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The People of Israel Confess Their Sins

Then on the 24th day of that same month, the Israelites gathered together for a day of fasting. They wore sackcloth and put ashes on their heads to show they were sad and upset. Those people who were true Israelites separated themselves from foreigners. The Israelites stood and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors. They stood there for about three hours, and the people read the Book of the Law of the Lord their God. Then for three more hours they confessed their sins and bowed down to worship the Lord their God.

Then these Levites stood on the stairs: Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Kenani. They called out to the Lord their God with loud voices. Then these Levites spoke again: Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah. They said, “Stand up and praise the Lord your God! God has always lived and will live forever.

“People should praise your glorious name.
    May your name be lifted above all blessing and praise.
You are God.
    Lord, only you are God.
You made the sky and the highest heavens
    and everything in them.
You made the earth
    and everything on it.
You made the seas
    and everything in them.
You give life to everything.
    All the heavenly angels bow down and worship you.
You are the Lord,
    the God who chose Abram.
You led him from Ur in Babylonia.
    You changed his name to Abraham.
You saw he was true and loyal to you,
    and you made an agreement with him.
You promised to give him the land
    of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites.
But you promised to give that land to Abraham’s descendants.
    And you kept your promise because you are good.
You saw our ancestors suffering in Egypt
    and heard them call for help by the Red Sea.
10 You showed the miracles to Pharaoh.
    You did amazing things to his officials and his people.
You knew that the Egyptians thought
    they were better than our ancestors.
But you proved how great you are,
    and they remember that even today.
11 You split the Red Sea in front of them,
    and they walked through on dry land.
The Egyptian soldiers were chasing them,
    but you threw that enemy into the sea.
    And they sank like a rock into the sea.
12 With the tall cloud, you led them by day,
    and at night you used the column of fire.
That is the way you lit their path
    and showed them where to go.
13 Then you came down to Mount Sinai.
    You spoke to them from heaven.
You gave them good laws.
    You gave them true teachings.
    You gave them laws and commands that were very good.
14 You told them about your special day of rest—the Sabbath.
    Through your servant Moses,
    you gave them commands, laws, and teachings.
15 They were hungry,
    so you gave them food from heaven.
They were thirsty,
    so you gave them water from a rock.
You told them,
    ‘Come, take this land.’
You used your power,
    and took the land for them.
16 But our ancestors became proud and stubborn.
    They refused to obey your commands.
17 They refused to listen.
    They forgot the amazing things you did with them.
They became stubborn.
    They decided to return to Egypt and become slaves again.

“But you are a forgiving God!
    You are kind and full of mercy.
You are patient and full of love.
So you didn’t leave them!
18 You didn’t leave them even when they made golden calves and said,
    ‘These are the gods that led us out of Egypt.’
19 You are very kind,
    so you didn’t leave them in the desert.
You didn’t take the tall cloud
    away from them by day.
You continued to lead them.
You didn’t take the column of fire
    away from them at night.
You continued to light their path
    and to show them which way to go.
20 You gave them your good Spirit to make them wise.
    You gave them manna for food.
    You gave them water for their thirst.
21 You took care of them for 40 years.
    They had all they needed in the desert.
Their clothes didn’t wear out,
    and their feet didn’t swell and hurt.
22 You gave them kingdoms and nations,
    and you gave them faraway places where few people live.
They got the land of King Sihon of Heshbon.
    They got the land of King Og of Bashan.
23 You made their descendants
    as many as the stars in the sky.
You brought them to the land
    you promised to give their ancestors.
    They went in and took that land.
24 Their children took the land.
They defeated the Canaanites living there.
    You let them defeat those people.
You let them do whatever they wanted
    to those nations, people, and kings.
25 They defeated powerful cities.
    They took the fertile land.
They got houses filled with good things.
    They got wells that were already dug.
They got vineyards, olive trees, and plenty of fruit trees.
    They ate until they were full and fat.
They enjoyed all the wonderful things you gave them.
26 And then they turned against you.
    They threw away your teachings.
    They killed your prophets.
Those prophets warned the people.
    They tried to bring them back to you.
    But our ancestors said terrible things against you.
27 So you let their enemies have them.
    The enemy caused them much trouble.
When trouble came, our ancestors called to you for help.
    And in heaven, you heard them.
You are very kind,
    so you sent people to save them.
    And they rescued them from their enemies.
28 Then as soon as our ancestors were rested,
    they started doing terrible things again!
So you let the enemy defeat them
    and punish them.
They called to you for help,
    and in heaven you heard them and helped them.
You are so kind.
    That happened so many times.
29 You warned them.
You told them to come back,
    but they were too proud.
    They refused to listen to your commands.
If people obey your laws, they will live.
    But our ancestors broke your laws.
They were stubborn.
    They turned their backs on you.
    They refused to listen.

30 “You were very patient with our ancestors.
    You let them mistreat you for many years.
You warned them with your Spirit.
    You sent the prophets to warn them.
But our ancestors didn’t listen.
    So you gave them to people in other countries.

31 “But you are so kind!
    You didn’t completely destroy them.
You didn’t leave them.
    You are such a kind and merciful God!
32 Our God, you are the great God,
    the awesome, powerful soldier!
You are kind and loyal.
    You keep your agreement.
We have had many troubles,
    and our troubles are important to you.
Bad things happened to all our people,
    and to our kings and leaders,
    and to our priests and prophets.
Those terrible things have happened
    from the days of the king of Assyria until today!
33 But God, you were right about everything that happened to us.
    You were right, and we were wrong.
34 Our kings, leaders, priests, and fathers did not obey your law.
    They didn’t listen to your commands.
    They ignored your warnings.
35 Our ancestors didn’t serve you even when they were living in their own kingdom.
    They didn’t stop doing evil.
    They enjoyed all the wonderful things you gave them.
They enjoyed the rich land and had plenty of room,
    but they didn’t stop their evil ways.
36 And now, we are slaves.
We are slaves in this land,
    the land you gave our ancestors
    so they could enjoy its fruit
    and all the good things that grow here.
37 The harvest is big in this land.
    But we sinned, so that harvest goes to the kings you put over us.
They control us and our cattle.
    They do anything they want.
    We are in a lot of trouble.

38 “Because of all these things, we are making an agreement that cannot be changed. We are putting this agreement in writing. Our leaders, Levites, and priests are signing their names to this agreement and sealing it with a seal.”

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