“Shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations?” (9:14). Ezra was not worried about “intermarriage” in the sense of ethnicity or race – throughout Israel’s history, this occurred as individuals joined the community of God’s people. Instead, Ezra was horrified that many of Israel’s leaders – even priests! – had married foreign women who worshipped idols, thus bringing idolatry back into Israel, after all they had suffered. The existence of the whole nation was at risk.
“Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery” (9:9). Ezra urged the Israelites to remember that God had rescued them from slavery and forgiven their rebellion. The only response is whole-hearted faith and obedience.