Ezra 10:1-44


Verse 1, 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.

I.    It is not until Ezra prays with sorrow that God moves the people to come to him.

A.  When Ezra first heard about the sin, nobody came forward to help him, other than those that told him about the sin.

1.   These people might not have helped Ezra cleanse the land.

2.   I have known people who told me about a particular sin, yet when the time came to clean up the problem, they were nowhere to be found.

B.   Ezra's anguish.

1.   He prayed to God, not from a formal manner, but from a broken heart.

2.   He confessed, not in a sense of obligation, but truly recognizing the greatness of God and the wickedness of Israel.

3.   He wept, not "crocodile tears", but real tears from a broken heart to a loving, just God who demands perfection from an imperfect people.

4.   He cast himself down before the house of God.

a.   This is the dwelling place of God.

b.   Ezra didn't demand that God come to him, but humbly sought the Lord at His dwelling place.

C.   Probably the faithful, those that told Ezra, spread the word that Ezra knows about the sin, and that he is weeping and praying to God.

1.   It is at this point that God uses this Word to convict the hearts of all Israel that they have sinned a grievous sin.

2.   They first begin private confession, then this turns into public confession as they come forward to aid Ezra in straightening out this mess so God can bless them once again.


II.   Another group of people gather themselves around Ezra.

A.  In Ezra 9:4, some people gathered around Ezra.

1.   These are probably the same people who told him about the sin.

2.   They are there to help, comfort and back Ezra in whatever God lays on his heart.

B.   This group of people seem to be in addition to the first group.

1.   These people come from all Israel.

2.   They are very distraught over their condition and have come to stand behind Ezra because he is the man of God.

C.   It is very interesting that the men and women bring their children!

1.   This is very probably entire families.

2.   These husbands and wives realize that their young children must understand what a terrible sin interfaith marriage is.

3.   It is very likely that the children know what is going on anyway: it is very difficult to hide something like this from children.

4.   This scene will be permanently embedded on the minds of these children so when it comes time for them to seek husbands and wives, they will seek God's partner, staying away from the ways of the heathen.

5.   May it be so today, that we will so teach our children what a terrible sin it is to marry unbelievers.


III. The people wept sore.

A.  It must be noted that this sin was among the people all the time.

1.   They have lived in and endured this sin, almost taking it for granted that this is the way things will be.

2.   They are also broken hearted because of it, but their brokenness seems to have been stifled because they perhaps thought nothing could be done.

B.   We can become this way.

1.   When sin is around us, we learn to live with it there.

2.   We know it isn't right, but there doesn't seem to be anything we can do about it, so we endure it to the point of thinking that it will always be that way, and there is nothing we can do about it.

C.   As long as there is knowledge of sin, something can be done about it.

1.   It is when we don't believe it is a sin that nothing can be done.

2.   There is a point, and I don't know exactly where that point is, that our knowledge of what sin is becomes dulled to the point that we don't recognize it as a sin; then it becomes impossible to correct.

3.   Israel is almost at that point, but not quite.

4.   May God help us not to get to that point.


Verse 2, 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.

I.    Who is Shechaniah?

A.  His genealogy is as follows:

1.   Elam - Grandfather.  (this verse)

2.   Jehiel - Father.  (This verse) 

3.   Shechaniah - A priest.  (A comparison of Ezra 10:18 and 26 shows that Shechaniah was a priest.)

4.   Shemaiah - Son of Shechaniah.  (Nehemiah 3:29 finds this man repairing the wall during the time of Nehemiah.)

B.   Standing against your family.

1.   It is very interesting to discover that even though Shemaiah's uncles took strange wives, it didn't stop Shemaiah from serving God.

2.   If Shechaniah hadn't stood for the truth (against his own brothers) the story might have been different.

C.   The importance of Shechaniah.

1.   Many people could have offered this same solution to the problem, but none so effectively as Shechaniah.

2.   According to Ezra 10:26, his brothers were some of the priests who had taken a strange wives.

3.   This shows us the strength and character of this man who will stand against his own family when they are wrong.

4.   Most people will stand for the truth only when they don't have to stand against their families.

5.   It takes real conviction and courage to stand for the truth when the truth is against those we love and respect.

6.   This also shows there is a difference between love and respect.

a.   Shechaniah loved his brother, but also loved the truth.

b.   He didn't love his brother's error.


