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Day 271 – Israel’s Foreign Wives


Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read Ezra returns to the Holy Land. When he returns he finds that many people have intermarried. The Lord warned the people about not marrying non-Jewish spouses. God’s people were to be set apart and called to live differently. The people intermarrying weakens the bond of the Convent and losing their faith in the Lord.

Zechariah we read about the restoration of Judah. He also speaks about different kinds of shepherds. Some care for their sheep while others care for themselves. The good shepherd is one that cares for his sheep — like Jesus was.

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

Daily Readings

Ezra 9

1 Once this was done, the officials approached me to say, ‘The people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, have not renounced the disgusting practices of the people of the country — the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites–

2 since they and their sons have married some of their women, as a result of which the holy race has been contaminated by the people of the country. The officials and leaders have been the worst offenders in this act of infidelity.’

3 On hearing this, I tore my clothes and my cloak; I pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down in horror.

4 All who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered round me, when faced with the infidelity of the exiles, while I went on sitting there in horror until the evening sacrifice.

5 At the evening sacrifice I came out of my stupor and, falling on my knees in my torn clothes and cloak, stretched out my hands to Yahweh my God,

6 and said: ‘My God, I am ashamed, I blush to lift my face to you, my God. For our iniquities have increased, until they are higher than our heads, and our guilt has risen as high as heaven.

7 From the days of our ancestors until now we have been deeply guilty and, because of our iniquities, we, our kings and our priests, have been handed over to the kings of other countries, to the sword, to captivity, to pillage, to shame, as is the case today.

8 And now, for a brief moment, the favour of Yahweh our God has allowed a remnant of us to escape and given us a stable home in his holy place, so that our God can raise our spirits and revive us a little in our slavery.

9 For we are slaves; but God has not forgotten us in our slavery; he has extended his faithful love to us even under the kings of Persiaand revived us to rebuild the Temple of our God, restore its ruins and provide us with a refuge in Judah and in Jerusalem.

10 But now, our God, what can we say after this? For we have abandoned your commandments,

11 which you gave through your servants the prophets in these terms, “The country which you are about to possess is a polluted country, polluted by the people of the country and their disgusting practices, which have filled it with their filth from end to end.

12 Hence you are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, or let their daughters marry your sons, or ever concern yourselves about peace or good relations with them, if you want to grow stronger, to live off the fat of the land and bequeath it to your sons for ever.”

13 ‘After all that has befallen us because of our evil deeds and our deep guilt — though you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have allowed us to escape like this-

14 are we to break your commandments again and intermarry with people with these disgusting practices? Would you not be enraged with us to the point of destroying us, leaving neither remnant nor survivor?

15 Yahweh, God of Israel, you are upright. We survive only as the remnant we are today. We come before you in our guilt; because of it we cannot stand in your presence.’

Ezra 10

1 While Ezra, weeping and prostrating himself in front of the Temple of God, was praying and making confession, a very large crowd of men, women and children of Israel gathered round him, the people weeping bitterly.

2 Then Shechaniah son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, ‘We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the people of the country. But, in spite of this, there is still some hope for Israel.

3 We will make a covenant with our God to send away all the foreign wives and their children in obedience to the advice of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God. Let us act in accordance with the Law.

4 Go ahead, do your duty; we support you. Be brave, take action!’

5 Then Ezra stood up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel on oath to do what had been said. They took the oath.

6 Ezra then left his place in front of the Temple of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib, where he spent the night without eating food or drinking water, because he was still mourning over the exiles’ infidelity.

7 A proclamation was issued throughout Judah and Jerusalem that all the exiles were to assemble in Jerusalem,

8 and that anyone who failed within three days to answer the summons of the officials and elders was to forfeit all his possessions and himself be excluded from the community of the exiles.

9 As a result, all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled in Jerusalem within the three days; it was the twentieth day of the ninth month. All the people sat down in the square in front of the Temple of God, trembling because of the matter in hand and because of the heavy rain.

10 The priest Ezra then stood up and said to them, ‘You have been unfaithful and have married foreign wives, thus adding to Israel’s guilt.

11 So now give thanks to Yahweh, God of your ancestors, and do his will by holding aloof from the people of the country and from foreign wives.’

