1and the people gathered together as one in the square beside the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had ordered Israel to follow.
2On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly—men and women, and all those children who could listen and understand.
3He read from it in front of the square before the Water Gate from early morning till noon to everyone there, the men and the women and those who could understand. All the people listened carefully to the Book of the Law.
4Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden stage built for this event. On his right side stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, and on his left Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash-baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
5Ezra opened the book while they were all watching because the whole crowd could see him. When he opened it they all stood up.
6Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and everyone answered, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted up their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
7Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, who were the Levites present, explained the Law to the people as they remained standing there.
8They read from the Book of the Law of God, making clear the meaning so that the people could understand what it said.
9Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were teaching the people told them all, “This is a holy day to the Lord your God. Don't mourn or cry,” for everyone was crying as they heard the Law being read.
10Nehemiah went on, “Go and enjoy some good food and sweet drinks, and share some with those who don't have anything ready, because today is a special, holy day to our Lord. Don't be sad, for your strength comes from the Lord who makes you happy.”
11The Levites too were quieting everyone down, telling them, “Don't cry! This is a holy day and you shouldn't be sad.”
12Then everyone went away to eat and drink, and to share their food. They celebrated happily because now they understood the Law as it had been explained to them.
13The next day family leaders of all the people, as well as the priests and Levites, joined with Ezra the scribe to study the Law in more depth.
14They discovered written in the Law the Lord had ordered to be observed through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in shelters during the festival of the seventh month.
15They were to make an announcement in all their towns and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go into the hills and bring back branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees, to make shelters to live in, as the Law requires.”
16So they went out and brought back branches and made shelters for themselves on the roofs of their houses, in their courtyards, in the courtyards of God's Temple, and in the squares near the Water Gate and the Ephraim Gate.
17Everyone who came back from exile made shelters and stayed in them. They had not celebrated like this since the time of Joshua, son of Nun. Everyone was very happy.
18Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God every day, from the first day to the last. The Israelites observed the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day they met together in assembly, as the Law required.