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Ezra 10

EZRA CHAPTER 10

The People’s Confession of Sin

 1 While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly.

2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel.

3 Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law.

 4 Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”

 5 So Ezra rose up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel under oath to do what had been suggested. And they took the oath.

6 Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.

 7 A proclamation was then issued throughout Judah and Jerusalem for all the exiles to assemble in Jerusalem.

8 Anyone who failed to appear within three days would forfeit all his property, in accordance with the decision of the officials and elders, and would himself be expelled from the assembly of the exiles.

 9 Within the three days, all the men of Judah and Benjamin had gathered in Jerusalem. And on the twentieth day of the ninth month, all the people were sitting in the square before the house of God, greatly distressed by the occasion and because of the rain.

10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt.

11 Now make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”

 12 The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: “You are right! We must do as you say.

13 But there are many people here and it is the rainy season; so we cannot stand outside. Besides, this matter cannot be taken care of in a day or two, because we have sinned greatly in this thing.

14 Let our officials act for the whole assembly. Then let everyone in our towns who has married a foreign woman come at a set time, along with the elders and judges of each town, until the fierce anger of our God in this matter is turned away from us.”

15 Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah, supported by Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite, opposed this.

 16 So the exiles did as was proposed. Ezra the priest selected men who were family heads, one from each family division, and all of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to investigate the cases,

17 and by the first day of the first month they finished dealing with all the men who had married foreign women.

Those Guilty of Intermarriage

 18 Among the descendants of the priests, the following had married foreign women:
       From the descendants of Jeshua son of Jozadak, and his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib and Gedaliah.

19 (They all gave their hands in pledge to put away their wives, and for their guilt they each presented a ram from the flock as a guilt offering.)

 20 From the descendants of Immer:
       Hanani and Zebadiah.

 21 From the descendants of Harim:
       Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel and Uzziah.

 22 From the descendants of Pashhur:
       Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad and Elasah.

 23 Among the Levites:
       Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (that is, Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah and Eliezer.

 24 From the singers:
       Eliashib.
      From the gatekeepers:
       Shallum, Telem and Uri.

 25 And among the other Israelites:
      From the descendants of Parosh:
       Ramiah, Izziah, Malkijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malkijah and Benaiah.

 26 From the descendants of Elam:
       Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth and Elijah.

 27 From the descendants of Zattu:
       Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad and Aziza.

 28 From the descendants of Bebai:
       Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai and Athlai.

 29 From the descendants of Bani:
       Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal and Jeremoth.

 30 From the descendants of Pahath-Moab:
       Adna, Kelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui and Manasseh.

 31 From the descendants of Harim:
       Eliezer, Ishijah, Malkijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,

32 Benjamin, Malluch and Shemariah.

 33 From the descendants of Hashum:
       Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh and Shimei.

 34 From the descendants of Bani:
       Maadai, Amram, Uel,

35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Keluhi,

36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,

37 Mattaniah, Mattenai and Jaasu.

38 From the descendants of Binnui: [a]
       Shimei,

39 Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah,

40 Macnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,

41 Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah,

42 Shallum, Amariah and Joseph.

 43 From the descendants of Nebo:
       Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel and Benaiah.

 44 All these had married foreign women, and some of them had children by these wives. 

INTRODUCTION TO EZRA 10

Ezra prayed, wept, confessed and was in an ecstasy of rage.  He resented what was happening like a new broom in an old mess.  Boiling with indignation he threw himself on the ground and a group came and wept with him.  Shecaniah suggested the following plan:  Make a covenant with God and then divorce the heathen women.  He encourages Ezra to take courage and that all is not lost.  So Ezra stood up and made them swear with a solemn oath that they would keep the law of God.  A proclamation was issued for all exiles to come to Jerusalem.  Three days later on the 19th. Of December sitting or standing in a soaking rain they confessed their sins and promised to separate themselves from the pagan women.  However, this required some time for the judicial system to hear the cases and issue judgment.  The plan was followed and beginning on December 29th. Court was in session and concluded by March 27th. Priests were named—gatekeepers were named—everyone guilty had his name published.  Without an Ezra the nation would have repeated their sinful excesses.  Pray that God will send us an Ezra!

EXPOSITION OF CHAPTER 10

 The People’s Confession of Sin

1 While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly.

Ezra’s prayer was as strong as a tidal wave.  He was as mighty as truth on the march.  He was furious—still as angry as a volcano.  Throwing himself down before the house of God attracted attention and the crowd of people were all heart broken.

2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel.

 Shecaniah was as helpful as the hand of hope.  We will learn in verse 26 that 6 members of the Elam clan were involved in this intermarriage relationship and his father is named among the six.

3 Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law.

Ezra was as agitated as a fat mans middle in a vibrator belt.  Shecaniah proposes that they bind themselves with an oath according to the law and that the children accompany their mothers.  It was customary for a divorced woman to take the children with her.  Cf. Gen. 21:14.

4 Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”

Shecaniah further exhorts Ezra to rise up and take full charge of the matter and that they would back him up.

5 So Ezra rose up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel under oath to do what had been suggested. And they took the oath.

Ezra was still prostrate and now he gets up and makes the chief priests and Levites take an oath—he launches into this matter like a head on crash in a Midwest blizzard.

6 Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.