12 In ringing tones, the whole assembly answered, ‘Yes, our duty is to do as you say.

13 But there are many people here and it is the rainy season; we cannot stay out in the open; besides, this is not something that can be dealt with in one or two days, since many of us have been unfaithful over this.

14 Let our officials deputise for the whole community, and all the people in our towns who have married foreign wives can come at stated times, accompanied by elders and judges from each town, until our God’s fierce anger over this is turned away from us.’

15 Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah, supported by Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite, were opposed to this.

16 The exiles did as had been proposed. And the priest Ezra selected the family heads of the various families, all of them by name, who began their sittings on the first day of the tenth month to look into the matter.

17 And by the first day of the first month they had dealt with all the men who had married foreign women.

18 Among the priests who were found to have married foreign wives were: of the sons of Jeshua son of Jozadak and his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib and Gedaliah,

19 who agreed to send their wives away; their guilt offering was a ram from the flock for their guilt;

20 of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah;

21 of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel and Uzziah;

22 of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad and Elasah;

23 of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah — that is, Kelita-Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer;

24 of the singers: Eliashib and Zaccur; of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem and Uri;

25 and of the Israelites: of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malchijah and Benaiah;

26 of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth and Elijah;

27 of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad and Aziza;

28 of the sons of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, Atlai;

29 of the sons of Bigvai: Meshullam, Malluch, Jedaiah, Jashub, Sheal, Jeremoth;

30 of the sons of Pahath-Moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui and Manasseh;

31 of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,

32 Benjamin, Malluch, Shemariah;

33 of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, Shimei;

34 of the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel,

35 Benaiah, Bediah, Jeluhi,

36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,

37 Mattaniah, Mattenai and Jaasau;

38 of the sons of Binnui: Shimei,

39 Shelemiah, Nathan and Adaiah;

40 of the sons of Zaccai: Shashai, Sharai,

41 Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah,

42 Shallum, Amariah, Joseph;

43 of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, Benaiah.

44 All these had married foreign wives but sent them away with their children.

Zechariah 9

1 A proclamation. The word of Yahweh is against Hadrach, it has come to rest on Damascus, for the source of Aram belongs to Yahwehno less than all the tribes of Israel;

2 on Hamath too, which borders on it, and on (Tyre and) Sidon, despite her acumen.

3 Tyre has built herself a fortress, has heaped up silver like dust and gold like the dirt of the streets.

4 And now the Lord is going to dispossess her; at sea he will break her power, and she herself will go up in flames.

5 Seeing this, Ashkelon will be terrified, Gaza too, and writhe with grief, Ekron too, at the ruin of her prospects; the king will vanish from Gaza and Ashkelon be unpeopled,

6 while a half-breed will live in Ashdod! Yes, I shall destroy the pride of the Philistine;

7 I shall snatch his blood from his mouth, his abominations from between his teeth. But his remnant too will belong to our God, becoming like a clan in Judah, and Ekron will become like a Jebusite.

8 I shall stand guard before my home to defend it against all comers, and no oppressor will overrun them ever again, for now I am on the alert.

9 Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout for joy, daughter of Jerusalem! Look, your king is approaching, he is vindicated and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

10 He will banish chariots from Ephraim and horses from Jerusalem; the bow of war will be banished. He will proclaim peace to the nations, his empire will stretch from sea to sea, from the River to the limits of the earth.

11 As for you, because of the blood of your covenant I have released your prisoners from the pit in which there is no water.

12 Come back to the fortress, you prisoners waiting in hope. This very day, I vow, I shall make it up to you twice over.

13 For I have strung Judah as a bow for myself, laid Ephraim on the string as an arrow, have roused your sons, Zion, against your sons, Javan, and have made you like a warrior’s sword.

14 Then Yahweh will appear above them and his arrow will flash out like lightning. (The Lord) Yahweh will sound the trumpet and advance in the storm-winds of the south.

15 Yahweh Sabaoth will protect them! They will devour, will trample on the sling-stones, they will drink blood like wine, awash like bowls, like the corners of the altar.

16 Yahweh their God will give them victory when that day comes, like the sheep who are his people; yes, the stones of a diadem willsparkle over his country.

17 How fine, how splendid that will be, with wheat to make the young men flourish, and new wine the maidens!

Zechariah 10

1 Ask Yahweh for rain in autumn and at the time of the spring rains. Yahweh is the one to make the storm-clouds. He will give them showers of rain; to each, grass in his field.

