Then everyone who trembled1 at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled2 until the evening sacrifice.
Then, at the evening sacrifice,3 I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands4 spread out to the LORD my God
and prayed: "O my God, I am too ashamed5 and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.6
From the days of our forefathers7 until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword8 and captivity,9 to pillage and humiliation10 at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.
"But now, for a brief moment, the LORD our God has been gracious11 in leaving us a remnant12 and giving us a firm place13 in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes14 and a little relief in our bondage.
Though we are slaves,15 our God has not deserted us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness16 in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins,17 and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.
"But now, O our God, what can we say after this? For we have disregarded the commands18
you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: 'The land you are entering19 to possess is a land polluted20 by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices21 they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other.
Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them22 at any time, that you may be strong23 and eat the good things24 of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.'25
"What has happened to us is a result of our evil26 deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved27 and have given us a remnant like this.
Shall we again break your commands and intermarry28 with the peoples who commit such detestable practices? Would you not be angry enough with us to destroy us,29 leaving us no remnant30 or survivor?
Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica. All rights reserved worldwide.
(New International Version Bible Online)