Nehemiah 8

1So all the people of Israel met together in the seventh month of the year. They were together and in agreement just as if they were one man. They all met together in the open place in front of the Water Gate. All those people asked Ezra the teacher to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses. That is the Law that the Lord had given to the people of Israel. 2So Ezra the priest brought the Law before those people that had met together. This was on the first day of the month. It was the seventh month of the year. At that meeting were men and women, and anyone old enough to listen and understand. 3Ezra read in a loud voice from the Book of the Law from early morning until noon. Ezra was facing the open place that was in front of the Water Gate. He read to all the men and women, and to everyone old enough to listen and understand. All the people listened carefully and paid attention to the Book of the Law. 4Ezra stood on a high wooden stage. It had been built just for this special time. On Ezra’s right side stood Mattithiah, Shema, Ananiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah. And on Ezra’s left side stood Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5So Ezra opened the book. All the people could see Ezra because he was standing above them on the high stage. And as Ezra opened the Book of the Law, 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 all the people bowed down and put their faces low to the ground and they worshiped the Lord. 7These men from the family group of Levi taught the people about the Law as they were all standing there. Those Levites were: Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah. 8Those Levites read the Book of the Law of God. They made it easy to understand, and explained what it meant. They did this so the people could understand what was being read. 9Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher, and the men from the Levites that were teaching the people spoke. They said, “Today is a special day to the Lord your God. Don’t be sad and cry.” They said that because all the people had begun to cry as they were listening to the messages of God in the Law. 10Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy the good food and sweet drinks. And give some food and drinks to those people that didn’t prepare any food. Today is a special day to the Lord. Don’t be sad! Why? Because the joy of the Lord will make you strong.” 11The men from the family group of Levi helped the people to calm down. They said, “Be quiet, calm down, this is a special day. Don’t be sad.” 12Then all the people went to eat the special meal. They shared their food and drinks. They were very happy and celebrated that special day. They finally understood the lessons from the Lord that the teachers had been trying to teach them. 13Then on the second day of the month, the leaders of all the families went to meet with Ezra, the priests, and the Levites. They all gathered around Ezra the teacher to study the words of the Law. 14- 15They studied and found these commands in the Law. The Lord gave this command to the people through Moses: In the seventh month of the year, the people of Israel must ˻go to Jerusalem˼ to celebrate a special holiday. They must live in temporary shelters. And the people are supposed to go through all of their towns and Jerusalem and say these things: “Go out into the hill country and get branches from different kinds of olive trees. Get branches from myrtle trees, palm trees, and shade trees. Use those branches to make temporary shelters. Do what the Law says.” 16So the people went out and got those tree branches. Then they built temporary shelters for themselves. They built shelters on their own roofs and in their own yards. And they built shelters in the temple yard, in the open place near the Water Gate, and near Ephraim Gate. 17The whole group of the people of Israel that had come back from captivity built shelters. They lived in the shelters they had built. Since the days of Joshua son of Nun up until that day, the people of Israel had not celebrated the Festival of Shelters like this. Everyone was very happy! 18Ezra read to them from the Book of the Law every day of the festival. Ezra read the Law to them from the first day of the festival to the last day. The people of Israel celebrated the festival for seven days. Then on the eighth day the people met together for a special meeting, like the Law says.

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