These final verses in the book of Ezra are simply a list of names of the men who had pledged to publicly repent of the sin of taking foreign women into their homes and marrying them or living with them as though they were married.

There is a debate among scholars as to whether or not these men had actually married these women or if they were just merely living with them as though they were married.2 But either way, these men were guilty of the sin of intermarrying or living in marriage-like situations with women who were not followers of God; this is a clear violation of God’s previous commands (Deut. 7:1 – 4; Ex. 34:11 – 16).

God’s instructions regarding marriage and family are very clear throughout the Bible. The family is designed to be a small community where God’s name is glorified; where parents are to teach and train their children in the ways of the Lord (Deut. 6:4 – 9; Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4). Because of this responsibility, husbands and wives are not to be unequally yoked; believers are not to engage in marriages or marriage-like relationships with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14 – 18).

Though God does allow for a marriage to continue when one spouse becomes a believer, if the unbelieving spouse is willing to live in peace with the other, it should not be a stretch to imagine how hard it would be to live in a home that is divided over something as crucial as living for God (1 Cor. 7:12 – 16).

King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived (except when it pertained to marriage), tried marrying or living in marriage-like relationships with roughly 1,000 women who did not worship God and he found that he could not build enough shrines to their gods to keep them happy; not to mention being unable to please God because of his sin (1 Kgs. 11).

Suffice it say, God’s design for marriage and family has always been intended to bring honor and attention to his name and the act of intentionally marrying or living in marriage-like relationships with unbelievers, is a massive threat to the purity and purpose of God’s design for marriage and family.

Now it is no secret that God’s people have seriously failed in the area of marriage going all the way back to the Garden of Eden where Adam stood passively by as Eve was tempted into sin by the serpent and even joined Eve in sinful behavior as they ate the fruit together (Gen. 3). From that point forward, sin entered into the bloodstream of humanity like a nasty virus and has spread like wildfire, eating through the human heart like a bad case of gangrene (Rom. 5:12 – 14).

Sin is infectious and the human heart knows no bounds when it comes to justifying, excusing, minimizing, and blame shifting while feasting on the poisonous fruit of rebellion and finding happiness in consuming the vomit of ungodly pleasures (Prov. 26:11; 2 Pet. 2:22). Sin is a serious thing because it will kill you if you do not get serious about killing it (Rom. 8:13).

This is why John Owen said, “We best be killing sin or sin will be killing us” and this is why Ezra took such a strong approach to dealing with Israel’s sin in the final verses of our text. Ezra pulls no punches in calling Israel to repentance and reform. He does not sweep things under the rug; he gets busy killing sin.

Ezra 10:18 – 44…

18Now there found some of the sons of the priests who had married foreign women: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah, some of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brothers. 19They pledged themselves to put away their wives, and their guilt offering was a ram of the flock for their guilt. 20Of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah. 21Of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah. 22Of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah. 23Of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (that is, Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer. 24Of the singers: Eliashib. Of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri. 25And of Israel: of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Hashabiah, and Benaiah. 26Of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah. 27Of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza. 28Of the sons of Bebai were Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai. 29Of the sons of Bani were Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth. 30Of the sons of Pahath-moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh. 31Of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Isshijan, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, 32Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah. 33Of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei. 34Of the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel, 35Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi, 36Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, 37Mattaniah, Mattenai, Jaasu. 38Of the sons of Binnui: Shimei, 39Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, 40Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, 41Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, 42Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph. 43Of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah. 44All these had married foreign women, and some of the women had even borne children.


The list of names is entered into the public record for everyone to see; repentance does not appear to be a private matter reserved for the counseling office or the board room in the basement. All in all, roughly 111 cases from some of Israel’s top leaders to ordinary community members (Priests, Levites, Gatekeepers, Average Citizens) were evaluated publicly over a three-month period of time and all were found guilty.3 Can you imagine the scrutiny of having your name called out in public as one of the guilty parties involved? Can you imagine the guilt and the shame that would have been felt?


The crazy thing about this story is that everyone in Israel had previously agreed to a very public ceremony of repentance; they took an oath and pledged to obediently repent (Ezra 10:5, 12). And in a shining moment of godly character, Israel and her leaders follow through on their oath, “They pledged themselves to put away their wives” and they made the proper restitution by giving guilt offerings of “a ram of the flock for their guilt” (v. 19). Israel’s sin was costly.

