As Ezra was praying and confessing and cry- ing and throwing himself down in front of the Temple, a large group of Israelite men, women, and children gathered around him who were also crying loudly.
Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel the Elamite said to Ezra, "We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying women from the peoples around us. But even so, there is still hope for Israel.
Now let us make an agreement before our God. We will send away all these women and their children as you and those who respect the commands of our God advise. Let it be done to obey God's Teachings.
Get up, Ezra. You are in charge, and we will support you. Have courage and do it."
So Ezra got up and made the priests, Levites, and all the people of Israel promise to do what was suggested; and they promised.
Then Ezra left the Temple and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While Ezra was there, he did not eat or drink, because he was still sad about the unfaithfulness of the captives who had returned.
They sent an order in Judah and Jerusalem for all the captives who had returned to meet together in Jerusalem.
Whoever did not come to Jerusalem within three days would lose his property and would no longer be a member of the community of the returned captives. That was the decision of the officers and older leaders.
So within three days all the people of Judah and Benjamin gathered in Jerusalem. It was the twentieth day of the ninth month. All the people were sitting in the open place in front of the Temple and were upset because of the meeting and because it was raining.
Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, "You have been unfaithful and have married non-Jewish women. You have made Israel more guilty.
Now, confess it to the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Do his will and separate yourselves from the people living around you and from your non-Jewish wives."
Then the whole group answered Ezra with a loud voice, "Ezra, you're right! We must do what you say.
But there are many people here, and it's the rainy season. We can't stand outside, and this problem can't be solved in a day or two, because we have sinned badly.
Let our officers make a decision for the whole group. Then let everyone in our towns who has married a non-Jewish woman meet with the older leaders and judges of each town at a planned time, until the hot anger of our God turns away from us."
Only Jonathan son of Asahel, Jahzeiah son of Tikvah, Meshullam, and Shabbethai the Levite were against the plan.
So the returned captives did what was suggested. Ezra the priest chose men who were leaders of the family groups and named one from each family division. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to study each case.
By the first day of the first month, they had finished with all the men who had married non-Jewish women.
These are the descendants of the priests who had married foreign women: From the descendants of Jeshua son of Jozadak and Jeshua's brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah.
(They all promised to divorce their wives, and each one brought a male sheep from the flock as a penalty offering.)
From the descendants of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah.
From the descendants of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah.
From the descendants of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.
Among the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (also called Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.
Among the singers: Eliashib. Among the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.
And among the other Israelites, these married non-Jewish women: From the descendants of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malkijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malkijah, and Benaiah.
From the descendants of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah.
From the descendants of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza.
From the descendants of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.
From the descendants of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth.
From the descendants of Pahath-Moab: Adna, Kelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh.
From the descendants of Harim: Eliezer, Ishijah, Malkijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,
Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.
From the descendants of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.
From the descendants of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel,
Benaiah, Bedeiah, Keluhi,
Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,
Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasu.
From the descendants of Binnui: Shimei,
Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah,
Macnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,
Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah,
Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.
From the descendants of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah.
All these men had married non-Jewish women, and some of them had children by these wives.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.