Last week, we finished chapter eight, where they had just finished celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles. This was a time of spiritual renewal, and they were still experiencing that spiritual high right after the Feast. It was a monumental time for all the people there—the wall had just been completed, Ezra was back in town (as was Nehemiah), and everyone was still hungering and thirsting for spiritual nourishment.
As we begin chapter nine, we are still in the seventh month, and their spiritual craving for God has intensified. After the Feast of Tabernacles, there were many tears of joy among the people, but there were also remorseful cries because of the past sins they were now more aware of—both personal and national. But Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites exhorted them to be joyful:
[…]This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. Nehemiah said,Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.