10 Now while Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there gathered to him out of Israel a very great assembly of men, women, and children; for the people wept bitterly.
2 And Shecaniah [II] son of Jehiel [one of the congregation], of the sons of Elam, said to Ezra: We have broken faith and dealt treacherously against our God and have married foreign women of the peoples of the land; yet now there is still hope for Israel in spite of this thing.
3 Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the foreign wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the command of our God; and let it be done according to the Law.
4 Arise, for it is your duty, and we are with you. Be strong and brave and do it.
5 Then Ezra arose and made the chiefs of the priests, the Levites, and all Israel swear that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath.
6 Then Ezra came from before the house of God and went into the lodging place of Jehohanan son of Eliashib [for the night]. There he ate no bread and drank no water, for he mourned over the returned exiles’ faithlessness [and violation of God’s law].
7 And proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the returned exiles, that they should assemble in Jerusalem,
8 And that whoever did not come within three days, by order of the officials and the elders, all his property should be forfeited and he himself banned from the assembly of the exiles.
9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered at Jerusalem within three days. It was the twentieth day of the ninth month, and all the people sat in the open space before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain.
10 And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, You have acted wickedly and broken faith [with God] and have married foreign (heathen) women, increasing the guilt of Israel.
11 So now make confession and give thanks to the Lord, the God of your fathers [for not consuming you], and do His will. [a]Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from [your] foreign (heathen) wives.
12 Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, As you have said, so must we do.
13 But the people are many and it is a time of heavy rain; we cannot stand outside. Nor can this work be done in a day or two, for we have greatly transgressed in this matter.
14 Let our officials stand for the whole assembly; let all in our cities who have foreign wives come by appointment, and with each group the elders of that city and its judges, until the fierce wrath of our God over this matter is turned away from us.
15 Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supported them.
16 Then the returned exiles did so. Ezra the priest and certain heads of fathers’ houses were selected, according to their fathers’ houses, each of them by name; and they sat down on the first day of the tenth month to investigate the matter.
17 And by the first day of the first month they had come to the end of the cases of the men married to foreign wives.
18 Of the sons of the priests who had married non-Jewish women were found: of the sons of Jeshua [the high priest] son of Jozadak, and his brethren: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah.
19 They solemnly vowed to put away their [heathen] wives, and, being guilty, [each] offered a ram of the flock for [his] guilt.
20 Of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah.
21 Of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah.
22 Of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.
23 Of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.
24 Of the singers: Eliashib. Of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.
25 And of Israel: of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malchijah (Hashabiah), and Benaiah.
26 Of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah.
27 Of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza.
28 Of the sons also of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.
29 Of the sons of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth.
30 Of the sons of Pahath-moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh.
31 Of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,
32 Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.
33 Of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.
34 Of the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel,
35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi (Cheluhu),
36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,
37 Mattaniah, Mattenai, Jaasu [Jaasai],
38 Bani, Binnui, Shimei,
39 Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah,
40 Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,
41 Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah,
42 Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.
43 Of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Iddo (Jaddai), Joel, and Benaiah.
44 All these had married foreign women, and some of the wives had borne children.
- Ezra 10:11 The apparently great severity which characterized Ezra’s divorce policy, as shown in chapters 9 and 10, becomes thoroughly justified when Israel’s tragic experiences because of marriages with heathen women are considered. The consequent idolatry, first of King Solomon, for example, and then of the whole nation, was fatal. God’s wrath had been so great that He not only took the kingship from Solomon, but eventually turned the Israelites over to their enemies and left the promised land desolate, while the people bewailed their fate as captives in a heathen country. Ezra, to whom the keeping of God’s law was of constant concern, had been born in captivity among exiles who hung their harps on the willow trees and grieved for the country, for the peace and prosperity which their now justly offended God had once given them. Nothing could have been more abhorrent to Ezra than that the Jews should again fall into the snare of idolatry. His action in leading the exiles to give up their foreign wives and their children was the only way out if God’s consuming wrath was not again to be incurred. That those still living of the 42,360 men who over eighty years before had made up the congregation (Ezra 2:64) also saw complete separation from the foreign women as the unavoidable solution is obvious from the fact that only four (Ezra 10:15) spoke against it. However, those who were now actually married to native heathen women were only 17 priests, 10 Levites, and 86 laymen—113 in all, according to the records, though the list may be incomplete.