After all this had been done, some of the leaders of the people of Israel came and told me that the people, the priests, and the Levites had not kept themselves separate from the people in the neighboring countries of Ammon, Moab, and Egypt or from the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Amorites. They were doing the same disgusting things which these people did.
Jewish men were marrying foreign women, and so God's holy people had become contaminated. The leaders and officials were the chief offenders.
When I heard this, I tore my clothes in despair, tore my hair and my beard, and sat down crushed with grief.
I sat there grieving until the time for the evening sacrifice to be offered, and people began to gather around me - all those who were frightened because of what the God of Israel had said about the sins of those who had returned from exile.
When the time came for the evening sacrifice, I got up from where I had been grieving, and still wearing my torn clothes, I knelt in prayer and stretched out my hands to the Lord my God.