Which you have commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, The land, to which you 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ezra 9:11-12. Is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands — Or, of these lands, which are round about it. This expresses the cause or matter of this uncleanness: the land was not unclean of itself, but only polluted by the filthiness of its inhabitants. Give not your daughters unto their sons, &c., that ye may be strong — Although you may fancy making leagues and marriages with them is the only way to establish you, yet, I assure you, it will weaken and ruin you, and the contrary course will make you strong.
5-15. I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God—The burden of his prayer, which was dictated by a deep sense of the emergency, was that he was overwhelmed at the flagrant enormity of this sin, and the bold impiety of continuing in it after having, as a people, so recently experienced the heavy marks of the divine displeasure. God had begun to show returning favor to Israel by the restoration of some. But this only aggravated their sin, that, so soon after their re-establishment in their native land, they openly violated the express and repeated precepts which commanded them to extirpate the Canaanites. Such conduct, he exclaimed, could issue only in drawing down some great punishment from offended Heaven and ensuring the destruction of the small remnant of us that is left, unless, by the help of divine grace, we repent and bring forth the fruits of repentance in an immediate and thorough reformation.An unclean land with the filthiness of the people: this notes the cause or matter of this uncleanness. The land was not unclean in itself, but only polluted by the filthiness of its inhabitants.
Of the lands; or, of these lands which are round about it. This land is as corrupt as any of the rest of the heathen nations. Deuteronomy 7:3
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.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. The Divine commands which Israel had violated had been conveyed to them expressly by the prophets. The people were without excuse.
commanded by thy servants the prophets] Lit. ‘by the hand of’. To command by ‘the hand of’ occurs often, as in the Heb. of Nehemiah 8:14; Leviticus 8:36; Numbers 16:40; Numbers 36:13; Jdg 3:4, &c.: cf. ‘to speak by the hand of’, 2 Kings 17:23; 2 Kings 21:10; 2 Kings 24:2.
saying] The prophetic word is contained in this and the following verse. There is no passage in the prophets resembling the words here given. It is generally supposed that Ezra is citing from Deuteronomy 7:1-3, and that the expression ‘thy servants the prophets’ alludes to Moses. But it must be remembered that ‘the law of Moses’ in these books is always directly referred to, e.g. Ezra 3:2; Ezra 6:18; Ezra 7:6; Nehemiah 8:1; Nehemiah 8:14; Nehemiah 13:1; 2 Chronicles 23:18; 2 Chronicles 25:4; 2 Chronicles 30:16; 2 Chronicles 35:12. It is better then to regard the passage as a perfectly general statement by Ezra of prophetical teaching upon the subject of intermarriage with foreign nations. Such a statement would naturally reecho the Deuteronomic law, and even repeat words and phrases which, by oral as well as by written tradition, would be familiar. We are forcibly reminded how much of the teaching of the prophets has never come down to us. On the other hand it is no less instructive to observe that the prophetical teaching seems naturally to embody itself in a form, which recalls the language of the Deuteronomic legislation, e.g. ‘The land unto which ye go to possess it’, cf. Deuteronomy 7:1 ‘Then the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it’.
The land … is an unclean land] This expression (lit. land of unclean ness) is not found in the Pentateuch with reference to the promised land.
with the filthiness of the people of the land] R.V. through the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands. The same word ‘uncleanness’ (niddah) is used here as in the phrase an ‘unclean land’. It occurs in 2 Chronicles 29:5 ‘carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place’. Cf. Lamentations 1:17. It is a strong word to denote anything that would convey defilement.
with their abominations] R.V. through their abominations. Added by way of explanation. On the word see note on Ezra 9:1. The ‘abominations’ are described as acts of impurity because these were the accompaniment of the local worship. Cf. Leviticus 18:27 ‘All these abominations (Ezra 9:6-15) have the men of the land done … and the land is defiled’.
from one end to another] Lit. ‘from mouth to mouth’. Cf. almost the same expression in 2 Kings 10:21; 2 Kings 21:16. It means ‘from one extremity to another’; perhaps the metaphor has been taken from a drinking vessel.
with their uncleanness] R.V. with their filthiness. The same word in the Hebrew as that rendered ‘filthiness’ in chap. Ezra 6:21. It denotes ‘impurity’, ‘defilement’ generally. Cf. Zechariah 13:2 ‘I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land’. See, for the special application, the whole passage Leviticus 18:24-30.Verse 11. - The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land, etc. These exact words do not occur elsewhere; but the "unclean" and corrupt character of the Canaanitish nations is constantly proclaimed in the Law, and was the sole reason why their land was taken from them and given to the Israelites. On the special character of their "filthiness" and "abominations" see Deuteronomy 12:2, 3; Leviticus 18:6-27. Ezra 9:5 And at the time of the evening sacrifice, I rose up from my mortification (תּענית, humiliation, generally through fasting, here through sitting motionless in deep affliction of soul), and rending my garment and my mantle. These words contribute a second particular to קמתּי, and do not mean that Ezra arose with his garments torn, but state that, on arising, he rent his clothing, and therefore again manifested his sorrow in this manner. He then fell on his knees, and spread out his hands to God (comp. 1 Kings 8:22), to make a confession of the heavy guilt of the congregation before God, and thus impressively to set their sins before all who heard his prayer.
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