8 By the time the seventh month arrived, the People of Israel were settled in their towns. Then all the people gathered as one person in the town square in front of the Water Gate and asked the scholar Ezra to bring the Book of The Revelation of Moses that God had commanded for Israel.
2-3 So Ezra the priest brought The Revelation to the congregation, which was made up of both men and women—everyone capable of understanding. It was the first day of the seventh month. He read it facing the town square at the Water Gate from early dawn until noon in the hearing of the men and women, all who could understand it. And all the people listened—they were all ears—to the Book of The Revelation.
4 The scholar Ezra stood on a wooden platform constructed for the occasion. He was flanked on the right by Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, and on the left by Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
5-6 Ezra opened the book. Every eye was on him (he was standing on the raised platform) and as he opened the book everyone stood. Then Ezra praised God, the great God, and all the people responded, “Oh Yes! Yes!” with hands raised high. And then they fell to their knees in worship of God, their faces to the ground.
7-8 Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, all Levites, explained The Revelation while people stood, listening respectfully. They translated the Book of The Revelation of God so the people could understand it and then explained the reading.
9 Nehemiah the governor, along with Ezra the priest and scholar and the Levites who were teaching the people, said to all the people, “This day is holy to God, your God. Don’t weep and carry on.” They said this because all the people were weeping as they heard the words of The Revelation.
10 He continued, “Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don’t have anything: This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!”
11 The Levites calmed the people, “Quiet now. This is a holy day. Don’t be upset.”
12 So the people went off to feast, eating and drinking and including the poor in a great celebration. Now they got it; they understood the reading that had been given to them.
* * *
13-15 On the second day of the month the family heads of all the people, the priests, and the Levites gathered around Ezra the scholar to get a deeper understanding of the words of The Revelation. They found written in The Revelation that God commanded through Moses that the People of Israel are to live in booths during the festival of the seventh month. So they published this decree and had it posted in all their cities and in Jerusalem: “Go into the hills and collect olive branches, pine branches, myrtle branches, palm branches, and any other leafy branches to make booths, as it is written.”
* * *
16-17 So the people went out, brought in branches, and made themselves booths on their roofs, courtyards, the courtyards of The Temple of God, the Water Gate plaza, and the Ephraim Gate plaza. The entire congregation that had come back from exile made booths and lived in them. The People of Israel hadn’t done this from the time of Joshua son of Nun until that very day—a terrific day! Great joy!
18 Ezra read from the Book of The Revelation of God each day, from the first to the last day—they celebrated the feast for seven days. On the eighth day they held a solemn assembly in accordance with the decree.
9 1-3 Then on the twenty-fourth day of this month, the People of Israel gathered for a fast, wearing burlap and faces smudged with dirt as signs of repentance. The Israelites broke off all relations with foreigners, stood up, and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their parents. While they stood there in their places, they read from the Book of The Revelation of God, their God, for a quarter of the day. For another quarter of the day they confessed and worshiped their God.
4-5 A group of Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Kenani—stood on the platform and cried out to God, their God, in a loud voice. The Levites Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah said, “On your feet! Bless God, your God, for ever and ever!”
5-6 Blessed be your glorious name,
exalted above all blessing and praise!
You’re the one,
God, you alone;
You made the heavens,
the heavens of heavens, and all angels;
The earth and everything on it,
the seas and everything in them;
You keep them all alive;
heaven’s angels worship you!
7-8 You’re the one, God,the God
who chose Abram
And brought him from Ur of the Chaldees
and changed his name to Abraham.
You found his heart to be steady and true to you
and signed a covenant with him,
A covenant to give him the land of the Canaanites,
the Hittites, and the Amorites,
The Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites,
—to give it to his descendants.
And you kept your word
because you are righteous.
9-15 You saw the anguish of our parents in Egypt.
You heard their cries at the Red Sea;
You amazed Pharaoh, his servants, and the people of his land
with wonders and miracle-signs.
You knew their bullying arrogance against your people;
you made a name for yourself that lasts to this day.
You split the sea before them;
they crossed through and never got their feet wet;
You pitched their pursuers into the deep;
they sank like a rock in the storm-tossed sea.
By day you led them with a Pillar of Cloud,
and by night with a Pillar of Fire
To show them the way
they were to travel.
You came down onto Mount Sinai,
you spoke to them out of heaven;
You gave them instructions on how to live well,
true teaching, sound rules and commands;
You introduced them
to your Holy Sabbath;
Through your servant Moses you decreed
commands, rules, and instruction.
You gave bread from heaven for their hunger,
you sent water from the rock for their thirst.
You told them to enter and take the land,
which you promised to give them.
16-19 But they, our ancestors, were arrogant;
bullheaded, they wouldn’t obey your commands.
They turned a deaf ear, they refused
to remember the miracles you had done for them;
They turned stubborn, got it into their heads
to return to their Egyptian slavery.
And you, a forgiving God,
gracious and compassionate,
Incredibly patient, with tons of love—
you didn’t dump them.
Yes, even when they cast a sculpted calf
and said, “This is your god
Who brought you out of Egypt,”
and continued from bad to worse,
You in your amazing compassion
didn’t walk off and leave them in the desert.
The Pillar of Cloud didn’t leave them;
daily it continued to show them their route;
The Pillar of Fire did the same by night,
showed them the right way to go.
20-23 You gave them your good Spirit
to teach them to live wisely.
You were never miserly with your manna,
gave them plenty of water to drink.
You supported them forty years in that desert;
they had everything they needed;
Their clothes didn’t wear out
and their feet never blistered.
