Ezra Chapter Nine
Ezra mourns for the Jews' conduct. (1-4) Ezra's confession of sins. (5-15)
Commentary on Ezra 9:1-4
(Read Ezra 9:1-4)
Many corruptions lurk out of the view of the most careful rulers. Some of the people disobeyed the express command of God, which forbade all marriages with the heathen, Deuteronomy 7. Disbelief of God's all-sufficiency, is at the bottom of the sorry shifts we make to help ourselves. They exposed themselves and their children to the peril of idolatry, that had ruined their church and nation. Carnal professors may make light of such connexions, and try to explain away the exhortations to be separate; but those who are best acquainted with the word of God, will treat the subject in another manner. They must forebode the worst from such unions. The evils excused, and even pleaded for; by many professors, astonish and cause regret in the true believer. All who profess to be God's people, ought to strengthen those that appear and act against vice and profaneness.
Commentary on Ezra 9:5-15
(Read Ezra 9:5-15)
The sacrifice, especially the evening sacrifice, was a type of the blessed Lamb of God, who in the evening of the world, was to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Ezra's address is a penitent confession of sin, the sin of his people. But let this be the comfort of true penitents, that though their sins reach to the heavens, God's mercy is in the heavens. Ezra, speaking of sin, speaks as one much ashamed. Holy shame is as necessary in true repentance as holy sorrow. Ezra speaks as much amazed. The discoveries of guilt cause amazement; the more we think of sin, the worse it looks. Say, God be merciful to me sinner. Ezra speaks as one much afraid. There is not a surer or saddler presage of ruin, than turning to sin, after great judgments, and great deliverances. Every one in the church of God, has to wonder that he has not wearied out the Lord's patience, and brought destruction upon himself. What then must be the case of the ungodly? But though the true penitent has nothing to plead in his own behalf, the heavenly Advocate pleads most powerfully for him.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Ezra》
 And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.
I rent — Both mine inner and my upper garment.
 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; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.
Evening sacrifice — When the people used to assemble together. All good people ought to own those that appear and act for God against vice and profaneness. Every one that fears God, ought to stand by them, and do what he can to strengthen their hands.
 And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God,
Heaviness — From that mournful posture, and put myself into the posture of a petitioner. He did this at the time of the evening sacrifice, because then devout people used to come into the courts of the temple, that hearing his confession, they likewise might be made sensible of the sins of the people. And he had an eye to that great propitiation, of which that sacrifice was a peculiar type.
 And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.
Our — He includes himself in the number of the transgressors, because he himself was guilty of many sins; and because the princes and priests, and so many of the people having done this, the guilt was now become national.
 Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for 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, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.
Have we been — We are not purged from the guilt of our fathers sins, but we are still feeling the sad effects of them; yea, and are repeating the same sins.
 And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.
A little space — It is but a little while since God hath delivered us, and yet we are already returned to our sin.
A remnant — The far greatest part of the Israelitish nation were yet in captivity.
A nail — Some kind of settlement; whereas before we were tossed and removed from place to place as our masters pleased. It is a metaphor from tents, which are fastened by cords and nails, or pins.
Holy place — In Jerusalem, called the holy city, Nehemiah 11:1,18 Daniel 9:24, which is peculiarly mentioned, because of the temple, which was the nail that fastened their tents and gave them some hopes of continuing in their land.
To lighten — That he might revive and comfort our hearts. For as darkness is often put for a state of sorrow and affliction, so light is put for joy and comfort.
In bondage — For we are not quite delivered, being even here in subjection to our former lords.
 For we were bondmen; 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, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
A wall — The favour of the kings of Persia whose edicts were their security against all those enemies wherewith they were encompassed: and the gracious providence of God, which had planted them in their own land, and watched over them from time to time.
 Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness.
It is unclean — This land is as corrupt as any of the rest of the heathen nations.
 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: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.
Strong — Although you may fancy making leagues and marriages with them, as the only way to establish you, yet I assure you, it will weaken and ruin you, and the contrary course will make you strong.
 O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.
We are — We are here in thy presence, and so are all our sins; we are arraigning ourselves before thy tribunal, acknowledging thee to be just, if thou destroy us.
Before thee — In judgment, as that word is often used, we must needs fall and perish at thy presence.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Ezra》
09 Chapter 9
──《The Biblical Illustrator》
09 Chapter 9
TO EZRA 9\\
Ezra being informed, by some of the princes who complained unto him,
of the marriages of many of the Israelites with the people of the
land, the Canaanites and others, was greatly grieved and distressed,
\\#Ezr 9:1-5\\, upon which he made a confession of their sins to God,
with great shame, sorrow, and contrition, and deprecated the evils
which they deserved, \\#Ezr 9:6-15\\.
