Ezra 9:11
Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness.
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Ezra 9:11-12. Is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands — Or, of these lands, which are round about it. This expresses the cause or matter of this uncleanness: the land was not unclean of itself, but only polluted by the filthiness of its inhabitants. Give not your daughters unto their sons, &c., that ye may be strong — Although you may fancy making leagues and marriages with them is the only way to establish you, yet, I assure you, it will weaken and ruin you, and the contrary course will make you strong.

9:5-15 The sacrifice, especially the evening sacrifice, was a type of the blessed Lamb of God, who in the evening of the world, was to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Ezra's address is a penitent confession of sin, the sin of his people. But let this be the comfort of true penitents, that though their sins reach to the heavens, God's mercy is in the heavens. Ezra, speaking of sin, speaks as one much ashamed. Holy shame is as necessary in true repentance as holy sorrow. Ezra speaks as much amazed. The discoveries of guilt cause amazement; the more we think of sin, the worse it looks. Say, God be merciful to me sinner. Ezra speaks as one much afraid. There is not a surer or saddler presage of ruin, than turning to sin, after great judgments, and great deliverances. Every one in the church of God, has to wonder that he has not wearied out the Lord's patience, and brought destruction upon himself. What then must be the case of the ungodly? But though the true penitent has nothing to plead in his own behalf, the heavenly Advocate pleads most powerfully for him.Saying - The words which follow in this verse are not quoted from any previous book of Scripture, but merely give the general sense of numerous passages. Compare the marginal references. Ezr 9:5-15. Prays to God.

5-15. I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God—The burden of his prayer, which was dictated by a deep sense of the emergency, was that he was overwhelmed at the flagrant enormity of this sin, and the bold impiety of continuing in it after having, as a people, so recently experienced the heavy marks of the divine displeasure. God had begun to show returning favor to Israel by the restoration of some. But this only aggravated their sin, that, so soon after their re-establishment in their native land, they openly violated the express and repeated precepts which commanded them to extirpate the Canaanites. Such conduct, he exclaimed, could issue only in drawing down some great punishment from offended Heaven and ensuring the destruction of the small remnant of us that is left, unless, by the help of divine grace, we repent and bring forth the fruits of repentance in an immediate and thorough reformation.

An unclean land with the filthiness of the people: this notes the cause or matter of this uncleanness. The land was not unclean in itself, but only polluted by the filthiness of its inhabitants.

Of the lands; or, of these lands which are round about it. This land is as corrupt as any of the rest of the heathen nations.

Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets,.... Moses, and Joshua, and others, see Deuteronomy 7:3

saying, the land, unto which ye go to possess it; meaning the land of Canaan:

is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness; which is to be understood not of their idolatries only, but of their incestuous marriages, and impure copulations, on which account the Lord spewed out the old inhabitants of it; for which reason the Jews ought to have been careful not to have defiled it again by similar practices; see Leviticus 18:1.

Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness.
11. The Divine commands which Israel had violated had been conveyed to them expressly by the prophets. The people were without excuse.

commanded by thy servants the prophets] Lit. ‘by the hand of’. To command by ‘the hand of’ occurs often, as in the Heb. of Nehemiah 8:14; Leviticus 8:36; Numbers 16:40; Numbers 36:13; Jdg 3:4, &c.: cf. ‘to speak by the hand of’, 2 Kings 17:23; 2 Kings 21:10; 2 Kings 24:2.

saying] The prophetic word is contained in this and the following verse. There is no passage in the prophets resembling the words here given. It is generally supposed that Ezra is citing from Deuteronomy 7:1-3, and that the expression ‘thy servants the prophets’ alludes to Moses. But it must be remembered that ‘the law of Moses’ in these books is always directly referred to, e.g. Ezra 3:2; Ezra 6:18; Ezra 7:6; Nehemiah 8:1; Nehemiah 8:14; Nehemiah 13:1; 2 Chronicles 23:18; 2 Chronicles 25:4; 2 Chronicles 30:16; 2 Chronicles 35:12. It is better then to regard the passage as a perfectly general statement by Ezra of prophetical teaching upon the subject of intermarriage with foreign nations. Such a statement would naturally reecho the Deuteronomic law, and even repeat words and phrases which, by oral as well as by written tradition, would be familiar. We are forcibly reminded how much of the teaching of the prophets has never come down to us. On the other hand it is no less instructive to observe that the prophetical teaching seems naturally to embody itself in a form, which recalls the language of the Deuteronomic legislation, e.g. ‘The land unto which ye go to possess it’, cf. Deuteronomy 7:1 ‘Then the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it’.

