And so the book of Ezra ends on a tragic note. This is one of those passages that stands out for me; it breaks my heart. I’m trying to picture the faith–if that’s what it was–that would compel an entire people to send away their wives and children. The reference to”Holy seed” of course, reminds us that the Hebrews–the first people, as a people, who embraced and loved one God and one only–also tied that God to their blood. In the context of the day, it makes sense. The repercussions for the future are ominous.
I’m sure the Hebrews were not the first people to practice racism. I suspect it’s something in our blood, something we’ve been doing since before we came down out of the trees. This god, Yahweh, was unique. He had no past, no mythological origin, no parents, brothers, sisters, fellow gods–nothing. And out of nothing, he makes everything–by speaking. This god needed to be preserved until he becomes a man–who then releases this god for all to share in.
But back to the human pathos of this story. Sending your wives (Or husbands) and children away, simply to maintain the purity of your faith, for a greater end, for the future of the world. And what happens to those that are sent away? Their fate is not treated as relevant to the story. Presumably they go back to their families of origin, to their people. Divorce, although permitted by Mosaic law, is not mentioned; the men of course are free to marry other women. Multiple women if they choose.
As usual, my Bible meanderings bring up more questions than answers. I would like to make sense of it all in more than just a philosophical way–“they needed to carry the faith forward, undiluted”–that ignores the mass grief of the scene. As one who has experienced grief, the personal implications are too strong to be ignored. How to reconcile the very human hurt here with the utterly noble ideal of a future with God?