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EZRA CHAPTER 10
Shechaniah encourageth Ezra to reform the strange marriages, Ezra 10:1-4.
All Israel swear to do accordingly, Ezra 10:5.
Ezra, mourning, assembleth the people, Ezra 10:6-8.
The people at the exhortation of Ezra repent, and promise amendment, Ezra 10:9-14.
Their care to perform it, Ezra 10:15-17.
The names of them that married strange wives, Ezra 10:18-44.
Awakened by the words and example of this holy priest and great potentate. So inexpressible is the good which is done by the good example, and the evil which is done by the bad example, of a great person, or of a minister. The fame of his great passion of grief, and of his many and public expressions thereof in the court before the temple, being in an instant dispersed over all the city, brought a great company together. The people wept very sore, being greatly affected with Ezra’s prayer, and with the common sin.
1. Because he was guilty in this matter. Or rather,
2. In the name of the people, and their several families, and his own amongst the rest. For this man’s name is not in the following catalogue, but there we have his father, Jehiel, and his father’s brethren, five other sons of his grandfather Elam, Ezra 10:26. It was therefore an evidence of his great courage, and good conscience, that he durst so freely and fully discharge his duty, whereby he showed that he honored God more than his nearest and dearest relations.
There is hope concerning this thing, in case of our repentance and reformation. Therefore let us not sorrow like persons without hope, nor sit down in despair, but let us fall upon action, and amend our errors, and then trust to God’s mercy.
To put away all the wives; which though it may seem harsh, yet is not unjust, if it be considered,
1. That marriages made between some prohibited persons; as suppose, between a father and his daughter, a brother and a sister, are not only unlawful, but void marriages, and ipso facto null, by the political laws of civil nations. And therefore these marriages with idolatrous and heathen women, being expressly and severely forbidden by God, might well be disannulled. And it was one of good Theodosius’s laws, that those actions which were done against law, should be accounted not only unlawful, but null.
2. That there were many peculiar laws given to the Jews concerning the marrying and putting away of wives, as hath been observed before in their proper places, and therefore it is not strange if there be something more in this case that is now usual with us.
3. Supposing the matrimonial tie had continued, yet they might be excluded from cohabitation with them, as a just punishment upon them for the wilful breach of a known and positive law of God.
And such as are born of them: this may seem harder than the former, but many things may be said.
1. Whatsoever evil befell either them or their children, they had all reason to accept it as the just and deserved fruit of their own sin.
2. That children may and sometimes do suffer, at least temporal evils, for their parents’ sins, or upon occasion of them, is most evident, both by the Scripture instances, and by the laws and usages of nations in some cases.
3. This may seem to have been a necessary part of severity, partly, as a proper punishment of the parents’ sin herein, and to deter others more effectually from the like practices; partly, to prevent the corruption of their other children by the conversation and society of this ungodly and idolatrous brood; and partly, lest such children, being continually present with them, and stealing into their affections, might at last prevail with them to take their ejected wives again.
4. These children were only cast out of the families and commonwealth of Israel, but were not utterly forsaken and ruined; but due care was probably taken by authority that they should have some provision made for them, and some care taken about their education in the Jewish religion, &c.
According to the counsel of my lord; either,
1. As thou counsellest and desirest us to do. Or,
2. Let us do it in such manner as thou shalt think fit and agreeable to the law, as it follows; for it requires great caution, as being a matter of no small difficulty.
And of those that tremble at the commandment of our God: and of other serious and religious persons who may with thee consider and regulate the business.
Let it be done according to the law: this is meant, either,
1. Of the matter of the business, let that be done which the law requires; let them be put away. Or,
2. Of the manner of it, which must be according to the rules of God’s law.
This matter belongeth unto thee; because thou hast both skill to manage it, and authority both from God and from the Persian king to do it.
Went into the chamber, that he with the princes and elders, as it follows, Ezra 10:8, might consult about the execution of their resolution.
Either by banishment; or rather, by excommunication from the church, and people, and house, and public worship of God.
All the men of Judah and Benjamin not only of these two tribes, as appears from the following catalogue, where there are priests and Levites; but all the Israelites, Ezra 10:25, who are thus described, partly because the greatest part of them were of these tribes, though others were mixed with them; and partly because they all now dwelt in that land which formerly was appropriated to those tribes.
In the street of the house of God; in that street of the city which was next to the temple, and within the view of it, that so they might be as in God’s presence, whereby they might be awed to a more faithful and vigorous prosecution of their work. And this place they might choose rather than the court of the people, because they thought it might be polluted by the delinquents, who were all to come thither.
For the great rain, which they took for a token of God’s displeasure against them.
Do his pleasure; you have sinfully pleased yourselves, now please God by your obedience to his command.
Let our rulers of all the congregation stand; let the great council, called the Sanhedrim, be settled, and meet to judge and determine of all particular causes.
Them which have taken strange wives, to wit, of these heathen nations, such as were not proselyted to the Jewish religion before their marriage, or since revolted from it.
The elders of every city, and the judges thereof; who are best able to inform the great council of the quality of the persons, and of all matters of fact and circumstances.
Until the fierce wrath of our God be turned from us, i.e. until the thing be done, and God’s wrath thereby removed.
To wit, to take due care that the business should be executed in the manner proposed, that the officers and delinquents of every city should come successively in convenient time and order, as these should appoint, and to take and keep an exact account of the whole transaction, and of the names of the cities and persons whose causes were despatched, and to give notice to others to come in their turns, and to prepare the business for the hearing of the judges. And these two were priests, as their coadjutors or helpers were Levites; that so they might inform the persons concerned, if any matter of doubt did arise.
Were separated, i.e. sequestered themselves from all other business, and gave themselves wholly to this.
They gave their hand, i.e. they covenanted or swore by giving their hand; which was the usual gesture in those cases; of which see Leviticus 6:2; Ezekiel 17:18.
Of Israel, i.e. of the people of Israel, distinguished from the priests and the Levites hitherto named, who before were called Judah and Benjamin, Ezra 10:9, See Poole "Ezra 10:9".
Whereby he implies that most of their wives were barren; which came to pass by God’s special providence, partly to manifest his displeasure against such matches, and partly that the practice of this great and necessary duty might not be encumbered with too many difficulties.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezra 10". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20