11 Nov. Nehemiah 8:1-12

11 Nov. The Israelites renew their covenant with God

“All the people of Israel gathered together in the square by the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the teacher to bring out the Book of the Teachings of Moses, which the LORD had given to Israel. So on the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought out the Teachings for the crowd. Men, women and all who could listen and understand had gathered.”

“At the square by the Water Gate Ezra read the teachings out loud from early morning until noon to the men, women and everyone who could listen and understand. All the people listened carefully to the Book of the Teachings.”

“Ezra the teacher stood on a high wooden platform that had been built just for this time. On his right were Mattithiah, Shema, Anaih, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah. And on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.”

“Ezra opened the book in full view of everyone, because he was above them. As he opened it, all the people stood up. Ezra praised the LORD, the great God, and all the people held up their hands and said, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.”

“These Levites explained the Teachings to the people as they stood there: Jeshua, Bani… and Pelaiah. They read from the Book of the Teachings of God and explained what it meant so the people understood what was being read.”

“Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher, and the Levites who were teaching said to all the people, ‘This is a holy day to the LORD your God. Don’t be sad or cry.’ All the people had been crying as they listened to the words of the Teachings.”

“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy good food and sweet drinks. Send some to people who have none, because today is a holy day to the LORD. Don’t be sad, because the joy of the LORD will make you strong.’”

“The Levites helped calm the people, saying, ‘Be quiet, because this is a holy day. Don’t be sad.’ Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send some of their food to others and to celebrate with great joy. They finally understood what they had been taught.”

          (Nehemiah 8:1-12)

 

 

After the walls of Jerusalem had been rebuilt in 445BC, Ezra the priest (who had arrived in Jerusalem with the third group of exiles in 458BC – see Ezra 7:8) called the people together in the square by the Water Gate. Standing beside Nehemiah, the governor, he read the Book of the Law of Moses (the ‘Torah’ or ‘Teachings’), explained its meaning and described the religious practices required of the returned exiles.

The people were deeply moved, intent on following the LORD, and resolved to keep the Jewish religious Law. They collected branches from the surrounding hill country and erected ‘booths’ (small shelters where they could sleep outdoors overnight) to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in October 445BC (see Nehemiah 8:13-18).

This feast had been initiated to remember how the Israelites had camped in temporary shelters after the LORD had brought them out of slavery in Egypt almost exactly a thousand years earlier (see Leviticus 23:33-43).

After the joyful festival celebrations ended, the people came together again to confess their sins and the wrongdoings of their forefathers. They renewed their covenant with the LORD and promised to follow him faithfully (see Nehemiah 9:1-10:39).

The photo (by Alaexis) shows Torah scrolls stored at the Ashkenazi Synagogue in Istanbul.

You can see a photo of an open Torah scroll @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/35-the-exiles-return-to-judah/the-people-renew-their-covenant-with-god/


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