|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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, De 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.
Verse 4. - Then were assembled unto me. The open manifestation by Ezra of his grief and horror produced an immediate effect. A crowd assembled around him, attracted by the unusual sight - partly sympathizing, partly no doubt curious. Every one came that trembled at the words of the God of Israel; by which is meant not so much all God-fearing persons (see Isaiah 66:2) as all who were alarmed at the transgression of the commands of God (Ezra 10:3), and at the threats which the Law contained against transgressors (Deuteronomy 7:4). Because of the transgression of those that had been carried away. The transgression of "the children of the captivity" (Ezra 4:1) - of those who had been removed to Babylon and had returned under Zerubbabel. I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice. As morning is the time for business in the East, we may assume that the princes had waited upon Ezra tolerably early in the day - before noon, at any rate - to communicate their intelligence. The evening sacrifice took place at three in the afternoon. Ezra must, therefore, either from the intensity of his own feelings or with the view of impressing the people, have "sat astonied" - speechless and motionless - for several hours. EZRA'S CONFESSION AND PRAYER TO GOD (Ezra 9:5-15). The most remarkable feature of Ezra's confession is the thoroughness with which he identifies himself with his erring countrymen, blushes for their transgressions, and is ashamed for their misconduct. All their sins he appears to consider as his sins, all their disobedience as his disobedience, all their perils as his perils. Another striking feature is his sense of the exceeding sinfulness of the particular sin of the time (see vers. 6, 7, 10). He views it as a "great trespass" - one that "is grown up into the heavens" - which is equivalent to a complete forsaking of God's commandments, and on account of Which he and his people "cannot stand before" God. This feeling seems based partly on the nature of the sin itself (ver. 14), but also, and in an especial way, on a strong sense of the ingratitude shown by the people in turning from God so soon after he had forgiven their former sins against him, and allowed them to return from the captivity, rebuild the temple, and re-establish themselves as a nation. If after their deliverance they again fell away, the sin could not but be unpardonable; and the punishment to be expected was a final uprooting and destruction from which there could be no recovery (vers. 13, 14).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
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.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, &c.—All the pious people who reverenced God's word and dreaded its threatenings and judgments joined with Ezra in bewailing the public sin, and devising the means of redressing it.
I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice—The intelligence of so gross a violation of God's law by those who had been carried into captivity on account of their sins, and who, though restored, were yet unreformed, produced such a stunning effect on the mind of Ezra that he remained for a while incapable either of speech or of action. The hour of the evening sacrifice was the usual time of the people assembling; and at that season, having again rent his hair and garments, he made public prayer and confession of sin.
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