While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly. Then Shekaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”
Reflection. Oh my! Ouch! Good grief! How do we cope with a passage of Scripture that speaks of putting away foreign wives and children? What does it say to us about the God we love? If we read this literally, without any thoughts of context, our God becomes not only a 'jealous Gid' but an awful God.
So, what is the context? Israel is once again small in number and there is a need for a sense of racisl purity. Does that make things any more comfortable? I am not sure. Of course, we must be very careful that we do not allow passages like this to cause us to consider racism as good. It is evil. Remember that there are other foreign women who get a good Press: Rahab and Ruth. However, it is good ro realise that the Scriptures have a real power to shock and surprise us and drive us to our knees in prayer.
Prayer. Oh Lord, give me grace and wisdom ro understand your words. In Jesus's name. Amen