v 12 So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.
This was a momentous day for the people. It was a massive assembly, and a long one too as Ezra, assisted by the Levites, read and explained the Law of God and how it applied to their lives. (v 3). The initial sadness and weeping by the people arose as they understood just how far they had fallen short in keeping the Law. It could have been such a bleak day, with thoughts of failure, judgement, and a feeling of God’s anger directed against them on account of their sin. Ezra and Nehemiah however encouraged the people to see it as an occasion to celebrate. At long last they could read and understand God’s law. The grief of failure was turned to joy as they set out on a new pathway of following and obeying God.
Today, we take Bible Reading as a matter of course; having it in our own language and so easily available should be a cause for celebration!