Ezra 10:1
Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled to him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
X.

(1-6) The covenant of repentance and amendment. Here the narrative assumes another form; and, in accordance with the solemnity of a great public transaction, Ezra adopts the third person.

(1) Before the house of God.—Prostrating himself towards the Temple in the court, where all the people saw him and marked his distress.

Wept very sore.—The evil penetrated domestic life, and the punishment, as was already foreseen by “the women bringing the children with them,” brought special family distress.

(2) Shechaniah.—The son of one of the transgressors (Ezra 10:2), whose action as the representative of the people gives him an honourable memorial in Scripture.

There is hope in Israel.—A noble sentiment for a reformer even at the worst of times.

(3) Special covenants with God—general, as in 2Kings 23:3, and in regard to particular offences, as here, and in Jeremiah 34:8—were familiar in Jewish history. And at all times of critical sin or danger the voluntary intervention of individuals was held in honour. (Comp. Numbers 25:12 seq.)

According to the counsel of my lord.Better, according to, or in, the counsel of the Lord. Ezra would hardly be called “my lord,” nor had he given any counsel.

According to the law.—Which in Deuteronomy 24 prescribes the terms of divorce.

(4) Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee.—The commission given to Ezra (Ezra 7:11 seq.) seems specially referred to, and the deep prostration of his spirit renders the encouragement here given very appropriate. It had its effect: as Ezra’s grief had made the people sorrowful, so their vigour made him energetic.

(5) According to this word.—“According to” occurs three times, and each instance must be noted. First, it was “in the counsel of the Lord” as God’s law, rightly interpreted, demanded this measure, however seemingly harsh; secondly, it was to be done “according to the law;” and, thirdly, according to the present covenant, which, went beyond the law of Moses.

(6) The chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib.—Ezra retired for fasting and prayer into one of the chambers opening on the court. It seems impossible to identify these names with the Eliashib of Nehemiah 12:10 and his grandson. Both names were common.

Ezra 10:1. There assembled unto him a very great congregation — The account of his grief and public expressions thereof in the court before the temple, being in an instant dispersed over all the city, brought a great company together; of men, women, and children — Awakened by the words and examples of this holy priest and wise ruler. See what a happy influence the example of great ones may have on their inferiors!10:1-5 Shechaniah owned the national guilt. The case is sad, but it is not desperate; the disease threatening, but not incurable. Now that the people begin to lament, a spirit of repentance seems to be poured out; now there is hope that God will forgive, and have mercy. The sin that rightly troubles us, shall not ruin us. In melancholy times we must observe what makes for us, as well as against us. And there may be good hopes through grace, even where there is the sense of great guilt before God. The case is plain; what has been done amiss, must be undone again as far as possible; nothing less than this is true repentance. Sin must be put away, with a resolution never to have any thing more to do with it. What has been unjustly got, must be restored. Arise, be of good courage. Weeping, in this case, is good, but reforming is better. As to being unequally yoked with unbelievers, such marriages, it is certain, are sinful, and ought not to be made; but now they are not null, as they were before the gospel did away the separation between Jews and Gentiles.Before the house of God - i. e., in front of the temple, praying toward it 1 Kings 8:30, 1 Kings 8:35; Daniel 6:10, and thus in the sight of all the people who happened at the time to be in the great court. CHAPTER 10

Ezr 10:1-17. Ezra Reforms the Strange Marriages.

1. Now when Ezra had prayed—As this prayer was uttered in public, while there was a general concourse of the people at the time of the evening sacrifice and as it was accompanied with all the demonstrations of poignant sorrow and anguish, it is not surprising that the spectacle of a man so respected, a priest so holy, a governor so dignified as Ezra, appearing distressed and filled with fear at the sad state of things, should produce a deep sensation; and the report of his passionate grief and expressions in the court of the temple having rapidly spread through the city, a great multitude flocked to the spot.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.

Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping,.... Had confessed the sins of the people in prayer and supplication, with many tears:

and casting himself down before the house of God; in the outward court before the temple, his face turned towards it, where he lay prostrate:

there assembled to him out of Israel a very great congregation of men, and women, and children; it was quickly spread abroad, both in Jerusalem and places adjacent, that such a great man, a commissioner from the king of Persia, and a priest of the Jews, was in the utmost distress, rending his garments, and plucking off his hair, and was crying and praying in a vehement manner; which brought a great concourse of people, who concluded some great sins were committed, and sore judgments were coming upon them:

for the people wept very sore; being affected with his confessions, cries, and tears, and fearing wrath would come upon them for their sins.

Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had {a} 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.

(a) He confessed his sins, and the sins of the people.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Chap. Ezra 10:1-5. The People’s Confession and Oath

1. Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed] R.V. Now while Ezra prayed and made confession. The Hebrew shows that the people were assembling during Ezra’s prayer. The report of Ezra’s public grief would quickly spread, and he had maintained his attitude of shame and humiliation throughout the day (Ezra 9:4). The Vulgate ‘Orante Esra et implorante’ is more correct than the LXX. ὡς προσηύξατο Ἔσδρας καὶ ὡς ἐξηγόρευσε.

It will be observed that the 1st person is here dropped, having been maintained since Ezra 7:27. Henceforward the Compiler only adapts instead of quoting Ezra’s memoirs, or perhaps he here makes use of other materials.

‘Made confession’. As in Nehemiah 1:6; Nehemiah 9:2-3; Daniel 9:4; Daniel 9:20; 2 Chronicles 30:22; Leviticus 5:5; Leviticus 16:21; Leviticus 26:40; Numbers 5:7.

casting himself down before the house of God] In the agony of his confession he had ceased to kneel (Ezra 9:5) and had prostrated himself on the ground.

before the house of God] Ezra was probably in one of the outer courts of the Temple, and in prayer turned himself in its direction, cf. 1 Kings 8:30; 1 Kings 8:35; 1 Kings 8:38, &c. 2 Chronicles 20:9 ‘If evil come upon us … we will stand before this house and before thee (for thy name is in this house) and cry unto thee in our affliction, and thou wilt hear and save’, Daniel 6:10. See on Ezra 9:15.

there assembled] R.V. there was gathered together, cf. Ezra 10:7 ‘gather themselves together’.

out of Israel] See Ezra 7:28. The word ‘Israel’ refers here as in Ezra 10:2; Ezra 10:10 to the whole community, not as in Ezra 10:5 to the laity.

a very great congregation … wept] Large numbers were of the same mind with Ezra.Verse 1. - When Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed. Rather, "As Ezra prayed, and as he confessed." (Vulg.: "Orante Esdra et implorante." LXX.: Ως προσηύξατο Ασδρας καὶ ὡς ἐξηγόρευσε Weeping and casting himself down. Ezra had knelt at first (Ezra 9:5); but as he proceeded, and felt more and more the heinousness of the people's transgression, he threw himself forward upon the ground, in the attitude of extremest humiliation. Before the house of God. So far as can be gathered from the context, Ezra was in the great court of the temple when the princes came to him with their information (Ezra 9:1). He at once "sat down astonied" (ver. 8). So he remained until preparations began to be made for the evening sacrifice, when he arose, and took up a position directly in front of the altar and the holy place, towards which he proceeded to pray. Doubtless he had in his mind the words of Solomon, assented to by God (1 Kings 9:3), and pleaded by Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:9): "What prayer and supplication be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands towards this place: then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling-place, and forgive, and do," etc. (1 Kings 8:38, 39). "And now, O our God, what can we say after this? That we have forsaken Thy commandments," זאת, i.e., such proofs of the divine compassion as have just been mentioned. The answer which follows commences with כּי, before which נאמר is mentally repeated: "we can only say that we have forsaken Thy commandments, requited Thy kindness with sins."
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