New Living Translation
Ezra’s Prayer concerning Intermarriage
9 When these things had been done, the Jewish leaders came to me and said, “Many of the people of Israel, and even some of the priests and Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the other peoples living in the land. They have taken up the detestable practices of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites. 2 For the men of Israel have married women from these people and have taken them as wives for their sons. So the holy race has become polluted by these mixed marriages. Worse yet, the leaders and officials have led the way in this outrage.”
3 When I heard this, I tore my cloak and my shirt, pulled hair from my head and beard, and sat down utterly shocked. 4 Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel came and sat with me because of this outrage committed by the returned exiles. And I sat there utterly appalled until the time of the evening sacrifice.
5 At the time of the sacrifice, I stood up from where I had sat in mourning with my clothes torn. I fell to my knees and lifted my hands to the Lord my God. 6 I prayed,
“O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7 From the days of our ancestors until now, we have been steeped in sin. That is why we and our kings and our priests have been at the mercy of the pagan kings of the land. We have been killed, captured, robbed, and disgraced, just as we are today.
8 “But now we have been given a brief moment of grace, for the Lord our God has allowed a few of us to survive as a remnant. He has given us security in this holy place. Our God has brightened our eyes and granted us some relief from our slavery. 9 For we were slaves, but in his unfailing love our God did not abandon us in our slavery. Instead, he caused the kings of Persia to treat us favorably. He revived us so we could rebuild the Temple of our God and repair its ruins. He has given us a protective wall in Judah and Jerusalem.
10 “And now, O our God, what can we say after all of this? For once again we have abandoned your commands! 11 Your servants the prophets warned us when they said, ‘The land you are entering to possess is totally defiled by the detestable practices of the people living there. From one end to the other, the land is filled with corruption. 12 Don’t let your daughters marry their sons! Don’t take their daughters as wives for your sons. Don’t ever promote the peace and prosperity of those nations. If you follow these instructions, you will be strong and will enjoy the good things the land produces, and you will leave this prosperity to your children forever.’
13 “Now we are being punished because of our wickedness and our great guilt. But we have actually been punished far less than we deserve, for you, our God, have allowed some of us to survive as a remnant. 14 But even so, we are again breaking your commands and intermarrying with people who do these detestable things. Won’t your anger be enough to destroy us, so that even this little remnant no longer survives? 15 O Lord, God of Israel, you are just. We come before you in our guilt as nothing but an escaped remnant, though in such a condition none of us can stand in your presence.”
Ezra Prays: “Look at Us . . . Guilty Before You”
9 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.”
3 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.”
9 When these things were completed, the officials came to me and said, “The people of Israel and the priests and Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, but have committed the repulsive acts of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites. 2 For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy [a]race has [b]intermingled with the peoples of the lands. Indeed, the officials and chief men have been foremost in this unfaithful act and direct violation [of God’s will].”(A) 3 When I heard this, I tore my clothing and my robe [in grief], I pulled out some of the hair from my head and my beard, and sat down appalled [at the shame of it]. 4 Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel because of the unfaithfulness of the exiles gathered to me as I sat appalled until the evening offering.
Prayer of Confession
5 At the evening offering I arose from my [time of] humiliation and penitence and having torn my clothing and my robe, I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the Lord my God, 6 and I said, “O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our wrongdoings have risen higher than our heads and our guilt has grown to the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been exceedingly guilty; and on account of our wrongdoings 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 complete shame, as it is today. 8 But now for a brief moment grace has been [shown to us] from the Lord our God, who has left us a surviving remnant and has given us a peg (secure hold) in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a little reviving in our bondage. 9 For we are slaves; yet our God has not abandoned us in our bondage, but has extended lovingkindness to us before the kings of Persia, to revive us to rebuild the house of our God, to repair the site of its ruins and to give us a wall [of protection] in Judah and Jerusalem.
10 “Now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have abandoned (turned away from) Your commandments, 11 which You have commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land which you are entering to possess is a defiled land with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, through their repulsive acts which have filled it from one end to the other along with their impurity. 12 So now do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons; and never seek their peace or their prosperity, so that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it as an inheritance to your children forever.’ 13 And after everything that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God have punished us less than our wrongdoings deserve, and have given us survivors like these, 14 shall we again break Your commandments and intermarry with the peoples who practice these repulsive acts? Would You not be angry with us to the point of total destruction, so that there would be no remnant nor survivor?(B) 15 O Lord God of Israel, You are [uncompromisingly] just (righteous), for we have been left as survivors, as it is this day. Behold, we are before You in our guilt, for no one can stand before You because of this.”
New King James Version
Intermarriage with Pagans
9 When these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not (A)separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, (B)with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2 For they have (C)taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the (D)holy seed is (E)mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this [a]trespass.” 3 So when I heard this thing, (F)I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down (G)astonished. 4 Then everyone who (H)trembled at the words of the God of Israel assembled to me, because of the transgression of those who had been carried away captive, and I sat astonished until the (I)evening sacrifice.
5 At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and (J)spread out my hands to the Lord my God. 6 And I said: “O my God, I am too (K)ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for (L)our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has (M)grown up to the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers to this day (N)we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities (O)we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the (P)sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to (Q)humiliation,[b] as it is this day. 8 And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may (R)enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage. 9 (S)For we were slaves. (T)Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but (U)He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us (V)a wall in Judah and Jerusalem. 10 And now, O 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 which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the (W)uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity. 12 Now therefore, (X)do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons; and (Y)never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land, and (Z)leave it as an inheritance to your children forever.’ 13 And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God (AA)have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such deliverance as this, 14 should we (AB)again break Your commandments, and (AC)join in marriage with the people committing these abominations? Would You not be (AD)angry with us until You had [c]consumed us, so that there would be no remnant or survivor? 15 O Lord God of Israel, (AE)You are righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as it is this day. (AF)Here we are before You, (AG)in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!”