Reading From The Law
The people tell Ezra to bring the “Book of the Law of Moses” and read it to them. The crowd was tens of thousands, including men, women, and children (cf. Deut. 6:4-9). He did not read from Genesis through Deuteronomy, but “he read from it” (8:3, NKJV). Still, the reading lasted up to 6 hours; a very long time. Keep in mind this was a special occasion, not a regular occurrence.
As Ezra read from the Law, the attitude of the people was on display.
- Their ears were attentive (8:3)
- They stood when he opened the book (8:5)
- They said, “Amen, Amen” (8:6)
- They lifted their hands & bowed their heads (8:6)
As Ezra read from the Law, Levites assisted in teaching the people. They not only “read distinctly from the book,” but also “gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading” (8:7, 8). In other words, they made clear application of the Law.
Weeping Turned To Joy
As the people learned from the Law, they realized their past failure to keep it and began to weep. However, they were told to go feast, and provide for others to feast, because it was actually an occasion for joy – they were now on the right path.
The Feast of Tabernacles
On the next day, the heads of the families, priests, and Levites continued in their study of the Law. One section they came across was the command to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This was a two-fold celebration and memorial. First it reminded them of the wilderness wandering as they dwelt in tents for the duration of the feast. It helped them connect with their history and God’s care for them as Israel wandered in the desert. Second, it was the time of ingathering; a time to thank God for the provisions of life. They promptly obeyed as it was upon them and continued to study the Law for the duration of the feast.