Nehemiah 8

Ezra reads the Law to the people

1 All the Jews met together in the wide place by the Water Gate. The people asked Ezra to bring the Book of the Law of Moses. The laws that the Lord gave to Israel are in the Book of the Law. 2 On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra brought the Book of the Law to the people. All the men and women who were able to understand were there. 3 Ezra read aloud while he stood there. He read to all those people from morning to noon. Everyone watched him while he read. He read to them while he stood by the Water Gate. Everyone there listened carefully to Ezra while he read the Book of the Law. 4 Ezra stood up above the people on a high floor made from wood. They made this so that they could see and hear him. Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah stood at his right side. Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam stood at his left side. 5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see Ezra because he was high above them. When he opened the book, the crowd stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord. All the people lifted their hands and they praised the Lord. The people shouted, ‘Amen! Amen!’ They went on their knees and they worshipped the Lord. 7 The Levites taught the people the law. The names of the Levites were: Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah. 8 The Levites taught the Law to the people who stood there. They helped the people to understand what Ezra read to them.

9 Then Ezra, Nehemiah and the Levites said to the people, ‘Do not be sad today. Do not cry. Today is holy to the Lord your God.’ They said this because the people were crying. The words of the Law had made them sad. 10 Nehemiah told the people to eat special food and to drink sweet drinks. Nehemiah also told the people to give food and drink to those who had none. He told the people that they should not be sad. They should not be sad because they were giving pleasure to God. This would make them strong. 11 The Levites said, ‘Do not be sad. Today is a holy day.’ 12 The people went away. They ate and they were very happy. They understood that that day was separate (holy) for the Lord.

The Feast of the seventh month

13 On the second day of the seventh month, the family leaders met together. They met with the priests, Levites and with Ezra. They wanted to know God's laws. 14 They had heard the Book of the Law. And it said that Jews must live in huts made from tree branches. They must do this in the feast of the seventh month.

8:14God brought the Jews out of Egypt in the 7th month. So they must remember this with a special feast. A feast is a time to eat and drink. We read about this in Leviticus 23:33-43.

15 In the Book of the Law, it says that they must tell everyone in the country to go into the hills. They should bring back branches from olive trees, myrtle trees and from palm trees. They must use these to build their huts. 16 The people went to the hills and they picked branches. They made huts on their roofs and near their houses. They made them outside the temple and by the Water Gate. They made them by the Gate of Ephraim. 17 Everyone who had returned from exile built a hut. The Jews had not remembered a feast with such pleasure since the time of Joshua son of Nun. 18 Every day of the feast, Ezra read aloud from the Book of the Law. The feast went on for seven days. On the eighth day, the Jews met together, as the law said.