While Ezra prayed and made this confession, weeping and throwing himself to the ground in front of the Temple of God, a large crowd of people from Israel -- men, women, and children -- gathered and wept bitterly with him.
Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, a descendant of Elam, said to Ezra, "We confess that we have been unfaithful to our God, for we have married these pagan women of the land. But there is hope for Israel in spite of this.
Let us now make a covenant with our God to divorce our pagan wives and to send them away with their children. We will follow the advice given by you and by the others who respect the commands of our God. We will obey the law of God.
Take courage, for it is your duty to tell us how to proceed in setting things straight, and we will cooperate fully."
So Ezra stood up and demanded that the leaders of the priests and the Levites and all the people of Israel swear that they would do as Shecaniah had said. And they all swore a solemn oath.
Then Ezra left the front of the Temple of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. He spent the night a there, but he did not eat any food or drink. He was still in mourning because of the unfaithfulness of the returned exiles.
Then a proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem that all the returned exiles should come to Jerusalem.
Those who failed to come within three days would, if the leaders and elders so decided, forfeit all their property and be expelled from the assembly of the exiles.
Within three days, all the people of Judah and Benjamin had gathered in Jerusalem. This took place on December 19, b and all the people were sitting in the square before the Temple of God. They were trembling both because of the seriousness of the matter and because it was raining.
Then Ezra the priest stood and said to them: "You have sinned, for you have married pagan women. Now we are even more deeply under condemnation than we were before.
Confess your sin to the LORD, the God of your ancestors, and do what he demands. Separate yourselves from the people of the land and from these pagan women."
Then the whole assembly raised their voices and answered, "Yes, you are right; we must do as you say!"
Then they added, "This isn't something that can be done in a day or two, for many of us are involved in this extremely sinful affair. This is the rainy season, so we cannot stay out here much longer.
Let our leaders act on behalf of us all. Everyone who has a pagan wife will come at the scheduled time with the leaders and judges of his city, so that the fierce anger of our God may be turned away from us concerning this affair."
Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah opposed this course of action, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supported them.
So this was the plan that they followed. Ezra selected leaders to represent their families, designating each of the representatives by name. On December 29, c the leaders sat down to investigate the matter.
By March 27 of the next year d they had finished dealing with all the men who had married pagan wives.
These are the priests who had married pagan wives: From the family of Jeshua son of Jehozadak e and his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah.
They vowed to divorce their wives, and they each acknowledged their guilt by offering a ram as a guilt offering.
From the family of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah.
From the family of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah.
From the family of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.
These are the Levites who were guilty: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (also called Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.
This is the singer who was guilty: Eliashib. These are the gatekeepers who were guilty: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.
These are the other people of Israel who were guilty: From the family of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malkijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Hashabiah, f and Benaiah.
From the family of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah.
From the family of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza.
From the family of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.
From the family of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth.
From the family of Pahath-moab: Adna, Kelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh.
From the family of Harim: Eliezer, Ishijah, Malkijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,
Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.
From the family of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.
From the family of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel,
Benaiah, Bedeiah, Keluhi,
Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,
Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasu.
From the family of Binnui g : Shimei,
Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah,
Macnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,
Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah,
Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.
From the family of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah.
Each of these men had a pagan wife, and some even had children by these wives. h
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)