In Nehemiah chapter 8, Ezra the priest is summoned to read the Book of the Law of God at the Water Gate (possibly an entry into the Gihon Spring – the main water source outside the city wall), for which this passage has become known as the Watergate Revival. It was read from early morning to mid-day, with the people gathered around in reverence; and the Levites went around explaining as needed (as was their job – see Deuteronomy 33:8-10), so that it was “clearly” understood (verses 7-8). It was a very special and emotional occasion, and likely the first time it had been read – particularly in its entirety – to most of them. In hearing the Law, the people would hear an account of the sins that had led to captivity. And the completion of the wall, while striking fear in the hearts of others (Nehemiah 6:16), was an awesome event for them. Ezra and Nehemiah, therefore, tell the people not to weep, but to rejoice – as this day was holy to the Lord (verses 9-10).
As this was the seventh month, it was the perfect time to re-institute the Feast of Tabernacles – or “Feast of Booths” (Leviticus 23:34 and Leviticus 23:39-43), and so they gathered the commanded material and built themselves the booths (or temporary shelters) that they lived in for the entire time of the feast observance – and heard from the Law of God daily.
How blessed we are to have God’s word available to us so readily, and in so many forms!
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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