The foundational premise for almost every current study of Persian period or post-Exilic society is that it was dichotomous, split between the returnees and the “people of the land”<span “font-size:12.0pt;font-family:=”” “times=”” roman”,serif;mso-fareast-font-family:”times=”” roman”;mso-ansi-language:=”” en-us;mso-fareast-language:en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””>. Furthermore, the returnees are commonly equated with the elite class in Jerusalem, such as those who officiated in the Temple and in the government who dealt most directly with the Persians. The people who remained in the land, the rural folk, are seen as a source of conflict within Judah and a challenge to the identity of the returnees and these assumptions became entrenched because the books of Ezra and Nehemiah blamed the intermarriage of the returnees with the people of the land as a serious threat to the survival of the community: Ezra 9; Neh 13.
Ezra returned to Judah telling the local men to divorce their wives and leave their children. These women were probably devotees of traditional Yahwism, which combined the worship of Yahweh with other gods. Women could also inherit land and pass it on to their descendants who were not part of the Golah community. The local women therefore had the capacity to expose Golah men to the temptations of the flesh and remove land from the Golah community. Those who were deprived as the result of these policies became destitute and many died of starvation.
Ezra 9 blames the intermingling of the races as the cause for his people’s woe, and why it should be forbidden<span “font-size:12.0pt;font-family:=”” “times=”” roman”,serif;mso-fareast-font-family:”times=”” roman”;mso-ansi-language:=”” en-us;mso-fareast-language:en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””>. This “intermarriage crisis”, as it is commonly referred to, is therefore very important. For Ezra, the problem with foreigners and other non-returnees is that they were associated with “abominations and uncleanliness”, and intermarrying with them threatened Israel’s stability and its prosperity, as represented by land ownership, since God required the people to be clean and free of abominations in order to possess it.
A code in Ezra specifies who could marry who. A Jew could only marry another Jew who had experienced the Exile. Those who had remained in the land during the Exile were unacceptable. Ezra provided a genealogy distinguishing between those who were considered acceptable and those who were not, but it is suspect. Those who had married “other” women were commanded to divorce them. This was motivated by a fear of pollution of the Holy Seed and uncleanliness.
A Holiness code is also described in Ezra Ch 17, holiness being the antithesis of impurity. Ezra’s command was not to mix the Holy Seed. This was a means of consolidating a new identity. On the other hand, Nehemiah offered other, potentially more concrete, reasons for the denunciation of mixed marriages: such marriages produced children who could not speak the Judean language (Neh.13:24), and Solomon’s experience showed that foreign wives can cause a man to sin (Neh. 13:26). Solomon tolerated the worship of gods other than Yahweh, and did so because his foreign wives gave him the opportunity to do so (1 Kings 11).
Related factors include concern about the influence women have on their families. Children would likely learn the language of a foreign mother, and within the household a woman’s religious practices could influence the beliefs and practices of her children and her husband. The culture and religion of the father and the family’s feelings of connection and deference to them could conceivably then be threatened. Marriage also affected property ownership and inheritance, geared as they were in order to protect land tenure. If the wife or the children had strong connections to a community other than that of the husband/father, the land could effectively leave the community’s sphere of influence. In certain circumstances, Jewish women could possess and inherit land<span “font-size:12.0pt;font-family:=”” “times=”” roman”,serif;mso-fareast-font-family:”times=”” roman”;mso-ansi-language:=”” en-us;mso-fareast-language:en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””> and this may also have been the case in Judah. During the post-Exilic period, there was an attempt to reconstitute a new tradition: that the land has been polluted by the intermarriage of those who stayed behind during the exile, so the returnees had to distance ourselves from that.
The consequence was that the local residents – Samaritans who thought of themselves as the direct descendants of the original Northern Kingdom – were without any right to the land, and those who had been deported and gone into Exile, or rather their descendants, those of pure blood, came back with the message that the land belongs to us and we are going to seize it and settle there<span “font-size:12.0pt;font-family:=”” “times=”” roman”,serif;mso-fareast-font-family:”times=”” roman”;mso-ansi-language:=”” en-us;mso-fareast-language:en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””>.
However, not everyone agreed with the prohibition and according to the Chronicler in 2 Chronicles, Hezekiah invited “all Israel”, north and south, to the Passover in Jerusalem. He for one did not accept the exclusive, narrow concept of Israel as the Holy Seed and its so-called supremacy. Other signs of resistance were indicated by the fact that some men put off divorcing their foreign wives by waiting till after the rains came<span “font-size:12.0pt;font-family:=”” “times=”” roman”,serif;mso-fareast-font-family:”times=”” roman”;mso-ansi-language:=”” en-us;mso-fareast-language:en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””>. So, not everyone saw the potential inclusion of non-returnees in their community as a problem or threat.
For his part, Ezekiel<a “mso-footnote-id:=”” ftn6″=”” href=”https://elwynshebrewbiblepage.weebly.com/the-inter-marriage-crisis-in-ezra-and-nehemiah.html#_ftn6″ title=””><span “font-size:12.0pt;font-family:=”” “times=”” roman”,serif;mso-fareast-font-family:”times=”” roman”;mso-ansi-language:=”” en-us;mso-fareast-language:en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””> blamed the Levites for not respecting the tradition of purity in worshipping Yahweh. Recounting chapter and verse a litany of Jerusalem’s unfaithfulness, he blames the women who had gone astray from their husbands:
43 Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord GOD: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations.
44 Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.
45 Thou art thy mother’s daughter, that loatheth her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, which loathed their husbands and their children: your mother was a Hittite, and your father an Amorite.
46 And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters.
47 Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways.
48 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.
49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
And these women <em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”” normal”=””>did worship other gods: they were attracted to Asherah because of childbirth. The Queen mother was head of the cult of Ashod. They were perceived as hunting for men’s souls, leading them astray<span “font-size:12.0pt;font-family:=”” “times=”” roman”,serif;mso-fareast-font-family:”times=”” roman”;mso-ansi-language:=”” en-us;mso-fareast-language:en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””>.
 Megan Bishop Moore and Brad E. Kelle, Biblical History and Israel’s Past- The Changing Study of the Bible and History, William B. Eerdmanns Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, UK,2011, pp 443.
 1: Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people 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. 2: For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. 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 astonished.
7: Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.
12: Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth 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.
 In Exodus, Moses’ wife brought a dowry to the marriage.
 Cf the commentary on the Samaritan Pentateuch in “No original autographs”, from Hebrew Bible in Crisis (2012) Lecture 7.
 Ezra 10: 12-14.
 16: 43-49.
 Cf “The strange woman in Proverbs Chs 1-9. Foreign: “a woman to stay away from; strange (in a variety of degrees and applications (foreign, non-relative, adulterous, different, wonderful):
Proverbs 2:16-17: 16 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; 17 Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.
Proverbs 5:3: For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:
Proverbs 5:20: And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?
Proverbs 6:24: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.
Proverbs 7:5: That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.
Proverbs 20:16: Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.
Proverbs 23:27: For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit.
Proverbs 27:13: Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.
Proverbs 30:20: Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.
Judges 11:2: And Gilead’s wife bare him sons; and his wife’s sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father’s house; for thou art the son of a strange woman.
Here is a list of men who married strange wives and suffered for it: 1 Kings 11:8; Ezra 10:2; Ezra 10:10; Ezra 10:11; Ezra 10:14; Ezra 10:17; Ezra 10:18; Ezra 10:44; Neh 13:27.