9 When the Israelites assembled on the twenty-fourth day of this month, they fasted, wore sackcloth, and threw dirt on their heads. 2 Those who were descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood and confessed their sins as well as the wicked things their ancestors had done. 3 They stood in their places, and for one-fourth of the day, they listened as the Book of the Teachings of the Lord their God was read, and for another fourth of the day, they confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord their God.
A Day of Prayer
4 Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chanani stood on the stairs built for the Levites and cried loudly to the Lord their God. 5 Then the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah—said, “Stand up, and thank the Lord your God:
From everlasting to everlasting your glorious name is praised and lifted high above all blessing and praise. 6 You alone are the Lord. You made heaven, the highest heaven, with all its armies. You made the earth and everything on it, the seas and everything in them. You give life to them all, and the armies of heaven worship you.
7 You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and took him from Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. 8 You found that his heart was faithful to you. You made a promise[a] to him to give the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites to his descendants. You kept your promise because you are fair.
9 You saw how our ancestors suffered in Egypt, and you heard them crying at the Red Sea. 10 You performed miraculous signs and did amazing things to Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people in his land because you knew how arrogantly they were treating our ancestors. You made a name for yourself, a name which remains to this day. 11 You divided the sea in front of them so that they could walk through the sea on dry ground. You threw into deep water those who pursued your people as someone throws a stone into raging water.
Wandering in the Wilderness
12 You led them during the day by a column of smoke and during the night by a column of fire to give them light to see the way they should go. 13 You came from heaven to Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven. You gave them fair rules, trustworthy teachings, and good laws and commandments. 14 You taught them about your holy day of rest. You gave them commandments, laws, and teachings through your servant Moses. 15 You gave them bread from heaven to satisfy their hunger and made water flow from a rock to quench their thirst. You told them to take possession of the land that you swore you would give them. 16 But they—our own ancestors—acted arrogantly. They became stubborn and wouldn’t obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen. They forgot the miracles you performed for them. They became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to slavery in Egypt. But you are a forgiving God, one who is compassionate, merciful, patient, and always ready to forgive. You never abandoned them, 18 even when they made a metal statue of a calf for themselves and said, ‘This is your god who took you out of Egypt.’ They committed outrageous sins. 19 But because of your endless compassion, you didn’t abandon them in the desert. The column of smoke didn’t leave them during the day, but it led them on their way. The column of fire didn’t leave them during the night, but it gave them light to see the way they should go. 20 You gave them your good Spirit to teach them. You didn’t keep your manna to yourself. You gave them water to quench their thirst. 21 You provided for them in the desert for 40 years, and they had everything they needed. Their clothes didn’t wear out, and their feet didn’t swell.
Conquest of Canaan
22 You gave kingdoms and nations to the Israelites and assigned them their boundaries. So they took possession of the land of Sihon, the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of King Og of Bashan. 23 You made their children as numerous as the stars in the sky. You brought them into the land you told their parents to enter and possess. 24 Their children took possession of the land. You defeated for them the Canaanites, who lived in the land. You handed the Canaanite kings and their people over to them to do whatever they wanted with the Canaanites. 25 The Israelites captured fortified cities and a rich land. They took possession of houses filled with all sorts of good things, cisterns, vineyards, olive trees, and plenty of fruit trees. So they ate and were satisfied and grew fat. They enjoyed the vast supply of good things you gave them.
26 But they were defiant and rebelled against you. They threw your teachings over their shoulders and killed your prophets who warned them to turn back to you. They committed outrageous sins. 27 You handed them over to their enemies, who made them suffer. When they began to suffer, they cried to you. You heard them from heaven. You gave them saviors to rescue them from their enemies because of your endless compassion. 28 As soon as they felt some relief, they were again doing what you considered evil. You abandoned them to their enemies, who conquered them. They cried to you again, and you heard them from heaven. You rescued them many times because of your compassion. 29 You warned them in order to bring them back to your teachings, but they became arrogant and would not obey your commandments. They sinned by not following your regulations. If anyone follows them, he will find life in them. But they gave you the cold shoulder, became impossible to deal with, and wouldn’t listen. 30 You were patient with them for many years. You warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. However, they wouldn’t listen. So you handed them over to the people in the surrounding nations. 31 But your compassion is endless. You didn’t destroy them or abandon them. You are a merciful and compassionate God.
32 And now, our God, you are the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God. You faithfully keep your promises. Do not consider all the hardships that we have been going through as unimportant. The hardships have come to our kings, leaders, priests, prophets, ancestors, and all your people from the time of the kings of Assyria until now. 33 But you were fair about everything that has happened to us. You have been faithful, but we have been wicked. 34 Our kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors didn’t obey your teachings. They didn’t pay attention to your commandments or the warnings that you gave them. 35 When they lived in their own kingdom and enjoyed the many good things that you gave them in a vast, fertile land which was set in front of them, they didn’t serve you or turn away from their wicked lives. 36 Look at us now. We’re slaves! In the land you gave our ancestors, they could eat its produce and enjoy its good things. But now we’re slaves! 37 The many products from our land go to the kings you put over us. This is because of our sins. These kings have control over our bodies, and they do as they please with our livestock. We are in agony.[b]
An Agreement in Writing
38 “We are making a binding agreement and putting it in writing because of all this. Our leaders, Levites, and priests are putting their seals on the document.”
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