On the twenty-fourth day of the month, the people are fasting, wearing sackcloth, and putting dirt on their heads—the whole atonement thing.
The Israelites separate themselves from the other people living there and confess their sins and disobedience.
They read from the Law for a quarter of the day, then confess and worship God for the next quarter.
Some of the Levites cry out to God and tell the people to stand up and bless and praise God.
Following that, they send out for falafel.
Next, Ezra stands up and confesses the people's sins to God. He praises God as the creator of the world, and the God of Abraham.
Then Ezra recites the whole history of Israel up until his own time. He begins with the Exodus and the miracles God performed against Pharaoh.
He tells it all: God destroying Pharaoh's army, God leading the people as a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud, giving Moses the Law on Mount Sinai, and providing bread from heaven and water from the rock for the people in the wilderness.
Even with all that, the people were disobedient, building the golden calf while Moses was hard at work up on Mt. Sinai.
But God was forgiving and continued to sustain them in the wilderness anyway.
Then God let the people conquer Canaan and become a populous nation.
Still, they were disobedient, killing prophets and committing blasphemies.
So God let the people fall into the hands of their enemies, though he's still merciful to them in many small and individual ways. He also instructs them through the prophets.
But they still failed to be obedient and were stubborn—what is it with these people?—so God permitted them to be sent into exile.
But he never totally forgot about them.
Though God has been merciful to them in letting them return, they're still slaves, says Ezra, ruled by foreign kings.
They all make a covenant agreeing to be obedient this time, signed with the names of the officials, priests, and Levites.