Ezra 10:44
All these had taken strange wives: and some of them had wives by whom they had children.
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Ezra 10:44. All these had taken strange wives — “The number is not very great,” says Dr. Dodd, “if compared with all who came out of captivity; but they seem to have been eminent persons, and their examples would, doubtless, have spread the contagion, if a speedy stop had not been put to the evil.” Some of them had wives by whom they had children — This implies, that most of their wives were barren; which came to pass by God’s special providence, to manifest his displeasure against such matches, and that the putting them away might not be encumbered with too many difficulties. One would think this grievance altogether removed; yet we meet with it again, Nehemiah 13:22. Such corruptions are easily and insensibly brought in, though not easily purged out. The best reformers can but do their endeavour. It is only the Redeemer himself, who, when he cometh to Sion, will effectually turn away ungodliness from Jacob. It may not be amiss to add here a remark of Mr. Locke: “Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Trypho, says that the following speech of Ezra was in the ancient Hebrew copies of the Bible, but was expunged by the Jews, namely: ‘And Ezra said to the people, This passover is our Saviour, and our Refuge,’ (namely, a type of him,) ‘and if you will be persuaded of it, and will let it enter into your hearts, that we are to humble him in a sign, and afterward shall believe in him, this place shall not be destroyed for ever, saith the God of hosts; but if you believe not in him, neither hearken to his preaching, ye shall be a laughingstock to the Gentiles.’”

10:15-44 The best reformers can but do their endeavour; when the Redeemer himself shall come to Zion, he shall effectually turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And when sin is repented of and forsaken, God will forgive it; but the blood of Christ, our Sin-offering, is the only atonement which takes away our guilt. No seeming repentance or amendment will benefit those who reject Him, for self-dependence proves them still unhumbled. All the names written in the book of life, are those of penitent sinners, not of self-righteous persons, who think they have no need of repentance.The guilty persons, it would seem, were 113 in number. They comprised 4 members of the high priest's family, 13 other priests, 10 Levites, and 86 lay Israelites belonging to at least 10 distinct families. The fact noted in the second clause of the verse must have increased the difficulity of Ezra's task.19. they gave their hands—that is, came under a solemn engagement, which was usually ratified by pledging the right hand (Pr 6:1; Eze 17:18). The delinquents of the priestly order bound themselves to do like the common Israelites (Ezr 10:25), and sought to expiate their sin by sacrificing a ram as a trespass offering. Whereby he implies that most of their wives were barren; which came to pass by God’s special providence, partly to manifest his displeasure against such matches, and partly that the practice of this great and necessary duty might not be encumbered with too many difficulties.

All these had taken strange wives,.... In all about one hundred and thirteen:

and some of them had wives by whom they had children; and yet they put them away, which made it the more difficult for them to do; and those that had none, it is thought to be a mark of God's displeasure at such marriages. No mention being made of the children being put away, as Shechaniah proposed, Ezra 10:3, it may be concluded they were not, but were taken care of, to be educated in the true religion, and entered proselytes at a proper time; and the rather, as Ezra gave no orders about their putting away, Ezra 10:11.

All these had taken strange wives: and some of them had wives by whom they had {n} children.

(n) Who also were made illegitimate because the marriage was unlawful.

44. All these had taken strange wives] So also the R.V., a different phrase in the original from that rendered ‘had married strange women’. See on Ezra 9:2.

and some of them had wives by whom they had children] So R.V. Marg. Or, some of the wives had borne children. The clause in the original is beset with difficulties. Literally rendered it seems to be ‘And there were of them (masc.) wives, and they (masc.) begat children’. The LXX. renders freely ‘And they begat of them sons’ (καὶ ἐγέννησαν ἐξ αὐτῶν υἱούς) agreeing generally with the A.V. and R.V. text. The Vulgate has ‘And there were of them wives which had borne children’, agreeing with the margin of the R.V. This, it must be confessed, gives the best sense, although it does violence to the grammar in the matter of genders. The exact purpose of the clause is also a matter of uncertainty. (1) By some it is supposed that the clause is intended to illustrate the difficulties with which this general divorce was attended. The action was complicated by the question of the children. (2) Others think that it is added to show how thoroughly the commission was carried out. Mothers and their children were alike driven forth, in accordance with Shecaniah’s proposal (Ezra 10:3) ‘Let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and such as are born of them’. The probability that we are here confronted with another instance of textual corruption receives support from the parallel passage, 1Es 9:36 ‘And they put them away along with their children’, which suggests the existence of a different original text.

