The People Confess Their Sins1 While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself to the ground before the temple of God, a very large crowd of Israelites – men, women, and children alike – gathered around him. The people wept loudly. ▼
▼ Heb “with much weeping.”2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, from the descendants of Elam, ▼
▼ The translation reads with the Qere, many medieval Hebrew MSS, the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and Vulgate עֵילָם (’elam, “Elam”) rather than the reading עוֹלָם (’olam, “eternity”) found in the MT.addressed Ezra:
“We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying ▼ foreign women from the local peoples. ▼
▼ Heb “the peoples of the lands.”Nonetheless, there is still hope for Israel in this regard. ▼
▼ Heb “upon this.”3 Therefore let us enact ▼
▼ Heb “cut.”a covenant with our God to send away all these women and their offspring, in keeping with your counsel, my lord, ▼
▼ The MT vocalizes this word as a plural, which could be understood as a reference to God. But the context seems to suggest that a human lord is intended. The apparatus of BHS suggests repointing the word as a singular (“my lord”), but this is unnecessary. The plural (“my lords”) can be understood in an honorific sense even when a human being is in view. Most English versions regard this as a reference to Ezra, so the present translation supplies “your” before “counsel” to make this clear.and that of those who respect ▼
▼ Heb “who tremble at”; NAB, NIV “who fear.”the commandments of our God. And let it be done according to the law. 4 Get up, for this matter concerns you. We are with you, so be strong and act decisively!”
5 So Ezra got up and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take an oath to carry out this plan. ▼
▼ Heb “to do according to this plan.”And they all took a solemn oath. 6 Then Ezra got up from in front of the temple of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he stayed ▼
▼ The translation reads וַיָּלֶן (vayyalen, “and he stayed”) rather than the reading וַיֵּלֶךְ (vayyelekh, “and he went”) of the MT. Cf. the LXX.there, he did not eat food or drink water, for he was in mourning over the infidelity of the exiles.
7 A proclamation ▼
▼ Heb “voice.”was circulated ▼
▼ Heb “they sent.”throughout Judah and Jerusalem ▼ that all the exiles were to be assembled in Jerusalem. 8 Everyone who did not come within three days would thereby forfeit all his property, in keeping with the counsel of the officials and the elders. Furthermore, he himself would be excluded from the assembly of the exiles.
9 All the men of Judah and Benjamin were gathered in Jerusalem within the three days. (It was in the ninth month, on the twentieth day of that month.) All the people sat in the square at the temple of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the rains.
10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have behaved in an unfaithful manner by taking foreign wives! This has contributed to the guilt of Israel. 11 Now give praise to the Lord God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the local residents ▼
▼ Heb “the peoples of the land.”and from these foreign wives.”
12 All the assembly replied in a loud voice: “We will do just as you have said! ▼
▼ Heb “thus according to your word [singular = Qere] concerning us, to do.”13 However, the people are numerous and it is the rainy season. ▼
▼ Heb “the time [is] rain showers.”We are unable to stand here outside. Furthermore, this business cannot be resolved in a day or two, for we have sinned greatly in this matter. 14 Let our leaders take steps ▼
▼ Heb “stand.”on behalf of all the assembly. Let all those in our towns who have married foreign women come at an appointed time, and with them the elders of each town and its judges, until the hot anger of our God is turned away from us in this matter.”
15 Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah were ▼
▼ Heb “stood.”against this, assisted by Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite. 16 So the exiles proceeded accordingly. Ezra the priest separated out ▼
▼ The translation reads the Hiphil singular וַיַּבְדֵּל לוֹ (vayyavdel lo, “separated for himself”) rather than the Niphal plural וַיִּבָּדְלוּ (vayyibbadelu, “were separated”) of the MT.by name men who were leaders in their family groups. ▼
▼ Heb “the heads of the fathers, to the house of their fathers, and all of them by name.”They sat down to consider this matter on the first day of the tenth month, 17 and on the first day of the first month they finished considering all the men who had married foreign wives.
Those Who Had Taken Foreign Wives18 It was determined ▼
▼ Heb “found.”that from the descendants of the priests, the following had taken foreign wives: from the descendants of Jeshua son of Jozadak, and his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah. 19 (They gave their word ▼
▼ Heb “hand.”to send away their wives; their guilt offering was a ram from the flock for their guilt.)
20 From the descendants of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah.
21 From the descendants of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah.
22 From the descendants of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.
23 From the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (also known as Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.
24 From the singers: Eliashib. From the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.
25 From the Israelites: from the descendants of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malkijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malkijah, and Benaiah.
26 From the descendants of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah.
27 From the descendants of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza.
28 From the descendants of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.
29 From the descendants of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth.
30 From the descendants of Pahath-Moab: Adna, Kelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh.
31 From ▼
▼ The translation reads with many medieval Hebrew MSS and ancient versions וּמִבְּנֵי (umibbene, “and from the sons of”) rather than the reading ubene (“and the sons of”) found in the MT.the descendants of Harim: Eliezer, Ishijah, Malkijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, 32 Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.
33 From the descendants of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.
34 From the descendants of Bani: ▼ Maadai, Amram, Uel, 35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Keluhi, 36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, 37 Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasu.
38 From ▼
▼ The translation reads וּמִבְּנֵי בִנּוּי (umibbeney vinnuy, “and from the sons of Binnui”) rather than the reading וּבָנִי וּבִנּוּי (uvani uvinnuy, “and Bani and Binnui”) of the MT.the descendants of Binnui: Shimei, 39 Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, 40 Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, 41 Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, 42 Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.
43 From the descendants of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah.
44 All these had taken foreign wives, and some of them also had children by these women. ▼
▼ The final statement in v. 44 is difficult in terms of both its syntax and its meaning. The present translation attempts to make sense of the MT. But the passage may have undergone corruption in the transmission process. One proposal is that the text should be emended to read “and they sent these wives and children away” (cf. NAB, NRSV, TEV, CEV).
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