Ezra Reads the Law
1 At that time all the people gathered together in the square before the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel.
2 On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could listen and understand. 3 So Ezra read it aloud from daybreak until noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate, in front of the men and women and those who could understand.
And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for this occasion. At his right side stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, and at his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash-baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
5 Ezra opened the book in full view of all the people, since he was standing above them all, and as he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 Then Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and with their hands uplifted, all the people said, “Amen, Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
7 The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law as they stood in their places. 8 So they read from the Book of the Law of God, explaining it a and giving insight, so that the people could understand what was being read.
9 Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all of them, “This day is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.”
For all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the Law.
10 Then Nehemiah told them, “Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send out portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
11 And the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, since today is holy. Do not grieve.”
12 Then all the people began to eat and drink, to send out portions, and to rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that had been made known to them.
The Feast of Tabernacles
(Leviticus 23:33–44; Zechariah 14:16–21)
13 On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to study the words of the Law. 14 And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to dwell in booths b during the feast of the seventh month.
15 So they proclaimed this message and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the hill country and bring back branches of olive, wild olive, c myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.” d
16 And the people went out, brought back branches, and made booths on their own rooftops, in their courtyards, in the court of the house of God, and in the squares by the Water Gate and by the Gate of Ephraim. 17 The whole assembly who had returned from exile made booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua e son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated like this. And there was great rejoicing.
18 Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. The Israelites kept the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day they held an assembly, according to the ordinance.
8 a Or translating it or paragraph by paragraph
14 b Or tabernacles or shelters ; also in verses 15, 16, and 17
15 c Or pine ; literally oil tree
15 d See Leviticus 23:37–40.
17 e Hebrew Jeshua , a variant of Joshua