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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Ezra 10

Verses 1-44

Ezra 10:6 . When he came. It should read, till he came thither, as appears from chap. Ezra 9:4, and at a late hour after the evening devotion.

Ezra 10:9 . It was the ninth month, the depth of winter. The offenders sat in the streets, trembling because of sin, and shivering because of the rain. Learn then, ye magistrates, to suppress vice in time, and let not the force of wicked practices become too strong for reformation.

Ezra 10:15 . Were employed about this matter. Dr. Lightfoot reads, “opposed the matter.” This reading quite relieves the text, for surely, not four, but forty or more were employed in this great work. These two refractory men stood up against Ezra, and were supported by the two levites. Times are awful indeed when the ministers of religion are the advocates of sin.

REFLECTIONS.

To purge and guard the purity of the church, is the most laudable work of pastors and elders. No man in the house of God, be his rank and fortune what they may, must set himself up above the laws of God. The venerable Ezra was greatly afflicted to find his country deeply immersed in the very crimes which had so often been the source of Israel’s ruin; and a considerable list of the principal persons in the nation were the chief offenders. But his tears were not shed in vain; his prayers were heard in heaven, and grace was given to soften and affect their hearts. Some of the offenders willingly came forward to comply with the law, not only to put away their wives, but so far as to alienate the issue of those impure marriages, that the children should not inherit the family lot.

Shechaniah, pure in his morals and noble in his zeal, came forward to support the pious governor in the work. This conduct appears to the more advantage when it is considered, that both his father and his son had offended: Ezra 10:18; Ezra 10:26. When acting for God we must not be biassed by interest, nor be afraid of man, nor relaxed by the obligations of affinity. When the severer discipline of the church is exercised with wisdom and purity, the wicked will be constrained to revere it as the agency of heaven.

The offenders, not willing to reform, were compelled to do it under the penalty of excommunication, and the loss of their estates. This measure, considering the nature of the Hebrew theocracy, was perfectly right. The whole land was the gift of God to Abraham and his seed; and the spurious children of women descended from the seven nations, had no right to enjoy it; nor could they retain in church fellowship the men who had openly trampled on the divine law. Deuteronomy 7:3. This was purging the church and nation from being partakers of other men’s sin. Every obstinate man must in that case bear his own iniquity; and the nation would still retain the favour of God.

The measure was not only begun by fasting and prayer, and firmly resolved in counsel, but officers were appointed, who in conjunction with the elders of every city were to carry it into immediate effect. Here we have to regret, that christian nations are now far below the morals of the Jews. How many daring and wicked men does our nation afford, who despise marriage, and yet retain the privilege of the christian name. How many characters of this kind, insult both decency and law; and neither magistrate nor minister makes them ashamed.

We regret, at the close of this chapter, to find among the offenders the sons of Jeshua, the late highpriest, and four of his kindred. This is awful in the extreme. When ministers of religion are captivated by lawless passions, their finest discourses are to the people but as a putrid carcase. They infect the whole circle of society, and involve their superiors in guilt for the neglect of proper discipline. Let us ever pray that the church and nation may be adorned with men of Ezra’s piety and zeal. Under their administration of justice and discipline, the sources of morality are purified, religion prospers, and the smiles of heaven crown the age with every blessing.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezra 10". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/ezra-10.html. 1835.