1. After all this was finished, the leaders approached me and said, "The people of Israel, the priests and the Levites have not departed from the pagan peoples and are now serving the idols of the Canaanites, the Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites.
2. For they took women from among these people for themselves and for their sons, and mixed their holy race with that of the pagans. The leaders and magistrates were the first in committing this sin."
3. When I heard this, I tore my garments and my mantle, pulled hair from my head and beard, and sat down very much grieved.
4. All who remembered the words of the God of Israel gathered around me; they were afraid because of this sin committed by the men who had returned from exile.
5. I remained seated and dismayed until the evening sacrifice; and then, at the time for the evening offering, I rose from my fasting, and with my clothes and mantle torn, I knelt down, spreading out my hands to Yahweh, my God.
6. I said, "My God! I am ashamed and confused, my God, I do not dare raise my eyes to you for our sins have increased over our heads and our crimes reach up to the heavens.
7. From the days of our fathers to this day, our guilt has been great. We, our kings and priests have been given into the hands of foreign kings because of our crimes; we have been delivered to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and put to shame as on this day.
8. However, for a brief moment, the mercy of Yahweh, our God, has been shown to us. He made a remnant of our people survive, and allowed the survivor to settle once again in his Holy Place; he has given us joy and life, though we are in bondage.
9. We are no more than slaves, but in the midst of our slavery, God has not abandoned us, he has extended a merciful hand over us to support us before the kings of Persia. He has revived our life, enabled us to rebuild the House of our God, and to have walls in Jerusalem and in the other cities of Judah.
10. But now, our God, what shall we say when, in spite of all this, we have abandoned your commandments?
11. You have said through your servants, the prophets: The land you are entering to take possession of was defiled by the impurities of its inhabitants; they made it entirely unclean from one end to the other with their idolatry.
12. Therefore, do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters as wives for your sons. Do not work with them for their prosperity and well-being forever. Be strong, eat the best fruits of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your sons forever.
13. After all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and our sins, you, our God, have pardoned our wickedness, since you allowed all who are here to survive.
14. How could we despise your commandments once more and intermarry with these wretched peoples? Will you not be angry with us and destroy us without leaving any remnant or survivors?
15. Yahweh, God of Israel, you are just; see that we are a remnant of survivors. We are here in your presence with our sins, but we cannot remain so in your presence."