The land … is an unclean land] This expression (lit. land of unclean ness) is not found in the Pentateuch with reference to the promised land.

with the filthiness of the people of the land] R.V. through the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands. The same word ‘uncleanness’ (niddah) is used here as in the phrase an ‘unclean land’. It occurs in 2 Chronicles 29:5 ‘carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place’. Cf. Lamentations 1:17. It is a strong word to denote anything that would convey defilement.

with their abominations] R.V. through their abominations. Added by way of explanation. On the word see note on Ezra 9:1. The ‘abominations’ are described as acts of impurity because these were the accompaniment of the local worship. Cf. Leviticus 18:27 ‘All these abominations (Ezra 9:6-15) have the men of the land done … and the land is defiled’.

from one end to another] Lit. ‘from mouth to mouth’. Cf. almost the same expression in 2 Kings 10:21; 2 Kings 21:16. It means ‘from one extremity to another’; perhaps the metaphor has been taken from a drinking vessel.

with their uncleanness] R.V. with their filthiness. The same word in the Hebrew as that rendered ‘filthiness’ in chap. Ezra 6:21. It denotes ‘impurity’, ‘defilement’ generally. Cf. Zechariah 13:2 ‘I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land’. See, for the special application, the whole passage Leviticus 18:24-30.

Verse 11. - The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land, etc. These exact words do not occur elsewhere; but the "unclean" and corrupt character of the Canaanitish nations is constantly proclaimed in the Law, and was the sole reason why their land was taken from them and given to the Israelites. On the special character of their "filthiness" and "abominations" see Deuteronomy 12:2, 3; Leviticus 18:6-27. Ezra 9:11Namely, the commandments "which Thou hast commanded by Thy servants the prophets, saying, The land unto which ye go to possess it is an unclean land through the uncleanness of the people of the lands, through their abominations, wherewith they have filled it from one end to another through their impurity. And now give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons (for wives), nor seek their peace nor their wealth for ever; that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever." The words of the prophets introduced by לאמר are found in these terms neither in the prophetical books nor the Pentateuch. They are not, therefore, to be regarded as a verbal quotation, but only as a declaration that the prohibition of intermarriage with the heathen had been inculcated by the prophets. The introduction of this prohibition by the words: the land unto which ye go to possess it, refers to the Mosaic age, and in using it Ezra had chiefly in view Deuteronomy 7:1-3. He interweaves, however, with this passage other sayings from the Pentateuch, e.g., Deuteronomy 23:7, and from the prophetic writings, without designing to make a verbal quotation. He says quite generally, by His servants the prophets, as the author of the books of Kings does in similar cases, e.g., 2 Kings 17:23; 2 Kings 21:10; 2 Kings 24:2, where the leading idea is, not to give the saying of some one prophet, but to represent the truth in question as one frequently reiterated. The sayings of Moses in Deuteronomy also bear a prophetical character; for in this book he, after the manner of the prophets, seeks to make the people lay to heart the duty of obeying the law. It is true that we do not meet in the other books of Scripture a special prohibition of marriages with Canaanites, though in the prophetical remarks, Judges 3:6, such marriages are reproved as occasions of seducing the Israelites to idolatry, and in the prophetic descriptions of the whoredoms of Israel with Baalim, and the general animadversions upon apostasy from the Lord, the transgression of this prohibition is implicitly included; thus justifying the general expression, that God had forbidden the Israelites to contract such marriages, by His servants the prophets. Besides, we must here take into consideration the threatening of the prophets, that the Lord would thrust Israel out of the land for their sins, among which intermarriage with the Canaanites was by no means the least. Ezra, moreover, makes use of the general expression, "by the prophets," because he desired to say that God had not merely forbidden these marriages one or twice in the law, but had also repeatedly inculcated this prohibition by the prophets. The law was preached by the prophets when they reiterated what was the will of God as revealed in the law of Moses. In this respect Ezra might well designate the prohibition of the law as the saying of the prophets, and cite it as pronounced according to the circumstances of the Mosaic period.

(Note: It is hence evident that these words of Ezra afford no evidence against the single authorship of the Pentateuch. The inference that a saying of the law, uttered during the wanderings in the wilderness, is here cited as a saying of the prophets the servants of Jahve, is, according to the just remark of Bertheau, entirely refuted even by the fact that the words cited are nowhere found in the Pentateuch in this exact form, and that hence Ezra did not intend to make a verbal quotation.)

The words: the land into which ye go, etc., recall the introduction of the law in Deuteronomy 7:1, etc.; but the description of the land as a land of uncleanness through the uncleanness of the people, etc., does not read thus either in the Pentateuch or in the prophets. נדּה, the uncleanness of women, is first applied to moral impurity by the prophets: comp. Lamentations 1:17; Ezekiel 7:20; Ezekiel 36:17, comp. Isaiah 64:5. The expression מפּה אל־פּה, from edge to edge, i.e., from one end to the other, like לפה פּה, 2 Kings 10:21; 2 Kings 21:16, is taken from vessels filled to their upper rim. ועתּה introduces the consequence: and now, this being the case. The prohibition וגו תּתּנוּ אל is worded after Deuteronomy 7:3. The addition: nor seek their peace, etc., is taken almost verbally from Deuteronomy 23:7, where this is said in respect of the Ammonites and Moabites. תּחזקוּ למאן recalls Deuteronomy 11:8, and the promise: that ye may eat the good of the land for ever, Isaiah 1:19. לבניכם והורשׁתּם, and leave it for an inheritance to your children, does not occur in this form in the Pentateuch, but only the promise: that they and their children should possess the land for ever. On הורישׁ in this sense comp. Judges 11:24; 2 Chronicles 20:11.

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