“The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, and the temple servants joined with the leaders. All the people who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, joined with their kin and their nobles. They entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses, the servant of God. They were to observe and do all the commandments of Yahweh our Lord, his ordinances, and his statutes.”
While the leaders had signed and sealed the document, the other priests and Levites, as well as the gatekeepers, singers, and temple servants agreed to the same thing. They would observe the commandments of Yahweh given to Moses, the great servant of God. In fact, all the people who separated themselves from the peoples of the land, with their whole family were to make an oath to walk in God’s Law. They would obey the ordinances and statutes of Yahweh. Thus we have a new community organized around the Law of Moses, Yahweh’s law.
“After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said. ‘The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations. They were intermingling with the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons. Thus the holy seed has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. In this faithlessness the officials and leaders have led the way.’ When I heard this, I tore my garments and my mantle. I pulled hair from my head and beard. I sat appalled. Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered round me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice.”
Once they were settled, a new problem arose. The returning Jews from the exile were marrying the locals who had stayed behind, the hated “people of the land.” Not only the Jews in general but also the priests, the Levites, the officials, and the leaders were involved in marriages with non-Jewish people. Some of them were not Jews but the hated list of the usual suspects, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. Now this had not been a problem for Moses or King Solomon since they married non-Jewish wives. The fear as usual was that the female wives would want to worship their gods rather than Yahweh. Thus these wily females would lead astray the poor weak Jewish men into false worship. This had been a problem in the northern area of Israel before the captivity. The new post-exilic group wanted a pure race of Jewish people. They did not want the holy seed mixed with “the people of the land.” When Ezra found out about this, he was really upset. He tore his clothes and pulled his hair out. As he said in the first person singular, “I was appalled.”