Ezra 9:1-10:44

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Ezra 9

In studying Ezra, we have already seen –

    I.     The First Return of the Exiles Under Zerubbabel, 1:1 - 2:70

 

This occurred in about 538 B.C.

We have also already seen –

II. The Restoration of the Worship of the Lord, 3:1 - 6:22

 

            A.  The Temple rebuilt, 3:1 - 6:15

 

            B.  The Temple dedicated, 6:16-22

 

This occurred in about 515 B.C.

In addition, we have begun studying –

 III.     Reforms Under Ezra, 7:1 - 10:44

 

This is about 80 years after the return of the exiles under Zerubbabel and about 57 years after the completion of the temple.

 

Chapters 7-10 describe a second return of exiles from Babylon, this time under Ezra in 458 B.C. (7:7). Here Ezra often wrote in the first person (“I” and “we”). Ezra, a priest who knew the Scriptures knew the importance of having the people back where the sacrificial system was being practiced (BKC).

 

            A.  The second return of exiles, 7:1 - 8:36

 

The emphasis in chapters 7 and 8 is on the character of Ezra, which sets the scene for chapters 9 and 10 where sin is uncovered in the postexilic community. Ezra is presented as a man who was strongly motivated by the Law of God (BKC).

 

            B.  The abolition of heathen marriages, 9:1 - 10:44

 

The people’s sin of intermarriage reported (9:1-4) (BKC)

 

Just when things seemed to be going well, Ezra learned of terrible sin among those who had returned from the captivity. These were the same sins which had eventually brought about the captivity in the first place.

 

9:1-4 – (RSB) Ezra had been in Jerusalem about 4½ months (8:31; 10:9) when the officials brought the problem of mixed marriages to his attention. . . . The sin had plagued Israel before (Judg. 3:5-6) and would again later, in the time of Nehemiah and Malachi (Neh. 13:23-28; Mal. 2:11). Ezra inflicted signs of mourning and indignation on himself (cf. Lev. 10:6; Isa. 50:6; Neh. 13:25), fully realizing the gravity of the situation.

Ezra 9:1 Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.

 

9:1 – (RSB) Canaanites, etc., were Semites (i.e. they were descendants of Noah’s son Shem) but pagans; hence the prohibition against intermarriage was not on racial, but on religious, grounds.

Ezra 9:2 For they have taken of their daughters [i.e. they have taken some of their daughters as wives] for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with [i.e. is mixed with] the people of those lands: yea [i.e. indeed], the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass [i.e. has been foremost in this unfaithfulness].

Ezra 9:3 And when I heard this thing, I rent [i.e. tore] my garment and my mantle [i.e. my robe], and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard [i.e. and pulled hair from my head and beard], and sat down astonied [i.e. astonished, appalled].

Ezra 9:4 Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away [i.e. because of the transgression committed by the returned exiles]; and I sat astonied [i.e. astonished, appalled] until the evening sacrifice.

 

Ezra’s prayer to God (9:5-15) (BKC)

Ezra 9:5 And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness [i.e. from my humiliation, from my fasting]; and having rent my garment and my mantle [i.e. my robe], I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God,

 

9:5-15 – (RSB) Similar to the prayers in Dan. 9 and Neh. 9, this is also one of the great prayers of confession in the Bible. Only in verse 6 does Ezra use singular pronouns (“I,” “my”); in the remainder of the prayer, though he is personally guiltless, Ezra associates himself with the guilt of his people. He acknowledges past sins (v. 7), present deliverance (vv. 8-9; the Temple was the nail that supported the whole nation), present sins (vv. 10-12), deserved punishment (vv. 13-14), and the righteousness of God (v. 15). He made no specific request or excuse, but threw himself upon God.

Ezra 9:6 And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush [i.e. too ashamed and humiliated, too ashamed and embarrassed] to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head [i.e. are higher than our heads], and our trespass is grown up [i.e. our guilt has grown up] unto the heavens.

Ezra acknowledges past sins – 9:7

Ezra 9:7 Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass [i.e. we have been in great guilt, we have been very guilty] unto this day; and for [i.e. on account of, because of] our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil [i.e. to plunder], and to confusion of face [i.e. and to humiliation], as it is this day.

Ezra acknowledges present deliverance – 9:8-9

Ezra 9:8 And now for a little space [i.e. for a brief moment, for a little while] grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail [i.e. a peg, a firm place] in his holy place [i.e. in His sanctuary], that our God may lighten [i.e. enlighten] our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage [i.e. and give us a little relief in our bondage,].

Ezra 9:9 For we were bondmen [i.e. slaves in the Babylonian captivity]; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving [i.e. to revive us], to set up [i.e. to raise up, repair] the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof [i.e. to rebuild its ruins], and to give us a wall [i.e. a wall of protection] in Judah and in Jerusalem.