II.   Shechaniah's statement.

A.  He confesses their sin.

1.   Notice the word "we".

2.   Shechaniah includes himself in the sin of taking strange wives even though he had not taken a strange wife.

3.   They are confessing the sins of Israel as a nation.

4.   The innocent in Israel will go into captivity just as quickly as those that are guilty.

5.   If a church is guilty of public sin, the innocent will also be judged along with the guilty.

6.   The innocent won't have to pay in the same way as the guilty, but when their church is judged of God, and they are in that church, they will also be judged.

7.   This fact makes it very necessary for us to watch out for one another, keeping each other from sin so that our church won't sin and cast us all into the judgment of God.

B.   It is good to hear there is hope.

1.   Ezra believes there is no hope for Israel.

2.   He knows God would be just in judging Israel for their sins.

3.   He expects God to cast Israel back into captivity for their great sin.

C.   Why does Shechaniah believe there is hope?

1.   Because now the people know that they have sinned against God.

2.   There is no doubt some of the people already knew they had sinned in taking these strange wives.

3.   But sometimes, an act feels so "normal" that we don't realize that act is a sin against God: our minds and hearts become dulled to the truth.

4.   Hosea 6:4 - Our people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge.

5.   Now that the people know they have sinned, they can repent, and ask forgiveness.

6.   If God will forgive their sin, there is hope.

D.  It is necessary to notice that Shechaniah is not mentioned after he makes this address.

1.   He is not a "leader" of Israel, but his leadership certainly shows up at the right time.

2.   A lot of "leaders" are trying to make a name for themselves, and wind up showing how stupid they really are.

3.   When God gives us something to do or say, then let us do or say it.

4.   If God doesn't give us something to do or say, then let us do and say nothing.


Verse 3, 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.

I.    We must notice that the solution to the problem comes from the people, not from Ezra.

A.  This doesn't mean that in every case the solution will come from the people, and not from the leaders God has placed over the people.

1.   Nehemiah, in Nehemiah 5:7, consulted with himself, not with anybody else.

2.   Nehemiah arrived at a solution and caused that solution to work.

B.   Neither Ezra or Nehemiah were wrong in the way they arrived at a solution.

1.   Both were right, both were used of God, and both solutions worked.

2.   The important thing to notice is that God's will was done, regardless of who came up with the idea.

C.   Some people have the idea that church members must be involved with every problem and solution, while others believe that only the pastor must be involved in every problem and solution.

1.   Both are wrong.

2.   God must be involved in every problem and solution.  Pastors, and church members, ought to recognize that God has placed in the church those that pleased Him.

3.   Every person God has placed in His local churches is a part of the problem and solution.

4.   Everybody ought to be looking for what God has in mind, not for who the idea came from.

5.   It is error for the pastor to look on his church as the source of problems and look to himself as the source of solution.

6.   It is just as wrong for the church members to look at the pastor as the source of problems, and look to themselves as the source of the solution.

D.  I have heard some people say that the pastor ought to make the spiritual decision and the church will make the secular decisions.

1.   There is no scripture, nor reason, for this opinion.

2.   This is the same thing as saying that the pastor doesn't have enough sense to make secular judgments.

3.   This is the same thing as saying that church members don't have enough spiritually to make spiritual judgments.

4.   How about doing it God's way and using all the tools God has given us to make the right decisions?


II.   This sounds like a strange covenant.

A.  God doesn't approve divorce, He allows it because of the sinfulness of man.

1.   What else can they do?

2.   It would be worse for them to kill all these women and children and worse if they continued in the marriage relationship with them.

3.   It just might be that some of the women and children would come to understand their condition before God and accept Him.

4.   It would cause all the people to come face to face with their sin and force them to make a decision about serving God or not.

