Ezra 9
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Listen to this chapter in Hebrew:

1  Now when these things were done, the princes drew near unto me, saying: ‘The people of Yisrael, and the Kohanim and the Leviim, have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.

א  וּכְכַלּוֹת אֵלֶּה נִגְּשׁוּ אֵלַי הַשָּׂרִים לֵאמֹר לֹא נִבְדְּלוּ הָעָם יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהַכֹּהֲנִים וְהַלְוִיִּם מֵעַמֵּי הָאֲרָצוֹת כְּתֹעֲבֹתֵיהֶם לַכְּנַעֲנִי הַחִתִּי הַפְּרִזִּי הַיְבוּסִי הָעַמֹּנִי הַמֹּאָבִי הַמִּצְרִי וְהָאֱמֹרִי.

2  For they have taken of their daughters for themselves and for their sons; so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the peoples of the lands; yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been first in this faithlessness.’

ב  כִּי נָשְׂאוּ מִבְּנֹתֵיהֶם לָהֶם וְלִבְנֵיהֶם וְהִתְעָרְבוּ זֶרַע הַקֹּדֶשׁ בְּעַמֵּי הָאֲרָצוֹת וְיַד הַשָּׂרִים וְהַסְּגָנִים הָיְתָה בַּמַּעַל הַזֶּה רִאשׁוֹנָה.

3  And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down appalled.

ג  וּכְשָׁמְעִי אֶת הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה קָרַעְתִּי אֶת בִּגְדִי וּמְעִילִי וָאֶמְרְטָה מִשְּׂעַר רֹאשִׁי וּזְקָנִי וָאֵשְׁבָה מְשׁוֹמֵם.

4  Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Yisrael, because of the faithlessness of them of the captivity; and I sat appalled until the evening offering.

ד  וְאֵלַי יֵאָסְפוּ כֹּל חָרֵד בְּדִבְרֵי אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל מַעַל הַגּוֹלָה וַאֲנִי יֹשֵׁב מְשׁוֹמֵם עַד לְמִנְחַת הָעָרֶב.

5  And at the evening offering I arose up from my fasting, even with my garment and my mantle rent; and I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto Hashem my God;

ה  וּבְמִנְחַת הָעֶרֶב קַמְתִּי מִתַּעֲנִיתִי וּבְקָרְעִי בִגְדִי וּמְעִילִי וָאֶכְרְעָה עַל בִּרְכַּי וָאֶפְרְשָׂה כַפַּי אֶל יְהוָה אֱלֹהָי.

6  and I said: ‘O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our guiltiness is grown up unto the heavens.

ו  וָאֹמְרָה אֱלֹהַי בֹּשְׁתִּי וְנִכְלַמְתִּי לְהָרִים אֱלֹהַי פָּנַי אֵלֶיךָ כִּי עֲו‍ֹנֹתֵינוּ רָבוּ לְמַעְלָה רֹּאשׁ וְאַשְׁמָתֵנוּ גָדְלָה עַד לַשָּׁמָיִם.

7  Since the days of our fathers we have been exceeding guilty unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our Kohanim, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to spoiling, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.

ז  מִימֵי אֲבֹתֵינוּ אֲנַחְנוּ בְּאַשְׁמָה גְדֹלָה עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה וּבַעֲו‍ֹנֹתֵינוּ נִתַּנּוּ אֲנַחְנוּ מְלָכֵינוּ כֹהֲנֵינוּ בְּיַד מַלְכֵי הָאֲרָצוֹת בַּחֶרֶב בַּשְּׁבִי וּבַבִּזָּה וּבְבֹשֶׁת פָּנִים כְּהַיּוֹם הַזֶּה.

8  And now for a little moment grace hath been shown from Hashem our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in His holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.

ח  וְעַתָּה כִּמְעַט רֶגַע הָיְתָה תְחִנָּה מֵאֵת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ לְהַשְׁאִיר לָנוּ פְּלֵיטָה וְלָתֶת לָנוּ יָתֵד בִּמְקוֹם קָדְשׁוֹ לְהָאִיר עֵינֵינוּ אֱלֹהֵינוּ וּלְתִתֵּנוּ מִחְיָה מְעַט בְּעַבְדֻתֵנוּ.

9  For we are bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Paras, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the ruins thereof, and to give us a fence in Yehuda and in Yerushalayim.