Ezra was as hot under the collar as Hades in a heat wave.  He regarded these intermarriages as producing a half-breed.  They were to Ezra as a worm crossed with a Giraffe.  He placed the priests and Levites and all Israel under oath.  Ezra goes to a storeroom in the temple dedicated to Johohanan as he continues to mourn over the state of the nation.

7 A proclamation was then issued throughout Judah and Jerusalem for all the exiles to assemble in Jerusalem.

Ezra was a man of conviction and action.  A proclamation was issued by the rulers for all Israel to assemble in Jerusalem.

8 Anyone who failed to appear within three days would forfeit all his property, in accordance with the decision of the officials and elders, and would himself be expelled from the assembly of the exiles.

This was a very stern and bold move on the part of the leaders.  They would ban anyone from their community of believers and take their property and sell it and put the monies from the sale in the temple treasury.

9 Within the three days, all the men of Judah and Benjamin had gathered in Jerusalem. And on the twentieth day of the ninth month, all the people were sitting in the square before the house of God, greatly distressed by the occasion and because of the rain.

The people of Judah and Benjamin would be the first to appear since they lived closer.  They tackle the problem with intense enthusiasm.  It was their ninth month or our December and it was cold and rainy—people stood in the court yard drenched and shivering.

10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt.

Ezra was as harsh as a drill sergeant’s dressing down a recruit.  They knew they were treading on thin ice.  They had added insult to injury by divorcing the wives of their youth and marrying these heathen women.

11 Now make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”

Ezra was as aggressive as a shopper at a bargain table.  The ultimatum is laid down in simple terms—divorce these women immediately and send them away.

12 The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: “You are right! We must do as you say.

Ezra cleaned up the mess like a pressure cleaner on a moldy sidewalk.

13 But there are many people here and it is the rainy season; so we cannot stand outside. Besides, this matter cannot be taken care of in a day or two, because we have sinned greatly in this thing.

Due to the enormity of this matter and the fact that each case would have to be examined separately—investigation—fact finding—paper work—names of all the offenders.

14 Let our officials act for the whole assembly. Then let everyone in our towns who has married a foreign woman come at a set time, along with the elders and judges of each town, until the fierce anger of our God in this matter is turned away from us.”

It was decided that this matter would be settled in the courtroom in various cities by the judges.

Deut. 16:18. “Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the LORD your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly.”

The lower courts would then submit their finding and decisions to the higher court in Jerusalem.

15 Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah, supported by Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite, opposed this.

The 4 men are not in favor with the decision and let the court know their disapproval.  It appears one of the 4 had a foreign wife and verse 29 tells us his name is Meshullam—their objections are overruled and the proceedings go forward.

16 So the exiles did as was proposed. Ezra the priest selected men who were family heads, one from each family division, and all of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to investigate the cases,

The proceedings take a total of three months and their findings produced one hundred and ten men guilty of the charges.

17 and by the first day of the first month they finished dealing with all the men who had married foreign women.

The cases were all settled and official documents were filed with the court register.

Those Guilty of Intermarriage

18 Among the descendants of the priests, the following had married foreign women:
       From the descendants of Jeshua son of Jozadak, and his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib and Gedaliah.

The list begins with the Priests and descends down the scale to all the Israelites.

19 (They all gave their hands in pledge to put away their wives, and for their guilt they each presented a ram from the flock as a guilt offering.)

They raised their hands and took an oath that they would put away their foreign wives and offer a sin offering.

20 From the descendants of Immer:
       Hanani and Zebadiah.

A list of the offender becomes a part of the permanent records.

21 From the descendants of Harim:
       Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel and Uzziah.

Harim is not found guilty but his sons are found guilty.

22 From the descendants of Pashhur:
       Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad and Elasah.

The sons of Pashhur who was a clan leader were found guilty as charged.

23 Among the Levites:
       Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (that is, Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah and Eliezer.

The assistants of the priests known as Levites are charged and found guilty.

24 From the singers:
       Eliashib.
      From the gatekeepers:
       Shallum, Telem and Uri.

Only one singer and 3 gate keepers were guilty.  It is interesting to note that none of Solomon’s descendants were involved.

25 And among the other Israelites:
      From the descendants of Parosh:
       Ramiah, Izziah, Malkijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malkijah and Benaiah.

26 From the descendants of Elam:
       Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth and Elijah.

27 From the descendants of Zattu:
       Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad and Aziza.

28 From the descendants of Bebai:
       Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai and Athlai.

29 From the descendants of Bani:
       Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal and Jeremoth.

30 From the descendants of Pahath-Moab:
       Adna, Kelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui and Manasseh.

31 From the descendants of Harim:
       Eliezer, Ishijah, Malkijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,

32 Benjamin, Malluch and Shemariah.

33 From the descendants of Hashum:
       Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh and Shimei.

34 From the descendants of Bani:
       Maadai, Amram, Uel,

35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Keluhi,

36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,

37 Mattaniah, Mattenai and Jaasu.

38 From the descendants of Binnui: 
       Shimei, 39 Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah,

40 Macnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,

41 Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah,

42 Shallum, Amariah and Joseph.

43 From the descendants of Nebo:
       Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel and Benaiah.

All the clan leaders that had sons involved appear of record.  Ezra probably copied the names of all the guilty parties from official court records.

44 All these had married foreign women, and some of them had children by these wives. 

The divorce proceedings went forward even though children were involved.

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