Then, at the evening sacrifice,1 I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands2 spread out to the LORD my God
and prayed: "O my God, I am too ashamed3 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.4
From the days of our forefathers5 until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword6 and captivity,7 to pillage and humiliation8 at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.
"But now, for a brief moment, the LORD our God has been gracious9 in leaving us a remnant10 and giving us a firm place11 in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes12 and a little relief in our bondage.
Though we are slaves,13 our God has not deserted us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness14 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,15 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 commands16
you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: 'The land you are entering17 to possess is a land polluted18 by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices19 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 them20 at any time, that you may be strong21 and eat the good things22 of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.'23
"What has happened to us is a result of our evil24 deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved25 and have given us a remnant like this.
Shall we again break your commands and intermarry26 with the peoples who commit such detestable practices? Would you not be angry enough with us to destroy us,27 leaving us no remnant28 or survivor?
O LORD, God of Israel, you are righteous!29 We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand30 in your presence.31"
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)