Ezra’s Prayer About Intermarriage

After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate(A) from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites,(B) Ammonites,(C) Moabites,(D) Egyptians and Amorites.(E) They have taken some of their daughters(F) as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled(G) the holy race(H) with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”(I)

When I heard this, I tore(J) my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled.(K) Then everyone who trembled(L) at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled(M) until the evening sacrifice.

Then, at the evening sacrifice,(N) I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands(O) spread out to the Lord my God and prayed:

“I am too ashamed(P) and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.(Q) From the days of our ancestors(R) until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword(S) and captivity,(T) to pillage and humiliation(U) at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.

“But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious(V) in leaving us a remnant(W) and giving us a firm place[a](X) in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes(Y) and a little relief in our bondage. Though we are slaves,(Z) our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness(AA) in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins,(AB) and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.

10 “But now, our God, what can we say after this? For we have forsaken the commands(AC) 11 you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: ‘The land you are entering(AD) to possess is a land polluted(AE) by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices(AF) they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other. 12 Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them(AG) at any time, that you may be strong(AH) and eat the good things(AI) of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.’(AJ)

13 “What has happened to us is a result of our evil(AK) deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved(AL) and have given us a remnant like this. 14 Shall we then break your commands again and intermarry(AM) with the peoples who commit such detestable practices? Would you not be angry enough with us to destroy us,(AN) leaving us no remnant(AO) or survivor? 15 Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous!(AP) We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand(AQ) in your presence.(AR)

Footnotes

  1. Ezra 9:8 Or a foothold
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.

For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.

Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.

And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God,

And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.

Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.

And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.

For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.

10 And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments,

11 Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness.

12 Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.

13 And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this;

14 Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?

15 O Lord God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.

Intermarriage with Pagans

When these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not (A)separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, (B)with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have (C)taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the (D)holy seed is (E)mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this [a]trespass.” So when I heard this thing, (F)I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down (G)astonished. Then everyone who (H)trembled at the words of the God of Israel assembled to me, because of the transgression of those who had been carried away captive, and I sat astonished until the (I)evening sacrifice.

At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and (J)spread out my hands to the Lord my God. And I said: “O my God, I am too (K)ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for (L)our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has (M)grown up to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers to this day (N)we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities (O)we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the (P)sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to (Q)humiliation,[b] as it is this day. And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may (R)enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage. (S)For we were slaves. (T)Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but (U)He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us (V)a wall in Judah and Jerusalem. 10 And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commandments, 11 which You commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the (W)uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity. 12 Now therefore, (X)do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons; and (Y)never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land, and (Z)leave it as an inheritance to your children forever.’ 13 And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God (AA)have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such deliverance as this, 14 should we (AB)again break Your commandments, and (AC)join in marriage with the people committing these abominations? Would You not be (AD)angry with us until You had [c]consumed us, so that there would be no remnant or survivor? 15 O Lord God of Israel, (AE)You are righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as it is this day. (AF)Here we are before You, (AG)in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!”

Footnotes

  1. Ezra 9:2 unfaithfulness
  2. Ezra 9:7 Lit. shame of faces
  3. Ezra 9:14 destroyed
New King James Version (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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