Nehemiah 9
Contemporary English Version

The People Confess Their Sins

1On 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. 2They refused to let foreigners join them, as they met to confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors. 3For 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.

4Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the special platform for the Levites and prayed aloud to the Lord their God. 5Then 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

6You 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.

14You 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.

20Your gentle Spirit

instructed them,+

and you gave them manna+ to eat

and water to drink.

21You 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.

27So 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.

31But 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.

33You have always been fair

when you punished us

for our sins.

34Our kings and leaders,

our priests and ancestors

have never obeyed your commands

or heeded your warnings.

35You blessed them with a kingdom

and with an abundance

of rich, fertile land,

but they refused to worship you

or turn from their evil.

36Now we are slaves

in this fruitful land

you gave to our ancestors.

37Its 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

38And so, a firm agreement was made that had the official approval of the leaders, the Levites, and priests.


9.1 seventh month: Hebrew “same month.”
9.5 shout … God: Or “shout eternal praises to the Lord your God.”
9.9 Red Sea: Hebrew yam suph, “Sea of Reeds,” one of the marshes of fresh water lakes near the eastern part of the Nile Delta. This identification is based on Exodus 13.17—14.9, which lists the towns on the route of the Israelites before crossing the sea. In the Greek translation of the Scriptures made about 200 b.c., the “Sea of Reeds” was named “Red Sea.”
9.20 Your gentle Spirit instructed them: Or “You gently instructed them.”
9.20 manna: This was something like a thin wafer (see Exodus 16.1-36).
9.22 Bashan: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 22.
9.25 cisterns: Pits dug into the ground to hold water.
9.30 your Spirit: Or “you.”

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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