Study Guide

Ezra and Nehemiah Nehemiah Chapter 9: Sin and Sackcloth

Nehemiah Chapter 9: Sin and Sackcloth

  • 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.

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