EZRA‬ ‭10‬:‭2‬-‭4‬

“Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, a descendant of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God, for we have married these pagan women of the land. But in spite of this there is hope for Israel. Let us now make a covenant with our God to divorce our pagan wives and to send them away with their children. We will follow the advice given by you and by the others who respect the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law of God. Get up, for it is your duty to tell us how to proceed in setting things straight. We are behind you, so be strong and take action.””
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Ezra‬ ‭10‬:‭2‬-‭4‬ NLT

Why should we do with a hard passage such as this? As marriage has less and less a place of reverence in our culture, perhaps it is easier to understand how these marriages could be treated more transactionally. In a manner of speaking they were very transactional. Israel was married to God first. These marriages were breaking this covenant. The effect of such marriages rushes had been demonstrably damaging in Jewish history. Given the place of polygamy and women in the culture, it is not hard to see that the post Christian reverence for marriage as a covenant might not describe the types of marriages they were giving up. Instead, these marriages were more than likely arrangements of strategy and sexual gratification. Secondly, we must also reconcile that we are to have a high view of marriage despite the seemingly low view presented here.

I would submit that the low view was the view of the Jewish leaders, but not of God or Ezra. They were angry with how marriage was not treated as an extension of God’s blessings and instead entered into contractually with the surrounding nations. Ezra doesn’t advise them to leave their wives and children but instead tells them to follow through with their plans to do so. They viewed their relationships contractually so he encourages them to end the contract. It should be noted that In Jewish culture, there were acceptable and established ways to intermarry, in which the wife could leave her past affiliations behind her. The leaders did not pursue this because they had no interest in covenant, only contract. We can only gather that if these were intended marriages of covenant, the leaders would’ve fought harder to maintain them. The sentiment of honoring covenant is continued in the New Testament with the edict to not divorce an unbeliever. I would submit that this is because, post-Christ, all marriage was to be viewed covenantally. This was not the case of these ancient Jews. Christian’s don’t make contracts, they make covenants.

Published by Josh McGary

MY NAME IS JOSH MCGARY. First, I am a Pastor of a small church in Portland, Oregon named Aletheia Bible Fellowship. We call it ABF. I have been a pastor there for the better part of 20 years. I am very eclectic. What I love, I love loudly and immersively. I have notable collections of toys, funko pops, and vinyl. I also infamously love pop culture, comic books, technology, the arts, psychology and philosophy. https://sleek.bio/joshmcgary

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