Nehemiah 8: Ezra Reads the Scriptures to the People

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 126


How would your life be different if you could never hear, read, or even have a copy of the scriptures? In the days of Nehemiah, scriptures were handwritten onto scrolls, hence it would require great effort and sacrifice to obtain one. Anyone who had a complete copy was considered fortunate. The people of Nehemiah’s day had not read or heard the scriptures for several years. As you read Nehemiah 8, compare what the people felt and did when they heard the scriptures with what you feel and do when you have an opportunity to read or hear the scriptures.
Ezra reading to the people

Understanding the Scriptures

Nehemiah 8

Were attentive (v. 3)Listened carefully 
Distinctly (v. 8)Clearly 
Sense (v. 8)Meaning 
Tirshatha (v. 9)Governor 
Portions (v. 10)Some 
Grieved (v. 11)Pained 

Nehemiah 8:13–18—They Read in the Scriptures That They Should Dwell in “Booths”

men building a booth

The Jews in Ezra’s time discovered in the scriptures a commandment to “dwell in booths.” The commandment refers to the Feast of the Tabernacles, which was a sacred celebration the Lord first gave to Moses and the children of Israel (see Leviticus 23:33–44; Bible Dictionary, “feasts,” p. 673).

Studying the Scriptures

Activity A iconFind Important Words

  1. 1.

    Read Nehemiah 8:2–12 and make a list of the words you think best describe how the people felt about hearing Ezra read and explain the scriptures to them. You may want to highlight these words in your scriptures.

  2. 2.

    Choose one of the words you wrote in your list and tell about a time when you felt the same way; or, choose one of the words in the list and tell why you think the people responded the way they did when Ezra taught the scriptures.

  3. 3.

    Which words in Nehemiah 8:2–12 do you think describe what Ezra did to help the people have a great experience with the scriptures?