The people are greatly afflicted by Ezra's prayer, Ezra 10:1. Shechaniah proposes that all who have taken strange wives should put them away, and the children they had by them; and make a covenant to serve God, Ezra 10:2-4. Ezra is encouraged; and make a proclamation to collect the people, to find who had transgressed, Ezra 10:5-8. They come together on the twentieth day of the ninth month, Ezra 10:9. Ezra exhorts them to put away their strange wives, Ezra 10:10. The people agree to it, and require time, Ezra 10:11-14. This being granted, the business is completed by the first of the first month, Ezra 10:15-17. Some of the priests had taken strange wives; their names, and the names of all who were in the same trespass, vv. 18-44.
Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.The people wept very sore - They were deeply affected at the thought of God's displeasure, which they justly feared was about to light upon them, because of their transgressions.
And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.Shechaniah the son of Jehiel - He speaks here in the name of the people, not acknowledging himself culpable, for he is not in the following list. It is in the same form of speech with that in James, James 3:9. With the tongue curse we men. He seems to have been a chief man among the people; and Ezra, at present, stood in need of his influence and support.
Yet now there is hope in Israel - מקוה mikveh, expectation, of pardon; for the people were convinced of the evil, and were deeply penitent: hence it is said, Ezra 10:1, that they wept sore.
Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.Let us make a covenant - נכרת ברית nichrath berith, let us cut or divide the covenant sacrifice. See the notes on Genesis 15:10.
Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee - By the decree of Artaxerxes, he was authorized to do everything that the law of God required: see Ezra 7:23-28. And all officers were commanded to be aiding and assisting; hence Shechaniah says, We are with you.
Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware.And they sware - The thing was evidently contrary to the law of God; and now he bound them by an oath to rectify the abuse.
Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away.Johanan the son of Eliashib - Eliashib was high priest, and was succeeded in that office by his son Joiada, Nehemiah 12:10. Probably Johanan here is the same as Jonathan in Nehemiah, who was the son of Joiada, and grandson of Eliashib. Some suppose that Johanan and Joiada were two names for the same person.
And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem;
And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away.All his substance should be forfeited - To the use of the temple.
So the Septuagint understood the place: Αναθεματισθησεται πασα ἡ ὑπαρξις αυτου, "All his substance shall be devoted to a holy use."
Himself separated - Excommunicated from the Church of God, and exiled from Israel.
Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain.Ninth month - Answering to a part of our December.
Trembling because of - the great rain - Απο του χειμωνος, Because of the winter, Septuagint; it was now December, the coldest and most rainy part of the year in Palestine.
And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel.
Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.Make confession - Acknowledge your sins before God, with deep compunction of heart, and the fullest resolution to forsake them.
Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do.As thou hast said, so must we do - They all resolved to do what Ezra then commanded, they did put away their wives, even those by whom they had children; Ezra 10:44 : this was a great hardship on the women and children. Though by the Jewish laws such marriages were null and void, yet as the women they had taken did not know these laws, their case was deplorable. However, we may take it for granted that each of them received a portion according to the circumstances of their husbands, and that they and their children were not turned away desolate, but had such a provision as their necessities required. Humanity must have dictated this, and no law of God is contrary to humanity. After all, there is some room to doubt whether they did put them finally away, for several years after Nehemiah found Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab; Nehemiah 13:23. And if these were not the same women, we find that the same offense was continued.
But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing.
Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.
Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah were employed about this matter: and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them.
And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain chief of the fathers, after the house of their fathers, and all of them by their names, were separated, and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.
And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month.The first day of the first month - So they were three whole months in examining into this affair, and making those separations which the law required.
And among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives: namely, of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren; Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah.
And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass.They gave their hands - They bound themselves in the most solemn manner to do as the rest of the delinquents had done; and they made all acknowledgment of their iniquity to God by offering each a ram for a trespass-offering.
And of the sons of Immer; Hanani, and Zebadiah.
And of the sons of Harim; Maaseiah, and Elijah, and Shemaiah, and Jehiel, and Uzziah.
And of the sons of Pashur; Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethaneel, Jozabad, and Elasah.
Also of the Levites; Jozabad, and Shimei, and Kelaiah, (the same is Kelita,) Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.
Of the singers also; Eliashib: and of the porters; Shallum, and Telem, and Uri.
Moreover of Israel: of the sons of Parosh; Ramiah, and Jeziah, and Malchiah, and Miamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah.Moreover of Israel - That is, as Calmet observes, simple Israelites, to distinguish them from the priests, Levites, and singers, mentioned in Ezra 10:18, Ezra 10:23, Ezra 10:24.
And of the sons of Elam; Mattaniah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, and Abdi, and Jeremoth, and Eliah.
And of the sons of Zattu; Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, and Jeremoth, and Zabad, and Aziza.
Of the sons also of Bebai; Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.
And of the sons of Bani; Meshullam, Malluch, and Adaiah, Jashub, and Sheal, and Ramoth.
And of the sons of Pahathmoab; Adna, and Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezaleel, and Binnui, and Manasseh.
And of the sons of Harim; Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchiah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,
Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.
Of the sons of Hashum; Mattenai, Mattathah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.
Of the sons of Bani; Maadai, Amram, and Uel,
Benaiah, Bedeiah, Chelluh,
Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,
Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasau,
And Bani, and Binnui, Shimei,
And Shelemiah, and Nathan, and Adaiah,
Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,
Azareel, and Shelemiah, Shemariah,
Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.
Of the sons of Nebo; Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jadau, and Joel, Benaiah.
All these had taken strange wives: and some of them had wives by whom they had children.Some of them had wives by whom they had children - This observation was probably intended to show that only a few of them had children; but it shows also how rigorously the law was put in execution.
According to a passage in Justin Martyr's dialogue with Trypho, a Jew, Ezra offered a paschal lamb on this occasion, and addressed the people thus: "And Ezra said to the people, This passover is our Savior and our Refuge; and if ye will be persuaded of it, and let it enter into your hearts, that we are to humble ourselves to him in a sign, and afterwards shall believe in him, this place shall not be destroyed for ever, saith the Lord of Hosts: but if ye will not believe in him, nor hearken to his preaching, ye shall be a laughing-stock to the Gentiles." - Dial. cum Tryphone, sec. 72.
This passage, Justin says, the Jews, through their enmity to Christ, blotted out of the book of Ezra. He charges them with cancelling several other places through the same spirit of enmity and opposition.
In the Hebrew text this and the following book make but one, though sometimes Nehemiah is distinguished as the second book of Esdras. In the Masoretic enumeration of sections, etc., both books are conjoined. This may be seen at the end of Nehemiah. I can add nothing of importance to the character of Ezra, which has already been given so much in detail in the introduction to this book.
Corrected, March, 1828. - A. Clarke.