B.   Note this very strange "conflict" of scripture.

1.   The solution to the problem of interfaith marriage in the book of Ezra is to put away (divorce) the unbelievers.

2.   I Cor. 7:10-16 - verse 12,13 - God declares that if a believer is married to an unbeliever and the unbeliever is content to dwell with the believer, let them remain together.

3.   This seems to be a contradiction, but it cannot be, for there are no contradictions in God's Word.

C.   The solution to the supposed conflict.

1.   The problem in Ezra's day is that the unbelievers will draw the believers away from God's service.

2.   I Cor. 7:12,13 is talking about unbelievers who will not draw away the believers from God's service.

3.   It is not that the believer is content to dwell with the unbeliever, but that the unbeliever is not content to dwell with the believer if they remain in God's service.

4.   Therefore, there is no conflict of scripture.

D.  There is talking about a time when every person will have to decide if they are going to serve God or not.

1.   There will probably be some unbelievers who will become converted to God because they are forced to consider their future life and eternity.

2.   Other unbelievers will not be converted because they will decide they don't want anything to do with this "religion".

E.   What law do they go by in giving these divorces?

1.   The law God gave because of the hardness of their heart.

2.   Deut. 24:1-4 gives some instructions for divorce.

3.   There seems to be no provisions made for taking care of the divorced wives and their children.


Verse 4, Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.

I.    It is very strange that this matter belongeth to Ezra, and not to the people.

A.  Ezra is the leader, but the leader can do nothing unless the people follow.

1.   The people must do the work, but they can do nothing unless they have a leader.

2.   This fact has been proven true down through the ages.

a.   Israel prayed that God would send them a leader to lead them out of Egypt.  They could not leave by themselves, but had to have a leader.

b.   During the times of the judges, Israel would constantly go away from God when they were without a leader.  They would come back to God when God sent them a good leader.

c.   During the times of the kings, Israel would follow their king: into sin and rebellion against God, or into righteousness and service for God.

d.   The same things is true today.  Churches will follow a Godly pastor into righteousness and full worship, or follow a wicked pastor into wickedness.

e.   II Samuel 3:39 - When Joab had killed Abner, David didn't agree with the action, yet said, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?  And I am this day weak, though anointed king: and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me: the LORD shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness."

B.   It would seem that since the people knew what to do they would have done it without a leader.

1.   But this is not the way things work.

2.   There will always be a leader.

3.   Of course, since the people know what to do, you would think they wouldn't have married the strange wives to begin with.

4.   The whole point is: God has given leaders for a reason - the people need them.


II.   The reason Ezra can have courage.

A.  The people are with him.

1.   There are probably some people who are against divorcing the strange wives, but it is not the majority opinion.

2.   There is usually somebody against every project, whether the project is good or bad.

B.   They are together doing this thing for God's service.

1.   They are not divorcing these people because they are tired of them, or because it is the desire of their flesh.

2.   There seems to be one voice to the people, no opposing voices are heard.

C.   It is for the future good of the nation of Israel.

1.   It seems everybody understand why this thing must be done.

2.   It is not for the good of some individuals, but for the good of the entire nation.

D.  Ezra must still "collect" the courage to obey.

1.   Some people might think Ezra is wrong to have to "gather the courage together" to do something everybody is in favor of doing.

2.   Some people think it takes more courage to do what everybody is against.

3.   These people don't understand what every leader understands.

4.   The leader is responsible to make the correct decision (if the people will let him make any decisions) because God has made him responsible for the future of the entire nation.


III. There was a desire for the matter to be taken care of quickly.

A.  If a matter is not taken care of quickly, our conscience will soon become accustomed to the situation, and nothing will ever be done.

B.   Procrastination is almost always bad.

1.   If there is something we can do about a situation, we ought to do it.

2.   If there is nothing we can do about a situation, we ought to do nothing.


Verse 5, 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.