Now when these things were done
When the captives with Ezra had refreshed themselves, and weighed the money and vessels they brought, and put them into the hands of proper persons, and offered sacrifices, and delivered the king's commissions to his lieutenants and governors, and shown his own:
the princes came to me;
some of the nobles of Israel, the most religious of them, who were concerned at the corruptions that were among them, though not a sufficient number to reform them:
saying the people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites,
separated themselves from the people of the land:
but joined with them, though not in idolatrous practices, yet by marrying with them, which might lead them into them:
doing according to their abominations;
not serving idols as they did, but imitating them in their marriages: even
of the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites,
Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites;
affinity with many of these was forbidden by an express law, ( Deuteronomy 7:1 Deuteronomy 7:3 ) all but the Moabites, Ammonites, and Egyptians, and from these for the same reason they were to abstain; namely, lest they should be drawn into idolatry; that the priests and Levites should do this, who ought to have known the law, and instructed the people better, was very sad and shocking.
For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for
Some that were widowers not only took wives to themselves of the above nations, either when they were of Babylon, where many of these nations also were, or rather since their return; but they took for their sons also; yea, some that had wives took Heathenish ones to them, see ( Malachi 2:13-15 ) ,
so that the holy seed;
such as the Lord had separated from other nations, chosen them to be an holy people above all others, and devoted them to his service and worship:
have mingled themselves with the people of those lands;
before mentioned, by marrying with them:
yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this
they were the first that went into it, were ringleaders of it, who should by their authority and example have restrained others; or they were
in this first trespass
F9; which was the first gross and capital one the people fell into after their return from the captivity.
F9 (hnavr hzh lemb) "in praevaricatione ista prima", Pagninus, Montanus.
And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle,
&c.] Both inward and outward garments, that which was close to his body, and that which was thrown loose over it; and this he did in token of sorrow and mourning, as if something very dreadful and distressing, see ( Job 1:20 )
and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard;
did not shave them, and so transgressed not the law in ( Leviticus 19:27 ) but plucked off the hair of them, to show his extreme sorrow for what was told him: which has frequently been done by mourners on sorrowful occasions in various nations, see ( Isaiah 15:2 ) . So in the apocryphal "addition" to Esther,
``And laid away her glorious apparel, and put on the garments of anguish and mourning: and instead of precious ointments, she covered her head with ashes and dung, and she humbled her body greatly, and all the places of her joy she filled with her torn hair.'' (Esther 14:2)
she is said to fill every place of joy with the tearing of her hair; and Lavinia in Virgil F11; several passages from Homer F12, and other writers, both Greek and Latin, are mentioned by Bochart F13 as instances of it:
and sat down astonished;
quite amazed at the ingratitude of the people, that after such favours shown them, in returning them from captivity unto their own land, and settling them there, they should give into practices so contrary to the will of God.
F11 Aeneid. 12. prope finem. Vid. Ciceron. Tusc. Quaest. l. 3.
F12 Vid. Iliad. 10. ver. 15. & Iliad. 22. ver. 77, 78, 406. & Iliad. 24. ver. 711.
F13 Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 45. col. 481.
There were assembled unto me everyone that trembled at the
words of the God of Israel
That had a reverence for the word of God, and the things contained in it; feared to break the laws of God, and trembled at his judgments, which they might apprehend would come upon transgressors, see ( Isaiah 46:2 ) ,
because of the transgression of those that had been carried away;
into Babylon, and were now returned, and which was an aggravation of their transgression:
and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice:
or until the ninth hour, as the Syriac version, which was about our three o'clock in the afternoon, at which time the evening sacrifice was offered; perhaps it was in the morning when Ezra first received his information from the princes.
And at the evening sacrifice I rose up from my heaviness
The signs and tokens of it, particularly sitting on the ground; or "from my fasting" F14, having eaten nothing that day, it being early in the morning when he was told the above case:
and having rent my garment and my mantle;
which he had done before, and still kept them on him in the same case:
fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God;
in the posture and with the gesture of an humble supplicant.
F14 (ytynetm) "jejunio meo", Michaelis; so Jarchi.
And said, O my God
Here begins the prayer of Ezra, and that with faith in God as covenant God, even when he was about to make confession of sin, and repentance for it; that prayer is right which is put up in faith, and that repentance genuine which is accompanied with faith, and flows from it:
I am ashamed, and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God;
a true sight and sense of sin causes shame and blushing, and never more than when a man is sensible of his covenant interest in God, and of his grace and favour to him, particularly in the forgiveness of his sin, see ( Ezekiel 16:61 Ezekiel 16:63 )
for our iniquities are increased over our head;
arisen and swelled like mighty waters, which seemed to threaten an overwhelming of them:
and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens;
being done in an open, public, and insolent manner, and in such numbers, that they were, as it were, piled up in heaps, reaching to heaven, and calling down vengeance from thence. Ezra includes himself as being one of the same nation; and these sins being so common were become national ones, which involved all the individuals, and exposed them to the divine resentment.
Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass
unto this day
The sins they were guilty of had been long continued in, which was an aggravation of them:
and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been
delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands;
the ten tribes and their king into the hand of the king of Assyria, the kings of Judah, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah, into the hands of the king of Babylon, with the priests and people:
to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil;
some were slain with the sword, others carried captive, and the houses of them all plundered and spoiled:
and to confusion of face, as it is this day;
being filled with shame when they reflected on their sins, the cause of those evils; and besides, the captivity of the ten tribes continued, and of many others, which exposed them to shame among their neighbours.
