“The other company of those who gave thanks went to the left. I followed them with half of the people, upon the wall. We walked to the Tower of the Ovens, to the Broad Wall, and above the Gate of Ephraim, and by the Old Gate. We walked by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate. They came to a halt at the Gate of the Guard. So both companies of those who gave thanks stood in the house of God. I and half of the officials were with me. The priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah were with trumpets. Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer were there also. The singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. They offered great sacrifices that day. They rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.”
Nehemiah led the other group on the wall going around the west and north side of the wall. They passed by the Tower of Ovens, the Broad Wall, the Gate of Ephraim, the Old Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred. Finally they came to the Sheep Gate and the Gate of the Guard. There they met at the house of God with the first group. Nehemiah’s group met Ezra’s first group at the Temple. Nehemiah’s priests had trumpets. These singers were led by Jezrahiah, who is only mentioned here and nowhere else. They offered great sacrifices, without being specific how much and what kind. They also rejoiced with all their families including women and children. They made such a noise that they could be heard far away.
“On the second day, the heads of the ancestral houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together with the scribe Ezra in order to study the words of the law. They found it written in the law that Yahweh had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should live in booths during the feast of the seventh month. They should publish and proclaim in all their towns and in Jerusalem as follows. ‘Go out to the hills! Bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.’ So the people went out and brought them. They made booths for themselves, each on the roofs of their houses. They made booths in their courts, in the courts of the house of God, in the square at the Water Gate, and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. All the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths. From the days of Jeshua son of Nun to that day, the people of Israel had not done so. There was very great rejoicing. Day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the book of the law of God. They kept the festival seven days. On the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the ordinance.”
Ezra the scholar wanted everyone to study the Law of Yahweh. The heads of the ancestral families, as well as the priests and Levites gathered around him. They found a passage in the Law of Yahweh as commanded by Moses about the feast of Tabernacles, booths, or tents. This could be based on Leviticus, chapter 23, Exodus, chapter 23, Numbers, chapter 29, and Deuteronomy, chapter 16, where there is a fall festival of ingathering, or the festival of booths, with a lot of sacrifices like a harvest festival. Usually, it followed the Yom Kippur or reparation day. Although there is nothing specific about the olive branches in Leviticus or the other books, it would be easy to make tents out of them. The original purpose of this feast day was to remember the time that they had lived in tents in the desert on the way from Egypt, but there is no mention of that here. Here they put the tents on top of houses, and in the court yards. Today, some Jews observe this feast with tents in their backyards. It could be an individual family or a communal tent gathering. During the 7 days of this festival they read from the book of the Law of God. Then on the 8th day, they had a solemn assembly. The reference to Jeshua son of Nun is probably Joshua son of Nun, which means that this festival of booths had fallen out of favor with the Jewish people.