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Ezra 9Good News Translation (GNT)

Ezra Learns of Intermarriages with Non-Jews

After all this had been done, some of the leaders of the people of Israel came and told me that the people, the priests, and the Levites had not kept themselves separate from the people in the neighboring countries of Ammon, Moab, and Egypt or from the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Amorites. They were doing the same disgusting things which these people did. Jewish men were marrying foreign women, and so God's holy people had become contaminated. The leaders and officials were the chief offenders. When I heard this, I tore my clothes in despair, tore my hair and my beard, and sat down crushed with grief. I sat there grieving until the time for the evening sacrifice to be offered, and people began to gather around me—all those who were frightened because of what the God of Israel had said about the sins of those who had returned from exile.

When the time came for the evening sacrifice, I got up from where I had been grieving, and still wearing my torn clothes, I knelt in prayer and stretched out my hands to the Lord my God. I said, “O God, I am too ashamed to raise my head in your presence. Our sins pile up higher than our heads; they reach as high as the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, we, your people, have sinned greatly. Because of our sins we, our kings, and our priests have fallen into the hands of foreign kings, and we have been slaughtered, robbed, and carried away as prisoners. We have been totally disgraced, as we still are today. Now for a short time, O Lord our God, you have been gracious to us and have let some of us escape from slavery and live in safety in this holy place. You have let us escape from slavery and have given us new life. We were slaves, but you did not leave us in slavery. You made the emperors of Persia favor us and permit us to go on living and to rebuild your Temple, which was in ruins, and to find safety here in Judah and Jerusalem.

10 “But now, O God, what can we say after all that has happened? We have again disobeyed the commands 11 that you gave us through your servants, the prophets. They told us that the land we were going to occupy was an impure land because the people who lived in it filled it from one end to the other with disgusting, filthy actions. 12 They told us that we were never to intermarry with those people and never to help them prosper or succeed if we wanted to enjoy the land and pass it on to our descendants forever. 13 Even after everything that has happened to us in punishment for our sins and wrongs, we know that you, our God, have punished us less than we deserve and have allowed us to survive. 14 Then how can we ignore your commandments again and intermarry with these wicked people? If we do, you will be so angry that you will destroy us completely and let no one survive. 15 Lord God of Israel, you are just, but you have let us survive. We confess our guilt to you; we have no right to come into your presence.”

Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Ezra 9New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Denunciation of Mixed Marriages

After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons. Thus the holy seed has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands, and in this faithlessness the officials and leaders have led the way.” When I heard this, I tore my garment and my mantle, and pulled hair from my head and beard, and sat appalled. Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered around me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice.

Ezra’s Prayer

At the evening sacrifice I got up from my fasting, with my garments and my mantle torn, and fell on my knees, spread out my hands to the Lord my God, and said,

“O my God, I am too ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors to this day we have been deep in guilt, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been handed over to the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as is now the case. But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the Lord our God, who has left us a remnant, and given us a stake in his holy place, in order that he[a] may brighten our eyes and grant us a little sustenance in our slavery. For we are slaves; yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to give us new life 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, 11 which you commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you are entering to possess is a land unclean with the pollutions of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations. They have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness. 12 Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, so that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’ 13 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 as this, 14 shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations? Would you not be angry with us until you destroy us without remnant or survivor? 15 O Lord, God of Israel, you are just, but we have escaped as a remnant, as is now the case. Here we are before you in our guilt, though no one can face you because of this.”

Footnotes:

  1. Ezra 9:8 Heb our God
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Ezra 9Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

After these things had been done, the leaders approached me and said, “The people of Isra’el, the cohanim and the L’vi’im have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands and their disgusting practices — the Kena‘ani, Hitti, P’rizi, Y’vusi, ‘Amoni, Mo’avi, Egyptians and Emori. They have taken some of the women from these nations as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed has assimilated to the peoples of the lands; moreover, the officials and leaders have been the main offenders in this treachery.” When I heard this, I tore my robe and tunic, pulled hair from my head and beard, and sat down in shock. All who trembled at the words of the God of Isra’el assembled around me when confronted with the treachery of these exiles; and I sat there in shock until the evening offering.

