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Ezra 10:1 - 10:17

Ezra Makes Israel Swear an Oath

Now while Ezra was praying and making confession, weeping and prostrating himself before the house of God, a very large assembly, men, women, and children, gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept bitterly.
2 And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. 3 So now let us cut a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. 4 Arise! For this matter is your responsibility, but we will be with you; be strong and act.” 5 Then Ezra arose and made the leading priests, the Levites and all Israel, swear an oath that they would do according to this word; so they swore an oath. 6 Then Ezra arose from before the house of God and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib. He went there, but he did not eat bread nor drink water, for he was mourning over the unfaithfulness of the exiles. 7 And they made a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the exiles, that they should gather at Jerusalem, 8 and that whoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the prince and the elders, all his possessions should be devoted to destruction and he himself separated from the assembly of the exiles. 9 So all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered at Jerusalem within the three days. It was the ninth month on the twentieth of the month, and all the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and the heavy rain. 10 Then Ezra the priest arose and said to them, “You have been unfaithful and have married foreign wives adding to the guilt of Israel. 11 So now, make confession to Yahweh, the God of your fathers, and do His will; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” 12 Then all the assembly answered and said with a loud voice, “This is so! As you have said, so it is our duty to do. 13 But there are many people; it is the rainy season, and we are not able to stand outside. Nor can the task be done in one or two days, for we have transgressed greatly in this matter. 14 Let our princes stand in for the whole assembly, and let all those in our cities who have married foreign wives come at set times, together with the elders and judges of each city, until the burning anger of our God on account of this matter is turned away from us.” 15 However, Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah stood against this, with Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helping them. 16 But the exiles did so. And Ezra the priest separated out men who were heads of fathers’ households for each of their father’s households, all of them by name. So they convened on the first day of the tenth month to investigate the matter. 17 And they completed investigating all the men who had married foreign wives by the first day of the first month.