1 AFTERWARD, THE officials came to me and said, The Israelites and the priests and Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, but have committed the abominations of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites.
2 For they have taken as wives some of their daughters for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy offspring have mixed themselves with the peoples of the lands. Indeed, the officials and chief men have been foremost in this wicked act and direct violation [of God's will]. [Deut. 7:3, 4.]
3 When I heard this, I rent my undergarment and my mantle, I pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled.
4 Then all those who trembled at the words of the God of Israel because of the offensive violation of His will by the returned exiles gathered around me as I sat astounded until the evening sacrifice.
5 At the evening sacrifice I arose from my depression, and, having rent my undergarment and my mantle, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God,
6 Saying, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads and our guilt has mounted to the heavens.
7 Since the days of our fathers we have been exceedingly guilty; and for our willfulness we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, captivity, plundering, and utter shame, as it is today.
8 And now, for a brief moment, grace has been shown us by the Lord our God, Who has left us a remnant to escape and has given us a secure hold in His holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and give us a little reviving in our bondage.
9 For we are bondmen; yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended mercy and steadfast love to us before the kings of Persia, to give us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall [of protection] in Judah and Jerusalem.
10 Now, O our God, what can we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commands
11 Which You have commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land with the pollutions of the peoples of the lands, through their abominations which have filled it from one end to the other with their filthiness.
12 Therefore, do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons; and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it as an inheritance to your children always.
13 And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that You, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant,
14 Shall we break Your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations? Would You not be angry with us till You had consumed us, so that there would be no remnant nor any to escape? [Deut. 7:2-4.]
15 O Lord, the God of Israel, You are rigidly just and righteous, for we are left a remnant that is escaped, as it is this day. Behold, we are before You in our guilt, for none can stand before You because of this.
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