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.
2-4. Shechaniah … answered and said unto
Ezra, We have trespassed—This was one of the leading men, who
was not himself a delinquent in the matter, for his name does not occur
in the following list. He spoke in the general name of the people, and
his conduct evinced a tender conscience, as well as no small fortitude
in making such a proposal; for as his father and five paternal uncles
10:26) were involved in the
guilt of unlawful marriages, he showed, by the measure he recommended,
that he deemed it better to obey God than to please his nearest
yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this
thing—This hope, however, depended on timely measures of
reformation, and therefore, instead of surrendering themselves to
despair or despondency, he counselled them to amend their error without
delay, relying on God's mercy for the past. Though the proposal may
seem harsh and cruel, yet in the peculiar circumstances of the Jews it
was just as well as necessary; and he urged the duty of seeing it
executed on Ezra, as the only person competent to carry it into effect,
being possessed of skill and address for so delicate and difficult a
work, and invested by God, and under Him by the Persian king (Ezr
7:23-28), with the requisite
authority to enforce it.
5-8. Then Ezra … went into the chamber of
Johanan—At a private council of the princes and elders held
there, under the presidency of Ezra, it was resolved to enter into a
general covenant to put away their foreign wives and children; that a
proclamation should be made for all who had returned from Babylon to
repair within three days to Jerusalem, under pain of excommunication
and confiscation of their property.
9-11. Then all the men of Judah and
Benjamin—The returned captives belonged chiefly to these
tribes; but other Israelites are also included under these names, as
they all were then occupying the territory formerly assigned to those
It was the ninth month—that is,
between the end of December and the beginning of January, which is the
coldest and most rainy season of the year in Palestine.
all the people sat in the street—that
is, the court.
10-17. Ezra the priest stood up, and
said—Having fully represented the enormity of their sin and
urged them to dissolve their unlawful connections, he was gratified by
receiving a prompt acknowledgment of the justice of his reproof and a
promise of compliance with his recommendation. But as the weather was
ungenial and the defaulters were too numerous to be passed in review at
one time, it was resolved that a commission should be appointed to
examine into the whole matter. These commissioners, assisted by the
judges and elders of the respective cities, made a minute investigation
into every case, and after three months' labor completely removed all
traces of the abuse. Doubtless, an adequate provision was made for the
repudiated wives and children, according to the means and circumstances
of the husbands.
Ezr 10:18-44. Those That Had
Taken Strange Wives.
18. among the sons of the priests—From
the names of so many men of rank appearing in the following list, some
idea may be formed of the great and complicated difficulties attending
the reformatory work.
19. they gave their hands—that is, came
under a solemn engagement, which was usually ratified by pledging the
right hand (Pr 6:1; Eze 17:18). The delinquents of the priestly order
bound themselves to do like the common Israelites (Ezr 10:25), and sought to expiate their sin by
sacrificing a ram as a trespass offering.