Verse 44. - And some of them had wives by whom they had children. Rather, "And there were some among the wives who had given birth to children." The fact is implied above in the advice of Shechaniah (ver. 3), but is here alone distinctly asserted. No doubt it was more difficult to arrange the terms of the divorce where the marriage had been fruitful.

Ezra 10:44Ezra 10:44 contains the statement with which the account of this transaction closes. The Chethiv נשׂאיּ seems to be an error of transcription for נשׂאוּ (the Keri), which the sense requires. וגו מהם וישׁ, "and there were among them women who had brought forth sons." מהם must be referred to women, notwithstanding the masculine suffix. ישׂימוּ, too, can only be referred to נשׁים, and cannot be explained, as by J. H. Mich.: unde etiam filios susceperant seu procreaverant. The gender of the verb is adapted to the form of the word נשׁים, an incorrectness which must be attributed to the increasing tendency of the language to use the masculine instead of the feminine, or to renounce a distinction of form between the genders. There are no adequate reasons for such an alteration of the text as Bertheau proposes; for the lxx already had our text before them, and the καὶ ἀπέλυσαν αὐτὰς σὺν τέκνοις of 1 Esdr. 9:36 is a mere conjecture from the context. The remark itself, that among the women who were sent away were some who had already brought children into the world, is not superfluous, but added for the purpose of showing how thoroughly this matter was carried out. Separation from women who already have children is far more grievous, ob communium liberorum caritatem, than parting with childless wives.

Strictly as this separation was carried out, this evil was not thereby done away with for ever, nor even for very long. After the arrival of Nehemiah at Jerusalem, when the building of the wall was concluded, the congregation again bound themselves by an oath, on the occasion of a day of prayer and fasting, to contract no more such illegal marriages (Nehemiah 10:31). Nevertheless, Nehemiah, on his second return to Jerusalem, some five and twenty to thirty years after the dissolution of these marriages by Ezra, again found Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Moab, and Ammon, and children of these marriages who spoke the tongue of Ashdod, and could not speak the Jews' language, and even one of the sons of the high priest Jehoiada allied to a daughter of Sanballat the Horonite (Nehemiah 13:28, etc.). Such a phenomenon, however strange it may appear on a superficial view of the matter, becomes comprehensible when we consider more closely the circumstances of the times. The nucleus of the Israelite community in Jerusalem and Judah was formed by those exiles who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel and Ezra; and to this nucleus the remnant of Jewish and Israelite descent which had been left in the land was gradually united, after the rebuilding of the temple and the restoration of the worship of Jahve. Those who returned from Babylon, as well as those who remained in the land, had now, however, lived seventy, and some of them one hundred and fifty, years (from the captivity of Jehoiachin in 599, to the return of Ezra in 457) among the heathen, and in the midst of heathen surroundings, and had thus become so accustomed to intercourse with them in civil and social transactions, that the consciousness of the barriers placed by the Mosaic law between Israel, the people of Jahve, and the Gentiles, was more and more obliterated. And this would specially be the case when the Gentiles who entered into matrimonial alliance with Israelites did not flagrantly practise idolatrous worship, i.e., did not offer sacrifice to heathen deities. Under such circumstances, it must have been extremely difficult to do away entirely with these unlawful unions; although, without a thorough reform in this respect, the successful development of the new community in the land of their fathers was not to be obtained.

Ezra's narrative of his agency in Jerusalem closes with the account of the dissolution of the unlawful marriages then existing. What he subsequently effected for the revival of religion and morality in the re-established community, in conformity with the law of God, was more of an inward and spiritual kind; and was either of such a nature that no striking results ensued, which could furnish matter for historical narrative, or was performed during the period of his joint agency with Nehemiah, of which an account is furnished by the latter in the record he has handed down to us (Nehemiah 8:10).

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