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The People Tell Their Sins to God

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel gathered together, but they did not eat. They dressed in cloth made from hair, and put dirt on their heads. The children of Israel separated themselves from all those of other nations. They stood and told their sins and the sins of their fathers to God. While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the Law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day. And for another fourth they told their sins and worshiped the Lord their God. Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the Levites’ raised floor. And they cried with a loud voice to the Lord their God.

Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and give honor and thanks to the Lord your God forever and ever! O may Your great name be praised!”

The Prayer—Telling of Their Sins

“You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their angels. You have made the earth and all that is on it, and the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them, and the angels of heaven bow down to You. You are the Lord God, Who chose Abram and brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees and gave him the name Abraham. You found his heart faithful to You and made an agreement with him, to give his children and their children’s children the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And You have done what You promised, for You are right and good.

“You saw the trouble of our fathers in Egypt. You heard their cry by the Red Sea. 10 Then You made special things to see and did powerful works against Pharaoh, against all his servants and all the people of his land. For You knew that they were proud and made it hard for our fathers. And You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day. 11 You divided the sea in front of them, so they passed through the sea on dry ground. And You threw those who went after them into the deep sea, like a stone into troubled waters. 12 You led the people during the day with a cloud, and with a pillar of fire during the night to light the way they were to go. 13 Then You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven. You gave them Laws that are right and true and good. 14 You made known to them Your holy Day of Rest, and gave them Laws through Your servant Moses. 15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger. You brought them water from a rock for their thirst. And You told them to go in to take for their own the land You promised to give them.

16 “But they, our fathers, acted with pride. They became strong-willed and would not listen to Your Words. 17 They would not listen, and did not remember Your powerful works which You had done among them. So they became strong-willed and chose a leader to return to their hard work in Egypt. But You are a forgiving God. You are kind and loving, slow to anger, and full of loving-kindness. You did not leave them. 18 They even melted gold and made a calf, and said, ‘This is your God Who brought you up from Egypt.’ They spoke sinful words against You. 19 But You, in Your great loving-kindness, did not leave them in the desert. The pillar of cloud which led them on their way during the day did not leave them. And the pillar of fire which gave light to the way they were to go during the night did not leave them. 20 You gave Your good Spirit to teach them. You did not keep Your bread from heaven from their mouths. And You gave them water when they were thirsty. 21 For forty years You kept them alive in the desert and gave them everything they needed. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not become sore. 22 You gave them nations and peoples, and You gave them every part. For their own they took the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You made their sons as many as the stars of heaven. And You brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to go into and take for their own. 24 So their sons went into the land and took it. You gave them power over the people of the land, the Canaanites. You gave these people into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, to do with them as they would. 25 They took strong cities and a rich land. They took houses full of every good thing. They took wells that had been dug, grape-vines, olive trees, and many fruit trees. So they ate and were filled and became fat. They were glad because You were so good to them.

26 “But they would not obey and they turned against You. They put Your Law behind their backs. They killed the men who tell what will happen who had spoken sharp words to them telling them to return to You. The people spoke very sinful words against You. 27 So You gave them into the hand of those who made it hard for them. But when they cried to You in the time of their trouble, You heard from heaven. And by Your great loving-kindness You sent men to save them from those who made it hard for them. 28 But as soon as they had rest, they sinned against You again. So You left them in the hand of those who hated them, so that they ruled over them. When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven. And many times You took them away from trouble because of Your loving-kindness. 29 You spoke sharp words to them to turn them back to Your Law. Yet they acted in pride and did not listen to Your Words, but sinned against Your Laws, by which if a man obeys them he will live. They were strong-willed and made their hearts hard against You, and would not listen. 30 But You did not give up taking care of them for many years. You spoke sharp words to them by Your Spirit through the men who tell what will happen. Yet they would not listen. So You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 But in Your great loving-kindness, You did not make an end of them or leave them for You are a kind and loving God.

32 “So now, our God, the great and powerful God, honored with fear, Who keeps His agreement and loving-kindness, do not let all this trouble look small in Your eyes which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our religious leaders, our men who tell what will happen, our fathers, and on all Your people since the days of the kings of Assyria to this day. 33 Yet You have been right and fair in all that has come upon us. For You have been faithful, but we have sinned. 34 Our kings, leaders, religious leaders, and fathers have not kept Your Law or listened to Your Laws and Your strong words which You have given them. 35 Even when they were in their own nation, with all the good things You gave them and with the great rich land You gave them, they did not serve You or turn from their sins. 36 See, we are servants today. We are servants in the land You gave to our fathers. You gave it to them so they could eat the fruit and have other good things. 37 The many good things the land gives are used by the kings whom You have put over us because of our sins. They also rule over our bodies and over our cattle as they please. So we are in much trouble.

The People Sign an Agreement

38 “Now because of all this we are making an agreement in writing. And our leaders, our Levites, and our religious leaders have put their mark on it.”