And now, for a little space, grace hath been showed from the
Lord our God
It was but a small time since the Lord first began to show favour to them, so that they soon after began to revolt from him; which argued the strange propensity of their minds to that which is evil, and from which they could not be restrained by the recent goodness of God unto them:
to leave us a remnant to escape;
out of captivity, from whence a small number were graciously and safely returned to their own land:
and to give us a nail in his holy place;
a fixed settlement in the land of Judea, the holy land the Lord had chosen, and in the temple, the holy place sacred to his worship; or a prince of their own, Zerubbabel, to be the governor of them, under whom they might enjoy settled happiness and prosperity, see ( Isaiah 22:23 ) ( Zechariah 10:4 ) ,
that our God may lighten our eyes;
refresh our spirits, cheer our souls, and give us light and gladness, see ( 1 Samuel 14:27 )
and give us a little reviving in our bondage;
for they were still in some degree of bondage, being in subjection, and tributaries to the kings of Persia; but yet being returned to their own land, it was as life from the dead unto them, at least it was giving them a little life, liberty, and joy.
For we were bondmen
To the Chaldeans when in Babylon, which was more than the Jews in the times of Christ would own, ( John 8:33 ) ,
yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage;
had not left them to continue in it always:
but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of
moved them to have pity and compassion on them, and release them:
to give us a reviving;
while in captivity, they were as in their graves, and like the dry bones in Ezekiel's vision, but revived upon the proclamation of Cyrus, and the encouragement he gave them to return to their own land:
to set up the house of our God, and repair the desolations thereof;
both to rebuild the temple, and to restore the worship of it:
and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem;
not to set up the walls of Jerusalem, and of other cities, which as yet was not done; but rather the walls of their houses, which they had rebuilt; they had walled houses given them in Judah and Jerusalem; though the word signifies an hedge or fence, such as is about gardens and vineyards, and may denote the protection of the kings of Persia, which was a fence to them against the Samaritans and others; and especially the hedge of divine Providence about them, which guarded and defended them, see ( Job 1:10 ) .
And now, O our God, what shall we say after this?
&c.] What apology or excuse can be made for such ingratitude? what can be said in favour of such a people? what kindness can be expected to be shown to a people who had behaved in so base a manner?
for we have forsaken thy commandments:
particularly those which related to marriages with people of other nations.
saying, the land, unto which ye go to possess it;
meaning the land of Canaan:
is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands,
with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another
with their uncleanness;
which is to be understood not of their idolatries only, but of their incestuous marriages, and impure copulations, on which account the Lord spewed out the old inhabitants of it; for which reason the Jews ought to have been careful not to have defiled it again by similar practices; see ( Leviticus 18:1-30 ) .
Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, nor
take their daughters unto your sons
That is, in marriage, see ( Deuteronomy 7:3 ) , where the prohibition is expressed in the same language:
nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever;
that is, as long as they continue in their idolatries and impurities, see ( Deuteronomy 23:6 ) ,
that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it
for an inheritance to your children for ever;
that they might be strengthened and established in the land into which they were brought, and enjoy all the good things it produced, and leave their children in the possession of it, to hold at least until the Messiah came, see ( Isaiah 1:19 ) .
And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for
our great trespass
As famine, sword, pestilence, and captivity, for their idolatries and other heinous sins:
seeing that our God hast punished us less than our iniquities
for they deserved eternal punishment, whereas it was temporal punishment that was inflicted, and this moderate, and now stopped; the sense is, according to Aben Ezra,
``thou hast refrained from writing some of our sins in the book of remembrance, and thou hast let them down below in the earth, according to the sense of thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea;''
but Jarchi better,
``thou hast refrained thyself from exacting of us all our sins, and hast exacted of us beneath our sins (or less than they deserve), and hast not taken vengeance on us according to all our sins:''
and hast given
us such deliverance as this;
from captivity, which they now enjoyed.
Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity
with the people of these abominations?
&c.] That are guilty of abominable idolatries, and of all uncleanness:
wouldest thou not be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us;
it might be justly expected:
so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?
any left or suffered to escape the wrath of but all consumed by it.
O Lord God of Israel, thou art righteous
And would appear to be so, should Israel be entirely cut off, and utterly consumed for their iniquities:
for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day;
that they remained yet escaped out of captivity, and escaped the wrath and vengeance of God, was not owing to any deserts of theirs, but to the grace and mercy of God, who had not stirred up all his wrath, as their sins deserved:
behold, we are before thee in our trespasses;
to do with us as seems good in thy sight; we have nothing to plead on our behalf, but cast ourselves at thy feet, if so be unmerited favour may be shown us:
for we cannot stand before thee because of this;
this evil of contracting affinity with the nations; we cannot defend ourselves; we cannot plead ignorance of the divine commands; we have nothing to say for ourselves why judgment should not be passed upon us; we leave ourselves in thine hands, and at thy mercy.
── 《John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible – Ezra》