Ezra 10:14
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.
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Ezra 10:14. Let now our rulers stand — They propose that the rulers in Jerusalem should meet, to take cognizance of this matter, and to judge and determine in all particular cases: and that, at appointed times, the offenders in every city should be brought before them by the elders and judges of those cities, who should either testify against them for offending, or witness that they had seen the divorces made, and their strange wives put away. For these elders and judges of the several cities were best able to inform the great council at Jerusalem, concerning the quality of the persons accused, and all matters of fact, and circumstances. And this proceeding, they proposed, should continue as long as there remained any thing to be done in this business, that the wrath of God might be turned away from them.

10:6-14 There is hope concerning people, when they are convinced, not only that it is good to part with their sins, but that it is necessary; we must do it, or we are undone. So rich is the mercy, and so plenteous the redemption of God, that there is hope for the vilest who hear the gospel, and are willing to accept of free salvation. When sinners mourn for their sins, and tremble at the word of God, there is hope that they will forsake them. To affect others with godly sorrow or love to God, we must ourselves be affected. It was carefully agreed how this affair should be carried on. That which is hastily resolved on seldom proves lasting.It was the ninth month - Or, our December, a time when rain fails heavily in Palestine: four months, therefore, after Ezra's arrival in Jerusalem (compare Ezra 7:9).

The street - Rather, "the court," the "broad," "spacious, place" (compare the 2 Chronicles 29:4 note).

10-17. Ezra the priest stood up, and said—Having fully represented the enormity of their sin and urged them to dissolve their unlawful connections, he was gratified by receiving a prompt acknowledgment of the justice of his reproof and a promise of compliance with his recommendation. But as the weather was ungenial and the defaulters were too numerous to be passed in review at one time, it was resolved that a commission should be appointed to examine into the whole matter. These commissioners, assisted by the judges and elders of the respective cities, made a minute investigation into every case, and after three months' labor completely removed all traces of the abuse. Doubtless, an adequate provision was made for the repudiated wives and children, according to the means and circumstances of the husbands. Let our rulers of all the congregation stand; let the great council, called the Sanhedrim, be settled, and meet to judge and determine of all particular causes.

Them which have taken strange wives, to wit, of these heathen nations, such as were not proselyted to the Jewish religion before their marriage, or since revolted from it.

The elders of every city, and the judges thereof; who are best able to inform the great council of the quality of the persons, and of all matters of fact and circumstances.

Until the fierce wrath of our God be turned from us, i.e. until the thing be done, and God’s wrath thereby removed.

Let now our rulers of all the congregations stand,.... Let the great sanhedrim, or court of judicature at Jerusalem, be fixed and continued, and others:

and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times; to the court at Jerusalem, at certain and fixed known times of their sittings there for this purpose:

and with the elders of every city and the judges thereof; the principal magistrates of it, who were to testify that upon search and inquiry those were the men and all the men in their city, that had taken strange wives, and that they had put them away according to the order of the princes and elders; and this they proposed to be done in every city, and the account to be brought to the sanhedrim at Jerusalem, who were to sit at certain times till this affair was finished:

until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us: which it seems had broke out in some instances, and they feared would do yet more, unless this step was taken, whereby they hoped it would be averted.

Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, {i} 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) Let them be appointed to examine this matter.

14. A commission recommended.

Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand] R.V. Let now our princes be appointed (marg. Heb. stand) for all the congregation. The A.V. fails to give the idea of the original, where a difficulty is occasioned by the preposition ‘for’. There are practically two ways of explaining the passage (1) Let now our princes stand for (i.e. in the place of ἀντὶ) all the congregation. (2) Let there now stand our princes for (i.e. in the interests of, ὑπὲρ) all the congregation. The latter is the preferable. The commission then was to consist of the princes who, in conjunction with the local elders and judges, should enquire into the cases that had occurred in each town and district.

and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities] R.V. and let all them that are in our cities which have married strange women. The R.V. reproduces the two relative sentences of the original, the one giving the locality of the offender, the other particularizing the offence; perhaps the formal character of the actual wording of the decree here peeps out.

in our cities] This expression seems to exclude Jerusalem. The case of those who dwelt in the capital could be investigated by the princes on the spot and without delay. In the case of inhabitants of other towns, the officials of each town were to be convened at Jerusalem and to assist the permanent commission; the offenders at the same time were to be summoned to attend the investigation in person.

at appointed times] Cf. ‘at times appointed’, Nehemiah 10:34; Nehemiah 13:31.

the elders of every city, and the judges thereof] i.e. the representatives of the populace and the administrators of justice, belonging to each town.

until the fierce wrath of our God … be turned from us] So also R.V. It is much to be doubted whether this can be regarded as a satisfactory rendering.