Ezra acknowledges present sins – 9:10-12

Ezra 9:10 And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments,

 

By this question he was acknowledging that the nation had no excuse before God. . . . No explanation was given for the leaders’ disobedience (BKC).

Ezra rehearses God’s commandments –

Ezra 9:11 Which thou [i.e. God] hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness [i.e. the uncleanness] of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness [i.e. with their impurity].

Ezra continues to rehearse God’s commandments –

Ezra 9:12 Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever [i.e. and never seek their peace or prosperity]: that ye may be strong, and eat the good [i.e. the good things] of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.

Ezra acknowledges deserved punishment – 9:13-14

Ezra 9:13 And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass [i.e. and our great guilt], seeing that thou our God hast punished us [i.e. since you our God have punished us] less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this;

Ezra 9:14 Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity [i.e. intermarry, join in marriage] with the people of these abominations [i.e. who commit these abominations]? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping [i.e. or survivors]?

 

The conclusion Ezra reached was that God would be totally just in destroying them in His anger so that no remnant would be left. . . . They deserved even greater punishment than God was giving them. . . . In a nutshell, Ezra was describing the position of all mankind before God. As people disobey the Word of God they stand under His wrath in their guilt. . . (BKC).

Ezra acknowledges the righteousness of God – 9:15

Ezra 9:15 O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped [i.e. for we are left as an escaped remnant], as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses [i.e. in our guilt]: for we cannot stand before thee [i.e. though no one can stand before You] because of this.

 

Ezra’s prayer included no specific request; he simply threw himself on God’s mercy (BKC).

Ezra 10

 

 III.     Reforms Under Ezra (continued), 7:1 - 10:44

            B.  The abolition of heathen marriages (continued), 9:1 - 10:44

 

The people’s confession of sin (chap. 10) (BKC)

 

The people acknowledged their sin – 10:1-4

Ezra 10:1 Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God [i.e. in front of the temple 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 [i.e. very bitterly].

Ezra 10:2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives [i.e. foreign women, pagan wives] of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.

 

10:2 – (RSB) Shechaniah. Spokesman for the offenders, he does not appear in the list of those who had married foreign wives, but his father does (v. 26). He may have based his hope on the promise of Deut. 30:8-10.

 

Deuteronomy 30:8-108 And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day. 9 And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers: 10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.

Shechaniah continues –

Ezra 10:3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them [i.e. all these wives and their children], according to the counsel [i.e. advice] of my lord [i.e. of Ezra], and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.

 

10:3 – (RSB) covenant. The most binding form of selfcommittal they could make. The children would go with their mothers (e.g., Ishmael went with Hagar; Gen. 21:14).

 

Genesis 21:14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

 

. . . He (i.e. Shecaniah) appealed on the basis of the Law of God which was supposed to be the people’s rule of life. The Law also was a safeguard for this situation, for an Israelite could marry a woman from outside the nation if she had become Jewish in faith. Perhaps that is why each marriage was investigated thoroughly (vv. 16-19) – to see if any women had become Jewish proselytes (BKC).

Shechaniah continues –

Ezra 10:4 Arise [i.e. this is addressed to Ezra]; for this matter belongeth unto thee [i.e. this matter is your responsibility]: we also will be with thee [i.e. we will support you]: be of good courage, and do it [i.e. be courageous and do it].

The people took an oath – 10:5-8

Ezra 10:5 Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests [i.e. the leaders of the priests], the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware [i.e. and they swore a solemn oath].

Ezra 10:6 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 [i.e. there], he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away [i.e. because of the guilt of those of the captivity (i.e. of the exiles)].

 

10:6 – (RSB) According to Josephus, Joiakim was high priest at this time, but it is entirely possible that his son, Eliashib, and great-grandson, Johanan (Neh. 12:10), had private rooms in the Temple precincts.

Ezra 10:7 And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity [i.e. the descendants of the captivity, the exiles], that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem [i.e. assemble at Jerusalem];

Ezra 10:8 And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance [i.e. possessions] should be forfeited, and himself separated [i.e. expelled, excluded] from the congregation of those that had been carried away [i.e. from the assembly of those from the captivity, from the assembly of the exiles].

 

10:8 – (RSB) Notice the haste with which the matter was expedited. forfeited. i.e., given to the Temple (Lev. 27:28).

 

Leviticus 27:28 Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the LORD of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the LORD.

The people gathered at the temple – 10:9-15

Ezra 10:9 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 [i.e. were sitting in the open square before the house of God], trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain [i.e. because of heavy rain].

