The People Confess Their Sins
1 On the twenty-fourth day of the seventh month, the people of Israel went without eating, and they dressed in sackcloth and threw dirt on their heads to show their sorrow. 2 They refused to let foreigners join them, as they met to confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors. 3 For three hours they stood and listened to the Law of the Lord their God, and then for the next three hours they confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord.
4 Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the special platform for the Levites and prayed aloud to the Lord their God. 5 Then the Levites Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah said:

“Stand and shout praises
to your Lord,
the eternal God!
Praise his wonderful name,
though he is greater
than words can express.”
The People Pray
6 You alone are the Lord,
Creator of the heavens
and all the stars,
Creator of the earth
and those who live on it,
Creator of the ocean
and all its creatures.
You are the source of life,
praised by the stars
that fill the heavens.
7 You are the Lord our God,
the one who chose Abram—
you brought him from Ur
in Babylonia
and named him Abraham.
8 Because he was faithful,
you made an agreement
to give his descendants
the land of the Canaanites
and Hittites,
of the Amorites and Perizzites,
and of the Jebusites
and Girgashites.
Now you have kept your promise,
just as you always do.

9 When our ancestors
were in Egypt,
you saw their suffering;
when they were at the Red Sea,
you heard their cry for help.
10 You knew that the King of Egypt
and his officials and his nation
had mistreated your people.
So you worked fearsome miracles
against the Egyptians
and earned a reputation
that still remains.
11 You divided the deep sea,
and your people walked through
on dry land.
But you tossed their enemies in,
and they sank down
like a heavy stone.
12 Each day you led your people
with a thick cloud,
and at night you showed the way
with a flaming fire.
13 At Sinai you came down
from heaven,
and you gave your people
good laws and teachings
that are fair and honest.
14 You commanded them to respect
your holy Sabbath,
and you instructed
your servant Moses
to teach them your laws.
15 When they were hungry,
you sent bread from heaven,
and when they were thirsty,
you let water flow
from a rock.
Then you commanded them
to capture the land
that you had solemnly promised.

* 16 Our stubborn ancestors
refused to obey—
they forgot about the miracles
you had worked for them,
and they were determined
to return to Egypt
and become slaves again.
17 But, our God, you are merciful
and quick to forgive;
you are loving, kind,
and very patient.
So you never turned away
from them—
18 not even when they made
an idol shaped like a calf
and insulted you by claiming,
“This is the god who rescued us
from Egypt.”

19 Because of your great mercy,
you never abandoned them
in the desert.
And you always guided them
with a cloud by day
and a fire at night.
20 Your gentle Spirit
instructed them,
and you gave them manna to eat
and water to drink.
21 You took good care of them,
and for forty years
they never lacked a thing.
Their clothes didn't wear out,
and their feet were never swollen.

22 You let them conquer kings
and take their land,
including King Sihon of Heshbon
and King Og of Bashan.
23 You brought them into the land
that you had promised
their ancestors,
and you blessed their nation
with people that outnumbered
the stars in the sky.

24 Then their descendants
conquered the land.
You helped them defeat
the kings and nations
and treat their enemies
however they wished.
25 They captured strong cities
and rich farmland;
they took furnished houses,
as well as cisterns,
vineyards, olive orchards,
and numerous fruit trees.
They ate till they were satisfied,
and they celebrated
your abundant blessings.

26 In spite of this, they rebelled
and disobeyed your laws.
They killed your prophets,
who warned them
to turn back to you,
and they cursed your name.
27 So you handed them over
to their enemies,
who treated them terribly.
But in their sufferings,
they begged you to help.
From heaven you listened
to their prayers
and because of your great mercy,
you sent leaders to rescue them.

28 But when they were at peace,
they would turn against you,
and you would hand them over
to their enemies.
Then they would beg for help,
and because you are merciful,
you rescued them
over and over again.
29 You warned them to turn back
and discover true life
by obeying your laws.
But they stubbornly refused
and continued to sin.
30 For years, you were patient,
and your Spirit warned them
with messages spoken
by your prophets.
Still they refused to listen,
and you handed them over
to their enemies.
31 But you are merciful and kind,
and so you never forgot them
or let them be destroyed.

32 Our God, you are powerful,
fearsome, and faithful,
always true to your word.
So please keep in mind
the terrible sufferings
of our people, kings, leaders,
priests, and prophets,
from the time Assyria ruled
until this very day.
33 You have always been fair
when you punished us
for our sins.

34 Our kings and leaders,
our priests and ancestors
have never obeyed your commands
or heeded your warnings.
35 You blessed them with a kingdom
and with an abundance
of rich, fertile land,
but they refused to worship you
or turn from their evil.
36 Now we are slaves
in this fruitful land
you gave to our ancestors.
37 Its plentiful harvest is taken
by kings you placed over us
because of our sins.
Our suffering is unbearable,
because they do as they wish
to us and our livestock.
The People Make an Agreement
38 And so, a firm agreement was made that had the official approval of the leaders, the Levites, and priests.