Ezra 9:2
For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.
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Ezra 9:2. So that the holy seed, &c. — They are called a holy seed, because of the covenant which God had made with them, whereby they were constituted a peculiar people, separated from all other nations. Have mingled themselves with the people of those lands — Since their return, as may be gathered from Ezra 9:8-14. Yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass — Who ought to have restrained the people from it by their authority and example; and who, by acting otherwise, have made the sin more general, and have involved themselves and the nation in the guilt of it. The case, certainly, was much the more dangerous, because the great men of the nation were the principal offenders; for through this the people would be freed from all fear of punishment, and therefore would the more readily imitate their bad example. It is probable the princes, who informed Ezra of this enormous practice, had endeavoured to reform it, but could not, because they were opposed by men as great as themselves.

9:1-4 Many corruptions lurk out of the view of the most careful rulers. Some of the people disobeyed the express command of God, which forbade all marriages with the heathen, De 7. Disbelief of God's all-sufficiency, is at the bottom of the sorry shifts we make to help ourselves. They exposed themselves and their children to the peril of idolatry, that had ruined their church and nation. Carnal professors may make light of such connexions, and try to explain away the exhortations to be separate; but those who are best acquainted with the word of God, will treat the subject in another manner. They must forebode the worst from such unions. The evils excused, and even pleaded for; by many professors, astonish and cause regret in the true believer. All who profess to be God's people, ought to strengthen those that appear and act against vice and profaneness.Abominations - The mixed marriages had prevented that complete separation of the people of God from the idolatrous rites, or "abominations," which the Law required, and which was necessary for purity of religion. See 1 Kings 11:2 note. CHAPTER 9

Ezr 9:1-4. Ezra Mourns for the Affinity of the People with Strangers.

1, 2. Now when these things were done—The first days after Ezra's arrival in Jerusalem were occupied in executing the different trusts committed to him. The nature and design of the office with which the royal authority had invested him was publicly made known to his own people by the formal delivery of the contribution and the sacred vessels brought from Babylon to the priests to be deposited in the temple. Then his credentials were privately presented to the provincial governors; and by this prudent, orderly proceeding he put himself in the best position to avail himself of all the advantages guaranteed him by the king. On a superficial view everything contributed to gratify his patriotic feelings in the apparently flourishing state of the church and country. But a further acquaintance discovered the existence of great corruptions, which demanded immediate correction. One was particularly brought under his notice as being the source and origin of all others; namely, a serious abuse that was practised respecting the law of marriage.

the princes came to me, saying—The information they lodged with Ezra was to the effect that numbers of the people, in violation of the divine law (De 7:2, 3), had contracted marriages with Gentile women, and that the guilt of the disorderly practice, far from being confined to the lower classes, was shared in by several of the priests and Levites, as well as of the leading men in the country. This great irregularity would inevitably bring many evils in its train; it would encourage and increase idolatry, as well as break down the barriers of distinction which, for important purposes, God had raised between the Israelites and all other people. Ezra foresaw these dangerous consequences, but was overwhelmed with a sense of the difficulty of correcting the evil, when matrimonial alliances had been formed, families had been reared, affections engaged, and important interests established.

This they had done, either,

1. In the land of their captivity, into which these people were carried as well as others, as appears from Jeremiah 25:9, &c. Or rather,

2. Since their return, as may be gathered from Ezra 9:8,9,10,14.

The princes and rulers; who should have restrained the people from this sin by their authority and example; and, by doing otherwise, made the sin more general, and involved themselves and the nation in the guilt of it.

For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sorts,.... Some that were widowers not only took wives to themselves of the above nations, either when they were of Babylon, where many of these nations also were, or rather since their return; but they took for their sons also; yea, some that had wives took Heathenish ones to them, see Malachi 2:13,

so that the holy seed; such as the Lord had separated from other nations, chosen them to be an holy people above all others, and devoted them to his service and worship:

have mingled themselves with the people of those lands; before mentioned, by marrying with them:

yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass; they were the first that went into it, were ringleaders of it, who should by their authority and example have restrained others; or they were

in this first trespass (i); which was the first gross and capital one the people fell into after their return from the captivity.

(i) "in praevaricatione ista prima", Pagninus, Montanus.

For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the {b} princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.

(b) That is, the governors are the chief beginners of it.