 

10:9 – (RSB) Gathering together on Dec. 8, 457 B.C., the people trembled because of fear of God’s punishment and because of the chilling rain characteristic of that time of the year.

Ezra 10:10 And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives [i.e. married foreign wives, married foreign women], to increase the trespass of Israel [i.e. adding to the guilt of Israel].

Ezra 10:11 Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure [i.e. do His will]: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives [i.e. from the foreign wives, from the pagan wives].

Ezra 10:12 Then all the congregation [i.e. the assembly] answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do.

 

10:13-14 – (RSB) Because of the rain and the time needed to straighten out the many cases, the procedure of verse 14 was agreed upon.

Ezra 10:13 But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain [i.e. it is the rainy season, it is the season for heavy rain], and we are not able to stand without [i.e. outside], neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed [i.e. sinned] in this thing.

Ezra 10:14 Let now our rulers of all the congregation [i.e. assembly] stand [i.e. act for the whole assembly, represent the whole assembly], and let all them which have taken strange wives [i.e. have taken pagan wives, have married foreign wives] in our cities come at appointed times [i.e. at set 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.

Ezra 10:15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah were employed about this matter [i.e. were opposed to this]: and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them [i.e. supported them].

 

10:15 – (RSB) Only four men opposed the plan. were employed about this matter means stood up against the matter.

The marriages examined – 10:16-17

 

10:16-17 – (RSB) Three months were required to complete the investigations.

Ezra 10:16 And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain chief of the fathers [i.e. with certain heads of the father’s households], after the house of their fathers, and all of them by their names [i.e. each of them by name], were separated, and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.

Ezra 10:17 And they made an end with [i.e. finished questioning] all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month.

The offenders listed – 10:18-44

 

10:18-19 – (RSB) The four members of the high priest’s family gave their hands in a special pledge. . . .

 

10:18-42 – (RSB) The names of 113 individuals are listed in these verses (17 priests, 10 Levites, and 86 others).

Ezra 10:18 And among the sons [i.e. descendants] 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.

Ezra 10:19 And they gave their hands [i.e. they pledged, they promised] that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass.

 

10:19 – (RSB) a ram. According to the requirement in Lev. 6:4, 6.

 

Ezra 10:20 And of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Immer; Hanani, and Zebadiah.

Ezra 10:21 And of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Harim; Maaseiah, and Elijah, and Shemaiah, and Jehiel, and Uzziah.

Ezra 10:22 And of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Pashur; Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethaneel, Jozabad, and Elasah.

Ezra 10:23 Also of the Levites; Jozabad, and Shimei, and Kelaiah, (the same is Kelita,) Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.

Ezra 10:24 Of the singers also; Eliashib: and of the porters [i.e. gatekeepers]; Shallum, and Telem, and Uri.

Ezra 10:25 Moreover of Israel: of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Parosh; Ramiah, and Jeziah, and Malchiah, and Miamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah.

Ezra 10:26 And of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Elam; Mattaniah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, and Abdi, and Jeremoth, and Eliah.

Ezra 10:27 And of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Zattu; Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, and Jeremoth, and Zabad, and Aziza.

Ezra 10:28 Of the sons [i.e. descendants] also of Bebai; Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.

Ezra 10:29 And of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Bani; Meshullam, Malluch, and Adaiah, Jashub, and Sheal, and Ramoth.

 

10:29 – (RSB) Meshullam gave up his foreign wife, though he had opposed the agreement (v. 15).

 

Ezra 10:30 And of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Pahathmoab; Adna, and Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezaleel, and Binnui, and Manasseh.

Ezra 10:31 And of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Harim; Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchiah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,

Ezra 10:32 Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.

Ezra 10:33 Of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Hashum; Mattenai, Mattathah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.

Ezra 10:34 Of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Bani; Maadai, Amram, and Uel,

Ezra 10:35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Chelluh,

Ezra 10:36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,

Ezra 10:37 Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasau,

Ezra 10:38 And Bani, and Binnui, Shimei,

Ezra 10:39 And Shelemiah, and Nathan, and Adaiah,

Ezra 10:40 Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,

Ezra 10:41 Azareel, and Shelemiah, Shemariah,

Ezra 10:42 Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.

 

10:42 – (RSB) The presence of children in some families made the separations more difficult but did not stop the divorces. For the moment the nation was purified, though the same sin returned 12 years later (Neh. 10:30), and again 30 years later (Neh. 13:23).

 

Ezra 10:43 Of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Nebo; Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jadau, and Joel, Benaiah.

Ezra 10:44 All these had taken strange wives [i.e. had taken pagan wives, had married foreign women (wives)]: and some of them had wives by whom they had children.

Scriptures
Series

This sermon is the 6th part of the series, Study of Ezra. Other sermons in this series are: