This reads like a travel diary. It lists all the families and genealogies of the people who returned from Babylon in Ezra’s company, and the details about their journey. There was a hitch when Ezra realized he had no Levites in the group and he had to go back and round some up (v 15). Then there was some consternation about whether or not to accept the services of the Persian army for protection, or whether to rely on Yahweh. In the end they decided that god would protect them since “God’s hand of protection is on all who worship him” (v 22). Really? Their mission was successful; they arrived with everyone safe and all the valuables accounted for.
It seems like the Jews have learned absolutely nothing after being conquered, exiled, and held captive. They are back to square one – ignoring the laws of Moses and turning from Yahweh. And what have they done that is so evil? Intermarry with the locals – “the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites …… the holy race has become polluted by these mixed marriages.” (v 1-2) When Ezra hears about it, he wails “From the days of our ancestors until now, we have been steeped in sin. That is why we and our kings and our priests have been at the mercy of the pagan kings of the land. We have been killed, captured, robbed, and disgraced, just as we are today.” (v 7) The rest of the chapter is just more of his weeping and wailing.
The KJV refers to the women in mixed marriages as ‘strange wives’. The NLT calls them ‘pagan women of the land’. So what does Ezra do about them? He gathers all the men together and ‘persuades’ them to collectively accept responsibility for their sins. I put ‘persuades’ in quotes because he gives them about as much choice as a mafia boss would. Anyone who doesn’t show up within 3 days forfeits all their property and is expelled. (v 8) The decision of the group is that each offending male must be presented before a judge who grants him a ‘divorce’, and the women and children are banished.
This book makes it abundantly clear that the god of the bible has no concern or respect for family values. Rather, Yahweh would sacrifice families in order to preserve the purity of the bloodline and the homogeneity of the tribe. Sounds like something right out of Harry Potter – filthy Mudbloods!