I.    They arose.

A.  There is time for praying, and time for action.

B.   There is a time for study, and a time for declaring the truth we have learned.

C.   There is a time for grief and a time for gladness.


II.   They took a vote.

A.  Shechaniah had made a public statement.

1.   Those present had heard what was said.

2.   Nobody had said anything to oppose it.

3.   This doesn't mean that everybody there was in agreement with it.

4.   When these people swear to this word, they are putting their stamp of approval on it.

5.   They are declaring they will do all they can to fulfill this word.

6.   They are declaring they will not oppose it in any form.

B.   This is always necessary.

1.   Sometimes people sit and listen, then go home and declare they were not in favor of what went on.

2.   They are often heard to declare, "Look what the church did!" instead of "Look what we did!"

3.   This is very discouraging to the church (or any organization or people), but this public approval stops all "talk after the fact".

4.   When people have publicly stated their approval of a project, they will do all they can to see that the project continues and is successful.


Verse 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, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away.

I.    Ezra arose again.

A.  This time (as opposed to verse 5) he arose from before the house of God.

1.   It is likely he had continued praying and discussing the problem and solution with the people who assembled there.

2.   There could not have been very much time between verse 5 and 6.

B.   The problem and solution must be taken care of quickly even though the problem was a long while in the making.

1.   This is the way it almost always is.

2.   Problems seldom happen quickly.  They often come to a head quickly, or demand a solution suddenly.


II.   Ezra didn't yet have a place to live, but was staying with Johanan.

A.  Sometimes problems come to us before we have a chance to take care of personal matters.

1.   Some things are more important than having a place to live.

2.   It is more important to have a good relationship with God than to own a house.

3.   It is more important to have a good relationship with God than to eat and drink, and take care of bodily necessities.

B.   God's people will almost always open their homes to other of God's people.

1.   Genesis 19:1-3 - Lot opened his home to the angels.

2.   Matt. 10:11-15 - God told his disciples to go into the homes that were opened to them.

3.   Acts 16:14-15 - Lydia opened her home to Paul and ? when she was saved.


III. The fast continues.

A.  There is a solution given to the problem, yet Ezra continues to fast.

1.   He is still troubled by the outcome.

2.   There have been promises made, but these promises must be fulfilled before Ezra won't be troubled.

B.   This is a good lesson for us.

1.   We face problems every day and these problems cause us much trouble and heartache.

2.   When a solution presents itself, this doesn't mean we ought to stop praying about that problem and its solution.

3.   We must continue praying until the solution works itself completely out.

4.   Satan is very much alive and will do all he can to stop things from working out God's way.


Verse 7,8,  And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem; {8} 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.

I.    Notice who made the proclamation.

A.  Ezra didn't make the proclamation alone.

1.   Verse 8 declares that Ezra is making this decision based on the counsel of the princes and elders.

2.   It is not his way to do it alone, but he includes everybody in the action.

3.   There is strength in numbers, especially when the majority is right.

B.   When you compare Ezra to Nehemiah, there is a vast difference in the way they handle problems.

1.   Nehemiah consulted with himself and made decisions that affected the entire nation.

2.   Ezra consulted with everybody and made decisions that affected the entire nation.

3.   Both men are right in what they are doing, they are simply using the personality God gave them.


II.   Who was to come?

A.  The Jews from Judah and Benjamin.

1.   This is the same tribes that were in the southern kingdoms.

2.   These are the same tribes that were carried away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar.

3.   These are the same tribes that have come out of Babylon, returning to Jerusalem.

B.   Why were the Jews from the other tribes left out?

1.   The ten northern tribes were carried into Assyrian captivity in 722 B. C.

2.   Those tribes were dispersed throughout many nations, and lost their identity.

3.   They are called the "lost tribes of Israel" because nobody except God knows who and where they are.

4.   There is coming a day when God will return these tribes to Israel, but that time hasn't come yet, even though some of them are returning.


III. What did the proclamation consist of?

A.  All the Jews of Judah and Benjamin should come to Jerusalem.

1.   There is no choice in this matter.

2.   Those Jews that had taken strange wives would assemble themselves with those Jews that had not taken strange wives.

3.   It is supposed they would also bring their children, but it is necessary to also suppose they left somebody at home to take care of the "home fires".

