Marriages with unclean strangers (Ezra 9:10-9:15)

“Now, our God,

What shall we say after this?

For we have forsaken your commandments,

You commanded us by your servants the prophets, saying,

‘The land which you are entering to possess is a land unclean

With the pollutions of the peoples of the lands,

With their abominations.

They have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness.

Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons,

Neither take their daughters for your sons,

Never seek their peace or prosperity,

So that you may be strong,

And eat the good of the land,

Leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’

After all that has come upon us

For our evil deeds,

For our great guilt,

Seeing that you, our God,

You have punished us less than our iniquities deserved.

You have given us such a remnant as this.

Shall we break your commandments again?

Shall we intermarry?

With the peoples who practice these abominations?

Would you not be angry with us?

Would you not destroy us?

Without remnant or survivor,

O Yahweh, God of Israel,

You are just.

We have escaped as a remnant,

As is now the case.

Here we are before you in our guilt,

For no one can face you because of this.”

Ezra believes that they have forsaken God’s commandments. The land that they entered was unclean. Therefore, they should not give their sons and daughters in marriage to these polluted abomination people. Otherwise there will be no inheritance for their children. Erza reported that you have not punished us enough. We deserve more punishment. We still have a remnant. You are just and we are guilty. Clearly this is a collective guilt. It is not one person or a group of people. All share in the guilt. They have not followed the commandments. They have not kept themselves clean. Intermarrying leads to uncleanness. The unclean people of the land will lead to greater guilt. Even the little remnant will be destroyed. No one can face Yahweh because of his guilty people.