Ezra 10:9
Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together to Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Ezra 10:9. Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin, &c. — Not only of these two tribes, as appears from the following catalogue, in which there are priests and Levites; but all the Israelites, (Ezra 10:25,) who are thus described, because the greatest part of them were of these tribes, though others were mixed with them: and because they all now dwelt in that land, which formerly was appropriated to those tribes. All the people sat in the street — Hebrew, ברחוב, birchob, LXX., εν πλατεια, in a broad, open place, of the house of God. Houbigant renders it, the court, namely, that in which the people stood when they worshipped. This, lying open, and not being yet enclosed by a wall, as may be conjectured from Nehemiah 2:8, is called in the original an open place, or street, and not חצר, chatser, the name usually given to the court. Here the people were not only within view of the temple, but in a place adjoining to it, that so they might be as in God’s presence, and be thereby awed to a more faithful and vigorous prosecution of their work. Trembling because of this matter — The offence they had committed against God, and the consequences thereof; and for the great rain — Hebrew, םiהגשׁמי, haggeshamim, the rains, or showers. It was now the depth of winter, when the rains in Judea are extremely cold; and the people seem to have taken the heavy rains on this occasion as a token of God’s displeasure. 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).

9-11. Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin—The returned captives belonged chiefly to these tribes; but other Israelites are also included under these names, as they all were then occupying the territory formerly assigned to those two tribes.

It was the ninth month—that is, between the end of December and the beginning of January, which is the coldest and most rainy season of the year in Palestine.

all the people sat in the street—that is, the court.

All the men of Judah and Benjamin not only of these two tribes, as appears from the following catalogue, where there are priests and Levites; but all the Israelites, Ezra 10:25, who are thus described, partly because the greatest part of them were of these tribes, though others were mixed with them; and partly because they all now dwelt in that land which formerly was appropriated to those tribes.

In the street of the house of God; in that street of the city which was next to the temple, and within the view of it, that so they might be as in God’s presence, whereby they might be awed to a more faithful and vigorous prosecution of their work. And this place they might choose rather than the court of the people, because they thought it might be polluted by the delinquents, who were all to come thither.

For the great rain, which they took for a token of God’s displeasure against them. Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin,.... And such of the ten tribes that returned and dwelt among them:

gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days; the time fixed: which they were the more careful to observe, since it was enjoined by the authority of princes and elders, and the punishment in case of disobedience very severe:

it was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; the month Chisleu, which answers to part of November and part of December, so that the twentieth day must be in the beginning of December; this was almost five months after Ezra came to Jerusalem:

and all the people sat in the street of the house of God: the street which led to the temple, the east street, 2 Chronicles 29:4 though some think this was the court of the people, called a street, because it lay open, not yet walled in; and, according to Josephus (q), it was in an upper room of the temple in which Ezra was, perhaps the same with the chamber of Johanan, Ezra 10:6,

trembling because of this matter; they were met about; some that were guilty, not knowing what punishment would be inflicted on them, and others that were not, yet dreaded the wrath of God, lest that should break out upon the whole congregation for it:

and for the great rain; which now fell, and which they interpreted as a token of the divine displeasure: for though it was in winter time, yet not with them a time of rain, for the former rain had fallen a month before; so that this being unusual and unexpected, they understood it as betokening evil to them.

(q) Antiqu. l. 11. c. 5. sect. 4.

Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the {e} ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great {f} rain.

(e) Which contained part of November and part of December.

(f) For the season was given to rain and so the weather was more sharp and cold and also their conscience touched them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. all the men of Judah and Benjamin] All the male population capable of attending. ‘Men of Judah and Benjamin’, cf. Ezra 1:5, Ezra 4:1.

It was the ninth month] R.V. it was the ninth month—not a fresh sentence. The ‘ninth month’ was Chislev, corresponding nearly to our December. The Assyrian month Ki-shilivu is the same name. The month is mentioned in Nehemiah 1:1; Zechariah 7:1. On the 15th of this month 168 b.c. the Temple was profaned and the altar polluted by Antiochus Epiphanes; on the 25th of this month, three years later, 165 b.c., Judas the Maccabee and his companions celebrated ‘the Dedication’ or Purification of the Temple, which was afterwards observed as an annual festival (cf. John 10:22). See 1Ma 1:54; 1Ma 4:59. The general assembly was therefore summoned only four months after Ezra’s arrival (see Ezra 7:8).

sat in the street of the house of God] R.V. sat in the broad place before the house of God. Literally ‘in the broad place of the house of God’. Cf. Nehemiah 8:1 ‘And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the broad place (A.V. street) that was before the water gate’, and 3. An area belonging to ‘the house of God’ in which the whole assembly could collect, must have been a large open court. See the same word in Deuteronomy 13:16 and 2 Samuel 21:12, where an open place or square in the middle of a town gives a truer sense than the word ‘street’. The idea of the word in the original is width, not narrowness.