4.   Verse 9 states that only the men assembled themselves.

B.   They had three days to come.

1.   It might be inconvenient for some to come.

2.   This really didn't make any difference for the matter must be taken care of.

3.   Sometimes taking care of spiritual things forces us to put off some material things.

4.   This is not bad, but good, for we learn what is really important.

5.   We also learn that some of the material things we thought were necessary are not necessary at all.

C.   Those Jews who refused to assembly themselves would be excluded from the nation of Israel.

1.   This might seem too hard for some "liberals" (or even some people in the local church) today.

2.   The truth is that these people had already separated themselves from Israel by taking strange wives.

3.   Therefore, when they are excluded from the nation of Israel, it should come as no great shock to them.


IV. Ezra's ability to perform.

A.  There might be some people who would doubt Ezra's ability to fulfill this "threat".

B.   Ezra 7:25,26 gives the total authority of Ezra from King Artaxerxes.  Through the government, Ezra can:

1.   Execute judgment speedily.

2.   Put to death those that disobey his orders.

3.   Banish the disobedient from the nation.

4.   Confiscate their material possessions.

5.   Put the disobedient in jail.

C.   Ezra is actually very lenient in his judgments.

1.   Ezra does not put anybody in jail, or to death.

2.   He does confiscate their property, and exclude them from the nation.

3.   This is a very severe judgment.

D.  It ought to be noticed that Ezra as an individual can do nothing.

1.   His power comes from his position in the government.

2.   This position has been given to him by King Artaxerxes.

3.   This same fact is true for each of us.

a.   We have no power individually.

b.   If we have any power it is because somebody has given us this power, and awarded us a position of authority whereby this power may be exercised.


V.  Does the local church have the right to make statements like this?

A.  I realize this is taking an Old Testament passage and transferring it over to the New Testament local Baptist church.  Israel is not the church and the church is not Israel, but there are certain principles that apply both to Israel and the church.

1.   The answer is yes.

2.   Make the following comparison between the principle of exclusion given in the Old Testament and that given in the New Testament.

B.   The power Ezra had.

1.   He didn't have the power as an individual.

2.   King Artaxerxes gave him the power as a government official.

3.   Ezra 8:36 - Ezra delivered the kings edicts to the proper officials.

4.   Ezra had no idea he would need this power in this way, for he didn't intend to use it against any Jew.

C.   The power the local Baptist churches have.

1.   They don't have the power to do anything just because they say they are a church.  (There are many assemblies that are not churches in the sight of God.)

2.   Matt. 28:18-20 - Jesus said all power is given to Him in heaven and in earth.  He further instructed His local churches to go in His Name (by His authority and power).

3.   Jesus has delivered this power to His local churches, and will bless them if they put in action those things He commands them to do.

4.   The early church (and all churches) don't have this power to use against any baptized believer.  The power is to be used to help them, not hurt them.


Verse 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, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain.

I.    The result of the proclamation.

A.  All the men gathered themselves to Jerusalem.

1.   This verse indicates that only the men came.

2.   It was very important that somebody stay at home to take care of things there.

3.   It was also very important that each family be represented at Jerusalem.

4.   The men should come for they were the ones who had taken strange wives.


II.   The time of the response.

A.  The ninth month was after harvest.

1.   Harvest would be done, so nobody would have that excuse for not coming.

2.   God always works things out so service to him does not interfere with providing for our families, or cause us to disobey any of his commands.

3.   This is why those people that say they must work on Sunday instead of attending worship services really have no excuse before God.

B.   The ninth month shows Ezra wasn't in Jerusalem very long before this action was taken.

1.   Ezra 8:31 declares that Ezra left the river Ahave on the twelfth day of the first month.

a.   It would be fair to give them five or six months to get to Jerusalem.

b.   Ezra was in Jerusalem no more than two weeks when he heard about the interfaith marriages.

c.   This would make it no more than the seventh month.

d.   Then two months would be given for Ezra's proclamation to spread, and for the people to assemble themselves.

