18 Among the descendants of the priests, the following had married foreign women:
From the descendants of Joshua son of Jozadak, and his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib and Gedaliah. 19 (They all gave their hands in pledge to put away their wives, and for their guilt they each presented a ram from the flock as a guilt offering.)
20 From the descendants of Immer:
Hanani and Zebadiah.
21 From the descendants of Harim:
Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel and Uzziah.
22 From the descendants of Pashhur:
Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad and Elasah.
23 Among the Levites:
Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (that is, Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah and Eliezer.
24 From the musicians:
From the gatekeepers:
Shallum, Telem and Uri.
25 And among the other Israelites:
From the descendants of Parosh:
Ramiah, Izziah, Malkijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malkijah and Benaiah.
26 From the descendants of Elam:
Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth and Elijah.
27 From the descendants of Zattu:
Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad and Aziza.
28 From the descendants of Bebai:
Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai and Athlai.
29 From the descendants of Bani:
Meshullam, Malluk, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal and Jeremoth.
30 From the descendants of Pahath-Moab:
Adna, Kelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui and Manasseh.
31 From the descendants of Harim:
Eliezer, Ishijah, Malkijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, 32 Benjamin, Malluk and Shemariah.
33 From the descendants of Hashum:
Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh and Shimei.
34 From the descendants of Bani:
Maadai, Amram, Uel, 35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Keluhi, 36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, 37 Mattaniah, Mattenai and Jaasu.
38 From the descendants of Binnui:
Shimei, 39 Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, 40 Maknadebai, Shashai, Sharai, 41 Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, 42 Shallum, Amariah and Joseph.
43 From the descendants of Nebo:
Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel and Benaiah.
44 All these had married foreign women, and some of them had children by these wives.
(Ezra 10:18-44 NIV)
As you remember, Ezra led the nation in repentance after learning of Jewish men intermarrying with non-Jewish women. This was not a race or genetic or even a national pride issue, but a spiritual issue. The Jewish people, fresh from returning from Babylon, see the serious error of their ways and join Ezra in repentance.
Out of this repentance, revival breaks out: confession of sin, the breaking of hearts over those sins, and a desire to honor God no matter what it takes. The leaders call a national “town hall” meeting and decide to conduct an audit at the local community level to be sure this sin is dealt with in each and every affected family. The entire process took about 3 months to complete.
In today’s text (the remainder of chapter 10), Ezra gives a list of those men who had married foreign (non-Jewish) wives – one hundred eleven (111) men in all.
Note the order in which the men came forward and dealt with their sins:
- Joshua (the high priest)
- the other priests
- the Levites
- the singers
- the gatekeepers
- other members of the Jewish community
Last but not least, Ezra notes that some of these marriages had produced children (v. 44).
As we look at this passage, we noted that 111 families were involved. If we look back in the original list of exiles, we see nearly 29,000 men returned to Judah.
If we do the math, that 0.4% of the Jewish male population.
Four-tenths of one percent.
Sin is sin, y’all!
Was Ezra a religious fanatic? Or was he seeking to live a life that honored God, and to lead the Jewish people to do the same?
Before we write off Ezra as being too extreme and harsh, remember what slippery slope the former Jewish residents fell down because of their worship of foreign gods. We studied that whole slow, painful demise when we walked through the book of Jeremiah – death, destruction, being overrun by armies, and exile from the land God had given them.
The apostle Paul also had to deal with sin in the Corinthian church. Paul points out the sin of one man in the church and reminds us that sin must be dealt with (1 Corinthians 5:1-8). Paul reminds us that sin is pervasive; it spreads throughout a person’s life and a church’s life just like yeast spreads throughout a loaf of bread, affecting all (v. 6).
As Paul concludes in that passage, may we live in sincerity and truth, not in pride and lies we tell ourselves (v. 8).