ט  כִּי עֲבָדִים אֲנַחְנוּ וּבְעַבְדֻתֵנוּ לֹא עֲזָבָנוּ אֱלֹהֵינוּ וַיַּט עָלֵינוּ חֶסֶד לִפְנֵי מַלְכֵי פָרַס לָתֶת לָנוּ מִחְיָה לְרוֹמֵם אֶת בֵּית אֱלֹהֵינוּ וּלְהַעֲמִיד אֶת חָרְבֹתָיו וְלָתֶת לָנוּ גָדֵר בִּיהוּדָה וּבִירוּשָׁלִָם.

10  And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken Thy commandments,

י  וְעַתָּה מַה נֹּאמַר אֱלֹהֵינוּ אַחֲרֵי זֹאת כִּי עָזַבְנוּ מִצְו‍ֹתֶיךָ.

11  which Thou hast commanded by Thy servants the Neviim, saying: The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land through the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, through their abominations, wherewith they have filled it from one end to another with their filthiness.

a-SHER tzi-VEE-ta b’-YAD a-va-DE-kha ha-n’-vee-EEM lay-MOR ha-A-retz a-SHER a-TEM ba-EEM l’-rish-TAH E-retz ni-DAH hee b’-ni-DAT a-MAY ha-a-ra-TZOT b’-to-a-vo-tay-HEM a-SHER mil-U-ha mi-PEH el peh b’-tum-a-TAM

יא  אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתָ בְּיַד עֲבָדֶיךָ הַנְּבִיאִים לֵאמֹר הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם בָּאִים לְרִשְׁתָּהּ אֶרֶץ נִדָּה הִיא בְּנִדַּת עַמֵּי הָאֲרָצוֹת בְּתוֹעֲבֹתֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר מִלְאוּהָ מִפֶּה אֶל פֶּה בְּטֻמְאָתָם.

9:11 The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land through the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands

The Sages wonder why the Torah, which is often thought of as a book of law, begins with the story of creation instead of the first commandment. They explain that God chose to start the Bible this way, so that if the nations of the world accuse the Jews of stealing the Land of Israel, they will be able point to the Bible which begins by telling us that God created heaven and earth. Since God is the Creator of the world, He may give it to whomever He wishes. With this realization, it is understood that the Land of Israel is God’s to give to Abraham and his descendants. Possession of the Land of Israel, however, is dependant on adherence to the commandments and God’s code of ethical conduct, as expressed in these verses.

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12  Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their prosperity for ever; that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.

יב  וְעַתָּה בְּנוֹתֵיכֶם אַל תִּתְּנוּ לִבְנֵיהֶם וּבְנֹתֵיהֶם אַל תִּשְׂאוּ לִבְנֵיכֶם וְלֹא תִדְרְשׁוּ שְׁלֹמָם וְטוֹבָתָם עַד עוֹלָם לְמַעַן תֶּחֶזְקוּ וַאֲכַלְתֶּם אֶת טוּב הָאָרֶץ וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּם לִבְנֵיכֶם עַד עוֹלָם.

13  And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great guilt, seeing that Thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such a remnant,

יג  וְאַחֲרֵי כָּל הַבָּא עָלֵינוּ בְּמַעֲשֵׂינוּ הָרָעִים וּבְאַשְׁמָתֵנוּ הַגְּדֹלָה כִּי אַתָּה אֱלֹהֵינוּ חָשַׂכְתָּ לְמַטָּה מֵעֲו‍ֹנֵנוּ וְנָתַתָּה לָּנוּ פְּלֵיטָה כָּזֹאת.

14  shall we again break Thy commandments, and make marriages with the peoples that do these abominations? wouldest not Thou be angry with us till Thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape?

יד  הֲנָשׁוּב לְהָפֵר מִצְו‍ֹתֶיךָ וּלְהִתְחַתֵּן בְּעַמֵּי הַתֹּעֵבוֹת הָאֵלֶּה הֲלוֹא תֶאֱנַף בָּנוּ עַד כַּלֵּה לְאֵין שְׁאֵרִית וּפְלֵיטָה.

15  O Hashem, the God of Yisrael, Thou art righteous; for we are left a remnant that is escaped, as it is this day; behold, we are before Thee in our guiltiness; for none can stand before Thee because of this.’

טו  יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל צַדִּיק אַתָּה כִּי נִשְׁאַרְנוּ פְלֵיטָה כְּהַיּוֹם הַזֶּה הִנְנוּ לְפָנֶיךָ בְּאַשְׁמָתֵינוּ כִּי אֵין לַעֲמוֹד לְפָנֶיךָ עַל זֹאת.

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Ezra 9