The people tell God that they are sorry
1 A big crowd of Israelite men, women and children came round Ezra. He was praying and crying. And he was saying ‘Sorry’ to God. He threw himself down in front of the house of God. And the people were crying very much. 2 Then Shecaniah spoke to him. He was Jehiel's son, a descendant of Elam. Shecaniah said, ‘We have not been faithful to our God. We have married foreign women from the countries round us. But we want to make things right with God. 3 We will make a promise to him. We will send away these women and their children. This is what you, Ezra, are telling us to do. And the people who want to obey God's law want it, too. We must obey the law. 4 Get up! Now you must help us to do what is right. We will help you, so you must not be afraid.’
5 So Ezra got up. He caused the leaders of the priests, Levites and all Israel to promise to do as they had said. And they made their strong promise to God. 6 And Ezra went from the front of God's house to Jehohanan's room. Jehohanan was Eliashib's son. Ezra was still very sad because the people had not been faithful to the Lord. So he did not eat any food while he was there. And he did not drink any water while he was there.
7 They wrote a message and they sent it to all the people in Judah and Jerusalem. It said that they must all come to Jerusalem. 8 If they did not arrive in 3 days, they would lose everything. The leaders and officers had decided to say this. And they would push out anyone who did not obey the message. They would send them out of Israel.
9 All the men from Judah and Benjamin reached Jerusalem in 3 days. All the people sat in front of God's house on the 20th day of the ninth month. They were very sad because they had made God angry. And the rain was bad. 10 Then Ezra the priest stood up. He said, ‘You have not been faithful to your God. You have married foreign wives. You have done this and so many other sins. 11 Now you must tell the Lord that you are sorry. He is the God of your fathers and grandfathers. You must do the things that he wants. You must make yourselves separate from the people who live in the countries round you. You must make yourselves separate from your foreign wives.’
12 All the people spoke with a loud voice. ‘You are right,’ they said. ‘We must do as you say. 13 But we are many people and we cannot stand in the rain. And we shall need more than two days to do this thing. Many of us have sinned like that. 14 Our officers should do this for us. In every town they must make a special time for men to visit the leaders and the judges. Then everyone who has a foreign wife can go to them. God was very angry, but then he will not be angry any longer.’ 15 Only 4 men did not agree with this. They were Jonathan, Asahel's son, Jahzeiah, Tikvah's son, with Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite.
16 So the Jews that had returned from Babylon did as the people had said. Ezra the priest chose family leaders for each big family. He wrote down their names. They sat down to decide which men had to send away their wives. They started on the first day of the tenth month. 17 And they finished on the first day of the first month.
A list of the men with foreign wives
18 They found that these people had married foreign women:
From the descendants of the priests,
Jeshua, Jozadak's son and his brothers:
19 (They all promised to send away their wives. Each of them gave a male sheep as a sacrifice for their sin.)
20 The descendants of Immer:
21 The descendants of Harim:
22 The descendants of Pashhur:
23 The descendants of the Levites:
Kelaiah (that is Kelita),
24 From the singers, Eliashib.
From the men who kept the gate, Shallum, Telem and Uri.
25 And among the other Israelites,
the descendants of Parosh:
26 The descendants of Elam:
27 The descendants of Zattu:
28 The descendants of Bebai:
29 The descendants of Bani:
30 The descendants of Pahath-Moab:
31 The descendants of Harim:
33 The descendants of Hashum:
34 The descendants of Bani:
43 The descendants of Nebo:
44 All these men had married foreign women, and some had children by these wives.