Having told the king of Persia that he trusted in God to care for him, Ezra does not dare to ask for military protection for the trip to Jerusalem. So he humbles himself before God and sets out in faith with the group he was bringing back from exile.
Arriving in Jerusalem, Ezra is shocked to find a great deal of intermarriage with unbelieving people. The leaders had been foremost in this unfaithfulness. The great danger of such intermarriage was that these pagan wives would lead the Jews astray, as had happened over and over again in their history. Because they had been led astray, they had lived the sinful lives which resulted in the exile. Now they were doing the same thing over again. This would once again lead to practices which were abominable in the sight of God.
Therefore, Ezra took drastic measures, which seem unbelievable in the age of tolerance in which we live. He forced the men to send their pagan wives away from them. Interestingly, in the New Testament, Paul says that those with pagan spouses should not separate, but rather be a Christian influence upon their unbelieving spouses. At the same time, the New Testament urges believers to marry only believers. Only where both husband and wife are believers will there be the spiritual bond needed.