Ezra 9:3
And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonished.
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Ezra 9:3. When I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, &c. — Both my inner and my upper garment. This was a token, not only of his very great grief and sorrow, but of his sense of God’s displeasure at their conduct. For the Jews were wont to rend their clothes, when they apprehended God to be highly offended. And plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard — This was still a higher sign of exceeding great grief. For, in ordinary sorrow, they only neglected their hair, and let it hang down scattered in a careless manner; but this was used in bitter lamentations. And sat down astonied — Through grief and shame at their sin, that they should be so ungrateful to God, who had so lately delivered them from captivity; and through an apprehension of some great and dreadful judgment befalling them, because of so open a violation of the divine law, the transgression of which had formerly proved their ruin.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.Plucking out the hair with the hands, so common among the Classical nations, is, comparatively speaking, rarely mentioned as practiced by Asiatics. 3. when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, &c.—the outer and inner garment, which was a token not only of great grief, but of dread at the same time of the divine wrath;

plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard—which was a still more significant sign of overpowering grief.

My garment and my mantle; both my inner and my upper garment.

Plucked off the hair of my head, and of my beard, in testimony of my great grief and indignation; which was usual among all these eastern and ancient people, wherein he did not transgress that law, Leviticus 19:27 Deu 14:1, because he did not shave off all the hair, but only plucked off some hairs.

Sat down astonied; partly for grief and shame at the sin; and partly for fear of some great and dreadful judgment which he expected and feared for it. And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle,.... Both inward and outward garments, that which was close to his body, and that which was thrown loose over it; and this he did in token of sorrow and mourning, as if something very dreadful and distressing, see Job 1:20

and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard; did not shave them, and so transgressed not the law in Leviticus 19:27 but plucked off the hair of them, to show his extreme sorrow for what was told him: which has frequently been done by mourners on sorrowful occasions in various nations, see Isaiah 15:2. So in the apocryphal "addition" to Esther,"And laid away her glorious apparel, and put on the garments of anguish and mourning: and instead of precious ointments, she covered her head with ashes and dung, and she humbled her body greatly, and all the places of her joy she filled with her torn hair.'' (Esther 14:2)she is said to fill every place of joy with the tearing of her hair; and Lavinia in Virgil (k); several passages from Homer (l), and other writers, both Greek and Latin, are mentioned by Bochart (m) as instances of it:

and sat down astonished; quite amazed at the ingratitude of the people, that after such favours shown them, in returning them from captivity unto their own land, and settling them there, they should give into practices so contrary to the will of God.

(k) Aeneid. 12. prope finem. Vid. Ciceron. Tusc. Quaest. l. 3.((l) Vid. Iliad. 10. ver. 15. & Iliad. 22. ver. 77, 78, 406. & Iliad. 24. ver. 711. (m) Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 45. col. 481.

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down {c} astonied.

(c) As one doubting whether God would continue his benefits toward us, or else destroy what he had begun.

3. I rent my garment and my mantle] Ezra’s conduct betrays his surprise, his grief, and his indignation. The rending of the clothes is frequently mentioned in Scripture as a sign of grief: Ezra here is described as rending the under-garment or tunic (the ‘begedh’) and the long loose robe (the m‘îl) in which he was attired. Reuben rent his ‘clothes’ (plur. of ‘begedh’) on not finding Joseph (Genesis 37:29): Jacob rent his ‘garments’ (plur. of ‘simlah’) on seeing Joseph’s blood-stained coat (Genesis 37:34): Joseph’s brethren rent their clothers (plur. of ‘simlah’) when the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack (Genesis 44:13): Joshua rent his ‘clothes’ (plur. of ‘simlah’) after the repulse at Ai (Joshua 7:6): Jephthah rent his clothes (plur. of ‘begedh’) on meeting his daughter (Jdg 11:35): the messenger from the field of Ziklag came with his clothes (plur. of ‘begedh’) rent (2 Samuel 1:2, cf. 1 Samuel 4:12): Job rent his mantle (‘m‘îl’) on hearing of his children’s death (Job 1:20), and his friends rent each one his mantle (‘m‘îl’) when they came to visit him (Job 2:12). These were all signs of grief. The action also denoted ‘horror’ on receiving intelligence or hearing words, which shocked: thus Hezekiah and his ministers rent their clothes (plur. of ‘begedh’) after Rabshakeh’s speech (2 Kings 18:37; 2 Kings 19:1): Mordecai rent his clothes (plur. of ‘begedh’) on hearing of Haman’s determination (Esther 4:1): the High-priest rent his garments on hearing the testimony of Jesus (Matthew 26:65). See also Isaiah 36:22; Jeremiah 41:5; 2 Chronicles 34:27.

