Response to the Crisis. 1While Ezra prayed and acknowledged their guilt, weeping and prostrate before the house of God, a very large assembly of Israelites gathered about him, men, women, and children; and the people wept profusely. 2Then Shecaniah, the son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, made this appeal to Ezra: “We have indeed betrayed our God by taking as wives foreign women of the peoples of the land. Yet in spite of this there still remains a hope for Israel. 3Let us therefore enter into a covenant before our God to dismiss all our foreign wives and the children born of them, in keeping with what you, my lord, advise, and those who are in dread of the commandments of our God. Let it be done according to the law! 4Rise, then, for this is your duty! We are with you, so have courage and act!”
5Ezra stood and demanded an oath from the leaders of the priests, from the Levites and from all Israel that they would do as had been proposed; and they swore it. 6Then Ezra left his place before the house of God and entered the chamber of Johanan, son of Eliashib,* where he spent the night neither eating food nor drinking water, for he was in mourning over the apostasy of the exiles. 7A proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem that all the exiles should gather together in Jerusalem, 8and that whoever failed to appear within three days would, according to the judgment of the leaders and elders, suffer the confiscation of all his possessions, and would be excluded from the assembly of the exiles.
9All the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered together in Jerusalem within the three-day period: it was in the ninth month,* on the twentieth day of the month. All the people, sitting in the open place before the house of God, were trembling both over the matter at hand and because it was raining. 10a Then Ezra, the priest, stood up and said to them: “Your apostasy in taking foreign women as wives has added to Israel’s guilt. 11But now, give praise to the LORD, the God of your ancestors, and do his will: separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign women.” 12In answer, the whole assembly cried out with a loud voice: “Yes, it is our duty to do as you say! 13But the people are numerous and it is the rainy season, so that we cannot remain outside; besides, this is not a task that can be performed in a single day or even two, for those of us who have sinned in this regard are many. 14Let our leaders represent the whole assembly; then let all those in our cities who have taken foreign women for wives appear at appointed times, accompanied by the elders and magistrates of each city in question, till we have turned away from us our God’s burning anger over this affair.” 15Only Jonathan, son of Asahel, and Jahzeiah, son of Tikvah, were against this proposal, with Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supporting them.
16* The exiles did as agreed. Ezra the priest appointed as his assistants men who were heads of ancestral houses, one for each ancestral house, all of them designated by name. They held sessions to examine the matter, beginning with the first day of the tenth month. 17By the first day of the first month they had finished dealing with all the men who had taken foreign women for wives.
The List of Transgressors. 18Among the priests, the following were found to have taken foreign women for wives: Of the descendants of Jeshua, son of Jozadak, and his kinsmen: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah. 19They pledged themselves to dismiss their wives, and as a guilt offering for their guilt they gave a ram from the flock. 20Of the descendants of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah; 21of the descendants of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah; 22of the descendants of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.
23b Of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (also called Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.
24Of the singers: Eliashib; of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.
25Of the people of Israel: Of the descendants of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malchijah, and Benaiah; 26of the descendants of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah; 27of the descendants of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza; 28of the descendants of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai; 29of the descendants of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth; 30of the descendants of Pahath-moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh; 31of the descendants of Harim: Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, 32Benjamin, Malluch, Shemariah; 33of the descendants of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, Shimei; 34of the descendants of Begui: Maadai, Amram, Uel, 35Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi, 36Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, 37Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasu; 38of the descendants of Binnui: Shimei, 39Shelemiah, Nathan, and Adaiah; 40of the descendants of Zachai: Shashai, Sharai, 41Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, 42Shallum, Amariah, Joseph; 43of the descendants of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, Benaiah.
44* All these had taken foreign wives; but they sent them away, both the women and their children.
* [10:6] Johanan, son of Eliashib: if this Eliashib is identical with the high priest of that name during Nehemiah’s mission (Neh 3:1), it would be difficult to avoid the conclusion that Ezra followed Nehemiah. But Eliashib is a common name, and, on the hypothesis of Nehemiah’s chronological priority, it would be unlikely that Ezra would consort with a family which had “defiled the priesthood” (Neh 13:28–29).
* [10:9] The ninth month: Kislev (November–December), during the first of two rainy seasons in Palestine.
* [10:16–17] The work of the committee lasted three months, from the first day of the tenth month, Tebeth (December–January), to the first day of the first month, Nisan (March–April), of the following year.
* [10:44] Some scholars find the continuation of the account of the marriage reform in Neh 9:1–5, though the date given at Neh 9:1 would fit better after Ezr 10:15; cf. Hg 2:10–14. The abrupt conclusion to Ezr 9–10 suggests that the policy of forced separation from foreign wives, not mandated by any law known to us, did not succeed. Assuming the chronological priority of Ezra, marriage outside the community was still prevalent during Nehemiah’s administration, and the remarkable demographic expansion of Judaism in the following centuries would be difficult to explain if Ezra’s measures had been put into effect.