Yes, many Jewish men had (illegally, according to Moses’ Law) married women of heathen descent, people who worshipped false gods at that!
And Ezra and his co-leaders felt they (the erring men) were diluting, compromising, hindering the spiritual progress of the whole (albeit little) nation!
Living in disobedience, later Jesus would have called it living in adultery!
So Ezra chapter 10 gives us a prime example of “naming and shaming!”
Verses 18-43 actually specify the offenders!
And the compilation has “order” to it as well! (God does everything “decently and in order” we are taught (by Paul) in First Corinthians 14:40.
Ezra 10:18-22 … the Priests, even they had transgressed in the matter!
Ezra 10:23-24 … the Levites as well!
Then Ezra 10:25-43 … the common people, the laymen!
(Looks like the so-called “leaders” again set the example, here in a bad sense!)
But still … “divorce?”
And God in Heaven not seeming to raise His voice against this “forced” procedure? (On the contrary, God seems to have approved this unique plan, in this case.)
One Preacher put it this way. Divorce is bad … but the annihilation of the Jewish nation would have been worse, much worse! And that well may have been what was at stake here! That is … Ezra 10, marital separation … the lesser of two evils!
By the way, the Old Testament is filled with many “less than ideal” situations! God works with people “where they are” along the continuum of spiritual growth, in the progress of their faith. Think of Jephthah’s vow, Gideon’s fleece, Naaman’s pile of dirt … and even some of the (silly) actions you and I have perpetrated “in the name of faith!”
There are two ways I’ve notice that people view these “divorces.”
1. One group calls them indicators of real Revival in Israel, getting right with Almighty God! Separation from sin, victory over carnality! Averting the wrath of God, His judging Hand (again) on Judah!
2. Another outfit calls them cruel and heartless acts, leaving wives homeless and children orphans! A woman-hating society, the feminists howl! Needless procedures!
By the way, the consequences of sin (even these intermarriages) always hurt! Sin does pay “wages!”
There is truth in both the above readings (Revival and Cruelty) … but forsaking sin always bears “double fruit!” One is getting “closer” to God (revival) and another (at the same time) “mortifying” (painful excision) some part of the flesh!
But, bottom line, it is this very Jewish remnant (handful of believers) through whom the Messiah (Jesus) would come some day, about 400 years later to be more exact. And had this line been polluted (by these intermarriages) the results could have been CATASTROPHIC!
Jesus, the Saviour of our lost souls!
Because of Calvary!
The Power of His Blood!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell