1It was the 24th day of the seventh month. The Israelites gathered together again. They didn’t eat any food. They wore the rough clothing people wear when they’re sad. They put dust on their heads.2The Israelites separated themselves from everyone else. They stood and admitted they had sinned. They also admitted that their people before them had sinned.3They stood where they were. They listened while the Levites read parts of the Book of the Law of the LORD their God. They listened for a quarter of the day. They spent another quarter of the day admitting their sins. They also worshipped the LORD their God.4Some people were standing on the stairs of the Levites. They included Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani and Kenani. With loud voices they called out to the LORD their God.5Then some Levites spoke up. They included Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah. They said to the people, ‘Stand up. Praise the LORD your God. He lives for ever and ever!’ So the people said, ‘LORD, may your glorious name be praised. May it be lifted high above every other name that is blessed and praised.6You are the one and only LORD. You made the heavens. You made even the highest heavens. You created all the stars in the sky. You created the earth and everything on it. And you made the oceans and everything in them. You give life to everything. Every living being in heaven worships you.7‘You are the LORD God. You chose Abram. You brought him out of Ur in the land of Babylon. You named him Abraham.8You knew that his heart was faithful to you. And you made a covenant with him. You promised to give to his children after him a land of their own. It was the land of the Canaanites, Hittites and Amorites. The Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites also lived there. You have kept your promise. That’s because you always do what is right and fair.9‘You saw how our people of long ago suffered in Egypt. You heard them cry out to you at the Red Sea.10You sent signs and wonders against Pharaoh. You sent plagues on all his officials. In fact, you sent them on all the people of Egypt. You knew how they treated our people. They looked down on them. But you made a name for yourself. That name remains to this very day.11You parted the waters of the Red Sea for the Israelites. They passed through it on dry ground. But you threw into the sea those who chased them. They sank down like a stone into the mighty waters.12By day you led the Israelites with a pillar of cloud. At night you led them with a pillar of fire. It gave them light to show them the way you wanted them to go.13‘You came down on Mount Sinai. From heaven you spoke to our people. You gave them rules and laws. Those laws are right and fair. You gave them orders and commands that are good.14You taught them about your holy Sabbath day. You gave them commands, orders and laws. You did it through your servant Moses.15When the people were hungry, you gave them bread from heaven. When they were thirsty, you brought them water out of a rock. You told them to go into the land of Canaan. You told them to take it as their own. It was the land you had promised to give them.16‘But our people before us became proud and stubborn. They didn’t obey your commands.17They refused to listen to you. They forgot the miracles you had done among them. So they became stubborn. When they refused to obey you, they appointed a leader for themselves. They wanted to go back to being slaves in Egypt. But you are a God who forgives. You are gracious. You are tender and kind. You are slow to get angry. You are full of love. So you didn’t desert them.18They made for themselves a metal statue of a god that looked like a calf. They said to one another, “Here is your god. He brought you up out of Egypt.” And they did evil things that dishonoured you. But you still didn’t desert them.19‘Because you loved them so much, you didn’t leave them in the desert. During the day the pillar of cloud didn’t stop guiding them on their path. At night the pillar of fire didn’t stop shining on the way you wanted them to go.20You gave them your good Spirit to teach them. You didn’t hold back your manna from their mouths. And you gave them water when they were thirsty.21For 40 years you took good care of them in the desert. They had everything they needed. Their clothes didn’t wear out. And their feet didn’t swell up.22‘You gave them kingdoms and nations. You even gave them lands far away. They took over the country of Sihon. He was the king of Heshbon. They also took over the country of Og. He was the king of Bashan.23You gave them as many children as there are stars in the sky. You told their parents to enter the land. You told them to take it over. And you brought their children into it.24Their children went into the land. They took it as their own. You brought the Canaanites under Israel’s control. The Canaanites lived in the land. But you handed them over to Israel. You also handed over their kings and the other nations in the land to Israel. You allowed Israel to deal with them just as they wanted to.25Your people captured cities that had high walls around them. They also took over the rich land in Canaan. They took houses filled with all kinds of good things. They took over wells that had already been dug. They took many vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees. They ate until they were very full and satisfied. They were filled with joy because you were so good to them.26‘But they didn’t obey you. Instead, they turned against you. They turned their backs on your law. They killed your prophets. The prophets had warned them to return to you. But they did very evil things that dishonoured you.27So you handed them over to their enemies, who treated them badly. Then they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them. You loved them very much. So you sent leaders to help them. The leaders saved them from the power of their enemies.28‘Then the people were enjoying peace and rest again. That’s when they did what you did not want them to do. Then you handed them over to their enemies. So their enemies ruled over them. When they cried out to you again, you heard them from heaven. You loved them very much. So you saved them time after time.29‘You warned them so that they would obey your law again. But they became proud. They didn’t obey your commands. They sinned against your rules. You said, “Anyone who obeys my rules will live by them.” But the people didn’t care about that. They turned their backs on you. They became very stubborn. They refused to listen to you.30For many years you put up with them. By your Spirit you warned them through your prophets. In spite of that, they didn’t pay any attention. So you handed them over to the nations that were around them.31But you loved them very much. So you didn’t put an end to them. You didn’t desert them. That’s because you are a gracious God. You are tender and kind.32‘Our God, you are the great God. You are mighty and wonderful. You keep the covenant you made with us. You show us your love. So don’t let all our suffering seem like a small thing to you. We’ve suffered greatly. So have our kings and leaders. So have our priests and prophets. Our people who lived long ago also suffered. And all your people are suffering right now. In fact, we’ve been suffering from the time of the kings of Assyria until today.33In spite of everything that has happened to us, you have been fair. You have been faithful in what you have done. But we did what was evil.34Our kings and leaders didn’t follow your law. Our priests and our people before us didn’t follow it either. They didn’t pay any attention to your commands or rules that you warned them to keep.35They didn’t serve you. They didn’t turn from their evil ways. They didn’t obey you even when they had a kingdom. You were very good to them. And they enjoyed it. You gave them a rich land. It had plenty of room in it. But they still didn’t serve you.36‘Now look at us. We are slaves today. We’re slaves in the land you gave our people of long ago. You gave it to them so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces.37But we have sinned against you. So its great harvest goes to the kings of Persia. You have placed them over us. They rule over our bodies and cattle just as they please. And we are suffering terribly.