At the evening offering, with my cloak and tunic torn, I got up from afflicting myself, fell on my knees, spread out my hands to Adonai my God, and said, “My God, I am ashamed. I blush to lift my face to you, my God! For our sins tower over our heads; our guilt reaches up to heaven. Since the times of our ancestors, we have been deeply guilty; and because of our sins, we, our kings and our cohanim have been handed over to the kings of the lands, to the sword, to exile, to pillage and to disgrace, as is the case today. Now, for a brief moment, Adonai our God has shown us the favor of allowing a remnant to escape and giving us a secure foothold in his holy place, in order for God to make things look brighter to us and revive us a little in our slavery. For we are slaves. Yet our God has not abandoned us in our slavery, but has caused the kings of Persia to extend grace to us, reviving us, so that we can rebuild the house of our God, repair its ruins, and have a wall of defense in Y’hudah and Yerushalayim.

10 “But now, our God, what are we to say after this? For we have abandoned your mitzvot, 11 which you gave us through your servants the prophets when they said, ‘The land which you are going to in order to take possession of it is a land defiled by the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, because of their disgusting practices, which have filled it with their filth from one end to the other. 12 Therefore, you are not to give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons; and you are not to promote their peace or prosperity ever. Only in this way will you grow strong, enjoy the good things of the land and leave it as a lasting inheritance to your children.’ 13 Now, after all that has come upon us because of our evil deeds and our deep guilt — and even so, you, our God, have punished us less than our sins deserve and have given us a surviving remnant — 14 are we to break your mitzvot again by making marriages with the peoples who have these disgusting practices? Won’t you become so angry with us that you would destroy us completely, so that there would be no surviving remnant and no one who escapes? 15 Adonai, God of Isra’el! You are just; yet we have been left a surviving remnant that has escaped, as is the case today. Look, we are before you in our guilt; because of it, no one can stand in your presence.”

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Ezra 9The Message (MSG)

Ezra Prays: “Look at Us . . . Guilty Before You”

1-2 After all this was done, the leaders came to me and said, “The People of Israel, priests and Levites included, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring people around here with all their vulgar obscenities—Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, Amorites. They have given some of their daughters in marriage to them and have taken some of their daughters for marriage to their sons. The holy seed is now all mixed in with these other peoples. And our leaders have led the way in this betrayal.”

When I heard all this, I ripped my clothes and my cape; I pulled hair from my head and out of my beard; I slumped to the ground, appalled.

4-6 Many were in fear and trembling because of what God was saying about the betrayal by the exiles. They gathered around me as I sat there in despair, waiting for the evening sacrifice. At the evening sacrifice I picked myself up from my utter devastation, and in my ripped clothes and cape fell to my knees and stretched out my hands to God, my God. And I prayed:

6-7 “My dear God, I’m so totally ashamed, I can’t bear to face you. O my God—our iniquities are piled up so high that we can’t see out; our guilt touches the skies. We’ve been stuck in a muck of guilt since the time of our ancestors until right now; we and our kings and priests, because of our sins, have been turned over to foreign kings, to killing, to captivity, to looting, and to public shame—just as you see us now.

8-9 “Now for a brief time God, our God, has allowed us, this battered band, to get a firm foothold in his holy place so that our God may brighten our eyes and lighten our burdens as we serve out this hard sentence. We were slaves; yet even as slaves, our God didn’t abandon us. He has put us in the good graces of the kings of Persia and given us the heart to build The Temple of our God, restore its ruins, and construct a defensive wall in Judah and Jerusalem.

10-12 “And now, our God, after all this what can we say for ourselves? For we have thrown your commands to the wind, the commands you gave us through your servants the prophets. They told us, ‘The land you’re taking over is a polluted land, polluted with the obscene vulgarities of the people who live there; they’ve filled it with their moral rot from one end to the other. Whatever you do, don’t give your daughters in marriage to their sons nor marry your sons to their daughters. Don’t cultivate their good opinion; don’t make over them and get them to like you so you can make a lot of money and build up a tidy estate to hand down to your children.’

13-15 “And now this, on top of all we’ve already suffered because of our evil ways and accumulated guilt, even though you, dear God, punished us far less than we deserved and even went ahead and gave us this present escape. Yet here we are, at it again, breaking your commandments by intermarrying with the people who practice all these obscenities! Are you angry to the point of wiping us out completely, without even a few stragglers, with no way out at all? You are the righteous God of Israel. We are, right now, a small band of escapees. Look at us, openly standing here, guilty before you. No one can last long like this.”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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