In Ezra 10 the Jews repent of having taken foreign wives and decide to "put them away" even if they had children by them. There seems to be a translation issue as to whether or not the children were also sent packing. Were they sent away?

NIV Ezra 10:44 with footnote

4 Answers 4


Ezra 10:3,5

[3]Let us now make a covenant with our God to divorce our pagan wives and to send them away with their children. We will follow the advice given by you and by the others who respect the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law of God.

[5]So Ezra stood up and demanded that the leaders of the priests and the Levites and all the people of Israel swear that they would do as Shecaniah had said. And they all swore a solemn oath.

Not many had children by the pagan women so it was not that difficulty to put them away (about 113)

Since Shecaniah had proposed that it be done according to the law i.e "bill of divorcement"(Deut 24:1-2)

It would seem they did eventually put away their foreign wives & children after taking an oath to do,but they did it gradual.


Here we have the problem of foreign culture. If like Ruth who becomes a convert to worship God, 'Ger' in Hebrew. She becomes the example of the correct convert, "your God is my God, your people my people" she says with faith. A bad example is the forced conversion of the Edomites was a couple of generations before Herod. Mass conversion but they were still foreign, they kept a few commandments but really did what was right in their own eyes. With Ezra sending away foreign wives these would not be converts only superficial conversions, easy to see if they kept their pre conversion culture. The great claim of Jewish marriage is you need a Jewish mother to be Jewish. So the children went away with their mostly pagan mothers. Culture maybe in the Fathers hands, but upbringing comes from our moral mothers.

  • Somewhat reasonable but lacks any significant evidence.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 3, 2017 at 0:09
  • 1
    It seems they eventually sent away their wives & children since they took an oath Sep 3, 2017 at 4:28

The text makes it very clear that children were sent away with their mothers. It provides several specific lists with names: priests, Levites and other Israelites. It concludes:

All these had married foreign women, and they put them away with their children. (10:44)

I'd add that the text does not say anything about whether these women had accepted the God of Israel. In fact, based on Ezra 4, lineage was more important than the worship of the God of Israel.

Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel, 2 they approached Zerub′babel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, “Let us build with you; for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of E′sar-had′don king of Assyria who brought us here.” 3 But Zerub′babel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”

The "adversaries of Judah and Benjamin" apparently refers the people who lived in the northern tribal areas probably worshiped at Bethel.

The king of Assyria commanded, “Send there one of the priests whom you carried away thence; and let him go and dwell there, and teach them the law of the god of the land.” So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samar′ia came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. (2 Kings 17:27-28)

Thus, a generation prior to Ezra, the future Samaritans were excluded from rebuilding the Temple because, even though they worshiped Israel's God, their bloodlines were impure. It is therefore likely that Ezra used the same principle.


By turning children of these women and their Jewish husbands into orphans Ezra and all those who agreed with him then and now committed a great sin, punishable by mass death (Ex. 22:23).

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