9 1-2 On October 10[a] the people returned for another observance; this time they fasted and clothed themselves with sackcloth and sprinkled dirt in their hair. And the Israelis separated themselves from all foreigners. 3 The laws of God were read aloud to them for two or three hours, and for several more hours they took turns confessing their own sins and those of their ancestors. And everyone worshiped the Lord their God. 4 Some of the Levites were on the platform praising the Lord God with songs of joy. These men were Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani.
5 Then the Levite leaders called out to the people, “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, for he lives from everlasting to everlasting. Praise his glorious name! It is far greater than we can think or say.”
The leaders in this part of the service were Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah.
6 Then Ezra prayed, “You alone are God. You have made the skies and the heavens, the earth and the seas, and everything in them. You preserve it all; and all the angels of heaven worship you.
7 “You are the Lord God who chose Abram and brought him from Ur of the Chaldeans and renamed him Abraham. 8 When he was faithful to you, you made a contract with him to forever give him and his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites; and now you have done what you promised, for you are always true to your word.
9 “You saw the troubles and sorrows of our ancestors in Egypt, and you heard their cries from beside the Red Sea. 10 You displayed great miracles against Pharaoh and his people, for you knew how brutally the Egyptians were treating them; you have a glorious reputation because of those never-to-be-forgotten deeds. 11 You divided the sea for your people so they could go through on dry land! And then you destroyed their enemies in the depths of the sea; they sank like stones beneath the mighty waters. 12 You led our ancestors by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night so that they could find their way.
13 “You came down upon Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them good laws and true commandments, 14 including the laws about the holy Sabbath; and you commanded them, through Moses your servant, to obey them all.
15 “You gave them bread from heaven when they were hungry and water from the rock when they were thirsty. You commanded them to go in and conquer the land you had sworn to give them; 16 but our ancestors were a proud and stubborn lot, and they refused to listen to your commandments.
17 “They refused to obey and didn’t pay any attention to the miracles you did for them; instead, they rebelled and appointed a leader to take them back into slavery in Egypt! But you are a God of forgiveness, always ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and full of love and mercy; you didn’t abandon them, 18 even though they made a calf idol and proclaimed, ‘This is our God! He brought us out of Egypt!’ They sinned in so many ways, 19 but in your great mercy you didn’t abandon them to die in the wilderness! The pillar of cloud led them forward day by day, and the pillar of fire showed them the way through the night. 20 You sent your good Spirit to instruct them, and you did not stop giving them bread from heaven or water for their thirst. 21 For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing in all that time. Their clothes didn’t wear out, and their feet didn’t swell!
22 “Then you helped them conquer great kingdoms and many nations, and you placed your people in every corner of the land; they completely took over the land of King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan. 23 You caused a population explosion among the Israelis and brought them into the land you had promised to their ancestors. 24 You subdued whole nations before them—even the kings and the people of the Canaanites were powerless! 25 Your people captured fortified cities and fertile land; they took over houses full of good things, with cisterns and vineyards and olive yards and many, many fruit trees; so they ate and were full and enjoyed themselves in all your blessings.
26 “But despite all this, they were disobedient and rebelled against you. They threw away your law, killed the prophets who told them to return to you, and they did many other terrible things. 27 So you gave them to their enemies. But in their time of trouble they cried to you, and you heard them from heaven, and in great mercy you sent them saviors who delivered them from their enemies. 28 But when all was going well, your people turned to sin again, and once more you let their enemies conquer them. Yet whenever your people returned to you and cried to you for help, once more you listened from heaven, and in your wonderful mercy delivered them! 29 You punished them in order to turn them toward your laws; but even though they should have obeyed them,[b] they were proud and wouldn’t listen, and continued to sin. 30 You were patient with them for many years. You sent your prophets to warn them about their sins, but still they wouldn’t listen. So once again you allowed the heathen nations to conquer them. 31 But in your great mercy you did not destroy them completely or abandon them forever. What a gracious and merciful God you are!
32 “And now, O great and awesome God, you who keep your promises of love and kindness—do not let all the hardships we have gone through become as nothing to you. Great trouble has come upon us and upon our kings and princes and priests and prophets and ancestors from the days when the kings of Assyria first triumphed over us until now. 33 Every time you punished us you were being perfectly fair; we have sinned so greatly that you gave us only what we deserved. 34 Our kings, princes, priests, and ancestors didn’t obey your laws or listen to your warnings. 35 They did not worship you despite the wonderful things you did for them and the great goodness you showered upon them. You gave them a large, fat land, but they refused to turn from their wickedness.
36 “So now we are slaves here in the land of plenty that you gave to our ancestors! Slaves among all this abundance! 37 The lush yield of this land passes into the hands of the kings whom you have allowed to conquer us because of our sins. They have power over our bodies and our cattle, and we serve them at their pleasure and are in great misery. 38 Because of all this, we again promise to serve the Lord! And we and our princes and Levites and priests put our names to this covenant.”