2. they have taken] i.e. ‘taken wives’ as in Ezra 10:44; 2 Chronicles 11:21; 2 Chronicles 13:21.

the holy seed] i.e. the race set apart and consecrated to God, cf. Exodus 19:5-6. The term ‘the holy seed’ is found also in Isaiah 6:13.

have mingled themselves] The same phrase occurs in a passage which well illustrates our verse. Psalm 106:34-35. ‘They did not destroy the peoples (‘ammîm) as the Lord commanded them; but mingled themselves with the nations (haggoyyim) and learned their works’.

with the people of those lands] R.V. with the peoples of the lands, as in Ezra 9:1.

the hand of the princes and rulers] marg. ‘princes and deputies’. compare the same phrase Nehemiah 5:7.

The word rendered ‘rulers’ (marg. ‘deputies’) ‘segânîm’ is of Assyrian origin. It occurs in Isaiah 41:25, and preceded by ‘pekhah’ in Jeremiah 51:23; Jeremiah 51:28; Jeremiah 51:57; Ezekiel 23:6; Ezekiel 23:12; Ezekiel 23:23 as ‘governors and deputies’; in Nehemiah 4:14; Nehemiah 4:19; Nehemiah 5:7; Nehemiah 7:5; Nehemiah 12:40; Nehemiah 13:11 as ‘rulers’ (marg. ‘deputies’).

‘The princes’ seem to have been the chief authorities. A ruler or deputy (sagan) held under the governor a post of subordinate responsibility.

chief in this trespass] R.V. marg. first. This is probably more correct; the chiefs and rulers had set the example of wrong-doing, ‘Trespass’ Ezra 9:4, Ezra 10:6. Compare the use of this word with reference to national sin, Joshua 7:1; Joshua 22:16.

Verse 2. - The holy seed. Compare Isaiah 6:13. The "seed of Israel," however much it polluted itself by transgressions, was still "holy" by profession, by call, by obligation, by prophetic announcement. They were "a kingdom of priests, a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6); bound to be "separated from all the people that were on the face of the earth" (Exodus 33:16), and to keep themselves a "peculiar people." When they mingled themselves with the people of the lands, they not only broke a positive command (Deuteronomy 7:3), but did their best to frustrate God's entire purpose in respect of them, and to render all that he had done for them of no effect. The hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in the trespass. "Princes and rulers" are here opposed to people of the middle and lower ranks. The upper classes, whether clerical or lay, had been the chief offenders (see Ezra 10:18); and compare the similar defection of Jews of the upper classes in Nehemiah's time (Nehemiah 6:17, 18; Nehemiah 13:4, 28). EZRA'S ASTONISHMENT AND HORROR (Ezra 9:3, 4). In Babylonia, whence Ezra had come, the inclination to intermarry with the heathen had not, it would seem, shown itself. Exiles in a foreign land naturally cling to each other under their adverse circumstances, and, moreover, being despised by those among whom they sojourn, are not readily accepted by them into social fellowship, much less into affinity and alliance. Thus the thing was to Ezra a new thing. His familiarity with the Law, and, perhaps we may add, his insight into the grounds upon which the Law upon this point was founded, caused him to view the matter as one of the gravest kind, and to feel shocked and horror-struck at what was told him respecting it. He showed his feelings with the usual openness and abandon of an Oriental: first rending both his outer and his inner garments, then tearing his hair and his beard, and finally" sitting down astonied," motionless and speechless, until the time of the evening sacrifice. Such a manifestation of horror and amazement was well calculated to impress and affect the sympathetic and ardent people over whom Providence had placed him. Ezra 9:2Information given of the intermingling of Israel with the heathen nations of the land by marriage (Ezra 9:1-4), and Ezra's prayer and confession (Ezra 9:5-15). - Ezra 9:1, Ezra 9:2. "When this was done, the princes came to me, and said, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, do not separate themselves from the people of the lands, according to their abominations, (even) of the Canaanites; ... for they have taken (wives) of their daughters for themselves and for their sons, and the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of the lands." What now follows is placed in close chronological sequence with what precedes by the formula אלּה וּככלּות, at the time of the completion of these things; comp. 2 Chronicles 31:1; 2 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 7:1. אלּה are the things related Ezra 8:33-36. Of these the delivery of the gifts took place on the fourth day after Ezra's arrival at Jerusalem, i.e., on the fourth or fifth day of the first month (comp. Ezra 8:32, etc., with Ezra 7:9). The sacrifices (Ezra 8:35) would undoubtedly be offered immediately; and the royal orders would be transmitted to the satraps and governors (Ezra 8:36) very soon after. As soon, then, as Ezra received intelligence concerning the illegal marriages, he took the matter in hand, so that all related (Ezra 9:3-10) occurred on one day. The first assemblage of the people with relation to this business was not, however, held till the twentieth day of the ninth month (Ezra 10:9); while on the calling of this meeting, appearance thereat was prescribed within three days, thus leaving apparently an interval of nine whole months between Ezra 8 and Ezra 9:1-15. Hence Bertheau conjectures that the first proclamation of this assembly encountered opposition, because certain influential personages were averse to the further prosecution of this matter (Ezra 10:15). But though Ezra 10:4-7 does not inform us what period elapsed between the adoption of Shecaniah's proposal to Ezra, and the proclamation for assembling the people at Jerusalem, the narrative does not give the impression that this proclamation was delayed for months through the opposition it met with. Besides, Ezra may have received the information concerning the unlawful marriages, not during the month of his arrival at Jerusalem, but some months later. We are not told whether it was given immediately, or soon after the completion of the matters mentioned Ezra 8:33-36. The delivery of the royal commands to the satraps and governors (Ezra 8:36) may have occupied weeks or months, the question being not merely to transmit the king's decrees to the said officials, but to come to such an understanding with them as might secure their favour and goodwill in assisting the newly established community, and supporting the house of God. The last sentence (Ezra 8:36), "And they furthered the people and the house of God," plainly shows that such an understanding with the royal functionaries was effected, by transactions which must have preceded what is related Ezra 9:1-15.

