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Ezra’s Prayer About Intermarriage

9 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 separaten from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites,o Ammonites,p Moabites,q Egyptians and Amorites.r They have taken some of their daughterss as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingledt the holy raceu with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.v

When I heard this, I torew my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled.x Then everyone who trembledy at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalledz until the evening sacrifice.

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

“I am too ashamedc 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.d From the days of our ancestorse until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the swordf and captivity,g to pillage and humiliationh at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.

“But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been graciousi in leaving us a remnantj and giving us a firm placea k in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyesl and a little relief in our bondage. Though we are slaves,m our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindnessn 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,o 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 commandsp 11 you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: ‘The land you are enteringq to possess is a land pollutedr by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practicess 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 themt at any time, that you may be strongu and eat the good thingsv of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.’w

13 “What has happened to us is a result of our evilx deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deservedy and have given us a remnant like this. 14 Shall we then break your commands again and intermarryz with the peoples who commit such detestable practices? Would you not be angry enough with us to destroy us,a leaving us no remnantb or survivor? 15 Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous!c 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 standd in your presence.e


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