I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day?
Didn’t your ancestors do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity on us and on this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.”
When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day.
Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem.
But I warned them and said, “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will arrest you.” From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath.
Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember me for this also, my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.
Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab.
Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah.
I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: “You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves.
Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women.
Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?”