THE SECOND group to return from Babylon to Jerusalem was led by Ezra the priest, who secured permission from the Persian king Artaxerxes in 458 B.C. It was a four-month journey, which the Jews undertook without an armed guard, something that was unheard of in a time when caravan raiders were likely to prey on unsuspecting travelers — especially a group loaded down with more than 30 tons of gold and silver!
Then, in Jerusalem, the people confessed to Ezra that many of the Jews, including priests, had married pagan women during the exile. We discuss the Law concerning marriage with unbelievers and note that this was not a racial thing, it was a command against intermarrying with pagans. It was not an easy thing, but something that was necessary, especially for those who served in the Temple.
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