(1) There is no real connexion between the previous sentence ‘let our princes be appointed &c.’ and the words ‘until the fierce wrath, &c.’ ‘The fierce wrath’ had not been displayed, as in David’s day, by a visitation such as a plague or a famine, nor by any fresh hostile oppression. There is therefore no natural explanation for the expression, such as there is for the very similar words ‘Hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast’, Isaiah 26:20; ‘Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I take refuge, until these calamities be overpast’, Psalm 57:1. If there was no external symptom of the Divine displeasure, its continuance could only be apprehended mentally or morally, and would have no sort of relation to the investigation and punishment of the offence.

(2) The work of the commission—in a great measure an undertaking of popular contrition, but very largely also the expression of a definite policy of excluding aliens from the community—could not be concluded, until its ends had been accomplished. Now unless we are prepared to change the words ‘until the fierce wrath, &c.’ into so different a meaning as ‘until the cause of the fierce wrath &c. be removed’, it seems that a limitation of time has no rightful place here.

(3) The English rendering ignores the literal transitive meaning of the verb. Literally translated, the sentence runs, ‘up to the point of, to turn away the fierce wrath of our God’. It seems very probable that we should reject the temporal signification of the word rendered ‘until’, and treat it as an instance of a redundancy not uncommon in late Hebrew. It will then merely strengthen the preposition, denoting purpose, prefixed to the verb. Supposing this to be the true explanation, the rendering will be ‘with a view (or, unto this end) to turn away the fierce wrath of our God’.

The verb, which is transitive, is thus given its proper force familiar in other similar passages. Psalm 78:38 ‘Yea, many a time turned he his anger away’; Psalm 106:23 ‘Had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach to turn away his wrath’; Jeremiah 18:20 ‘Remember how I stood before thee to speak good for them, to turn away thy fury from them’; Proverbs 15:1 ‘A soft answer turneth away wrath’.

The English version gives the general sense in the same way as the Vulgate ‘donec revertatur ira Dei nostri a vobis’. But the English reader would never guess that the verb is used, not in the intransitive form ‘to return’ (as in Numbers 25:4; 2 Chronicles 29:10; 2 Chronicles 30:8 : Jeremiah 30:24), but in the causative ‘to cause to return’, ‘to turn away’ ‘to avert’.

the fierce wrath of our God] This particular expression ‘the fierce wrath’, as applied to the Almighty, occurs in the O.T. thirty-four times, being used with special frequency (ten times) in Jeremiah. See also 2 Chronicles 28:11; 2 Chronicles 28:13; 2 Chronicles 29:10; 2 Chronicles 30:8.

for this matter] R.V. until this matter be dispatched. Marg. Or, as touching this matter. Literally rendered, the Hebrew words give ‘up to the point of (or, until), to this matter’. The R.V. apparently coordinates this clause with the preceding one. But there can be but one opinion that the whole sentence ‘Let now our princes be appointed … until the fierce wrath of our God be turned from us, until this matter be dispatched’, is quite intolerably harsh. The last clause only receives definiteness from the insertion of the words ‘be dispatched’. But it constitutes a most empty addition to state that the enquiry should last until its business was dispatched. The present phrase is apparently only another instance, if the text be correct, of the same redundancy of expression in the later Hebrew mentioned above. The word, rendered ‘until’, amplifies the preposition. And the usage of the compound preposition is the same as that of the simple preposition when found with the same words elsewhere. Genesis 19:21 ‘concerning this thing’; 1 Samuel 30:24; Daniel 1:14 ‘in this matter’. The rendering of the margin is therefore to be preferred, ‘to turn away the fierce wrath of our God as touching this matter’. The words are the same in meaning as Ezra 9:15 ‘because of this’, Ezra 10:2 ‘concerning this thing’.

