The Seriousness of Marrying|
Anyone Who Does not belong to God
. . . the princes came near to me, saying, “The people of Israel, and the priests and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands . . . For they have taken of their daughters for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy offspring have mixed themselves with the peoples of the lands. Yes, the hand of the princes and rulers has been chief in this trespass.” When I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down confounded. Then were assembled to me everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of their trespass of the captivity; and I sat confounded until the evening offering.
At the evening offering I arose up from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn; and I fell on my knees, and spread out my hands to the Lord my God; and I said, “My God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, my God; for our iniquities have increased over our head, and our guiltiness has grown up to the heavens. . . .
“Now, our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments, which you have commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land, to which you go to possess it, is an unclean land through the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, through their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their filthiness. Now therefore don’t give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters to your sons. . . .’
“After all that has come on us for our evil deeds, and for our great guilt, since you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such a remnant, shall we again break your commandments, and join in affinity with the peoples that do these abominations? Wouldn’t you be angry with us until you had consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape? The Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous; for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guiltiness; for no one can stand before you because of this.”
Now while Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before God’s house, there was gathered together to him out of Israel a very great assembly of men and women and children; for the people wept very bitterly. Shecaniah . . .
answered Ezra, “We have trespassed against our God, and have married foreign women of the peoples of the land. Yet now there is hope for Israel concerning this thing. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God. Let it be done according to the law. Arise; for the matter belongs to you, and we are with you. Be courageous, and do it.”
Then Ezra arose, and made the chiefs of the priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they would do according to this word. So they swore.
Then Ezra rose up from before God’s house, and went into the room of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came there, he ate no bread, nor drank water; for he mourned because of their trespass of the captivity.
They made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together to Jerusalem; and that whoever didn’t come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the assembly of the captivity.
Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together to Jerusalem within the three days; it was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month: and all the people sat in the wide place in front of God’s house, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain. Ezra the priest stood up, and said to them, “You have trespassed, and have married foreign women, to increase the guilt of Israel. Now therefore make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his pleasure; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the foreign women.”
Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “As you have said concerning us, so must we do. . . . Let now our princes be appointed for all the assembly, and let all those who are in our cities who have married foreign women come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and its judges, until the fierce wrath of our God be turned from us, until this matter is resolved.” . . . Ezra the priest, with certain heads of fathers’ households, after their fathers’ houses, and all of them by their names, were set apart; and they sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter. They made an end with all the men who had married foreign women by the first day of the first month. [A list of all who sinned by marrying people who had not accepted God’s covenant is then provided.]
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