A disturbing and vivid chapter. The people respond to Ezra’s mourning over sin, culminating in a dramatic meeting in the rain where they promise to put away their foreign wives and the children by them. The rain seems to worry them more than the fate of the women and children involved. They appoint leaders by tribe to investigate and enforce the rules.
Israelites don’t have to leave their wives, but it’s a line in the sand: if not they forfeit property in Jerusalem and are expelled. It a “choose you this day who you will serve” moment that affects a lot of other people.
Then follows a sad list of all those who had inter married.
I understand Jerusalem is a symbolic city and they are preserving a culture too, but you worry at the fate of the women and children left with no husband or father. There is no mention of any provision for them.
I suppose sin is serious and it’s real. In the age of grace we intertwine sinful lives with being seen pure by God and it’s hard to remember that the evil matters.
I don’t think the harshness was lost on them. The people came up with the plan, Ezra did not impose it. What he did was pray, just that, with great pain and sadness.
They knew the rule of Moses to stay separate from the polytheistic culture of the promised land, or Jehovah would soon be a meaningless trinket in a long list of household gods. They also knew the condemnation malachai had for divorce, who called it treachery that made god weep and refuse offerings. In the ancient world divorce could be a social and economic catastrophe for women, who had few other options.
That’s why everyone was so upset. They had got into a situation where whatever they did was immoral and had to choose one path or the other. It applied to about 100 out of 30000 or so. It reminds me of corporate restructures, to keep the whole viable they are harsh to a few.
I recall from earlier, in Genesis for instance, god treated the slaves and mistresses of Moses’dumb attempts to fulfill the covenant by fornication with great grace, we followed their story and saw that they and their children prospered and were all part of the plan. We’re not told what happened here, and often in life we don’t know how faithfulness to God plan works out, but that is the god I believe in. He is love.
May I have faith to trust and obey God. He knows how many hairs are on every head, and how many grains of sand there are. I can’t plan the big picture better than he can, but I can follow the path he has set.