“At the evening sacrifice I got up from my fasting, with my garments and my mantle torn. I fell upon my knees. I spread out my hands to Yahweh my God, saying.
‘O my God,
I am too ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face to you,
Our iniquities have risen higher than our heads,
Our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.
From the days of our ancestors to this day
We have been deep in guilt.
Because of our iniquities,
We, our kings, and our priests
Have been handed over to the kings of the lands,
To the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame,
As is now the case.
But now for a brief moment
Favor has been shown by Yahweh our God,
He has left us a remnant,
He has given us a stake in his holy place,
So that he may brighten our eyes
And grant us a little sustenance in our slavery.
We are slaves.
Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery.
But he has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia,
To give us new life
To set up the house of our God,
To repair its ruins,
To give us a wall in Judea and Jerusalem.’”
This is the beautiful prayer of Ezra in the first person, singular and plural. He accepted the guilt for his fellow returning captives for their actions. Ezra is so ashamed that he cannot lift up his head. The guilt of his people from the beginning to today has mounted up to the heavens. Due to their guilt, they have been handed over to others, killed, captured, and plundered. However, in the midst of this slavery, there is a bright spot. Yahweh has led the kings of Persia to let a small remnant return to a new life, to repair the Temple, and build a wall around Jerusalem. This later part was the point of a big dispute earlier in this work.