8 1-5 Now, in mid-September, all the people assembled at the plaza in front of the Water Gate and requested Ezra, their religious leader, to read to them the law of God, which he had given to Moses.
So Ezra the priest brought out to them the scroll of Moses’ laws. He stood on a wooden stand made especially for the occasion so that everyone could see him as he read. He faced the square in front of the Water Gate and read from early morning until noon. Everyone stood up as he opened the scroll. And all who were old enough to understand paid close attention. To his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah. To his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash-baddenah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
6 Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people said, “Amen,” and lifted their hands toward heaven; then they bowed and worshiped the Lord with their faces toward the ground.
7-8 As Ezra read from the scroll, Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites went among the people[a] and explained the meaning of the passage that was being read. 9 All the people began sobbing when they heard the commands of the law.
Then Ezra the priest, and I as governor, and the Levites who were assisting me said to them, “Don’t cry on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God— 10 it is a time to celebrate with a hearty meal and to send presents to those in need, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. You must not be dejected and sad!”
11 And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “That’s right! Don’t weep! For this is a day of holy joy, not of sadness.”
12 So the people went away to eat a festive meal and to send presents; it was a time of great and joyful celebration because they could hear and understand God’s words.
13 The next day the clan leaders and the priests and Levites met with Ezra to go over the law in greater detail. 14 As they studied it, they noted that Jehovah had told Moses that the people of Israel should live in tents during the Festival of Tabernacles to be held that month. 15 He had said also that a proclamation should be made throughout the cities of the land, especially in Jerusalem, telling the people to go to the hills to get branches from olive, myrtle, palm, and fig trees and to make huts in which to live for the duration of the feast.
16 So the people went out and cut branches and used them to build huts on the roofs of their houses, or in their courtyards, or in the court of the Temple, or on the plaza beside the Water Gate, or at the Ephraim Gate Plaza. 17 They lived in these huts for the seven days of the feast, and everyone was filled with joy! (This procedure had not been carried out since the days of Joshua.) 18 Ezra read from the scroll on each of the seven days of the feast, and on the eighth day there was a solemn closing service as required by the laws of Moses.
- Nehemiah 8:7 the Levites went among the people, literally, “while the people remained in their places.”