The ‘mantle’ was a long flowing robe; by this name is designated the High-priest’s robe (Exodus 28:31; Exodus 28:34; Exodus 39:22-23); the ‘robe’ which Hannah made for Samuel (1 Samuel 2:19); Jonathan’s ‘robe’, which he presented to David (1 Samuel 18:4); Samuel’s robe (1 Samuel 15:27); Saul’s ‘robe’ (1 Samuel 24:4); the ‘robe’ which covered the apparition of Samuel (1 Samuel 28:14). Its use in metaphor (Psalm 109:29; Isaiah 59:17) agrees with this.

and pluckt off the hair &c.] This sign of grief is not described elsewhere in the O. T. Compare Esther (additions to), Esther 14:2, ‘All the places of her joy she filled with her torn hair’.

The shaven head was a common sign of mourning, e.g. Job 1:20; Ezekiel 7:18; Amos 8:10. Ezra’s action denotes in an exaggerated way his great grief.

Nehemiah’s indignation made him ‘pluck off’ the hair of his opponents (Nehemiah 13:25; cf. 2Es 1:8), but is hardly a parallel case.

and sat down astonied] cf. Daniel 4:19 ‘Then Daniel … was astonied or a while’. The word in the original is the same as that rendered ‘desolator’ (marg. desolate) in Daniel 9:27, and ‘that maketh desolate’ Daniel 11:31. Here the sense of ‘bewilderment’ is uppermost. See the use of ‘astonied’ in the R.V., Job 17:8; Job 18:20; Ezekiel 4:17; Daniel 3:24; Daniel 4:19.Verse 3. - I rent my garment and my mantle. Rending the clothes was always, and still is, one of the commonest Oriental modes of showing grief. Reuben rent his clothes when his brothers sold Joseph to the Midianites, and Jacob did the same when he believed that Joseph was dead (Genesis 37:29, 34). Job "rent his mantle" on learning the death of his sons and daughters (Job 1:20); and his friends "rent every one his mantle when they came to mourn with him and comfort him" (Job 2:11, 12). Rent clothes indicated that a messenger was a messenger of woe (1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2), or that a man had heard something that had greatly shocked him, and of which he wished to express his horror (2 Kings 18:37; Matthew 26:65). Ezra's action is of this last kind, expressive of horror more than of grief, but perhaps in some degree of grief also. And plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard. These are somewhat unusual signs of grief among the Orientals, who were wont to shave the head in great mourning, but seldom tore the hair out by the roots. The practice is not elsewhere mentioned in Scripture, excepting in the apocryphal books (1 Esdras 8:71; 2 Esdras 1:8; Apoc. Esther 4:2). And sat down astonied. Compare Daniel 4:19; Daniel 8:27, where the same verb is used in the same sense. They arrived at Jerusalem, as stated Ezra 7:9, on the first day of the fifth month, the journey consequently occupying three months and a half. The particulars of the journey are not communicated; and as we do not even know the locality of the place of meeting at the river Ahava, the length of road to be traversed cannot be determined. After their arrival at Jerusalem, they abode, i.e., remained, as Nehemiah subsequently did, quiet and inactive three days, to recover from the fatigues and hardships of the journey, Nehemiah 2:11, before they undertook the arrangement of their affairs. On the fourth day, the gifts they had brought with them were delivered in the house of God (נשׁקל, like אשׁקלה, Ezra 8:16) into the hand of Meremoth and Eleazar the priests, and Jozabad and Noadiah, two Levites, who took charge of them, the chiefs of the priests and Levites being, according to Ezra 8:29, also present. Meremoth Ben Uriah reappears in Nehemiah 3:4, Nehemiah 3:21, and is also intended Nehemiah 12:3. Eleazar the son of Phinehas, and the Levite Noadiah, are not again met with. Jozabad, of the sons of Jeshua (Ezra 2:40), may be the Levite Jozabad mentioned Nehemiah 10:23. Binnui is named among the Levites, Nehemiah 10:10 and Nehemiah 12:8.
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