1All the people of Israel gathered together in the square by the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the teacher to bring out the Book of the Teachings of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel.
2So on the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought out the Teachings for the crowd. Men, women, and all who could listen and understand had gathered. 3At the square by the Water Gate Ezra read the Teachings out loud from early morning until noon to the men, women, and everyone who could listen and understand. All the people listened carefully to the Book of the Teachings.
4Ezra the teacher stood on a high wooden platform that had been built just for this time. On his right were Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah. And on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
5Ezra opened the book in full view of everyone, because he was above them. As he opened it, all the people stood up. 6Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and all the people held up their hands and said, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
7These Levites explained the Teachings to the people as they stood there: Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah. 8They read from the Book of the Teachings of God and explained what it meant so the people understood what was being read.
9Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher, and the Levites who were teaching said to all the people, “This is a holy day to the Lord your God. Don’t be sad or cry.” All the people had been crying as they listened to the words of the Teachings.
10Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy good food and sweet drinks. Send some to people who have none, because today is a holy day to the Lord. Don’t be sad, because the joy of the Lord will make you strong.”
11The Levites helped calm the people, saying, “Be quiet, because this is a holy day. Don’t be sad.”
12Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send some of their food to others, and to celebrate with great joy. They finally understood what they had been taught.
13On the second day of the month, the leaders of all the families, the priests, and the Levites met with Ezra the teacher. They gathered to study the words of the Teachings. 14This is what they found written in the Teachings: The Lord commanded through Moses that the people of Israel were to live in shelters during the feast of the seventh month. 15The people were supposed to preach this message and spread it through all their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the mountains, and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, myrtle trees, palms, and shade trees. Make shelters with them, as it is written.”
16So the people went out and got tree branches. They built shelters on their roofs, in their courtyards, in the courtyards of the Temple, in the square by the Water Gate, and in the square next to the Gate of Ephraim. 17The whole group that had come back from captivity built shelters and lived in them. The Israelites had not done this since the time of Joshua son of Nun. And they were very happy.
18Ezra read to them every day from the Book of the Teachings, from the first day to the last. The people of Israel celebrated the feast for seven days, and then on the eighth day the people gathered as the law said.