Disdain Over Mixed Marriages
1After finishing these things the officials approached me saying, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated from the people of the lands with their detestable things, and from the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites. 2For they have taken from their daughters for themselves and their sons. So the holy seed has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands, and the hand of the officials and prefects were foremost in this sin. 3When I heard this I tore my garment and my robe, and I pulled the hair out from my head and beard, and I sat appalled. 4Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel because of the sin of the returned exiles were gathered around me and I sat appalled until the evening offering.
5At the evening offering I got up from my mourning posture and, with my garment and robe torn, I fell down on my knees and I spread out my palms to Yahweh my God 6and said, “My God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face to you, my God. For our sins have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. 7From the days of our ancestors#Or “fathers” until this day we have been in great guilt, and because of our sins we ourselves, our kings, and our priests have been handed into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to utter shame, as it is this day. 8But now for a brief moment mercy has been shown by Yahweh our God, who left behind for us a remnant, and given us security in his holy place—for our God to brighten our eyes and to give us brief relief in our bondage. 9For we are slaves and in our bondage our God did not forsake us, and he has extended to us loyal love in the presence of the kings of Persia, to give to us deliverance#Or “preservation” and to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judea and Jerusalem.
10“And now our God what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments, 11which you commanded by the hand of your servants the prophets saying, ‘The land that you are entering to possess is a land of impurity with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their detestable things which they have filled from end to end with their uncleanness. 12Therefore, do not give your daughters to their sons, and do not take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek their peace and prosperity so that forever you may be strong and eat the good of the land and may give it as an inheritance to your sons.’ 13After all that has come upon us for our evil practices and for our great guilt—you, our God, have held back less than our guilt deserved and you have given us a remainder such as this. 14Shall we again break your commandments and intermarry with the peoples who practice these detestable things? Would you not be angry with us until you destroy us with no remnant or remainder? 15Yahweh, God of Israel, you are righteous, for we have been left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.”