Verses 1-5 – Ezra gathered the people, the Bible says, who had understanding. It’s understandable that many couldn’t read, in those times, but in today’s age, there is no excuse for not being able to read. People hear the scripture quoted so often today, often wrongly, that people have become dull to its words and immune to its teaching–understanding.
Verse 6 – When the Word of God was read, the people showed reverence by standing, lifting hands, and kneeling in humility.
Verse 9, 10 – Ezra, not Nehemiah, was the official religious leader. Nehemiah was a layman not a prophet. Nehemiah was motivated by his relationship with God, and he devoted his life to doing God’s will. No matter what your work or role is in life, view it as God’s special calling to serve Him. The people wept openly when they realized how far from God they had become. But Ezra told them not grieve because the day was holy. It was time to celebrate and give gifts to the needy. Ezra connected celebrating with giving. This gave those in need a reason to celebrate also.
Verses 14-17 – During the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles or Festival of Booths, the people lived in booths made of branches. This practice was to remind them of their rescue from Egypt and the time spent in shelters in the desert (Leviticus 23:43). This was a time to remember where they came from and the protection and guidance God gave them. We need to do this too. Think back to the time when you started following the Lord and look how far He has brought you. Think of all the times He has guided, protected and provided for you.