had sworn to give them.[b]

16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant. They stiffened their neck and did not obey Your mitzvot. 17 They refused to obey and did not remember Your wonders that You did among them. Instead, they became stiff-necked and in their rebellion, appointed a leader in order to return to their bondage. But You are a God of forgiveness, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. Therefore You did not abandon them, 18 even when they made a cast image of a calf for themselves and said, ‘This is your god who brought you up from Egypt!’ or when they committed great blasphemies.

19 “Yet in Your great compassion You did not abandon them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud by day did not depart from above them, guiding them in the way, nor the pillar of fire by night, illuminating the way they should go. 20 You also gave Your good Ruach to teach them. You did not withhold Your manna from their mouth and You gave them water for their thirst. 21 For forty years You sustained them in the desert: they lacked nothing, their garments did not wear out and their feet did not swell.

22 “You gave them kingdoms and peoples and You allotted them their boundaries of the land. They possessed the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the country of Og king of Bashan. 23 You multiplied their descendants like the stars of heaven, and You brought them into the land that You told their ancestors to enter and inherit. 24 So the children went in and possessed the land. You subdued before them the Canaanites who were the inhabitants of the land. You delivered them into their hands, along with their kings and the peoples of the land to deal with them as they pleased. 25 They captured fortified cities and fertile land. They took possession of houses full of every good thing—hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves, and an abundance of fruit trees. They ate and were satisfied, and grew fat. They enjoyed Your great goodness.

26 “Nonetheless they became contentious and rebelled against You. They cast Your Torah behind their back. They killed Your prophets who warned them[c] to return to You; they committed appalling blasphemies. 27 Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies who oppressed them. But in the time of their distress, they cried out to You and You heard from heaven. According to Your great compassion, You gave them deliverers, who rescued them out of the hand of their enemies.

28 “But as soon as they were at rest, they returned to doing evil before You. Therefore You abandoned them into the hand of their enemies who ruled over them. When they repented and cried out to You, You heard from heaven, and according to Your compassion You delivered them many times.

29 “You warned them in order to turn them back to Your Torah, but they became insolent and disobeyed Your mitzvot. They sinned against Your ordinances—those by which if a man does them he will live. They turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen. 30 You bore with them for many years and admonished them by Your Ruach through the hand of Your prophets. Yet they would not listen, so You handed them over to the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless, in Your great compassion, You did not put an end to them or abandon them, for You are a gracious and compassionate God.

32 “So now, our God—the great, mighty and awesome God, who keeps covenant and mercy—do not let all the hardship that has befallen us seem insignificant to you—our kings, our leaders, our kohanim, our prophets, our ancestors and all Your people, from the time of the kings of Assyria to this day. 33 You are righteous in all that has come upon us. For You have acted faithfully while we have done wickedly. 34 Our kings, our leaders, our kohanim, and our ancestors have not kept Your Torah or paid attention to Your mitzvot or Your testimonies by which you have admonished them.

35 “Even in their own kingdom with the abundance of Your good things that You gave them, or with the spacious and fertile land that You set before them, they did not serve You or turn back from their evil deeds.

36 “But see, even today we are slaves! Slaves in the land that You gave to our ancestors to eat of its fruit and its bounty. We are slaves in it. 37 Its abundant produce goes to the kings You have set over us due to our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please. We are in great distress!


  1. Nehemiah 9:6 cf. Col. 1:16.
  2. Nehemiah 9:15 Lit. raised Your hand.
  3. Nehemiah 9:26 cf. Matt. 23:30-31.