You gave them kingdoms and peoples,
establishing generous boundaries.
They took over the country of Sihon king of Heshbon
and the country of Og king of Bashan.
You multiplied children for them,
rivaling the stars in the night skies,
And you brought them into the land
that you promised their ancestors
they would get and own.
24-25 Well, they entered all right,
they took it and settled in.
The Canaanites who lived there
you brought to their knees before them.
You turned over their land, kings, and peoples
to do with as they pleased.
They took strong cities and fertile fields,
they took over well-furnished houses,
Cisterns, vineyards, olive groves,
and lush, extensive orchards.
And they ate, grew fat on the fat of the land;
they reveled in your bountiful goodness.
26-31 But then they mutinied, rebelled against you,
threw out your laws and killed your prophets,
The very prophets who tried to get them back on your side—
and then things went from bad to worse.
You turned them over to their enemies,
who made life rough for them.
But when they called out for help in their troubles
you listened from heaven;
And in keeping with your bottomless compassion
you gave them saviors:
Saviors who saved them
from the cruel abuse of their enemies.
But as soon as they had it easy again
they were right back at it—more evil.
So you turned away and left them again to their fate,
to the enemies who came right back.
They cried out to you again; in your great compassion
you heard and helped them again.
This went on over and over and over.
You warned them to return to your Revelation,
they responded with haughty arrogance:
They brushed off your commands, spurned your rules
—the very words by which men and women live!
They set their jaws in defiance,
they turned their backs on you and didn’t listen.
You put up with them year after year
and warned them by your spirit through your prophets;
But when they refused to listen
you abandoned them to foreigners.
Still, because of your great compassion,
you didn’t make a total end to them.
You didn’t walk out and leave them for good;
yes, you are a God of grace and compassion.
32-37 And now, our God, the great God,
God majestic and terrible, loyal in covenant and love,
Don’t treat lightly the trouble that has come to us,
to our kings and princes, our priests and prophets,
Our ancestors, and all your people from the time
of the Assyrian kings right down to today.
You are not to blame
for all that has come down on us;
You did everything right,
we did everything wrong.
None of our kings, princes, priests, or ancestors
followed your Revelation;
They ignored your commands,
dismissed the warnings you gave them.
Even when they had their own kingdom
and were enjoying your generous goodness,
Living in that spacious and fertile land
that you spread out before them,
They didn’t serve you
or turn their backs on the practice of evil.
And here we are, slaves again today;
and here’s the land you gave our ancestors
So they could eat well and enjoy a good life,
and now look at us—no better than slaves on this land.
Its wonderful crops go to the kings
you put over us because of our sins;
They act like they own our bodies
and do whatever they like with our cattle.
We’re in deep trouble.
38 “Because of all this we are drawing up a binding pledge, a sealed document signed by our princes, our Levites, and our priests.”
* * *
10 1-8 The sealed document bore these signatures:
Nehemiah the governor, son of Hacaliah,
Zedekiah, Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah,
Pashhur, Amariah, Malkijah,
Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch,
Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah,
Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch,
Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin,
Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaiah.
These were the priests.
9-13 The Levites:
Jeshua son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel,
and their kinsmen: Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan,
Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah,
Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah,
Hodiah, Bani, and Beninu.
14-27 The heads of the people:
Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani,
Bunni, Azgad, Bebai,
Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin,
Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur,
Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai,
Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai,
Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir,
Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua,
Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah,
Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub,
Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek,
Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah,
Ahiah, Hanan, Anan,
Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.
28-30 The rest of the people, priests, Levites, security guards, singers, Temple staff, and all who separated themselves from the foreign neighbors to keep The Revelation of God, together with their wives, sons, daughters—everyone old enough to understand—all joined their noble kinsmen in a binding oath to follow The Revelation of God given through Moses the servant of God, to keep and carry out all the commandments of God our Master, all his decisions and standards. Thus:
We will not marry our daughters to our foreign neighbors nor let our sons marry their daughters.
31 When the foreign neighbors bring goods or grain to sell on the Sabbath we won’t trade with them—not on the Sabbath or any other holy day.
Every seventh year we will leave the land fallow and cancel all debts.
32-33 We accept the responsibility for paying an annual tax of one-third of a shekel (about an eighth ounce) for providing The Temple of our God with
bread for the Table
offerings for the Sabbaths, New Moons, and appointed feasts
Absolution-Offerings to atone for Israel
maintenance of The Temple of our God.
34 We—priests, Levites, and the people—have cast lots to see when each of our families will bring wood for burning on the Altar of our God, following the yearly schedule set down in The Revelation.
35-36 We take responsibility for delivering annually to The Temple of God the firstfruits of our crops and our orchards, our firstborn sons and cattle, and the firstborn from our herds and flocks for the priests who serve in The Temple of our God—just as it is set down in The Revelation.
37-39 We will bring the best of our grain, of our contributions, of the fruit of every tree, of wine, and of oil to the priests in the storerooms of The Temple of our God.
We will bring the tithes from our fields to the Levites, since the Levites are appointed to collect the tithes in the towns where we work. We’ll see to it that a priest descended from Aaron will supervise the Levites as they collect the tithes and make sure that they take a tenth of the tithes to the treasury in The Temple of our God. We’ll see to it that the People of Israel and Levites bring the grain, wine, and oil to the storage rooms where the vessels of the Sanctuary are kept and where the priests who serve, the security guards, and the choir meet.
We will not neglect The Temple of our God.