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Bible Commentaries
Ezra 9

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

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.

Now when these things were done. The first days after Ezra's arrival in Jerusalem were occupied in executing the different trusts committed to him. The nature and design of the office, with which the royal authority had invested him, was publicly made known to his own people by the formal delivery of the contribution, and the sacred vessels brought from Babylon to the priests to be deposited in the temple. Then his credentials were privately presented to the provincial governors; and, by this prudent orderly proceeding, he put himself in the best position to avail himself of all the advantages guaranteed him by the king. On a superficial view, everything contributed to gratify his patriotic feelings in the apparently flourishing state of the church and country. But a further acquaintance discovered the existence of great corruptions, which demanded immediate correction; and one was particularly brought under his notice as being the source and origin of all others-namely, a serious abuse that was practiced respecting the law of marriage.

The princes came to me, saying. The information they lodged with him was to the effect that numbers of the people, in violation of the divine law (Deuteronomy 7:2-3), had contacted marriages with Gentile women, and that the guilt of the disorderly practice, far from being confined to the lower classes, was shared in by several of the priests and Levites, as well as of the leading men in the country. This great irregularity would inevitably bring many evils in its train; it would encourage and increase idolatry, as well as break down the barriers of distinction which, for important purposes, God had raised between the Israelites and all other people. Ezra foresaw these dangerous consequences; but was overwhelmed with a sense of the difficulty of correcting the evil, when matrimonial alliances had been formed, families had been reared, affections engaged, and important interests established.

Verse 2

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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 3

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.

When I heard this ... I rent my garment and my mantle ... - the outer and inner garment, which was a token not only of great grief, but of dread at the same time of the divine wrath; "plucked off the hair of my head and my beard," which was a still more significant sign of overpowering grief. In order to enter into the causes of this intense sorrow and disappointment, we must endeavour to realize the position of a devout patriot like Ezra, and remember that, though he anticipated many irregularities and disorders in Jerusalem, he was not at all prepared for the awful extent of their prevalence. 'That which a pious pilgrim to Rome, in the time of its most shameless corruptions, would experience, will illustrate the experience of this earnest and faithful Jew. The lamentations of such a pilgrim, when he witnessed that senselessness and profligacy which too plainly betokened the utter absence of any consciousness of their high and privileged position, in the persons who dealt at the earthly center of divine worship, and which, when actually present to him, was so much greater than anything for which rumour had prepared him, would, however, only faintly represent the disappointment and suffering on hearing and seeing what he did hear and see the notes at arriving in Jerusalem' (Drew, 'Scripture Studies,' p. 207).

Verse 4

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 astonied until the evening sacrifice.

Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled ... All the pious people who reverenced God's word, and dreaded its threatenings and judgments, joined with Ezra in bewailing the public sin, and devising the means of redressing it.

I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice, [ mªshowmeem (H8074)] - the primary idea being that of silence, this participle signifies stupified, struck dumb. The intelligence of so gross a violation of God's law by those who had been carried into captivity on account of their sins, and who, though restored, were yet unreformed, produced such a stunning effect on the mind of Ezra, that he remained for awhile incapable either of speech or of action. The hour of the evening sacrifice was the usual time of the people assembling, and at that season, having again rent his hair and garments, he made public prayer and confession of sin.

Verse 5

And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God,

At the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness [ qamtiy (H6965) mita`ªniytiy (H8589)] - I rose up from my humiliation. When fasting, as associated with mourning, the Jews were wont to sit on the ground.

I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God. The burden of his prayer, which was dictated by a deep sense of the emergency, was, that he was overwhelmed at the flagrant enormity of this sin, and the bold impiety of continuing in it, after having, as a people, so recently experienced the heavy marks of the divine displeasure. God had begun to show returning favour to Israel by the restoration of some. But this only aggravated their sin, that so soon after their re-establishment in their native land, they openly violated the express and repeated percepts which commanded them to extirpate the Canaanites. Such conduct, he exclaimed, could issue only in drawing down some great punishment from offended heaven, and ensuring the destruction of the small remnant of us that is left, unless, by the help of divine grace, we repent, and bring forth the fruits of repentance in an immediate and thorough reformation.

Verses 6-7

And said, O my God, I am ashamed and 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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 8

And now for a little space grace hath been shewed 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 may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.

To give us a nail in his holy place. Edifices in ancient times, and in Eastern countries, were much more simple in construction than ours. Nor were they furnished with that variety of accommodation and furniture within of which ours can boast. Hence, one essential requisite was to fix spikes, or large pins, in the walls on which to hang moveables and utensils of common use. These immense nails were fastened in the walls of the apartment in the process of building, and placed in parts which were strong and durable (cf. Isaiah 22:23; Ezekiel 15:3; Zechariah 10:4).

That our God may lighten our eyes - i:e., invigorate us, as the phrase is used to signify, 1 Samuel 14:27-29.

Verse 9

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 to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem, [ gaadeer (H1447)] - a walled place, an enclosure for sheepfolds, or a fence for vineyards (Isaiah 5:5). The expression is peculiarly appropriate and beautiful, considering that Yahweh is frequently represented as "the Shepherd of Israel," and that, having re-collected his dispersed flock, he had, through the subordinate agency of the Persian monarch, placed them securely in their ancient folds in Palestine. Auberlin, Havernick, and others, refer this term to the re-establishment of the city walls (cf. Micah 7:11), but Hengstenberg ('Christology' 3:, p. 204) limits it to the temple also.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezra 9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/ezra-9.html. 1871-8.
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