trembling because of this matter] The popular apprehension was aroused to the utmost, partly by the penalty for non-attendance at the assembly (Ezra 10:8), partly by the rumours of the action proposed by Shecaniah and approved by the princes, partly by dread of Divine wrath at the national transgression. The verb used here for ‘trembling’ occurs elsewhere in the O. T. only in Daniel 10:11 and Psalm 104:32.

and for the great rain] R.V. marg. Heb. the rains. We must suppose that the rains, which prevail during December in Palestine, were on this occasion exceptionally ‘heavy’ and seemed to the people to denote the Divine displeasure (cf. 1 Samuel 12:18), besides adding to the discomfort of gathering to Jerusalem. This was ‘the early rain’ following after seed-time (cf. Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24; Joel 2:23) as distinguished from ‘the latter rain’ of spring-time.Verse 9. - All the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem. This is of course to be understood with certain necessary or natural exceptions, as of the sick, the aged and infirm, and the youths under full age. Still it would be a vast gathering, doubling probably for the time the population of the city. It was the ninth month. The month Chisleu, corresponding nearly to our December. All the people sat in the street of the house of God. The word translated "street" means any broad open space, and is probably used here to designate the great court of the temple (Patrick). By "all the people" we must understand as many as the court would conveniently hold. If the court had the dimensions given it by Hecataeus of Abdera, it may have accommodated the whole body of the country Jews. The great rain. December is a rainy month in Palestine; and the incidental mention of "the great rain" is one of those small touches which stamp the writer as an eyewitness. ADDRESS OF EZRA, AND CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE TO PUT AWAY THE STRANGE WIVES (vers. 10- 14). Hitherto Ezra seems to have allowed the leading part in the matter to be taken by the civil authorities, whom he had found established in Jerusalem on his arrival (Ezra 9:1-8). Now he came forward boldly, denouncing the sin committed, and as supreme governor commanding the repudiation of the strange wives. The assembled multitude consented, but urged that the matter required time; that the season was unsuitable for a prolonged stay of the whole body of country Jews at Jerusalem, and that the business would be most conveniently carried through by a standing commission consisting of the chief authorities of the city of Jerusalem, who should take the case of each country town separately, and, in conjunction with the elders and judges of each town, investigate the alleged mixed marriages of each locality, and adjudicate upon them. By this arrangement the bulk of the country Jews would be allowed at once to return home; and the case of each locality being taken separately, only a small number would at any given time be suffering the inconvenience of a compulsory absence from their residences, and the expense of a stay of some duration in the capital. The proposal was reasonable, and it appears to have approved itself to Ezra and his advisers, and to have been at once adopted. Then one of the sons of Elam, Shecaniah, the son of Jehiel, stood forth from amidst the assembly, and uttered the confession: "We have been unfaithful towards our God by marrying strange wives, but there is yet hope for Israel concerning this thing. We will now make a covenant with God to put away all the strange wives and their children from the congregation, according to the counsel of the Lord, and of those who fear the commandment of our God, that it may be done according to the law." Shecaniah, of the sons of Elam (comp. Ezra 2:7; Ezra 8:7), is a different person from the descendant of Zattu, mentioned Ezra 8:5; nor is Jehiel identical with the individual whose name occurs in Ezra 10:26. ונּשׁב, and have brought home strange wives. הושׁיב, to cause to dwell (in one's house), said in Ezra 10:10, Ezra 10:14, Ezra 10:17, Ezra 10:18, and Nehemiah 13:23, Nehemiah 13:27, of bringing a wife home. Shecaniah founds his hope for Israel in this trespass upon the circumstance, that they bind themselves by a solemn covenant before God to put away this scandal from the congregation, and to act in conformity with the law. To make a covenant with our God, i.e., to bind themselves by an oath with respect to God, comp. 2 Chronicles 29:10. הוציא, to put away - the opposite of הושׁיב. All the wives are, according to the context, all the strange women (Ezra 10:2), and that which is born of them, their children. Instead of אדני בּעצת, according to the counsel of the Lord, De Wette, Bertheau, and others, following the paraphrase in the lxx and 1 Esdras, read אדני, according to the counsel of my lord, i.e., of Ezra. But this paraphrase being of no critical authority, there is no sufficient reason for the alteration. For Shecaniah to call Ezra my lord sounds strange, since usually this title was only given by servants to their master, or subjects to their sovereign, and Shecaniah afterwards addresses him simply as thou. Besides, Ezra had given no advice at all in this matter, and still less had he come to any resolution about it with the God-fearing members of the community. יעשׂה after the preceding נכרת־בּרית, we will make a covenant, must be taken as hortative: and let it be done according to the law. בּ חרד, caring for with trembling.
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