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Later, on the 24th day of that same month, the Israelites came back together. Everyone fasted and wore sackcloth to show their repentance. They covered their heads with dust to show their mourning. They also separated themselves from the foreigners who were living among them. Then the Israelites stood up and confessed their sins and the sins of their dead ancestors. For three hours[a] they stood in their designated places and read from the book of the Eternal’s law. Following that they confessed and worshiped the Eternal One, their True God, for another three hours. On the stairs above them stood the Levites: Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani. With loud cries they called out to the Eternal, their True God.

The same Levites (Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah) instructed the people.

Levites: Stand up! Worship the Eternal who is your God who exists from everlasting to everlasting.

    May Your glorious name be praised—
        even lifted up beyond all blessing and praise.
    You are the Eternal, the only One.
        The skies are Your work alone
    You made the heavens above those skies
        and the stars that fill them.
    You made the earth and everything upon it,
        the seas and all that lives within their depths.
    Your creation lives and is sustained by You,
        and those who dwell in the heavens
    Fall down before You and worship.
        You are the Eternal God.
    You chose Abram and drew him out from Ur of the Chaldees.
        You changed his name to Abraham.
    In him You found a true heart,
        a heart devoted to You.
    With him You made a covenant that
        the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites,
    The Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites
        would belong to him and to his descendants.
    And what You have promised, You have done
        because You are righteous.

    When our ancestors suffered in Egypt,
        You saw their misery.
    When they were trapped at the edge of the Red Sea,
        You heard their cries for help.
10-11     Pharaoh and all who served him
        and all his subjects were completely overwhelmed
        by the signs and wonders You performed.
    In their arrogance, they opposed Your people, our ancestors.
        So You opened the sea, and Your people walked through the water on dry ground,
        and no one has forgotten the name of the One who did it to this day.
    But the Egyptians pursued our ancestors into the sea,
    You threw those running after our ancestors into the depths of the sea,
        like a heavy rock hurled into water.
12     During the day, You led them by a cloud shaped like a pillar.
        During the night, a pillar of fire lit the way, showing them where to go.
13     You led them to Mount Sinai;
        and when they arrived, You came down from heaven and spoke to them.
    You gave them right decrees and good laws,
        beneficial statutes and commands revealing Your will for them.
14     You revealed to Your people Your sacred Sabbath
        and how to keep it holy.
    Through Your servant Moses You taught them how to live,
        giving commands and decrees.
15     When Your people were hungry,
        You gave them food from heaven.
    When they were thirsty, You made water flow out of a rock.
        You told them to enter the land You promised them.
    You told them to enter and take possession of it.
16-17     But our ancestors resisted following You.
        They were arrogant. They were proud.
    They refused to obey Your commands, plugging their ears.
        Knowing what You had done for them in the past,
    They willfully forgot it in the present. Stubborn. Rebellious.
        Instead of following You,
    They appointed their own leader
        to take them back to the land of their oppression—to Egypt!
    But You are not like us, God.
        You are filled with love, compassion, and forgiveness.
    You endure much with your anger and display Your loyal love;
        You did not abandon them,
18     Even when they molded a cow out of gold for themselves, saying,
        “This is the god who rescued us from Egypt.”
    They committed horrible atrocities.
19     In Your incomprehensible compassion,
        You did not abandon them in the wilderness.
    The pillar of cloud didn’t evaporate;
        day by day it guided them.
    The pillar of fire was not extinguished;
        night by night it led them along the right paths.
20     In Your generosity, You gave them Your good Spirit to teach them.
        Not once did You hold back manna for their mouths
        or drink for their thirst.
21     In 40 years of living in the wilderness,
        You provided for every need they had:
    Their clothing did not wear out,
        nor did their feet swell from endless walking.
22     You gave them kingdoms and peoples
        that they could divide up to the corners of their territory:
    The country of Sihon (king of Hesbon)
        and the territory of Og (king of Bashan).
23     The children of Israel multiplied
        and rivaled the stars in the sky.
    You brought them to the very land
        You promised Abraham’s
    His descendants would come into and possess.
24     Into the land they went, and it became theirs.
        For our forefathers You made sure even the Canaanites there were powerless.
    You subdued everything and everyone to their power—
        land, kings, and people—to do with as they pleased.
25     They overwhelmed strong and secure cities.
        They overtook fertile, productive land.
    They claimed well-furnished houses, wells that were already dug,
        vineyards, olive groves, and orchards filled with fruit.
    They ate their fill. They grew fat.
        They basked in Your generosity and goodness.
26     Even so, again they chose to defy You.
        They rebelled.
        They abandoned Your law.
    They killed the prophets who spoke Your word,
        who pleaded with them to return to You, God.
    And again, atrocities multiplied on top of atrocities.
27     So You surrendered them to their enemies,
        and Your people suffered at their hands.
    And in pain, they cried out to You.
        From heaven You listened,
    And in keeping with Your changeless and compassionate character,
        You sent them liberators,
    Saviors who rescued them from their cruel adversaries.
28     As soon as they were at peace, they began to wander and abandoned You
        and did evil things, so You abandoned them to their enemies.
    Thus, once more, You allowed them to be conquered.
        Somehow Your mercy is inexhaustible.
    Once more You listened to them when they cried to You in heaven for help.
        Over and over and over You intervened and saved Your people.
29     You also warned them to return to Your ways
        and follow the laws You have given.
        They arrogantly violated the very commands,
    Which if they would obey them
        then they would live by them.
    Stubborn, they turned away from You,
        tensed their necks, and stopped listening.
30     Year after year, Your patience endured.
        Your Spirit animated prophets, and they spoke many warnings to them.
    In not listening and turning away from the prophets,
        they turned directly into their advancing enemies.
31     It was because of Your great mercy
        that they were not completely annihilated or forsaken.
    You are a grace-filled and mercy-laden God;
32     Our True God—You who are great, majestic, and awesome,
    You who always keep Your covenant of loyal love—
        do not overlook the trouble we are facing here today.
    This trouble confronts us all:
        our kings and our princes,
        our priests and our prophets, our ancestors and all of Your people—
    From the time of the Assyrian kings until today.
33         You are righteous in all that You have done to us.
    You have faithfully upheld Your part of the covenant,
        but we have acted with evil.
34     None of our kings, princes, priests, or ancestors followed Your law.
        They actively rejected Your commands and ignored the many warnings You sent.
35     Even when they had everything
        when they ruled in their own land without worry according to Your great generosity,
    When they relaxed into the spacious and fertile land
        You set before them—
    Even then they refused to serve You
        or turn away from their wicked ways.
36     And we are once again slaves in the bountiful land
        You gave to our ancestors for our pleasure and enjoyment—
        we are slaves in our own land!
37     We have sown sin, and the labor we provide on this land feeds the kings You have placed over us.
        Our bodies and our beasts do not belong to us,
    But to them, and they do with us what they want.
        Our distress is great.
38     In light of it, we are writing a covenantal agreement.
    It is sealed with the names of our leaders, our Levites, and our priests.


  1. 9:3 Literally, one-fourth of the day (daylight hours)

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