Verse 14. - Let now our rulers of the congregation stand. Let Ezra, together with the princes and the elders at Jerusalem (ver. 8), form a standing body to act with the elders and judges of the provincial towns in this matter, and let the case of each town be taken separately, and the inhabitants of each attend at Jerusalem in their turn. Until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us. This is probably the true meaning of the writer, but it is not to be obtained from the ordinary text. To produce it we must read by עַל for עַד and haddabar for laddabar hazzeh. As the text stands, it is unintelligible. OPPOSITION OF JONATHAN AND OTHERS (ver. 15). It was natural that some opposition should manifest itself when so trenchant a measure was announced as that which Ezra had declared to be necessary. To compel men to divorce their wives was to touch many in the tenderest place. Nor was it difficult to bring forward very plausible arguments to show that the marriages - or at any rate some of them - were allowable. Joseph had married an Egyptian (Genesis 41:45), Moses a Midianite (Exodus 2:21). True, these marriages had taken place before the law was given; but subsequently, also, Boaz had married Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth 4:13); David had taken to wife Maacah, a Geshurite (2 Samuel 3:3); and Solomon had without blame married the daughter of a Pharaoh (1 Kings 3:1). These examples might be pleaded in proof that the Law admitted of exceptions, and individuals might argue that their cases were of an exceptional character. Again, in some instances the foreign wives may have become proselytes, and the children may have been circumcised, and so accepted into the congregation; which would give them a claim to remain, which would extend in some degree to the mothers. We therefore cannot be surprised that an opposition was made. Rather, it is remarkable that it was so slight, only extending (so far as appears) to four persons, and so easily quelled. Ezra 10:14"Let then our rulers stand for the whole congregation, and let all who in all our cities have brought home strange wives come at appointed times, and with them the elders of each city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God be turned away from us, as long as this matter lasts." There were so many cases to deal with, that the rulers, as the judicial authorities, must decide in this matter; and those who in all the cities of the land had transgressed, were to appear before these authorities, and submit their individual cases to their jurisdiction. The choice of the verb יעמדוּ, to stand or set oneself to discharge some business, here therefore to give judgment, is occasioned by the preceding לעמוד. The whole community had assembled according to the proclamation, and was standing there for the purpose of bringing the matter to a close. This they were not, however, able to do, for the reasons stated Ezra 10:13; hence the princes, as rulers of the community, are to remain for the discharge of the business. לכל־הקּהל is not a genitive dependent on שׂרינוּ, and explanatory of the suffix of this word-our, viz., the whole congregation's, princes (Bertheau) - an unnatural and superfluous elucidation; for if the whole congregation say: our princes, it is self-evident that not the princes of a section or portion of the people, but of the whole congregation, must be intended. לכל־הקּהל is the object of יעמדוּ: let them stand for the whole congregation (ל עמד like ל קוּם, Psalm 94:16), not instead of, but for the good of the congregation, and transact its business. In our cities, i.e., including the capital, for there is here no contrast between Jerusalem and the other cities. The article to ההשׁיב stands, as is often the case, for the relative אשׁר, e.g., Ezra 10:17, Ezra 8:25. מזמּנים עתּים, appointed times, stated terms, used only here and in Nehemiah 10:35; Nehemiah 13:31. זמּן is a Chaldaistic expression. With the accused were to come the elders and judges of every city, to furnish the necessary explanations and evidence. להשׁיב עד, until the turning away of the fierceness of the wrath (ל עד according to the later usage of the language instead of עד only, comp. Ewald, 315, a, not instead of ל only, as Bertheau seeks, by incorrectly interpreted passages, to prove). The meaning is: until the fierce wrath of God concerning these marriages shall be turned away, by their dissolution and the dismissal of the strange women from the congregation. The last words, הזּה לדּבר עד, offer some difficulty. De Wette and Bertheau translate them: on account of this matter, which ל עד can by no means signify. We regard ל עד equals עד of the older language, in the sense of during, like 2 Kings 9:22, according to which the meaning is: as long as this thing lasts; but we connect these words, not, as J. H. Michaelis, with the immediately preceding clause: the wrath which is fierce during this matter (quae usque, i.e., constanter ardet), but take them as more exactly defining the leading idea of the verse: the princes are to stand and judge the guilty as long as this matter lasts, so that הזּה לדּבר עד is co-ordinate with וגו להשׁיב עד.
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