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Chapter 9

Public Confession of Sin. [a](A)On the twenty-fourth day of this month, the Israelites gathered together while fasting and wearing sackcloth, their heads covered with dust. (B)Those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all who were of foreign extraction, then stood forward and confessed their sins and the guilty deeds of their ancestors. When they had taken their places, they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God, for a fourth of the day, and during another fourth they made their confession and bowed down before the Lord their God. Standing on the platform of the Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani, who cried out to the Lord their God, with a loud voice. (C)The Levites Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah said,

“Arise, bless the Lord, your God,
    from eternity to eternity!”
“And may they bless your glorious name,
    which is exalted above all blessing and praise.”
[b]“You are the Lord, you alone;
You made the heavens,
    the highest heavens and all their host,
The earth and all that is upon it,
    the seas and all that is in them.
To all of them you give life,
    the heavenly hosts bow down before you.
(D)You are the Lord God
    who chose Abram,
Who brought him from Ur of the Chaldees,
    who named him Abraham.
(E)You found his heart faithful in your sight,
    you made the covenant with him
To give the land of the Canaanites,
    Hittites, Amorites,
Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites
    to him and his descendants.
You fulfilled your promises,
    for you are just.
(F)You saw the affliction of our ancestors in Egypt,
    you heard their cry by the Red Sea;
10 (G)You worked signs and wonders against Pharaoh,
    against all his servants and the people of his land,
Because you knew of their insolence toward them;
    thus you made for yourself a name even to this day.
11 (H)The sea you divided before them,
    on dry ground they passed through the midst of the sea;
Their pursuers you hurled into the depths,
    like a stone into the mighty waters.
12 (I)With a column of cloud you led them by day,
    and by night with a column of fire,
To light the way of their journey,
    the way in which they must travel.
13 (J)On Mount Sinai you came down,
    you spoke with them from heaven;
You gave them just ordinances, true laws,
    good statutes and commandments;
14 (K)Your holy sabbath you made known to them,
    commandments, statutes, and law you prescribed for them,
    by the hand of Moses your servant.
15 (L)Food from heaven you gave them in their hunger,
    water from a rock you sent them in their thirst.
You told them to enter and occupy the land
    which you had sworn to give them.
16 But they, our ancestors, proved to be insolent;
    they were obdurate[c] and did not obey your commandments.
17 (M)They refused to obey and no longer remembered
    the wonders you had worked for them.
They were obdurate and appointed a leader
    in order to return to their slavery in Egypt.
But you are a forgiving God, gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and rich in mercy;
    you did not forsake them.
18 (N)Though they made for themselves a molten calf,
    and proclaimed, ‘Here is your God who brought you up from Egypt,’
    and were guilty of great insults,
19 Yet in your great mercy
    you did not forsake them in the desert.
By day the column of cloud did not cease to lead them on their journey,
    by night the column of fire did not cease to light the way they were to travel.
20 (O)Your good spirit you bestowed on them,
    to give them understanding;
Your manna you did not withhold from their mouths,
    and you gave them water in their thirst.
21 (P)Forty years in the desert you sustained them:
    they did not want;
Their garments did not become worn,
    and their feet did not swell.
22 (Q)You gave them kingdoms and peoples,
    which you divided among them as border lands.
They possessed the land of Sihon, king of Heshbon,
    and the land of Og, king of Bashan.
23 (R)You made their children as numerous as the stars of the heavens,
    and you brought them into the land
    which you had commanded their ancestors to enter and possess.
24 The children went in to possess the land;
    you humbled before them the Canaanite inhabitants
    and gave them into their power,
Their kings and the peoples of the land,
    to do with them as they wished.
25 (S)They captured fortified cities and fertile land;
    they took possession of houses filled with all good things,
Cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves,
    and fruit trees in abundance.
They ate and had their fill,
    fattened and feasted on your great goodness.
26 (T)But they were contemptuous and rebelled against you:
    they cast your law behind their backs.
They murdered your prophets
    who bore witness against them to bring them back to you:
    they were guilty of great insults.
27 (U)Therefore you gave them into the power of their enemies,
    who oppressed them.
But in the time of their oppression they would cry out to you,
    and you would hear them from heaven,
And according to your great mercy give them saviors
    to deliver them from the power of their enemies.
28 As soon as they had relief,
    they would go back to doing evil in your sight.
Again you abandoned them to the power of their enemies,
    who crushed them.
Once again they cried out to you, and you heard them from heaven
    and delivered them according to your mercy, many times over.
29 (V)You bore witness against them,
    to bring them back to your law.
But they were insolent
    and would not obey your commandments;
They sinned against your ordinances,
    which give life to those who keep them.
They turned stubborn backs, stiffened their necks,
    and would not obey.
30 You were patient with them for many years,
    bearing witness against them through your spirit, by means of your prophets;
Still they would not listen.
    Therefore you delivered them into the power of the peoples of the lands.
31 Yet in your great mercy you did not completely destroy them
    and did not forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
32 (W)Now, our God, great, mighty, and awesome God,
    who preserves the covenant of mercy,
    do not discount all the hardship that has befallen us,
Our kings, our princes, our priests,
    our prophets, our ancestors, and your entire people,
    from the time of the kings of Assyria until this day!
33 (X)In all that has come upon us you have been just,
    for you kept faith while we have done evil.
34 Yes, our kings, our princes, our priests, and our ancestors
    have not kept your law;
They paid no attention to your commandments
    and the warnings which you gave them.
35 While they were still in their kingdom,
    in the midst of the many good things that you had given them
And in the wide, fertile land
    that you had spread out before them,
They did not serve you
    nor turn away from their evil deeds.
36 Today we are slaves!
    As for the land which you gave our ancestors
That they might eat its fruits and good things—
    see, we have become slaves upon it!
37 Its rich produce goes to the kings
    you set over us because of our sins,
Who rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please.
    We are in great distress!”


  1. 9:1–5 The feast of Booths is followed by a penitential liturgy. Since it includes separation from foreigners, some read it as a sequel to Ezr 9–10.
  2. 9:6–37 The Septuagint attributes the prayer to Ezra; cf. Ezr 9:6–15.
  3. 9:16 They were obdurate: lit., “they stiffened their necks.”