The people agree to obey God’s law
38‘So we are making a firm agreement. We’re writing it down. Our leaders are putting their official marks on it. And so are our Levites and priests.’
English Standard Version
The People of Israel Confess Their Sin
1Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. (Jos 7:6; 1Sa 7:6; 2Sa 3:31; Ne 8:2)2And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. (Ezr 6:21; Ezr 10:11; Ne 10:28; Ne 13:3; Ne 13:30)3And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God. (Ne 8:7)4On the stairs of the Levites stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani; and they cried with a loud voice to the Lord their God. (Ne 8:7)5Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. (1Ch 29:13)6 “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. (Ge 1:1; Ge 2:1; De 10:14; 2Ki 19:15; Ps 36:6)7You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. (Ge 11:31; Ge 17:5)8You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous. (Ge 12:7; Ge 15:6; Ge 15:18; Ge 17:7; Ex 13:5; Jos 23:14)9“And you saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard their cry at the Red Sea, (Ex 3:7; Ex 14:10)10and performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for you knew that they acted arrogantly against our fathers. And you made a name for yourself, as it is to this day. (Ex 9:16; Ex 18:11; Isa 63:12; Isa 63:14; Jer 32:20; Da 9:15)11And you divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land, and you cast their pursuers into the depths, as a stone into mighty waters. (Ex 14:21; Ex 14:27; Ex 15:5; Ex 15:10; Ps 78:13)12By a pillar of cloud you led them in the day, and by a pillar of fire in the night to light for them the way in which they should go. (Ex 13:21; Nu 14:14; Ne 9:19; 1Co 10:1)13You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments, (Ex 19:20; Ex 20:1; Ps 19:8; Ro 7:12)14and you made known to them your holy Sabbath and commanded them commandments and statutes and a law by Moses your servant. (Ge 2:2; Ex 16:23; Ex 20:8; Eze 20:12; Eze 20:20)15You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them. (Ex 16:14; Ex 17:6; Nu 20:10; De 1:8; Ps 78:15; Ps 78:25; Ps 105:40; Ps 105:41; Joh 6:31; 1Co 10:3; 1Co 10:4)16“But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. (Ex 18:11)17They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. (Ex 34:6; Nu 14:18; Ne 9:31; Ps 78:11; Ps 78:42; Ps 86:5; Ps 86:15; Joe 2:13)18Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, (Ex 32:4; Ne 9:26; Ps 78:41; Ps 78:58; Ps 106:19; Ac 7:41; Heb 3:15)19you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. (Ne 9:12; Ne 9:27; Ne 9:31; Ps 106:45)20You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. (Ex 16:35; Nu 11:17; Ne 9:15; Isa 63:11)21Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell. (De 2:7)22“And you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. So they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan. (Nu 21:21; Nu 21:33)23You multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess. (Ge 15:5; Ge 22:17)24So the descendants went in and possessed the land, and you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would. (Ps 44:2)25And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness. (Nu 13:20; Nu 13:27; De 3:5; De 6:11; De 8:7; De 9:1; De 32:15; Jos 10:20; Jos 14:12; Ne 9:35; Eze 20:6; Ho 3:5)26“Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies. (Jud 2:11; 1Ki 14:9; 1Ki 18:4; 1Ki 19:10; 2Ch 24:20; Ne 9:18; Ne 9:30; Ps 50:17; Eze 20:21; Mt 23:37; Ac 7:52)27Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. (Jud 2:14; Jud 2:16; Jud 3:9; Ps 106:41; Ps 106:44)28But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. (Jud 3:11; Jud 3:30; Jud 4:1; Jud 5:31; Jud 6:1; Ps 106:43)29And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. (Le 18:5; Ne 9:10; Ne 9:16; Ne 9:26; Zec 7:11)30Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. (2Ki 17:13; Ezr 9:7; Ne 9:26; Ne 9:29; Ne 9:34; Isa 42:24; Ac 7:51; Ac 13:18; 1Pe 1:10; 2Pe 1:21)31Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. (Ne 9:17; Ne 9:19; Ne 9:27; Jer 4:27; Jer 5:10; Jer 5:18)32“Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day. (De 7:21; 2Ki 17:3; Ne 1:5)33Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly. (Ezr 9:15; Ps 106:6; Da 9:5)34Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them.35Even in their own kingdom, and amid your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and rich land that you set before them, they did not serve you or turn from their wicked works. (De 28:47; Ne 9:25)36Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. (Ezr 9:9)37And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress. (De 28:33; De 28:51)38 “Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests. (2Ki 23:3; 2Ch 29:10; 2Ch 34:31; Ezr 10:3; Ne 10:1; Ne 10:29)