So I gave orders for the city gates to be shut at the beginning of every Sabbath, as soon as evening began to fall, and not to be opened again until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my men at the gates to make sure that nothing was brought into the city on the Sabbath.
Once or twice merchants who sold all kinds of goods spent Friday night outside the city walls.
I warned them, "It's no use waiting out there for morning to come. If you try this again, I'll use force on you." From then on they did not come back on the Sabbath.
I ordered the Levites to purify themselves and to go and guard the gates to make sure that the Sabbath was kept holy. Remember me, O God, for this also, and spare me because of your great love.
At that time I also discovered that many of the Jewish men had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 1
Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or some other language and didn't know how to speak our language.
I reprimanded the men, called down curses on them, beat them, and pulled out their hair. Then I made them take an oath in God's name that never again would they or their children intermarry with foreigners.
I told them, "It was foreign women that made King Solomon sin. Here was a man who was greater than any of the kings of other nations. God loved him and made him king over all of Israel, and yet he fell into this sin. 2
Are we then to follow your example and disobey our God by marrying foreign women?"
Joiada was the son of Eliashib the High Priest, but one of Joiada's sons married the daughter of Sanballat, from the town of Beth Horon, so I made Joiada leave Jerusalem. 3
Remember, God, how those people defiled both the office of priest and the covenant you made with the priests and the Levites.