Ezra 10:5
Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware.
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10:1-5 Shechaniah owned the national guilt. The case is sad, but it is not desperate; the disease threatening, but not incurable. Now that the people begin to lament, a spirit of repentance seems to be poured out; now there is hope that God will forgive, and have mercy. The sin that rightly troubles us, shall not ruin us. In melancholy times we must observe what makes for us, as well as against us. And there may be good hopes through grace, even where there is the sense of great guilt before God. The case is plain; what has been done amiss, must be undone again as far as possible; nothing less than this is true repentance. Sin must be put away, with a resolution never to have any thing more to do with it. What has been unjustly got, must be restored. Arise, be of good courage. Weeping, in this case, is good, but reforming is better. As to being unequally yoked with unbelievers, such marriages, it is certain, are sinful, and ought not to be made; but now they are not null, as they were before the gospel did away the separation between Jews and Gentiles.Let it be done according to the law - i. e., let a formal "bill of divorcement" be given to each foreign wife, whereby she will be restored to the condition of an unmarried woman, and be free to marry another husband (see Deuteronomy 24:1-2). The facility of divorce among the Jews is well-known. According to many of the rabbis, a bill of divorcement might he given by the husband for the most trivial cause. Thus, no legal difficulty stood in the way of Shechaniah's proposition; and Ezra regarded it as necessary for the moral and religious welfare of the people. 5-8. Then Ezra … went into the chamber of Johanan—At a private council of the princes and elders held there, under the presidency of Ezra, it was resolved to enter into a general covenant to put away their foreign wives and children; that a proclamation should be made for all who had returned from Babylon to repair within three days to Jerusalem, under pain of excommunication and confiscation of their property. No text from Poole on this verse.

Then arose Ezra,.... From the ground where he lay:

and made the chief priests, and the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word: he took an oath of all that were present to do what was proposed, namely, to put away strange wives and their children:

and they sware; by means of which they were kept to their word of promise, an oath being a solemn, sacred, thing.

Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware.
5. Ezra’s prompt action: an oath administered to the princes.

the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel] R.V. the chiefs of the priests. Here as in Ezra 8:29 the A.V. by rendering ‘chief priests’ gives an erroneous meaning. ‘The chiefs’ here spoken of are the princes or leaders of the three groups into which the people divides itself at this time, priests, Levites, and Israel or laity. Cf. ‘the chiefs of the priests’ (2 Chronicles 36:14), ‘the chiefs of the Levites’ (2 Chronicles 35:9), ‘the princes (or chiefs) of Judah’ (Nehemiah 12:31), ‘the princes of the people’ (Nehemiah 11:1). The rendering of the LXX. (ὥρκισε τοὺς ἄρχοντας τοὺς ἱερεῖς κ.τ.λ.) seems to make ‘the princes’ or chiefs a separate class from the priests and the Levites.

Ezra’s policy was at once to bind to his side the leaders of the people. By administering to them the oath of cooperation in the work of reform, while public feeling was still intensely aroused, he secured from them a public assurance of support. After that, they could not well recede from their oath. If they did not second his efforts, their hands were effectually tied. In dealing with a community which was to all intents and purposes a religious oligarchy, to compromise the chiefs or princes in his favour was the first and surest step to a successful result.

according to this word] i.e. Shecaniah’s proposal that the people should put away from them the foreign women, whom they had married.

Verse 5. - Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests... to swear. Rather, "made the princes, the priests, etc. to swear" LXX.). That they would do according to this word. That they would act in the matter as Shechaniah had recommended, and put away the idolatrous wives. EZRA'S FAST (ver. 6). Matters having reached this point, the covenant having been made, and the only question remaining for consideration being how the decision come to should be carried out, Ezra "rose up," and withdrew himself for a time from the people, entering into one of the side chambers of the temple, and secluding himself there. The guilt of his brethren still pressed heavily on his spirit, and he continued the mourning which he had commenced as soon as it came to his ears. To this mourning he now joined a fast of the strictest kind, an entire abstinence both from eating and drinking, like that of Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:28). Natural piety seems to have taught men generally (Jonah 3:5-7), and the Jews among them, that such abstinence was a fitting accompaniment of penitential prayer, and might be counted on to lend it additional force with Almighty God. Compare the private and personal fasts of David (2 Samuel 12:16), Ahab (1 Kings 21:27), Daniel (Daniel 9:3), and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4). Ezra 10:5Then Ezra (who during this speech had continued upon his knees) arose, and made the chiefs of the priests, of the Levites, and of all Israel swear to do according to this word; and they swore. הזּה הדּבר is Shecaniah's proposal to put away the strange wives.
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