It appears that Ezra got things put in order, is it going to stay that way?
“Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.
For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.
And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.
Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.
And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lordmy God,
And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.
Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.
And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.
For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments,
Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness.
Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.
And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this;
Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?
O Lord God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this” (Ezra 9).
Ezra had cast himself to the ground and wept as he confessed and prayed to God, then a great congregation of the Israelites that stood there also wept. And Shechaniah said,
“And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.
Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.
Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.
Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware.
Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away.
And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem;
And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away.
Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain.
And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel.
Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.
Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do.
But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing.
Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.
Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah were employed about this matter: and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them.
And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain chief of the fathers, after the house of their fathers, and all of them by their names, were separated, and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.
And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month.
And among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives: namely, of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren; Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah.
And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass” (Ezra 10:2-19).
And these are the names of them that were guilty:(Ezra 10:20-43).
All these had taken strange wives: and some of them had wives by whom they had children (Ezra 10:44).
Languages of the Old Testament World
The ancient Near East encompassed a large number of different languages, the most significant of which were Sumerian, Egyptian, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Aramaic, and Hebrew.
Understanding these languages has considerably aided our knowledge of Israel’s social, economic, political and linguistic environment.
Sumerian: History’s first written language (c.3100 B.C.), Sumerian used pictures (called pictographs) to represent words or ideas.
Thousands of pictographs were needed to write in Sumerian, but these eventually came to be written abstractly as cuneiform, wedge-shaped characters incised into clay with a pointed, reed stylus.
Although Sumerian was unrelated to the ancient Semitic languages of the Near East (such as Hebrew), many Semitic languages adopted the use of cuneiform writing. ■Egyptian: as history’s second written language (also c.3100 B.C.); Egyptian produced a unique pictographic script called hieroglyphics, which is found in pyramid inscriptions.
Though not Semitic, Egyptian was related to Semitic languages and shared some features with them.
Akkadian:A Semitic language, Akkadian falls into the same language group as Hebrew. Used from at least the 17th century B.C. to the 1st century A.D. it was a northeastern, Mesopotamian Semitic language that borrowed some Sumerian vocabulary.
Akkadian was spoken in both Babylonia and Assyria, and thousands of Akkadian tablets preserve records of the economic, religious, royal and legal life of these societies.
The Babylonian dialect became the international language of communication during the Late Bronze Age.
Knowledge of the Akkadian language often helps to clarify the meaning of an obscure word in Biblical Hebrew.
Ugaritic: This language has significantly improved our understanding of Hebrew grammar and vocabulary.
It too was a northwestern Semitic language closely related to Hebrew and similar to the language of the Canaanites (by comparison, Akkadian was a northeastern Semitic language and somewhat more distant from Hebrew).
Ugaritic employed an alphabetic cuneiform (i.e., used cuneiform signs to represent individual letters) and is preserved in approximately 1,300 administrative, economic and religious documents from the 14th to the 13th centuries b.c.
Aramaic: This language spans at least the last 3,000 years of the Old Testament period.
Like Hebrew and Ugaritic, it was a northwestern Semitic language. Aramaic utilized a 22-letter alphabet borrowed from the Phoenician language.
It became the international language of communication for the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians during the first millennium B.C.
The Persian Empire’s “standardized” Aramaic has been dubbed Imperial Aramaic—the dialect of the governmental communique in Ezra 4.
The books of Ezra and Daniel were partially written in
Aramaic and traces of Aramaic are scattered throughout the Old Testament.
Hebrew: Hebrew uses the same alphabet as Aramaic. Attested outside the Bible from the 10th century B.C., it was the language of the Israelites and of most of the Old Testament.
Although the present Old Testament is primarily rendered in a standard Biblical Hebrew, traces of ancient Hebrew dialects are apparent in the text (e.g. Jdg 12:6).
During the inter-testamental period Aramaic gradually replaced Hebrew as the spoken language of the Jews (Jesus spoke Aramaic; e.g., Matt 27:46).
A modern version of Hebrew is spoken by Israelis today, but it has a number of substantial differences from the classical form.