Ultimately, sin will cost you; “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). The question is, are you willing and able to pay the price? Are you willing and able to pay the mortgage plus an extreme amount of interest for the space that sin wants to inhabit in your life?


The thing about sin is that it always affects more than just you. In this case, the sin of the men in Israel affected the foreign women they were living with or had married as well as the children that were born as a result of those relationships. The final verse of the text says that “All these [111 men] had married foreign women, and some of the women had borne [given birth to] children” (v. 44). What a way to end a book! The sin of the 111 men who had intermarried with foreign (unbelieving) women had affected not only 111 women but also any children who were born into those marriage-like relationships.

Now it is definitely clear that God hates divorce because it absolutely devastates the lives of the people involved and brings no honor to God. This is why it is hard for me to believe that these relationships were actually bonified marriages (the original Hebrew language makes it hard to believe too); at the end of the day God never seems to be in favor of divorce unless it is due to unfaithfulness, abandonment, or abuse (Mal. 2:16; Mark 10:1 – 12; Matt. 5:31 – 32, 19:8 – 9).4

But even if these were actual divorces, there is nothing that leads me to believe that these divorces are prescriptive for us today; they are merely descriptive of how Ezra handled what seems to be unbridled sin in the family of God.5 But we cannot miss the fact that the sin of the Israelite men affect the women they brought into their homes as well as the children born into those relationships.

Sin has long term affects and sin always affects more than just you and I; the continued conflict in the Middle East that began thousands of years ago with Cain and Abel should be more than enough to make the point (Gen. 4). Sin results in ramifications for generations. The is: Who else will have to pay the mortgage and extreme interest rates for the sin that we allow to occupy rental space in our lives?


In conclusion, the last three weeks of messages from the final verses of Ezra have been an intense study in the doctrine of sin. Sin is ugly and it will kill you and I unless we are willing to take extreme measures to kill it by the grace of God.

I do not know what kinds of sin you struggle with, attempt to ignore, justify, excuse, or blame on others. But I do know this, every sin, from socially acceptable sins like gossip, laziness, slander, pride, lust, and covetousness to socially unacceptable sins like pornography use, adultery, drunkenness, fits of rage, greed, and fornication, every sin from socially acceptable to unacceptable has been dealt with at the cross of Christ (Rom. 5; Gal. 5:16 – 26; Eph. 2:1 – 10; Col. 3).

At the cross, Jesus dealt with the problem of sin once and for all. He was the perfect guilt offering (more perfect than the guilt offering in our text today) and he bled, and he died in our place so that the presence, and the power, and the penalty of our sin could be washed away.

This Jesus is the same God who ransomed and redeemed Israel out of slavery in Egypt (a picture of what he did later at the cross) and he is the same God who gives us his very own Spirit so that we can, by the power of his Spirit lay hold of the victory of the empty tomb and wage war against the sin that our Savior died to annihilate.

Our guilt and our shame were nailed to that tree on the day that Jesus died for you and me. The moment that you and I repent from our sin and turn in faith to Christ Jesus is the day that our name is removed from the list of guilty offenders and is added to a much different list, the Lamb’s book of life. And on that new list we are instantly transformed into sons and daughters of the living God; our future is secure because there is therefore, now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).

Our sins have been washed away; though our hearts played the harlot (shacking up with ungodly sinful desires, thoughts, and behaviors) we have been washed white as snow as we now stand before our Heavenly Father as pure and as perfect as Jesus himself (Isa. 1:18).

It is from this identity – sinners who became saints and enemies who became family – that we now get to do what Israel did in our text and continue in repentance and faith as we trust God to apply the shed blood and broken body of Jesus over our lives once again. If you have trusted in Jesus today then your name is no longer on a list of the guilty because it has been moved to the list of God’s family! Amen!

Unless otherwise specified, all Bible references in this paper are to the English Standard Version Bible, The New Classic Reference Edition (ESV) (Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, 2001).

2 Derek W. H. Thomas, Ezra and Nehemiah: Reformed Expository Commentary, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2016), 189.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid., 190 – 191.

5 Ibid.