If Ezra taught even those who didn’t know God about God, why couldn’t he teach the innocent foreign wives and children about God too, rather than sending them away?

My answer to your question is that knowledge of God was not enough to make you part of the post-exile Judahite community. I mentioned in my comment to Zac’s question that other Torah-observing groups existed, such as the group you mention in Takeaway 4 that “turned on” the Judahites. The Elephantine group considered themselves part of the same tradition though they clearly had no copy of the Torah. Ezra’s rule, which is more or less the rule today, is that people’s inheritance and not their belief system made them a Judahite (later Jew).

It was possible to convert. When Paul tried to convert people to the Jesus movement, he got in a dispute with the Jerusalem group (Peter, James) about whether one had to be circumcised and observe the 613 laws (James and Peter believed conversion to Judaism should happen first). When Paul argued that faith was more important than works, he meant that they should not have to follow the laws and be circumcised, which was an obstacle for many non-Jews. 

You will also find disagreement about the bible about whether individual innocence mattered. Some believed the king’s guilt was enough to implicate all his subjects. Deuteronomy says, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.” Ezekiel, who was a deuteronomist, said, “The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. ” But Psalms says, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me..” And Christians believed Adam’s guilt was inherited. 

I mention this disagreement because I want to emphasize that Ezra excluded foreign wives and their children (to the extent he actually did, which I have my doubts about) not because of their guilt or innocence or lack of knowledge about the law, but because they were mixed. Leviticus’s “holiness” or purity laws are very specific about that, and I very much believe Ezra to have been one of the people who wrote them. 

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