Ezra Reads the Law

Then all the people gathered together as one man at the open square in front of the Water Gate; and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses which the Lord had given to Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it, in front of the open square which was in front of the Water Gate, from [a]early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and women, those who could understand; and [b]all the people listened carefully to the Book of the Law. Ezra the scribe stood on a [large] wooden platform which they had constructed for this purpose. And beside him [on the platform] stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left. Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above them; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands; and they knelt down and worshiped the Lord with their faces toward the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, explained the Law to the people, and the people remained in their places. So they read from the Book of the Law of God, translating and explaining it so that the people understood the reading.

“This Day Is Holy”

Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then Ezra said to them, “Go [your way], eat the rich festival food, drink the sweet drink, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be worried, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and your stronghold.” 11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be worried.” 12 Then all the people went on their way to eat, to drink, to send portions [of food to others] and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been [c]communicated to them.

Feast of Booths Restored

13 On the second day, all of the heads of fathers’ households of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, were gathered before Ezra the scribe to gain insight into the words of [d]the Law (divine instruction). 14 They found written in the Law how the Lord had commanded through Moses that the Israelites should live in booths (huts) during the feast of the seventh month. 15 So they proclaimed and published an announcement in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the hills and bring olive branches, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy branches to make booths, as it is written.”(A) 16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on the roof of his house, and in their courtyards and the courtyards of God’s house, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the square of the Gate of Ephraim. 17 The entire assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in them. Indeed since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that very day, the Israelites had not done so. And there was great rejoicing and celebration. 18 Every day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the feast for seven days; on the eighth day there was a [closing] solemn assembly in accordance with the ordinance.


  1. Nehemiah 8:3 Lit the light.
  2. Nehemiah 8:3 Lit in the ears of all the people.
  3. Nehemiah 8:12 Lit made known.
  4. Nehemiah 8:13 See note Ezra 3:2.

Cross references

  1. Nehemiah 8:15 : Lev 23:39, 40