1On the twenty-fourth day of this month the Israelites, in sackcloth and with dust on their heads,assembled for a fast. 2Then those of Israelite stock who had severed relations with al foreigners stood up and confessed theirsins and the iniquities of their ancestors. 3Standing, each man in his place, they read from the Book of the Law of Yahweh their God for onequarter of the day; for another quarter they confessed their sins and worshipped Yahweh their God. 4On the Levites' platform stood Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani andChenani, cal ing to Yahweh their God in ringing tones. 5The Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah said,'Stand up and bless Yahweh your God! 'Blessed are you, Yahweh our God from everlasting to everlasting, andblessed be your glorious name, surpassing al blessing and praise! 6'You, Yahweh, are the one, only Yahweh, you have created the heavens, the heaven of heavens andal their array, the earth and al it bears, the seas and all they hold. To al of them you give life, and the array ofheaven worships you. 7'You are Yahweh God, who chose Abram, brought him out of Ur in Chaldaea and changed his name toAbraham. 8Finding his heart was faithful to you, you made a covenant with him, to give the country of theCanaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites and the Girgashites to him and hisdescendants. And you have made good your promises, for you are upright. 9'You saw the distress of our ancestors in Egypt, you heard their cry by the Sea of Reeds. 10You displayed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against al his servants and al the people of hisland; for you knew how arrogantly they treated them. You won a reputation which you keep to this day. 11You opened up the sea in front of them: they walked on dry ground right through the sea. Into thedepths you hurled their pursuers like a stone into the raging waters. 12With a pillar of cloud you led them by day, with a pil ar of fire by night: to light the way ahead of themby which they were to go. 13You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven; you gave them right rules, reliablelaws, good statutes and commandments; 14you revealed your holy Sabbath to them; you laid down commandments, statutes and law for themthrough your servant Moses. 15For their hunger you gave them bread from heaven, for their thirst you brought them water out of arock, and you told them to go in and take possession of the country which you had sworn to give them. 16'But they and our ancestors acted arrogantly, grew obstinate and flouted your commands. 17They refused to obey, forgetful of the wonders which you had worked for them; they grew obstinateand made up their minds to return to their slavery in Egypt. But because you are a forgiving God, gracious andcompassionate, patient and rich in faithful love, you did not abandon them! 18'Even when they cast themselves a calf out of molten metal and said, "This is your God who brought you up from Egypt!" and committed monstrous impieties, 19you, in your great compassion, did not abandon them in the desert: the pillar of cloud did not leavethem, leading them on their path by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, lighting the way ahead of them by whichthey were to go. 20You gave them your good spirit to instruct them, you did not withhold your manna from their mouths,you gave them water for their thirst. 21For forty years you cared for them in the desert, so that they went short of nothing, their clothes didnot wear out, nor were their feet swol en. 22'You gave them kingdoms and peoples, al otting them these as frontier lands; they occupied thecountry of Sihon king of Heshbon, and the country of Og king of Bashan. 23You gave them as many children as there are stars in the sky, and brought them into the countrywhich you had promised their ancestors that they would enter and possess.24The children entered and took possession of the country and before them you subdued the country'sinhabitants, the Canaanites, whom you put at their mercy, with their kings and the peoples of the country, forthem to treat as they pleased; 25they captured fortified towns and a fertile countryside, they took possession of houses stocked with alkinds of goods, of storage-wel s ready-hewn, of vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees in profusion; so they ate,were ful , grew fat and revelled in your great goodness. 26'But they grew disobedient, rebelled against you and thrust your law behind their backs; theyslaughtered your prophets who had reproved them to bring them back to you, and committed monstrousimpieties. 27So you put them at the mercy of their enemies who oppressed them. But when they were beingoppressed and cal ed to you, you heard them from heaven and because of your great compassion you gavethem deliverers who rescued them from their oppressors' clutches. 28But once at peace again, again they did what was wrong before you; so you put them at the mercy oftheir enemies who then became their rulers. When they cal ed to you again, you heard them from heaven and,because of your compassion, rescued them many times. 29You warned them, to bring them back to your law, but they became arrogant, did not obey yourcommandments and sinned against your rules, in whose observance is life; they turned a stubborn shoulder,were obstinate, and disobeyed. 30You were patient with them for many years and warned them by your spirit through your prophets, butthey would not listen; so you put them at the mercy of the people of the country. 31But, because of your great compassion, you did not destroy them completely nor abandon them, foryou are a gracious, compassionate God. 32Now, our God -- the great God, the Mighty and Awe-inspiring One, maintaining the covenant and yourfaithful love- count as no small thing this misery which has befal en us, our kings, our princes, our priests, ourprophets, and al your people from the times of the Assyrian kings to the present day. 33You have been upright in al that has happened to us, for you acted faithful y, while we did wrong. 34Our kings, our princes, our priests and our ancestors did not keep your law or pay attention to yourcommandments and obligations which you imposed upon them. 35Even in their own kingdom, despite your great goodness which you bestowed on them, despite thewide and fertile country which you had lavished on them, they did not serve you or renounce their evil deeds. 36See, we are slaves today, slaves in the country which you gave to our ancestors for them to eat thegood things it produces. 37Its abundant produce goes to the kings whom, for our sins, you have set over us, who rule over ourpersons and over our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.'
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