2.   This is a very important matter.

a.   It was brought up almost immediately after Ezra got to Jerusalem.

b.   Ezra didn't wait very long before putting a plan into action.

c.   There are some things that shouldn't wait - they are emergencies.

d.   There are other things that can wait - they are not emergencies, but they need to be taken care of and not let go permanently.


III. The place where the people assembled.

A.  In the street of the house of God.

1.   They knew the matter was between God and them, not between Ezra and them.

2.   If the matter was between Ezra and the people of Israel, they would have assembled at the house where Ezra was staying, not at the house of God.

3.   There is no doubt the street was filled with concerned men.

B.   The condition of the men.

1.   They were sitting.

a.   This shows they were waiting for whatever they could find out.

b.   They were probably sitting around in small circles talking about this very important matter.

2.   They trembled because of fear and the great rain.

3.   It would be of great concern to these men if they were going to be forced to put away their strange wives or lost their citizenship in Israel - thus losing their citizenship in the people of God.


Verse 10,11,  And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel.  {11} 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.

I.    Ezra's statement about their sin.

A.  Ezra stood to make this statement.

1.   The one in authority would always be above the people as he explained the Word of God to them.

a.   This position would cause the voice to be better heard, and the eye fixed on the speaker.

b.   Thus the attention of the hearer would be fixed on the subject at hand.

2.   Nehemiah 8:4,5 - Ezra stood upon a pulpit of wood (above all the people) when he read the Bible to the people.

3.   In our nation, a judge sits behind a bench above the other people in the courtroom.  This shows he is the authority figure in that room.

B.   Ezra doesn't "beat around the bush".

1.   His direct approach to their sin shows their wickedness in the proper light.

2.   If he had "beat around the bush", the people wouldn't take their sinfulness so seriously.

3.   Some would probably shrug off this sin as just Ezra's opinion, and would do nothing about it.

4.   It is often good to approach sin directly so the hearers will understand how God perceives it.

C.   "Ye have transgressed".

1.   He states their wickedness before God and minces no words to do it.

2.   He declares their transgression is in marrying strange wives.

a.   This seems to be a problem with the men, not with the women.

b.   Men are to be the leaders of Israel, not the women.

c.   The promises are given to the men, not the women.

3.   The sin of interfaith marriage is not the only sin Israel is guilty of.

a.   Ezra declares this sin has "increased" the trespass of Israel.

b.   Ezra doesn't want these people to think they have only one sin before God.

c.   If they will examine their lives, they will discover many sins in their hearts and minds.

d.   Some of these they might be called "secret sins".


II.   Ezra's statement about making things right.

A.  They are to make confession to God.

1.   It would do no good to make confession to one another or to Ezra.

2.   Some of the people might have already confessed to one another while they were waiting on Ezra to speak to them.

3.   This confession would do no good, for only God can forgive sins.

4.   A lost person must confess they are a sinner before God.

a.   If they confess to anybody except God, it will do no good, for only God can forgive a sinner.

b.   It doesn't necessarily hurt anything for a lost person to admit their lost condition to others, but they must remember, only God can forgive.

B.   They are to do his pleasure.

1.   They have done their pleasure in taking these strange wives, not following the commands of God, and bringing the condemnation of God upon themselves.

2.   The point needs to be made that doing the pleasure of God will bring pleasure.

a.   If serving God isn't pleasant, something is wrong with our service.

b.   The end result of serving self is a selfish, self-centered life.

c.   The end result of serving God is a happy, peaceful life, filled with all the good things of this world, and the world to come.

C.   They are to separate themselves from the people of the land.

1.   If these people don't separate themselves from the people of the land, they won't separate themselves from their strange wives.

2.   Notice the first thing to separate themselves from is from the families of their strange wives, not from the strange wives.

3.   If they don't separate themselves from these families, it won't be long before they are again involved with these women and their children.

D.  They are to separate themselves from their strange wives.

1.   There is nothing stated here about whether they "love one another", or about the complications that might arise.

2.   Marriages today are based on this strange thing called "love", which cannot can defined outside of a fleshly reaction to the other person.

