1 After these things were done, the captains came to me and said: »The people of Israel and the priests and Levites have not kept themselves separate from the people of the lands. They have taken part in the disgusting ways of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.
2 »They have taken their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons. They have mingled the holy race with peoples around them. In fact the leaders and officials were first to do this evil.«
3 Hearing this, with signs of grief and pulling out the hair of my head and my chin, I took my seat on the earth deeply troubled.
4 Then everyone who respected the word of the God of Israel were overcome with grief because of the sin of those who came back. They gathered with me until the evening offering.
5 I humbled myself before God at the evening offering. I got up, with signs of grief, and fell on my knees with my hands stretched out to Jehovah my God,
6 I said, »O my God, shame keeps me from lifting up my face praying to you being in your presence, my God: for our sins have increased higher than our heads and our evil-doing has come up to heaven.
7 »From the days of our fathers till this day we have been great sinners. Because of our sins, the kings of the lands captured us. We were given to the sword and to prison and to loss of goods and to shame of face, as it is this day.
8 »Now for a little time grace favour has come to us from Jehovah our God, to let a small band of us go free and to give us a nail in his holy place. Our God gives light to our eyes and a measure of new life in our prison chains.
9 »We are servants. Our God has not been turned away from us in our prison. He had mercy on us before the eyes of the kings of Persia, to give us new strength, to put up again the house of our God and to restore its desolate places, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.
10 »And now, O our God, what are we to say after this? For we have not obeyed your laws,
11 »Which you gave to your servants the prophets, saying: The land where you are going, you should take for a heritage. It is an unclean land, because of the evil lives of the peoples of the land and their disgusting ways, which have made the land unclean from end to end.
12 »Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons or do anything for their peace or well being for a very long time. That way you may be strong, living on the good of the land, and handing it on to your children for a heritage for as long as they live.
13 »After all this and because of our evil-doing and our great sin, and seeing that the punishment that you, O God, have given us, is less than the measure of our sins, and that you have kept from death those of us who are here;
14 »Are we again to go against your orders, taking wives from among the people who do these disgusting things? Would you not be angry with us till our destruction was complete, till there was not one who got away safe?
15 »O Jehovah, God of Israel, righteousness is yours. We are only a small band that has been kept from death this day. See, we are before you in our sin. For no one may keep his place before you because of this.«