Israel Confesses Sins
1On the twenty-fourth day of that same month, the people of Israel gathered. They fasted, and they wore rough cloth and put dust on their heads to show their sadness. 2Those people whose ancestors were from Israel had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood and confessed their sins and their ancestors’ sins. 3For a fourth of the day they stood where they were and read from the Book of the Teachings of the Lord their God. For another fourth of the day they confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord their God. 4These Levites were standing on the stairs: Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Kenani. They called out to the Lord their God with loud voices. 5Then these Levites spoke: Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah. They said, “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who lives forever and ever.”
The People’s Prayer
“Blessed be your wonderful name.
It is more wonderful than all blessing and praise.
6You are the only Lord.
You made the heavens, even the highest heavens,
with all the stars.
You made the earth and everything on it,
the seas and everything in them;
you give life to everything.
The heavenly army worships you.
7“You are the Lord,
the God who chose Abram
and brought him out of Ur in Babylonia
and named him Abraham.
8You found him faithful to you,
so you made an agreement with him
to give his descendants the land of the Canaanites,
Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites.
You have kept your promise,
because you do what is right.
9“You saw our ancestors suffering in Egypt
and heard them cry out at the Red Sea.
10You did signs and miracles against the king of Egypt,
and against all his officers and all his people,
because you knew how proud they were.
You became as famous as you are today.
11You divided the sea in front of our ancestors;
they walked through on dry ground.
But you threw the people chasing them into the deep water,
like a stone thrown into mighty waters.
12You led our ancestors with a pillar of cloud by day
and with a pillar of fire at night.
It lit the way
they were supposed to go.
13You came down to Mount Sinai
and spoke from heaven to our ancestors.
You gave them fair rules and true teachings,
good orders and commands.
14You told them about your holy Sabbath
and gave them commands, orders, and teachings
through your servant Moses.
15When they were hungry, you gave them bread from heaven.
When they were thirsty, you brought them water from the rock.
You told them to enter and take over
the land you had promised to give them.
16“But our ancestors were proud and stubborn
and did not obey your commands.
17They refused to listen;
they forgot the miracles you did for them.
So they became stubborn and turned against you,
choosing a leader to take them back to slavery.
But you are a forgiving God.
You are kind and full of mercy.
You do not become angry quickly, and you have great love.
So you did not leave them.
18Our ancestors even made an idol of a calf for themselves.
They said, ‘This is your god, Israel,
who brought you up out of Egypt.’
They spoke against you.
19“You have great mercy,
so you did not leave them in the desert.
The pillar of cloud guided them by day,
and the pillar of fire led them at night,
lighting the way they were to go.
20You gave your good Spirit to teach them.
You gave them manna to eat
and water when they were thirsty.
21You took care of them for forty years in the desert;
they needed nothing.
Their clothes did not wear out,
and their feet did not swell.
22“You gave them kingdoms and nations;
you gave them more land.
They took over the country of Sihon king of Heshbon
and the country of Og king of Bashan.
23You made their children as many as the stars in the sky,
and you brought them into the land
that you told their ancestors to enter and take over.
24So their children went into the land and took over.
The Canaanites lived there, but you defeated them for our ancestors.
You handed over to them the Canaanites, their kings, and the people of the land.
Our ancestors could do what they wanted with them.
25They captured strong, walled cities and fertile land.
They took over houses full of good things,
wells that were already dug,
vineyards, olive trees, and many fruit trees.
They ate until they were full and grew fat;
they enjoyed your great goodness.
26“But they were disobedient and turned against you
and ignored your teachings.
Your prophets warned them to come back to you,
but they killed those prophets
and spoke against you.
27So you handed them over to their enemies,
and their enemies treated them badly.
But in this time of trouble our ancestors cried out to you,
and you heard from heaven.
You had great mercy
and gave them saviors who saved them from the power of their enemies.
28But as soon as they had rest,
they again did what was evil.
So you left them to their enemies
who ruled over them.
When they cried out to you again,
you heard from heaven.
Because of your mercy, you saved them again and again.
29You warned them to return to your teachings,
but they were proud and did not obey your commands.
If someone obeys your laws, he will live,
but they sinned against your laws.
They were stubborn, unwilling, and disobedient.
30You were patient with them for many years
and warned them by your Spirit through the prophets,
but they did not pay attention.
So you handed them over to other countries.
31But because your mercy is great, you did not kill them all or leave them.
You are a kind and merciful God.
32“And so, our God, you are the great and mighty and wonderful God.
You keep your agreement of love.
Do not let all our trouble seem unimportant to you.
This trouble has come to us, to our kings and our leaders,
to our priests and prophets,
to our ancestors and all your people
from the days of the kings of Assyria until today.
33You have been fair in everything that has happened to us;
you have been loyal, but we have been wicked.
34Our kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors did not obey your teachings;
they did not pay attention to the commands and warnings you gave them.
35Even when our ancestors were living in their kingdom,
enjoying all the good things you had given them,
enjoying the land that was fertile and full of room,
they did not stop their evil ways.
36“Look, we are slaves today
in the land you gave our ancestors.
They were to enjoy its fruit and its good things,
but look, we are slaves here.
37The land’s great harvest belongs to the kings you have put over us
because of our sins.
Those kings rule over us and our cattle as they please,
so we are in much trouble.
The People’s Agreement
38“Because of all this, we are making an agreement in writing, and our leaders, Levites, and priests are putting their seals on it.”