The people confessed their sins
1 On October 31, the people gathered together again. They ◄fasted/abstained from eating food►, they wore clothes made from rough cloth, and they put dirt on their heads to show that they were sorry for their sins.
2 The Israeli people separated themselves from all the foreigners. They stood there and confessed their sins and the sins that their ancestors had committed.
3 The scroll that contained the laws of Yahweh, the God whom they worshiped, was read to them for three hours. Then for three more hours they confessed their sins and they worshiped Yahweh.
4 Some of the descendants of Levi were standing on the stairs. They were Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, another Bani, and Kenani.
5 Then the leaders of the Levites called out to the people. They were Jeshua, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah. They said, “While you are standing there, praise Yahweh your God, who has always lived and will live forever!”
Then one of them continued by praying this to God,
“Yahweh, we praise your glorious name! You are much greater than anything that we can think about or talk about!
6 You only are God. You made the sky and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and everything that is on it, and you made the seas/oceans and everything that is in them. You are the one who gives life to everything and helps them remain alive. All the angels who are in heaven worship you.
7 Yahweh, you are God. You chose Abram and brought him out of Ur city in Chaldea region. You gave him a new name, Abraham.
8 You saw that he was trustworthy. Then you made ◄an agreement with/a promise to► him, saying that you would give to him and to his descendants the land that the descendants of Canaan, Heth, Amor, Periz, Jebus, and Girgash lived in. And you have done what you promised, because you always do what is right.
9 You saw what our ancestors were suffering in Egypt. You heard them cry to you for help when they were at the Red Sea.
10 Because you knew that the leaders of Egypt were treating our ancestors very arrogantly, you performed many kinds of miracles that caused the king and his officials and all his people to suffer. As a result, you became famous then, and you are still famous!
11 You caused the Red Sea to divide, with the result that your people walked through it on the ground without getting their feet wet. After they were all safely on the other side, you caused the water to come back again, and you hurled into the deep water the soldiers of the Egyptian army that were pursuing our ancestors. Their soldiers sank into the deep sea like stones!
12 During each day you led our ancestors with a bright cloud that resembled a huge pillar, and each night you led them by a flaming cloud that gave them light to show them where to walk.
13 When our ancestors were at Sinai Mountain, you came down from heaven and spoke to them. You gave them many regulations and instructions that are just and reliable, and you gave them commands and laws that are good.
14 You taught them about your holy ◄Sabbath/day of rest►, and you gave many kinds of laws to your servant Moses for him to tell to the people.
15 When they were hungry, you gave them manna from the sky; and when they were thirsty, you gave them water from a rock. You commanded them to go and take, from the people who lived there, the land which you had promised to give to them.
16 But our ancestors were very proud and stubborn [IDM], and they did not do what you commanded them to do.
17 They refused to heed you, and they forgot about all the miracles that you had performed for them. Instead, they became stubborn [IDM], and they appointed someone to lead them back to Egypt, where they would be slaves again! But you are a God who forgives us and who is kind and merciful to us. You do not quickly become angry. You always faithfully love us.
18 So, even though their leaders made an idol that resembled a calf and insulted you by saying about the idol, ‘This is our god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ you did not desert them.
19 Because you always act mercifully, you did not abandon them when they were in the desert. The bright cloud which was like a huge pillar continued to lead them during the daytime, and the fiery cloud showed them where to walk at night.
20 You sent your good Spirit to instruct them. You continued to provide water when they were thirsty.
21 For forty years you took care of them in the desert. During all that time, they had everything that they needed. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell up even though they were continually walking.
22 You helped our ancestors to defeat armies of great kings who ruled many people-groups. By doing that, you enabled our ancestors to ◄occupy/live in► even the most distant places in this land. They occupied the land over which King Sihon ruled from Heshbon city and the land over which King Og ruled in the Bashan area.
23 You caused our ancestors' descendants to become as numerous as the stars in the sky, and you brought them into this land, the land that you told their fathers to enter and occupy.
24 Their sons went in and took the land from the people that lived there. You enabled them to defeat the descendants of Canaan who lived here in this land. You enabled them to conquer the descendants of Canaan and their kings and the people whom they ruled. You enabled our ancestors to do to those people whatever they wanted to do.
25 Our ancestors captured cities that had walls around them, and they took possession of fertile land. They took possession of houses that were full of good things, where there were wells that were already dug. They took possession of many vineyards and groves of olive trees and fruit trees. They ate all that they wanted to and became fat. They were delighted in all these good things that you gave to them.
26 But they disobeyed you and rebelled against you. They ◄turned their backs on/rejected► your laws. They killed the prophets who warned them that they should return to you. They badly insulted you.
27 So you allowed their enemies to defeat them. But when their enemies caused them to suffer, they called out to you. You heard them from heaven, and because you are very merciful, you sent them people to help them, and those leaders rescued them from their enemies.
28 But after there was a time of peace again, our ancestors again did things that displeased you. So again you allowed their enemies to conquer them. But whenever they cried out to you again to help them, you heard them from heaven, and because you act mercifully, you rescued them many times.
29 You warned them that they should again obey your laws, but they became proud and stubborn, and they disobeyed your commands. They sinned by disobeying what you commanded them to do, the things that would enable them to live a good long life if they obeyed them. They stubbornly refused [IDM] to listen to you and continued sinning.
30 You were patient with them for many years. You warned them trough the messages your Spirit gave to the prophets. But they did not ◄heed/pay attention to► those messages. So again you allowed the armies of other nations to defeat them.
31 But because you act very mercifully, you did not get rid of them completely or abandon them forever. You are a very gracious/kind and merciful God!
32 Our God, you are great! You are mighty! You are awesome! You faithfully love us as you promised in your agreement with us that you would do! But now we are experiencing great difficulties/hardships. Great troubles have come to us, to our kings, to our other leaders, to our priests, and to our prophets. We have been experiencing these troubles since the armies of the kings of Assyria conquered us, and we are still experiencing them. We ask that you sincerely think about [LIT] all these things.
33 We know that you acted justly each time that you punished us. We have sinned greatly, but you have treated us fairly.
34 Our kings and other leaders and our priests and our other ancestors did not obey your laws. They did not heed your commands or the warnings that you gave to them.
35 Even when they had their own kings, and they enjoyed the good things that you did for them in this large and fertile land that you gave to them, they did not serve you. They refused to quit doing what was evil.
36 So now we are like slaves here in this land that you gave to our ancestors, the land that you gave to them in order that they could enjoy all the good things that grow here.
37 Because we have sinned, we cannot eat the things that grow here. The kings that now rule over us are enjoying the things that grow here. They rule us and take our cattle. We have to serve them and do the things that please them. We are experiencing great misery/distress.
The people's agreement
38 However, we Israeli people now are making an agreement/promise to obey you, and we are writing this agreement/promise on a scroll. We will write on it the names of our leaders and the names of the Levites and the names of the priests, and then we will seal it.”