This matter having been arranged, and Ezra being now about to enter upon the execution of his commission to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem according to the law of his God (Ezra 7:12), he received information of the illegal marriages. While he was in the temple, the princes (השּׂרים, the princes, are those who give the information, the article being used e.g., like that in הפּליט, Genesis 14:13) came to him, saying: The people (viz., Israel, the priests, and the Levites; the three classes of the Israelite community) do not separate themselves from the people of the lands; comp. Ezra 6:21. כּתעבתיהם, with respect to their abominations, i.e., as Israel should have done with respect to the abominations of these people. The ל to לכּנעני might be regarded as introducing the enumeration of the different nations, and corresponding with מעמּי; it is, however, more likely that it is used merely as a periphrasis for the genitive, and subordinates the names to תּעבתיהם: their, i.e., the Canaanites', etc., abominations, the suffix relating, as e.g., at Ezra 3:12 and elsewhere, to the names following. Give Canaanitish races are here named, as in Exodus 13:5, with this difference, that the Perizzites are here substituted for the Hivites, while in Exodus 3:8; Exodus 23:23, both are enumerated, making six; to these are added in Deuteronomy 7:1 the Girgashites, making, generally speaking, seven nations. Ammonites, Moabites, and Egyptians are here cited besides the Canaanitish races. The non-severance of the Israelites from these nations consisted, according to Ezra 9:2, in the fact of their having contracted marriages with them. In the law, indeed (Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3), only marriages with Canaanitish women were forbidden; but the reason of this prohibition, viz., that Israel might not be seduced by them to idolatry, made its extension to Moabites, Ammonites, and Egyptians necessary under existing circumstances, if an effectual check was to be put to the relapse into heathenism of the Israelitish community, now but just gathered out again from among the Gentiles. For during the captivity idolaters of all nations had settled in the depopulated country, and mingled with the remnant of the Israelites left there. By "the people of the lands," however, we are not to understand, with J. H. Michaelis, remnants of the races subjugated by Nebuchadnezzar and carried to Babylon, - who were now, after seventy years, returning, as well as the Jews, to their native lands under Cyrus; in support of which view Mich. incorrectly refers to Jeremiah 25:9, etc. - but those portions, both of the ancient Canaanitish races and of the Moabites and Ammonites, who, escaping the sentence of captivity, remained in the land. נשׂאוּ is naturally completed by נשׁים from the context; comp. Ezra 10:44; 2 Chronicles 11:21, and other passages. The subject of התערבוּ is the collective הקּדשׁ זרע, the holy seed, i.e., the members of the nation called to holiness (Exodus 19:5). The appellation is taken from Isaiah 6:13, where the remnant of the covenant people, preserved in the midst of judgments, and purified thereby, is called a holy seed. The second part of Ezra 9:2 contains an explanatory accessory clause: and the hand of the princes and rulers hath been first in this unfaithfulness (מעל, comp. Leviticus 5:15), i.e., the princes were the first to transgress; on the figurative expression, comp. Deuteronomy 13:10. סגנים is an Old-Persian word naturalized in Hebrew, signifying commander, prefect; but its etymology is not as yet satisfactorily ascertained: see Delitzsch on Isaiah 41:25.

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