10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives, adding to the guilt of Israel. 11 Now therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives.” – Ezra 10:10-11
For this weeks readings it wasn’t as easy to pick a blog topic due to the fact that the stories were rather short. Reading through the Old Testament alone, we see many scriptures dealing with marriage and adultery. We have heard that God does not necessarily approve of divorce so after reading the book of Ezra I asked the question, why did the Israelites have to leave their wives and their children? Does God actually hate divorce?
This passage in Ezra was somewhat odd for me to make sense of since it’s almost ordered that all men married to foreign wives were to divorce them.
Why was it that the men should divorce their wives?
It was not Ezra’s idea to divorce their wives, but the peoples. Once they realized that they had strayed away from God by marrying themselves to foreign women they came to him and requested that they put away all of their wives. Further research showed that the Hebrew word shalach means “putting away”― a separation, as correctly translated in most Bibles. However, the King James and a number of newer versions have incorrectly translated shalach as to mean: divorce.
This situation not only affected the wives, but the children as well. The sins of the men marrying outside of their race made its way into the lives of their children. Because of the children being born of women that were considered to be unholy, the mixture of races was thought to bring some types of punishment into the families; therefore they separated themselves from their children as well.
First we should look at the fact that the commands God had gave his people declared the marriages of foreign women were to be unlawful. According to http://www.libertygospeltracts.com/question/prequest/divcezra.htm The Bible was very clear that the people of Israel were not to marry foreigners. First, because it is wrong to marry someone that is not saved, because that person may turn away your heart from serving the Lord. Such a thing happened to Solomon. Second, the people of Israel were not only to marry JUST OTHER JEWS, but ONLY JEWS OF THEIR SAME TRIBE.
The people of Canaanites, Moabites and other neighboring cities of Jeruasalem worshipped false Gods and were forbidden. They were also doing things in these cities that God did not approve of and wanted to keep his people from getting involved.
Judah has dealt treacherously,And an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem,For Judah has profaned The Lord’s holy institution which He loves:He has married the daughter of a foreign god. – Malachi 2:11
This verse proves that these types of marriages are unlawful right before Malachi talks about divorce. Though the statement ‘I hate divorce’ (Malachi 2:16) may (and should) be understood as a comprehensive biblical principle, the immediate context suggests that the divorce in view is that of one Jewish person by another in order to undertake subsequent marriages. If the Jews were divorcing there own women to marry women that were worshipping other Gods then these marriages would be the worst types. Evidently, people were having sexual relations between wives that they weren’t married to by scripture. Contrasting to Ezra the application of marriage in Malachi applies to legally bound marriages.
In the book of Ezra, the people of Jerusalem are following the Laws of Moses and advised themselves to leave their foreign wives and their mixed race children behind so that they could turn back to God. Sources say, the independent character of Malachi’s attack against divorcing Jewish wives in order to marry foreign women suggests a date of composition prior to that of the work of Ezra. This earlier date is made still more likely if the reproach against mixed marriages in Malachi 2:11b is a later insertion, one that precisely reflects the preoccupations of the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.