3.   These people are to obey the commands of God regardless of how they feel about their spouse.

4.   This is the way to really find happiness in marriage.


Verse 12-14, Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do. {13} 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. {14} 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.

I.    It is hard to imagine that all the people spoke at one time.

A.  Very likely, this is the majority approval.

B.   They spoke with a loud voice.

1.   This shows the enthusiastic approval of this action.

2.   They declare they must do what Ezra says.

3.   This is not to blindly follow Ezra, but to willingly obey the commands of God.


II.   The qualifications of obeying.

A.  Reasons the work can't be done today.

1.   The people involved in this sin are many, therefore it will be a very complicated process.

2.   It is a time of much rain.  The people couldn't stand outside in the rain, waiting on the slow process to continue.

3.   This will be a lengthy work, because there are many that are involved.

D.  Let the rulers take charge of this work.

1.   The people are not backing away from their responsibility.

2.   They are proposing that the matter be taken care of decently and orderly.

3.   If the rulers of all Israel, the rulers of each city, and the judges of each city are involved, there will be no partiality, but complete justice for all.


Verse 15, 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.

I.    Some believe Jonathan and Jahaziah opposed this rule.

A.  This is because the word "employed" means "to stand", or "to take a stand".

1.   These commentaries state there were only four out of all Judah and Benjamin to react this way.

2.   All the others agreed with God and Ezra.

3.   I would like to believe that only four people disagreed with this proclamation, but in truth, there were probably many more.

B.   The word "employed" could also mean that these men were the ones chosen to "take a stand" about taking care of the matter.


II.   The majority of commentaries I examined thought Jonathan and his companions were the ones who took care of the details of straightening out this matter.

A.  This interpretation seems to be wrong because Ezra 10:16 explains that Ezra, and certain chief of the fathers were the ones who took care of the matter.

B.   Verse 12-14 states that everybody shouldn't be involved in the solution, but that this authority and responsibility should be delegated to some few men.

C.   It may have been that these men were the spokesmen for the entire group.

1.   Somebody had to do the speaking in verse 12.

2.   It could have been that everybody spoke at once, but it is much more likely that there was some person who acted as spokesman for the entire group.


Verse 16, 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.

I.    All the Jews agreed to obey the proclamation.

A.  There seems to be no objections from anybody.

B.   This is as it should be.

1.   If Jonathan, Jahaziah, Meshullam and Shabbethai objected to the proclamation, they agreed to obey it when the majority voted that way.

2.   This is correct.

3.   It is perfectly all right to object to almost any proposition brought up, but when the majority agree, all objections must be laid aside.


II.   The people who took care of the matter.

A.  Ezra the priest.

B.   Certain chief of the fathers.

C.   The plan they followed, verse 14.

1.   They first agreed as to the procedure to be followed.

2.   They next systematically went from town to town.

3.   At each town they would meet with the elders and judges of that city.

4.   These local officials would assist the rulers of the entire congregation in going through all the records, discovering who had married whom, making decisions as to who should divorce whom, and how the details of each divorce should be carried out.


Verse 17, And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month.

I.    It didn't take very long once they got started.

A.  The project was started on the first day of the tenth month.

B.   The project had ended on the first day of the first month.

C.   This project took three months. (All of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth month.)


II.   It is good they finished this quickly.

A.  It took quite a long while for Israel to get into this condition.

1.   If this sin had been let go much longer, it would have been accepted as a normal course of life.

2.   The sin was acknowledged and straighten out before it really "took root" in Israel.

B.   Sometimes we slowly get into sin over a long period of time.

1.   When we discover we are deeply into sin, we ought to act with all speed to get the affair straighten out.

2.   If we wait very long to ask forgiveness and cleanse ourselves of sin, it takes root within us and we don't want to get rid of it.


Verse 18-44 is a list of the people that had taken strange wives.

They are divided into three categories.


