But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. We will support you, so take courage and do it." Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, "You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel's guilt.Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Now make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do his will.The common practice among ancient peoples (and in many areas of contemporary society outside of the West) was that the parents would arrange marriages for their children (some of us with older children prefer this pattern).
In Nehemiah's reforms, the Israelites set it down as a binding agreement, "We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons." Later in the rebuilding, when Nehemiah became aware of intermarriage with the pagans, he took it very seriously: Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. I made them take an oath in God's name and said: "You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves.
Esau, who had despised his birthright, had also gone on to displease his father by marrying from among the Canaanites.
This brought untold grief to his parents, and was also a source of much conflict in his own life (Genesis ).
Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives." Consider the human agony in this proclamation -- men being separated from their wives and children!
Yet that was how serious God was about the need for his people to be holy -- separate from the world!