When these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass.” Ezr 9:1-2
The remnant of Israel who had been returned to the land, were its holy seed. The people would be planted in the land, and take root, and bear fruit, that is, children who served the LORD their God, walking in His ways. They did not get this idea out of thin air; Isaiah prophesied that the heart of Israel would remain heavy, without repentance, until the land was laid waste and without inhabitant; then a tenth, a remnant, will return to it, who will be its holy seed (Isa 6:9-13). Who will have understanding, whose hearts were not heavy, who walked in repentance and in the ways of the LORD God.
The idea is, the 90% who were content with idolatry and paganism, would remain in Babylon and environs, the ancient mother of idolatry and paganism. The 10% whose hearts yearned for Jerusalem and the LORD their God, would sacrifice all to return to the land when the opportunity arose. The ten percent were the holy seed. This is interesting, because the tithe is always holy to the LORD (Lev 27:30).
The remnant’s concern with the marriages, was for the purity of the seed, or children, for in Torah, it is forbidden to mix seed in a field, so that the next generation will not be the same as the parent generation (Deu 22:9). Is the LORD concerned for seed only? Yes, He is concerned for seed, but also, He is teaching a lesson about passing the faith of the parents to the next generation. This is a seamless process when the purity of the seed is protected; i.e., the parents are both equal (2 Cor 6:14), and the father himself obeys the word of the LORD God (Deu 30:1-6), and teaches God’s word to his children (Deu 6:6-7).
When the parents are of the same spiritual geneaology (there are two spiritual geneaologies: the righteous and the unrighteous, the light and the darkness, the clean and the unclean), then the children are guaranteed to be of the same geneaology as the parents. The natural world illustrates this truth of the spiritual world, which is the substance that casts the shadow of the natural world: if both parents pass the same gene to their child, then that gene is guaranteed to be expressed in their child.
But when the parents are of different spiritual geneaologies, then the children are guaranteed to be mixture of light and darkness. Darkness is like leaven, a little leaven grows until the whole lump is leavened. So while children can be rescued, or purified, of their mixed genealogy, it is a hard row to hoe. Removing impurity requires trial by fire, and that is always painful. The LORD gives His commandments for us to obey in order to bless us. It is far easier to protect the purity of the seed in the first place, than to try to purify the seed by fire, melting heat, sorrow, and consequences later.
So then why does Paul teach that if one parent is holy, they have purified their children (1 Cor 7:12-14)? The question has to do with the condition of husband and wife when they were yoked, or married. Listen, if you are a believer, do not become unequally yoked with an unbeliever. If you are an unbeliever, become yoked with an unbeliever, but if you are a believer, become yoked with a believer. Remain equal! Paul is teaching the church at Corinth, who were presumably all Greeks and pagan unbelievers when they were married. They were not unequally yoked when they were first married!
But then the gospel of grace came into their lives, and a husband here, a wife there heard the word of grace and responded to it. They were washed, cleansed, and transformed from unclean to clean. They were translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His dear Son. Now, in a previously established family, there is an unequal mixing. One parent has become light, the other has remained as they were, darkness.
In that instance, Paul is teaching us, that the commandment “Do not commit adultery” takes the highest precedence. A (believing) wife is not to leave her (unbelieving) husband, nor is the (believing) husband to divorce his (unbelieving) wife. As the Spirit has elected the wife or husband for salvation, that saved spouse is to continue in faith, that the Spirit has also elected their spouses and children for salvation. Why can we have that confidence? Because it is the Spirit Himself whose fruit is unity and purity. It is the Spirit Himself who teaches that a house divided against itself cannot stand. He has sown the Seed of Messiah into that household, so that it would grow and bear fruit: more lives transformed and translated in Messiah. The believing wife or husband is to live in such a way, bearing the fruit of the Spirit (which contains the Seed of the Spirit within it, Messiah Yeshua), that the Spirit can use their witness to draw them to Himself.
Ezra was dealing with marriages which were mixed from the beginning; so that the holy seed willingly chose to be yoked to the unholy. That Israel repented of this sin also, reveals that this remnant was in fact the holy seed, for it is not necessarily perfect sinlessness, but repentance, which characterizes the holy seed.