The Public Reading of Moses’ Teachings
1 ⌊When the seventh month came,⌋ all the people gathered together in the courtyard in front of Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of Moses’ Teachings, which the Lord had commanded Israel ⌊to follow⌋. 2 Then Ezra the priest brought the Teachings in front of the assembly. This included men, women, and any ⌊children⌋ who could understand what they heard. This took place on the first day of the seventh month. 3 From daybreak until noon, he read from it in the courtyard in front of Water Gate to the men, women, and ⌊children⌋ who could understand it. All the people listened to the Book of Moses’ Teachings.
4 Ezra the scribe stood on a raised wooden platform made for this occasion. Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah stood beside him on his right. Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchiah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam stood beside him on his left. 5 Ezra, standing higher than all the other people, opened the book in front of all the people. As he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 Ezra thanked the Lord, the great God. All the people responded, “Amen! Amen!” as they raised their hands and then bowed with their faces to the ground and worshiped the Lord. 7 The Levites— Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah—explained the Teachings to the people while they were standing there. 8 They read the Book of God’s Teachings clearly and explained the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people told them, “This is a holy day for the Lord your God. Don’t mourn or cry.” All the people were crying as they listened to the reading of God’s Teachings. 10 Then he told them, “Go, eat rich foods, drink sweet drinks, and send portions to those who cannot provide for themselves. Today is a holy day for the Lord. Don’t be sad because the joy you have in the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people by saying, “Listen. Today is a holy day. Don’t be sad.”
12 Then all the people went to eat and drink and to send portions. They had a big, joyful celebration because they understood the words that had been explained to them.
The Festival of Booths Is Observed
13 On the second day the leaders of the families of all the people, including the priests and the Levites, met with Ezra the scribe to study the words of God’s Teachings. 14 They found written in the Teachings that the Lord had given an order through Moses that the people of Israel should live in booths during a festival in the seventh month. 15 They should announce this command and send this message throughout all their cities and Jerusalem: “Go to the mountains, and get branches—olive and wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other thick-leaved branches—to make booths as it is written.”
16 So the people went to get branches to make booths for themselves. Some made booths on their roofs, others in their courtyards, in the courtyards of God’s temple, in the open area by Water Gate, or in the open area at Ephraim Gate.
17 The whole assembly that had come back from exile made booths and lived in them. From the time of Jeshua (son of Nun) to that day, the people of Israel had not done this. There was a big, joyful celebration. 18 Day by day, from the first day of the festival to the last day, Ezra continued to read from the Book of God’s Teachings. The people celebrated the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day, they had a closing festival assembly in accordance with the regulations.