Bible: Ezra 9:1-10:17
A Prayer of Ezra
9:1 Now when these things had been completed, the leaders approached me and said, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the local residents 1 who practice detestable things similar to those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 9:2 Indeed, they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race 2 has become intermingled with the local residents. Worse still, the leaders and the officials have been at the forefront of all of this!”
9:3 When I heard this report, I tore my tunic and my robe and ripped out some of the hair from my head and beard. Then I sat down, quite devastated. 9:4 Everyone who held the words of the God of Israel in awe 3 gathered around me because of the unfaithful acts of the people of the exile. 4 Devastated, I continued to sit there until the evening offering.
“O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face to you, my God! For our iniquities have climbed higher than our heads, and our guilt extends to the heavens. 9:7 From the days of our fathers until this very day our guilt has been great. Because of our iniquities we, along with our kings and 7 priests, have been delivered over by the local kings 8 to sword, captivity, plunder, and embarrassment – right up to the present time.
9:8 “But now briefly 9 we have received mercy from the
9:10 “And now what are we able to say after this, our God? For we have forsaken your commandments 9:11 which you commanded us through your servants the prophets with these words: 15 ‘The land that you are entering to possess is a land defiled by the impurities of the local residents! 16 With their abominations they have filled it from one end to the other with their filthiness. 9:12 Therefore do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons, and do not take their daughters in marriage for your sons. Do not ever seek their peace or welfare, so that you may be strong and may eat the good of the land and may leave it as an inheritance for your children 17 forever.’
9:13 “Everything that has happened to us has come about because of our wicked actions and our great guilt. Even so, our God, you have exercised restraint 18 toward our iniquities and have given us a remnant such as this. 9:14 Shall we once again break your commandments and intermarry with these abominable peoples? Would you not be so angered by us that you would wipe us out, with no survivor or remnant? 9:15 O
The People Confess Their Sins
10:1 While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself to the ground before the temple of God, a very large crowd of Israelites – men, women, and children alike – gathered around him. The people wept loudly. 20 10:2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, from the descendants of Elam, 21 addressed Ezra:
“We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying 22 foreign women from the local peoples. 23 Nonetheless, there is still hope for Israel in this regard. 24 10:3 Therefore let us enact 25 a covenant with our God to send away all these women and their offspring, in keeping with your counsel, my lord, 26 and that of those who respect 27 the commandments of our God. And let it be done according to the law. 10:4 Get up, for this matter concerns you. We are with you, so be strong and act decisively!”
10:5 So Ezra got up and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take an oath to carry out this plan. 28 And they all took a solemn oath. 10:6 Then Ezra got up from in front of the temple of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he stayed 29 there, he did not eat food or drink water, for he was in mourning over the infidelity of the exiles.
10:7 A proclamation 30 was circulated 31 throughout Judah and Jerusalem 32 that all the exiles were to be assembled in Jerusalem. 10:8 Everyone who did not come within three days would thereby forfeit all his property, in keeping with the counsel of the officials and the elders. Furthermore, he himself would be excluded from the assembly of the exiles.
10:9 All the men of Judah and Benjamin were gathered in Jerusalem within the three days. (It was in the ninth month, on the twentieth day of that month.) All the people sat in the square at the temple of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the rains.
10:10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have behaved in an unfaithful manner by taking foreign wives! This has contributed to the guilt of Israel. 10:11 Now give praise to the
10:12 All the assembly replied in a loud voice: “We will do just as you have said! 34 10:13 However, the people are numerous and it is the rainy season. 35 We are unable to stand here outside. Furthermore, this business cannot be resolved in a day or two, for we have sinned greatly in this matter. 10:14 Let our leaders take steps 36 on behalf of all the assembly. Let all those in our towns who have married foreign women come at an appointed time, and with them the elders of each town and its judges, until the hot anger of our God is turned away from us in this matter.”
10:15 Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah were 37 against this, assisted by Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite. 10:16 So the exiles proceeded accordingly. Ezra the priest separated out 38 by name men who were leaders in their family groups. 39 They sat down to consider this matter on the first day of the tenth month, 10:17 and on the first day of the first month they finished considering all the men who had married foreign wives.