Ezra 6:21
And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves to them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Separated themselves . . .—Not proselytes from the heathen are intended, but the remnant of the Jews in the land who had consorted with the foreign populations introduced by the conquerors. Their intermarriages and other acts of conformity are constantly referred to throughout Ezra and Nehemiah.

Ezra 6:21. All such as had separated themselves unto them, &c. — Had left their country, and the superstitions and vices of it; had become proselytes to the Jewish religion, and cast in their lot with the Israel of God, professing an entire subjection to the law of Moses. Such, and only such, might eat of the passover, Exodus 12:48-49. From the manner in which the sacred writer expresses himself here, it would seem as if there were many proselytes, who forsook their heathenish customs, and were brought to the knowledge and worship of the true God, influenced, probably, by the encouragement which Cyrus and Darius had given to the Jewish religion. People of all nations, it must be observed, till proselyted, were accounted by the Jews polluted both in body and mind, because of their worshipping false gods, and not abstaining from the things which were accounted unclean by the law of Moses. The description here given of proselytes to Judaism may serve to characterize converts to the true religion in every age: they separate themselves from the filthiness of sin, and fellowship with sinners; join themselves to the Israel of God in conformity and communion, and set themselves to seek the God of Israel: and those that do so in sincerity, though strangers and foreigners, are welcome to eat of the gospel-feast, as fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.6:13-22 The gospel church, that spiritual temple, is long in the building, but it will be finished at last, when the mystical body is completed. Every believer is a living temple, building up himself in his most holy faith: much opposition is given to this work by Satan and our own corruptions. We trifle, and proceed in it with many stops and pauses; but He that has begun the good work, will see it performed. Then spirits of just men will be made perfect. By getting their sins taken away, the Jews would free themselves from the sting of their late troubles. Their service was with joy. Let us welcome holy ordinances with joy, and serve the Lord with gladness.Some render, "And the priests were purified; and the Levites, as one man, were all of them pure." A contrast is drawn between the universal purity of the Levites and the merely general purity of the priests 2 Chronicles 29:34; 2 Chronicles 30:3, which made it fitting that the former should undertake the slaughter of all the Paschal lambs, even of those which the priests were to consume. In later times the ordinary practice was for each head of a family to kill for himself. 21. all such as had separated themselves … from the filthiness of the heathen of the land—that is, who had given satisfactory evidence of being true proselytes by not only renouncing the impure worship of idolatry, but by undergoing the rite of circumcision, a condition indispensable to a participation of the passover. From the filthiness of the heathen, i.e. such as had forsaken that filthy and idolatrous religion of the heathens, and were proselyted to the Jewish religion; for such were allowed to eat the passover, Exodus 12:48 Numbers 9:14. And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity,.... The tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with some of the ten tribes mixed with them:

and all such as had separated themselves unto them, from the filthiness of the Heathen of the land, to seek the Lord God of Israel, did eat; such of the Gentiles in the dominions of Babylon, and came with the Jews from thence, who were enlightened into the knowledge and worship of the true God, and not only renounced their idolatry, here called filthiness, but were circumcised, and embraced the religion of the Jews, and so were proselytes of righteousness, as they call them; or otherwise they would not have been allowed to eat of the passover, as they did, Exodus 12:48.

And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had {i} separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat,

(i) Who were of the heathen and forsook their idolatry to worship the true God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. Those who partook of the Passover are described as belonging to two classes; (1) those who had returned from captivity, (2) those who had ‘separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land’.

“The heathen of the land” (goyyê ha-ârec̣) is to be compared with “the peoples of the land” (’amme ha-ârec̣) in chap. Ezra 10:2; Ezra 10:11. “The land” is the land of Palestine: “the heathen” and “the peoples” are apparently the colonists and mixed population that had settled in the territory of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. ‘The filthiness’ (cf. Ezra 9:11) is the ceremonial pollution of idolatry practised by these heathen races.

Who then are those described here as having ‘separated themselves’?

(a) By very many they are considered to be proselytes from the heathen who had attached themselves to the Jewish religion since the return from the Captivity.

(b) But it appears most probable that they are Israelites.

(1) Israelites are described in Ezra 9:1 as not having “separated themselves from the peoples of the lands”. (2) Ezra exhorts the Jews to “separate themselves from the peoples of the lands” (Ezra 10:11). If those who had not ‘separated’ themselves were Israelites, it is probable that these who had separated themselves were also Israelites; and if so, they would be those Israelites who had not been carried into captivity, but had continued to dwell in Palestine or among the adjoining races.

The two classes mentioned therefore are both Israelite; the one, those who had returned from Babylon; the other, those who having remained behind and having mixed with “the heathen of the land” now separated themselves and attached themselves once more to their countrymen.

to seek the Lord God of Israel] R.V. to seek the Lord, the God of Israel. See on chap. Ezra 1:3. To seek, i.e. with a view to worship: cf. on Ezra 4:2.Verse 21. - Such as had separated themselves unto them. i.e. such proselytes as had been made since the return from the captivity. We have perhaps a mention of some of these proselytes in the "Sherezer" and "Regem-melech" sent by the men of Bethel a short time before this to make inquiries of the priests at Jerusalem in respect of fasting (Zechariah 7:2). These names are Assyrian, and not likely to have been given to persons born Jews. From the filthiness of the heathen means "from their moral defilements" (see ch. 9:11). It is always to be borne in mind that heathen idolatry was full of such impurities. And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar (the twelfth month), which is the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. שׁיציא, according to the Keri שׁיצי, with the א dropped, is the Shaphel of יצא, to bring a thing to an end, to finish it. The form שׁיציא is not a participle pass. formed from the Shaphel (Gesen.), for this would be משׁיציא, but a Hebraized passive form of the Shaphel in the meaning of the Targumistic Ishtaphal, like חיתיוּ, Daniel 3:13, and חיתית, Daniel 6:18, with the active היתיו, Daniel 6:17. In the Targums שׁיצי has mostly an active, and only in a few passages the intransitive meaning, to end, to be at the end; comp. Levy, chald. Wrterbuch, s.v.

(Note: Instead of the "third day," which the lxx also has, in accordance with the Hebrew text, 1 Esdr. 7:5 gives the three-and-twentieth day of the month Adar, - a statement which Bertheau arbitrarily insists upon regarding as the original reading, because "the view that the compiler altered the third into the twenty-third day, because it seemed to him more fitting to assume an eight days' celebration of the dedication (comp. 1 Kings 8:60; 2 Chronicles 29:18), and to fill up therewith also the eight last days of the year, is rather far-fetched." Such a view, however, would be entirely consistent with the whole spirit of 1Esdras.)

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