9 But then the Jewish leaders came to tell me that many of the Jewish people and even some of the priests and Levites had taken up the horrible customs of the heathen people who lived in the land—the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites. 2 The men of Israel had married girls from these heathen nations and had taken them as wives for their sons. So the holy people of God were being polluted by these mixed marriages, and the political leaders were some of the worst offenders.
3 When I heard this, I tore my clothing and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down utterly baffled. 4 Then many who feared the God of Israel because of this sin of his people came and sat with me until the time of the evening burnt offering.
5 Finally I stood before the Lord in great embarrassment; then I fell to my knees and lifted my hands to the Lord, 6 and cried out, “O my God, I am ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you, for our sins are piled higher than our heads and our guilt is as boundless as the heavens. 7 Our whole history has been one of sin; that is why we and our kings and our priests were slain by the heathen kings—we were captured, robbed, and disgraced, just as we are today. 8 But now we have been given a moment of peace, for you have permitted a few of us to return to Jerusalem from our exile. You have given us a moment of joy and new life in our slavery. 9 For we were slaves, but in your love and mercy you did not abandon us to slavery; instead, you caused the kings of Persia to be favorable to us. They have even given us their assistance in rebuilding the Temple of our God and in giving us Jerusalem as a walled city in Judah.
10 “And now, O God, what can we say after all of this? For once again we have abandoned you and broken your laws! 11 The prophets warned us that the land we would possess was totally defiled by the horrible practices of the people living there. From one end to the other it is filled with corruption. 12 You told us not to let our daughters marry their sons, and not to let our sons marry their daughters, and not to help those nations in any way. You warned us that only if we followed this rule could we become a prosperous nation and forever leave that prosperity to our children as an inheritance. 13 And now, even after our punishment in exile because of our wickedness (and we have been punished far less than we deserved), and even though you have let some of us return, 14 we have broken your commandments again and intermarried with people who do these awful things. Surely your anger will destroy us now until not even this little remnant escapes. 15 O Lord God of Israel, you are a just God; what hope can we have if you give us justice as we stand here before you in our wickedness?”