Verse 18-22, 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. {19} 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. {20} And of the sons of Immer; Hanani, and Zebadiah. {21} And of the sons of Harim; Maaseiah, and Elijah, and Shemaiah, and Jehiel, and Uzziah. {22} And of the sons of Pashur; Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethaneel, Jozabad, and Elasah.

I.    Verse 18-22 - The priests.

1.   Of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren; Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah.

2.   Of the sons of Immer; Hanani, and Zebadiah.

3.   Of the sons of Harim; Maaseiah, and Elijah, and Shemaiah, and Jehiel, and Uzziah.

4.   Of the sons of Pashur; Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethaneel, Jozabad, and Elasah.


Verse 23,24 Also of the Levites; Jozabad, and Shimei, and Kelaiah, (the same is Kelita,) Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer. {24} Of the singers also; Eliashib: and of the porters; Shallum, and Telem, and Uri.

II.   Verse 23-24 - The helpers in the worship of God.

1.   Verse 23 - The Levites - Jozabad, and Shimei, and Kelaiah, (the same is Kelita,) Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.

2.   Verse 24 - The singers - Eliashib: and of the porters; Shallum, and Telem, and Uri.


Verse 25-43, Moreover of Israel: of the sons of Parosh; Ramiah, and Jeziah, and Malchiah, and Miamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah. {26} And of the sons of Elam; Mattaniah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, and Abdi, and Jeremoth, and Eliah. {27} And of the sons of Zattu; Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, and Jeremoth, and Zabad, and Aziza. {28} Of the sons also of Bebai; Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai. {29} And of the sons of Bani; Meshullam, Malluch, and Adaiah, Jashub, and Sheal, and Ramoth. {30} And of the sons of Pahathmoab; Adna, and Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezaleel, and Binnui, and Manasseh. {31} And of the sons of Harim; Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchiah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, {32} Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah. {33} Of the sons of Hashum; Mattenai, Mattathah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei. {34} Of the sons of Bani; Maadai, Amram, and Uel, {35} Benaiah, Bedeiah, Chelluh, {36} Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, {37} Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasau, {38} And Bani, and Binnui, Shimei, {39} And Shelemiah, and Nathan, and Adaiah, {40} Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, {41} Azareel, and Shelemiah, Shemariah, {42} Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph. {43} Of the sons of Nebo; Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jadau, and Joel, Benaiah.


III. Verse 25-43 - The common people.

1.   Of the sons of Parosh; Ramiah, and Jeziah, and Malchiah, and Miamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah.

2.   Of the sons of Elam; Mattaniah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, and Abdi, and Jeremoth, and Eliah.

3.   Of the sons of Zattu; Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, and Jeremoth, and Zabad, and Aziza.

4.   Of the sons also of Bebai; Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.

5.   Of the sons of Bani; Meshullam, Malluch, and Adaiah, Jashub, and Sheal, and Ramoth.

6.   Of the sons of Pahathmoab; Adna, and Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezaleel, and Binnui, and Manasseh.

7.   Of the sons of Harim; Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchiah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, {32} Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.

8.   Of the sons of Hashum; Mattenai, Mattathah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.

9.   Of the sons of Bani; Maadai, Amram, and Uel, {35} Benaiah, Bedeiah, Chelluh, {36} Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, {37} Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasau, {38} And Bani, and Binnui, Shimei, {39} And Shelemiah, and Nathan, and Adaiah, {40} Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, {41} Azareel, and Shelemiah, Shemariah, {42} Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.

10.  Of the sons of Nebo; Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jadau, and Joel, Benaiah.


Verse 44, All these had taken strange wives: and some of them had wives by whom they had children.

I.    This verse declares who had taken strange wives.


II.   It is a shame that innocent children are sometimes involved in their parents sins.

A.  These children didn't ask to be born into the world.

B.   They have not sinned.

1.   Some might declare that God is unjust to pronounce His judgment upon these innocent children.

2.   Those same people will also declare that God unjust when he flooded the entire world with water because of the sins of humans, thus causing the death of millions of innocent animals.

3.   This shows us the exceeding terrible condition of sin as it appears to God.

4.   Humans often believe that sin is not such a bad thing, but that only shows their exceeding sinfulness.