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READING: Ezra 9-10 – Denunciation of Mixed Marriage


“Be very careful to love the LORD your God. For if you turn back and join the survivors of these nations left here among you and intermarry with them, so that you marry their women and they yours know assuredly that the LORD your God will not continue to drive out these nations before you; but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a scourge on your sides, and thorns in your eyes until you perish from this good land that the LORD your God has given you” (Joshua 23:11-13) 

When Ezra came to Jerusalem from Babylon, one issue that quickly came up was that “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations… For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and 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” (9:1-2). 

 When Ezra heard this, he tore his clothing and pulled hair from his head and beard. He sat appalled until the evening sacrifice. Then he prayed a prayer of contrition and shame, acknowledging Israel’s collective sin of inter-marrying with the people of the land. He said the prophets had told them, “The land is unclean with the pollutions of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations. They have filled it with their uncleanness. Therefore, do not give your daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons.” (9:11-12)  

He continued his prayer, “Never seek their peace or prosperity, so that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it to your children forever” (9:12b). Yet, Jeremiah had told them to “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7). He told them to take wives and have sons and daughters. He did not say to take wives from the people of the land of their exile. 

While Ezra prayed, the people around him – men, women, and children – wept. They said they had sinned by intermarrying with Canaanites. They demanded that Ezra do something. They made a covenant with God to send away all the foreign women and their children. As they examined all the people over the next three months, they discovered 111 men who had married foreigners. They all put away those wives and children; they offered sacrifice for their sin. In this way, Ezra purified the seed of Israel. 

Ezra was a good man who loved the LORD. But I wonder. Was this the beginning of the legalism and exclusivity of the Jews that Jesus and his apostles had to deal with? Did this contribute to the rigidity of the Jewish people? 

What lessons do we learn from these chapters? 

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PRAY FOR YOURSELF 

O God, I pray that I will always love You and find my greatest joy in Your presence. Help me fix my eyes on Jesus so that I may see the wonderful treasures He has for me. This is my prayer, in Jesus’ precious name, AMEN!” 

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for myself) 

Holy Father my prayer for all who read this and for myself, is that we consider carefully how we teach parents and youth about the importance of having a Christian spouse. While I do not believe in a rigid position that would keep me from sanctioning a marriage to a non-believer, I do believe that having the same faith helps the stability of a marriage. If this is true, and I believe it is, I ask, “Why do we not do more to promote healthy choices and healthy families?” I offer this prayer for myself, and for all who read this, in the name of our Lord, Jesus, AMEN! 

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