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Bible Commentaries
Ezra 9

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-15

Chapter 9

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. 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 ( Ezra 9:1-2 ).

Now they came to Ezra and they gave to him this awesome report. For God said to them when they had come in to the land that they weren't to take any of the daughters for their own sons or give their daughters to their sons to be married. That they were to be a separate people, a holy people unto God. And they weren't to have any intermarriages with the other tribe. The reason being that God was preserving the holy seed for the coming of His Son. Also, they were, there was the danger that they would begin to worship the gods of the Canaanites and the Perizzites and all. So God forbid inter-racial marriages only for the Jews. And I think that it's important we point this out.

God did not make a general prohibition of inter-racial marriages. There are those who try to make out that inter-racial marriages are against the Scriptures. That is not so. It was only for the Jews that God commanded them not to marry inter-racially with those inhabitants of the land. But even Boaz, the great grandfather of David, married a Moabitess. And from that, of course, Christ was in that line. But the prohibition was not to marry the people of the land, lest you turn to their gods and turn away from the living God.

So they bring the report to Ezra now, "Since they've returned, these guys haven't been keeping the law of God. They've been marrying these gals and actually the priests and the chief leaders are some of the worst offenders." Now the effect that this had on Ezra was just overwhelming. You see, Ezra had come back to teach them the law of God. He was a teacher and a ready scribe, and his whole purpose in returning was to teach the people the law of God. And here they had been for seventy years in captivity in Babylon because of their idolatry, because of their disobedience to God, and now they've been in the land again for just about eighty years, but they're right back in their old idolatry. And it's just more than Ezra can believe. He's just astonished.

When I heard this thing, I tore my clothes and my mantle, I pulled my hair out of my head and off my beard, and I sat down astonished ( Ezra 9:3 ).

"I can't believe this!" And so he pulls out his hair, beard, tears his clothes and just sits down there astonished.

And then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice. And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having torn my garment and my mantle, I fell on my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, and I said, O my God, I am ashamed and I blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. For 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. And now for a little space grace hath been showed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God might lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments, which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness. 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. And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this ( Ezra 9:4-15 ).

So Ezra's tremendous prayer unto God. Shows that he does have a good knowledge of the law of God which he came to teach the people. Shows that he does have a good concept of the will of God and of the purpose of God for the people, and offers his prayer before God, acknowledging that the judgments of God really were merciful. He did not judge them as much as they deserved. And here they're going right back and doing the same thing. "God, what can I say? We are lucky that you haven't wiped out us completely. We're fortunate that we still exist." And so he calls out unto God for the people. And so they come to him, the leaders and the people and they said, "We've done a terrible thing." And so this was the remedy.

Those who had married wives from the land were to put them away and the children. It seems like a very harsh measure indeed. But they were to divorce all of those wives that were not Israelites. And all of the children that were born of them were to be put out. They said, "Hey, give us a little time to do it because there's quite a few of us that have trespassed in this thing." And so they took this very stringent measure in putting them out.

Now I did mention that inter-racial marriages were only forbidden to the Jews, but there is for we, Christians, the injunction: "Be not unequally yoked together with an unbeliever." So you should never go into a marriage with an unbeliever. You're just violating the law of God. "What fellowship hath light with darkness? What communion, concord hath Christ with Belial?" ( 2 Corinthians 6:14 , 2 Corinthians 6:15 ) "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezra 9". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/ezra-9.html. 2014.
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