The Bible – Old Testament
While Ezra prayed and acknowledged their guilt, weeping and prostrate before the house of God, a very large assembly of Israelites gathered about him, men, women, and children; and the people wept profusely.
Then Shecaniah, the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, made this appeal to Ezra: “We have indeed betrayed our God by taking as wives foreign women of the peoples of the land. Yet even now there remains a hope for Israel.
Let us therefore enter into a covenant before our God to dismiss all our foreign wives and the children born of them, in keeping with what you, my lord, advise, and those who fear the commandments of our God. Let the law be observed!
Rise, then, for this is your duty! We will stand by you, so have courage and take action!”
Ezra rose to his feet and demanded an oath from the chiefs of the priests, from the Levites and from all Israel that they would do as had been proposed; and they swore it.
1 Then Ezra retired from his place before the house of God and entered the chamber of Johanan, son of Eliashib, where he spent the night neither eating food nor drinking water, for he was in mourning over the betrayal by the exiles.
A proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem that all the exiles should gather together in Jerusalem,
and that whoever failed to appear within three days would, according to the judgment of the leaders and elders, suffer the confiscation of all his possessions, and himself be excluded from the assembly of the exiles.
2 All the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered together in Jerusalem within the three-day period: it was in the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month. All the people, standing in the open place before the house of God, were trembling both over the matter at hand and because it was raining.
Then Ezra, the priest, stood up and said to them: “Your unfaithfulness in taking foreign women as wives has added to Israel’s guilt.
But now, give praise to the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do his will: separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from these foreign women.”
In answer, the whole assembly cried out with a loud voice: “Yes, it is our duty to do as you say!
But the people are numerous and it is the rainy season, so that we cannot remain out-of-doors; besides, this is not a task that can be performed in a single day or even two, for those of us who have sinned in this regard are many.
Let our leaders represent the whole assembly; then let all those in our cities who have taken foreign women for wives appear at appointed times, accompanied by the elders and magistrates of each city in question, till we have turned away from us our God’s burning anger over this affair.”
Only Jonathan, son of Asahel, and Jahzeiah, son of Tikvah, were against this proposal, with Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supporting them.
3 The exiles did as agreed. Ezra appointed as his assistants men who were family heads, one for each family, all of them designated by name. They held sessions to examine the matter, beginning with the first day of the tenth month.
By the first day of the first month they had passed judgment on all the men who had taken foreign women for wives.
Among the priests, the following were found to have taken foreign women for wives: Of the sons of Jeshua, son of Jozadak, and his brethren: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah.
They pledged themselves to dismiss their wives, and as a guilt-offering for their guilt they gave a ram from the flock.
Of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah;
of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah;
of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.
Of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (also called Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah and Eliezer.
Of the singers: Eliashib and Zakkur; of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.
Among the other Israelites: Of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malchijah, and Benaiah;
of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah;
of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza;
of the sons of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai;
of the sons of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth;
of the sons of Pahath-moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh;
of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,
Benjamin, Malluch, Shemariah;
of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, Shimei;
of the sons of Begui: Maadai, Amram, Uel,
Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi,
Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,
Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasu;
of the sons of Binnui: Shimei,
Shelemiah, Nathan, and Adaiah;
of the sons of Zachai: Shashai, Sharai,
Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah,
Shallum, Amariah, Joseph;
of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, Benaiah.
4 All these had taken foreign wives; but they sent them away, both the women and their children.
1  Johanan, son of Eliashib: actually, the grandson of Eliashib; the father of Johanan was Eliashib’s son Joiada (⇒ Nehemiah 12:10-11, ⇒ 22). Since Eliashib was high priest at the time of Nehemiah (⇒ Nehemiah 3:1, ⇒ 20-21; ⇒ 13:4, 7) and Johanan, if not yet high priest, was at least old enough to have his own separate quarters (chamber) in the temple at the time of Ezra, it is practically certain that Nehemiah’s activity in Jerusalem must have preceded that of Ezra.
2  Ninth month: Chislev (November-December), during the “early rains” in Palestine. Since the assembly took place in the open . . . all the people . . . were trembling . . . because it was raining.
3 [16-17] The work of the committee lasted three months, from the first day of the tenth month, Tebet (December-January), to the first day of the first month, Nisan (March-April), of the following Jewish year.
4  The account of the problem of mixed marriages at the time of Ezra is continued in ⇒ Nehemiah 9:1-5; this may be read immediately after ⇒ Ezra 10:44 though the date given in ⇒ Nehemiah 9:1 fits more precisely after ⇒ Ezra 10:15; cf ⇒ Haggai 2:10-14.