2 Since the domestic idols have talked nonsense, and the diviners have seen false signs, and dreams have purveyed delusions, affording empty comfort, that is why they have strayed like sheep, in distress for want of a shepherd.

3 My anger has been roused by the shepherds, and I shall vent it on the he-goats. When Yahweh Sabaoth comes to visit his flock, the House of Judah, he will make it his royal war-horse.

4 From it will emerge Cornerstone and Tent-peg, from it, Bow-ready-for-Battle, from it, every type of leader. Together

5 they will be like warriors trampling the dirt of the streets in battle; when they fight, because Yahweh is with them, they will put mounted men to rout.

6 Then I shall make the House of Judah mighty and the House of Joseph victorious. I shall restore them, because I have taken pity on them, and they will be as though I had never cast them off, for I am Yahweh their God and shall answer their prayer.

7 Ephraim will be like a warrior. Their hearts will be cheered as though by wine. Their children will see this and rejoice, their hearts willexult in Yahweh.

8 I shall whistle to them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them; they will be as numerous as they used to be.

9 I shall scatter them among the peoples but in distant countries they will remember me, they will instruct their children and then return.

10 I shall bring them home from Egypt and gather them back from Assyria; I shall lead them into Gilead and the Lebanon, and even that will not be large enough for them.

11 They will cross the sea of Egypt (and the waves of the sea will be struck); all the depths of the River will be dried up. The arrogance of Assyria will be cast down and the sceptre of Egypt taken away.

12 I shall make them mighty in Yahweh, and they will march in my name — Yahweh declares.

Zechariah 11

1 Open your gateways, Lebanon, and the fire shall burn down your cedar trees!

2 Wail, juniper, for the cedar tree has fallen, the majestic ones have been ravaged! Wail, oaks of Bashan, for the impenetrable forest has been felled!

3 The sound of the wailing of shepherds! Their majesty has been ravaged. The sound of the roaring of young lions! The pride of the Jordan has been ravaged.

4 Yahweh my God says this, ‘Pasture the sheep for slaughter,

5 whose buyers kill them and go unpunished, whose sellers say of them, “Blessed be Yahweh; now I am rich!” and whose own shepherds show them no pity.

6 For I shall show no further pity for the inhabitants of the country — Yahweh declares! Instead, I shall put everyone into the clutches of a neighbour, into the clutches of the king. They will crush the country and I shall not rescue anyone from their clutches.’

7 Then I pastured for slaughter the sheep belonging to the sheep-dealers. I took two staves: the one I called ‘Goodwill’, the other ‘Couplers’; and I pastured the sheep myself,

8 getting rid of three shepherds in one month. But I lost patience with them, and they equally detested me.

9 I then said, ‘I am not going to pasture you any more; the one doomed to die can die; the one doomed to perish can perish; and the rest can devour one another.’

10 I then took my staff, ‘Goodwill’, and broke it in half, to break my covenant, which I had made with all the peoples.

11 When it was broken, that day the sheep-dealers, who were watching me, realised that this had been a word of Yahweh.

12 I then said to them, ‘If you see fit, give me my wages; if not, never mind.’ So they weighed out my wages: thirty shekels of silver.

13 Yahweh said to me, ‘Throw it to the smelter, this princely sum at which they have valued me!’ Taking the thirty shekels of silver, I threw them into the Temple of Yahweh, for the smelter.

14 I then broke my second staff, ‘Couplers,’ in half, to rupture the brotherly relationship between Judah and Israel.

15 Next, Yahweh said to me, ‘This time, take the gear of a good-for-nothing shepherd.

16 For I am now going to raise a shepherd in this country, who will not bother about the lost, who will not go in search of the stray, who will not heal the injured, who will not support the swollen, but who will eat the meat of the fat ones, tearing off their very hoofs.

17 Disaster to the shepherd who deserts his flock! May the sword attack his arm and his right eye! May his arm shrivel completely and his right eye be totally blinded!’

Proverbs 20:16-19

16 Take the man’s clothes! He has gone surety for a stranger. Take a pledge from him to the profit of persons unknown!

17 Bread is sweet when it is got by fraud, but later the mouth is full of grit.

18 Plans are matured by consultation; take wise advice when waging war.

19 The bearer of gossip lets out secrets; do not mingle with chatterers.


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