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(The evil foreigners he commanded the people to divorce weren’t given the option of conversion, they were simply to be sent away.)My point here, though, is not to get into the details of exegeting this particular passage.
Now make confession to the Lord the God of your ancestors, and do his will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.”Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “It is so; we must do as you have said.”, but of intermarriage with people of other faiths.
The reason that the final chapters of Ezra rail against the evil foreignness of evil foreigners isn’t because of their ethnicity, but because of their religion.
Such a distinction is arguable, I suppose, even if Ezra himself didn’t make it or for it.
While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him out of Israel; the people also wept bitterly.
Shecaniah son of Jehiel, of the descendants of Elam, addressed Ezra, saying, “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this.
So now let us make a covenant with our God to send away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.Take action, for it is your duty, and we are with you; be strong, and do it.”Then Ezra stood up and made the leading priests, the Levites, and all Israel swear that they would do as had been said. Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God, and went to the chamber of Jehohanan son of Eliashib, where he spent the night.He did not eat bread or drink water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles.They made a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the returned exiles that they should assemble at Jerusalem, and that if any did not come within three days, by order of the officials and the elders all their property should be forfeited, and they themselves banned from the congregation of the exiles.Then all the people of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days; it was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month.All the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain.