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The People Confess Their Sins

On the twenty-fourth day of the seventh month,[a] the people of Israel went without eating, and they dressed in sackcloth and threw dirt on their heads to show their sorrow. They refused to let foreigners join them, as they met to confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors. For three hours they stood and listened to the Law of the Lord their God, and then for the next three hours they confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord.

Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the special platform for the Levites and prayed aloud to the Lord their God. Then the Levites Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah said:

“Stand and shout praises
to your Lord,
    the eternal God![b]
Praise his wonderful name,
though he is greater
    than words can express.”

The People Pray

You alone are the Lord,
Creator of the heavens
    and all the stars,
Creator of the earth
    and those who live on it,
Creator of the ocean
    and all its creatures.
You are the source of life,
praised by the stars
    that fill the heavens.
You are the Lord our God,
    the one who chose Abram—
you brought him from Ur
in Babylonia
    and named him Abraham.
Because he was faithful,
    you made an agreement
to give his descendants
the land of the Canaanites
    and Hittites,
of the Amorites and Perizzites,
and of the Jebusites
    and Girgashites.
Now you have kept your promise,
    just as you always do.

When our ancestors
were in Egypt,
    you saw their suffering;
when they were at the Red Sea,[c]
    you heard their cry for help.
10 You knew that the King of Egypt
and his officials and his nation
    had mistreated your people.
So you worked fearsome miracles
    against the Egyptians
and earned a reputation
    that still remains.
11 You divided the deep sea,
and your people walked through
    on dry land.
But you tossed their enemies in,
and they sank down
    like a heavy stone.
12 Each day you led your people
    with a thick cloud,
and at night you showed the way
    with a flaming fire.
13 At Sinai you came down
    from heaven,
and you gave your people
good laws and teachings
    that are fair and honest.
14 You commanded them to respect
    your holy Sabbath,
and you instructed
your servant Moses
    to teach them your laws.
15 When they were hungry,
    you sent bread from heaven,
and when they were thirsty,
you let water flow
    from a rock.
Then you commanded them
    to capture the land
that you had solemnly promised.

16 Our stubborn ancestors
    refused to obey—
they forgot about the miracles
    you had worked for them,
and they were determined
to return to Egypt
    and become slaves again.
17 But, our God, you are merciful
    and quick to forgive;
you are loving, kind,
    and very patient.
So you never turned away
    from them—
18 not even when they made
    an idol shaped like a calf
and insulted you by claiming,
“This is the god who rescued us
    from Egypt.”

19 Because of your great mercy,
you never abandoned them
    in the desert.
And you always guided them
with a cloud by day
    and a fire at night.
20 Your gentle Spirit
    instructed them,[d]
and you gave them manna[e] to eat
    and water to drink.
21 You took good care of them,
and for forty years
    they never lacked a thing.
Their shoes didn’t wear out,
and their feet were never swollen.

22 You let them conquer kings
    and take their land,
including King Sihon of Heshbon
    and King Og of Bashan.[f]
23 You brought them into the land
that you had promised
    their ancestors,
and you blessed their nation
with people
that outnumbered
    the stars in the sky.

24 Then their descendants
    conquered the land.
You helped them defeat
    the kings and nations
and treat their enemies
    however they wished.
25 They captured strong cities
    and rich farmland;
they took furnished houses,
    as well as cisterns,[g]
    vineyards, olive orchards,
    and numerous fruit trees.
They ate till they were satisfied,
and they celebrated
    your abundant blessings.

26 In spite of this, they rebelled
    and disobeyed your laws.
They killed your prophets,
    who warned them
to turn back to you,
    and they cursed your name.
27 So you handed them over
to their enemies,
    who treated them terribly.
But in their sufferings,
    they begged you to help.
From heaven you listened
    to their prayers
and because of your great mercy,
you sent leaders to rescue them.

28 But when they were at peace,
    they would turn against you,
and you would hand them over
    to their enemies.
Then they would beg for help,
and because you are merciful,
    you rescued them
    over and over again.
29 You warned them to turn back
and discover true life
    by obeying your laws.
But they stubbornly refused
    and continued to sin.
30 For years, you were patient,
    and your Spirit[h] warned them
with messages spoken
    by your prophets.
Still they refused to listen,
and you handed them over
    to their enemies.
31 But you are merciful and kind,
and so you never forgot them
    or let them be destroyed.

32 Our God, you are powerful,
fearsome, and faithful,
    always true to your word.
So please keep in mind
    the terrible sufferings
of our people, kings, leaders,
    priests, and prophets,
from the time Assyria ruled
    until this very day.
33 You have always been fair
when you punished us
    for our sins.

34 Our kings, leaders, and priests
have never obeyed your commands
    or heeded your warnings.
35 You blessed them with a kingdom
and with an abundance
    of rich, fertile land,
but they refused to worship you
    or turn from their evil.
36 Now we are slaves
in this fruitful land
    you gave to our ancestors.
37 Its plentiful harvest is taken
by kings you placed over us
    because of our sins.
Our suffering is unbearable,
because they do as they wish
    to us and our livestock.

The People Make an Agreement

38 And so, a firm agreement was made that had the official approval of the leaders, the Levites, and priests.


  1. 8.13; 9.1 seventh month: Hebrew “same month.”
  2. 9.5 shout. . . God: Or “shout eternal praises to the Lord your God.”
  3. 9.9 Red Sea: Hebrew yam suph “Sea of Reeds,” one of the marshes of fresh water lakes near the eastern part of the Nile Delta. This identification is based on Exodus 13.17—14.9, which lists the towns on the route of the Israelites before crossing the sea. In the Greek translation of the Scriptures made about 200 B.C., the “Sea of Reeds” was named “Red Sea.”
  4. 9.20 Your gentle Spirit instructed them: Or “You gently instructed them.”
  5. 9.20 manna: This was something like a thin wafer (see Exodus 16.1-36).
  6. 9.22 Bashan: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 22.
  7. 9.25 cisterns: Pits dug into the ground to hold water.
  8. 9.30 your Spirit: Or “you.”

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