The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.Ezra 10
1. Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down [in public prostration] before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore [the calamity was domestic as well as national].
2. 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.
3. 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 [should be, The Lord; the reference is not to Ezra], and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.
4. Arise, for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee; be of good courage, and do it.
5. 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.
6. ¶ 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.
7. And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem;
8. And that whosoever would not come within three days [no town was more than forty miles distant], according to the counsel [so there can be no charge of arbitrariness] 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.
9. ¶ Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month [December, the rainy month in Palestine], and the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street [open court] of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain.
10. And Ezra the priest [not merely a political commissioner] stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel.
11. 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.
12. Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do.
13. 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 [we have greatly offended in this thing] that have transgressed in this thing.
14. Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand [as a representative body in session], 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.
15. ¶ Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jehaziah the son of Tikvah were employed about this matter, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them.
16. 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 [held a session] in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.
17. And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month.