1 On October 31* the people returned for another observance. This time they fasted and dressed in sackcloth and sprinkled dust on their heads.1
2 Those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners as they confessed their own sins and the sins of their ancestors.
3 The Book of the Law of the LORD their God was read aloud to them for about three hours.* Then for three more hours they took turns confessing their sins and worshiping the LORD their God.2
4 Some of the Levites were standing on the stairs, crying out to the LORD their God. Their names were Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Kenani.
5 Then the leaders of the Levites--Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah--called out to the people: "Stand up and praise the LORD your God, for he lives from everlasting to everlasting!" Then they continued, "Praise his glorious name! It is far greater than we can think or say.
6 You alone are the LORD. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve and give life to everything, 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 had proved himself faithful, you made a covenant with him to give him and his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites. And you have done what you promised, for you are always true to your word.
9 "You saw the sufferings and sorrows of our ancestors in Egypt, and you heard their cries from beside the Red Sea.*3
10 You displayed miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, his servants, and all his people, for you knew how arrogantly the Egyptians were treating them. You have a glorious reputation that has never been forgotten.
11 You divided the sea for your people so they could walk through on dry land! And then you hurled their enemies into 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 on Mount Sinai and spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and instructions that were just, and laws and commands that were true.
14 You instructed them concerning the laws of your holy Sabbath. And you commanded them, through Moses your servant, to obey all your commands, laws, and instructions.
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 and take possession of the land you had sworn to give them.
16 But our ancestors were a proud and stubborn lot, and they refused to obey your commands.
17 "They refused to listen and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they rebelled and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt! But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and full of unfailing love and mercy. You did not abandon them,
18 even though they made an idol shaped like a calf and said, `This is your god who brought you out of Egypt!' They sinned and committed terrible blasphemies.
19 But in your great mercy you did not abandon them to die in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud still led them forward 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 did not wear out, and their feet did not swell!
22 "Then you helped our ancestors 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 the land of King Og of Bashan.
23 You made their descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and brought them into the land you had promised to their ancestors.