Ezra 9

1After we finished all these things, the leaders of the people of Israel came to me. They said, “Ezra, the people of Israel have not kept themselves separate from the other people living around us. And the priests and the Levites have not kept themselves separate. The people of Israel are being influenced by the very bad things done by the Canaanite people, the Hittite people, the Perizzite people, the Jebusite people, the Ammonite people, the Moabite people, the people from Egypt, and the Amorite people. 2The people of Israel have married the people living around us. The people of Israel are supposed to be special. But now they are mixed with the other people living around them. The leaders and important officials of the people of Israel have set a bad example in this thing.” 3When I heard about this, I tore my robe and my coat ˻to show I was upset˼. I pulled hair from my head and beard. I sat down, shocked and upset. 4Then every person that respected God’s Law shook with fear. They were afraid because the people of Israel that came back from captivity were not faithful to God. I was shocked and upset. I sat there until the evening sacrifice. And those people gathered around me. 5Then, when it was time for the evening sacrifice, I got up. I had made myself look shameful while I was sitting there. My robe and coat were torn, and I fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God. 6Then I prayed this prayer: My God, I am too ashamed and embarrassed to look at you. I am ashamed because our sins are higher than our heads. Our guilt has reached all the way up to the heavens. 7We have been guilty of many, many sins from the days of our ancestors until now. We sinned so our kings and priests were punished. Foreign kings attacked us and took our people away. Those kings took away our wealth and made us ashamed. It is the same even today. 8But now, finally, you have been kind to us. You have let a few of us escape captivity and come to live in this holy place. Lord, you gave us new life and relief from our slavery. 9Yes, we were slaves, but you would not let us be slaves forever. You were kind to us. You made the kings of Persia be kind to us. Your temple was ruined. But you gave us new life so we can build your temple again and fix it like new. God, you helped us build a wall to protect Judah and Jerusalem. 10Now, God, what can we say to you? We have stopped obeying you again! 11God, you used your servants, the prophets, and gave those commands to us. You said: “The land you are going to live in and own is a ruined land. It has been ruined by the very bad things the people living there have done. Those people have done very bad things in every place in this land. They have made this land dirty with their sins. 12So, people of Israel, don’t let your children marry their children. Don’t join those people! Don’t want the things they have! Obey my commands so you will be strong and enjoy the good things of the land. And then you can keep this land and give it to your children.” 13The bad things that happened to us are our own fault. We have done evil things, and we have much guilt. But you, our God, have punished us much less than we should have been. We have done many terrible sins, and we should have been punished worse. And you have even let some of our people escape captivity. 14So we know that we must not break your commands. We must not marry those people. Those people do very bad things. God, if we continue to marry those bad people, we know you will destroy us! Then there would be no person from the people of Israel left alive. 15Lord, God of Israel, you are good! And you still have let some of us live. Yes, we are guilty! And because of our guilt, not one of us should be allowed to stand in front of you.

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