The leaders told Ezra that many of the people of Israel did not keep themselves pure by separating from neighboring peoples and their horrible practices, like the ones from the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Moabites, Jebusites, Ammonites, and Egyptians. Some had even married their daughters and have combined the sacred race with other peoples who are around them.
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When Ezra heard this he was appalled. Then everyone that trembled at God’s words gathered around him because of the exiles’ unfaithfulness. Ezra then prayed to the God of Israel. He talked about the sins of his people and that their guilt was great. He goes on to thank God for all he has done for the exiles, such as granting them a new life so they could rebuild the temple.
The People Disobey God
Ezra tells God that they have forsaken His commands that he gave through His servants, the prophets, when he said the land you will own is a land that is contaminated with corruption from its peoples. Their practices are detestable and they have filled the land with impurity.
God had told them not to let their daughters marry them or to let their sons marry outside the tribe. God told them not to seek friendship with the outsiders so they could have the good food of the land, as well as leave it for their children, an eternal inheritance.
Ezra Questions God
Ezra asks God what will happen because of their sins and their guilt about it. Ezra says that God has punished them less than what their sins deserved. He asks if they should continue to break His commands and intermarry with those people that commit detestable practices.
Ezra also asks God if he would be angry enough to destroy them completely, leaving no survivors. Ezra says the God of Israel is righteous because they are given this very day as a remnant. Ezra finishes his prayer by stating that the people are here before God prostrate in their guilt, because none of them could stand in God’s presence.
Ezra 9 (King James Version)
1 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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 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,
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.
9 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.