Nehemiah 8-10 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Ezra Reads God’s Law to the People
8 1-2 On the first day of the seventh month,[a]the people came together in the open area in front of the Water Gate. Then they asked Ezra, who was a teacher of the Law of Moses, to read to them from this Law that the Lord had given his people. Ezra the priest came with the Law and stood before the crowd of men, women, and the children who were old enough to understand. 3 From early morning till noon, he read the Law of Moses to them, and they listened carefully. 4 Ezra stood on a high wooden platform that had been built for this occasion. Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah were standing to his right, while Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash Baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam were standing to his left.
5 Ezra was up on the high platform, where he could be seen by everyone, and when he opened the book, they all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the great Lord God, and the people shouted, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed with their faces to the ground and worshiped the Lord.
7-8 After this, the Levites Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah went among the people, explaining the meaning of what Ezra had read.
9 The people started crying when God’s Law was read to them. Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher, and the Levites who had been teaching the people all said, “This is a special day for the Lord your God. So don’t be sad and don’t cry!”
10 Nehemiah told the people, “Enjoy your good food and wine and share some with those who didn’t have anything to bring. Don’t be sad! This is a special day for the Lord, and he will make you happy and strong.”
11 The Levites encouraged the people by saying, “This is a sacred day, so don’t worry or mourn!” 12 When the people returned to their homes, they celebrated by eating and drinking and by sharing their food with those in need, because they had understood what had been read to them.
Celebrating the Festival of Shelters
13 On the second day of the seventh month,[b] the leaders of all the family groups came together with the priests and the Levites, so Ezra could teach them the Law 14 that the Lord had given to Moses. They learned from the Law that the people of Israel were to live in shelters when they celebrated the festival in the seventh month of the year. 15 They also learned that they were to go into the woods and gather branches of leafy trees such as olives, myrtles, and palms for making these shelters.
16 So the people gathered branches and made shelters on the flat roofs of their houses, in their yards, in the courtyard of the temple, and in the open areas around the Water Gate and Ephraim Gate. 17 Everyone who had returned from Babylonia built shelters. They lived in them and joyfully celebrated the Festival of Shelters for the first time since the days of Joshua son of Nun. 18 On each of the first seven days of the festival, Ezra read to the people from God’s Law. Then on the eighth day, everyone gathered for worship, just as the Law had said they must.
The People Confess Their Sins
9 On the twenty-fourth day of the seventh month,[c] the people of Israel went without eating, and they dressed in sackcloth and threw dirt on their heads to show their sorrow. 2 They refused to let foreigners join them, as they met to confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors. 3 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.
4 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. 5 Then the Levites Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah said:
“Stand and shout praises
The People Pray
6 You alone are the Lord,
9 When our ancestors
16 Our stubborn ancestors
19 Because of your great mercy,
22 You let them conquer kings
24 Then their descendants
26 In spite of this, they rebelled
28 But when they were at peace,
32 Our God, you are powerful,
34 Our kings, leaders, and priests
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. 10 1 As governor, I[k] signed the agreement together with Zedekiah and the following priests: 2-8 Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaiah.
9 The Levites who signed were: Jeshua son of Azaniah, Binnui from the clan of Henadad, Kadmiel, 10 Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, 11 Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, 12 Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, 13 Hodiah, Bani, and Beninu.
14 The leaders who signed were: Parosh, Pahath Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, 15 Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, 16 Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, 17 Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, 18 Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, 19 Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, 20 Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, 21 Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, 22 Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, 23 Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, 24 Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, 25 Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, 26 Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, 27 Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.
28-29 All of us, including priests, Levites, temple guards, singers, temple workers and leaders, together with our wives and children, have separated ourselves from the foreigners in this land and now enter into an agreement with a complete understanding of what we are doing. And so, we now place ourselves under the curse of the Lord our God, if we fail to obey his laws and teachings that were given to us by his servant Moses.
30 We won’t let our sons and daughters marry foreigners.
31 We won’t buy goods or grain on the Sabbath or on any other sacred day, not even from foreigners.
Every seven years we will let our fields rest, and we will cancel all debts.
32 Once a year we will each donate a small amount of silver to the temple of our God. 33 This is to pay for the sacred bread, as well as for the daily sacrifices and special sacrifices such as those offered on the Sabbath and during the New Moon Festival and the other festivals. It will also pay for the sacrifices to forgive our sins and for all expenses connected with the worship of God in the temple.
34 We have decided that the families[l] of priests, Levites, and ordinary people will supply firewood for the temple each year, so that sacrifices can be offered on the altar, just as the Lord our God has commanded.
35 Each year we will bring to the temple the first part of our harvest of grain and fruit.
36 We will bring our first-born sons and the first-born males of our herds and flocks and offer them to the priests who serve in the temple, because this is what is written in God’s Law.[m]
37 To the priests in the temple of our God, we will bring the bread dough from the first harvest, together with our best fruit, and an offering of new wine and olive oil.
We will bring ten percent of our grain harvest to those Levites who are responsible for collecting it in our towns. 38 A priest from the family of Aaron must be there when we give this to the Levites. Then the Levites will put one tenth of this part in the temple storeroom, 39 which is also the place for the sacred objects used by the priests, the temple guards, and the singers.
Levites and everyone else must bring their gifts of grain, wine, and olive oil to this room.
We will not neglect the temple of our God.
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