Ezra 9:4
Then were assembled to me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Ezra 9:4. Then were assembled unto me — To join with me, both in lamenting the sin, and in endeavouring to effect the redress of it; every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel — Who stood in awe of God and of his word, and durst not violate his commands; or who feared his threatenings against those that did so, and trembled for fear of God’s judgments upon them, and upon the whole land for their sakes, as the following words imply. Compare Isaiah 66:2; Isaiah 66:5. Because of the transgression of those that had been carried away — To wit, into captivity, and were safely returned from it, but yet were little amended, either by their former banishment, or their late restoration. He speaks not of those who had lately come back with himself, but of those who had returned with Zerubbabel, and of their children. And I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice — When the people used to assemble together. All good people ought to own those that appear and act for God against vice and profaneness. Every one that fears God ought to stand by them, and do what he can to strengthen their hands.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. 4. Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, &c.—All the pious people who reverenced God's word and dreaded its threatenings and judgments joined with Ezra in bewailing the public sin, and devising the means of redressing it.

I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice—The intelligence of so gross a violation of God's law by those who had been carried into captivity on account of their sins, and who, though restored, were yet unreformed, produced such a stunning effect on the mind of Ezra that he remained for a while incapable either of speech or of action. The hour of the evening sacrifice was the usual time of the people assembling; and at that season, having again rent his hair and garments, he made public prayer and confession of sin.

Then were assembled unto me; to join with me both in lamenting the sin, and in endeavouring the redress of it.

Every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, i.e. who stood in awe of God, and of his word, and durst not violate his commands; or who feared his threatenings against those that did so, and trembled for fear of God’s judgments upon them, and upon the whole land for their sakes, as the following words imply. Compare Isaiah 66:2,5.

Those that had been carried away, to wit, into captivity, and were safely returned from it, and yet were not reformed either by their former affliction, or by their latter deliverance.

Until the evening sacrifice, when the people used to assemble together. See Psalm 141:2 Acts 3:1. There were assembled unto me everyone that trembled at the words of the God of Israel,.... That had a reverence for the word of God, and the things contained in it; feared to break the laws of God, and trembled at his judgments, which they might apprehend would come upon transgressors, see Isaiah 46:2,

because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; into Babylon, and were now returned, and which was an aggravation of their transgression:

and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice: or until the ninth hour, as the Syriac version, which was about our three o'clock in the afternoon, at which time the evening sacrifice was offered; perhaps it was in the morning when Ezra first received his information from the princes.

Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. There are, collected unto Ezra those who believed in the word of God and dreaded the displeasure consequent upon such transgression. Perhaps the reference is especially to the threats contained in the Law. Cf. Deuteronomy 7:1-4.

every one that trembled at the words &c.] cf. Ezra 10:3, ‘those that tremble at the commandment of our God’. Isaiah 66:2, ‘to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word’, and Ezra 9:5, ‘Hear the word of God, ye that tremble at his word’. The dread of the consequences of disobedience rather than horror at the nature of the offence seems here depicted. But if the nature of sin was not yet realised, the sovereignty of a Higher Law was recognised, and ‘sin is lawlessness’ (1 John 3:4).

of those that had been carried away] R.V. of them of the captivity. Heb. ‘haggôlah’, the collective abstract name for those who had shared the captivity.

until the evening sacrifice] R.V. until the evening oblation. This is the daily evening minkhah or meal offering. See note on Nehemiah 10:33.

It is here mentioned as a common division of the day, as in 1 Kings 18:29. Cf. Jdt 9:1, ‘about the time that the incense of that evening was offered in Jerusalem’. Ezra probably spent the greater part of the day in this posture.Verse 4. - Then were assembled unto me. The open manifestation by Ezra of his grief and horror produced an immediate effect. A crowd assembled around him, attracted by the unusual sight - partly sympathizing, partly no doubt curious. Every one came that trembled at the words of the God of Israel; by which is meant not so much all God-fearing persons (see Isaiah 66:2) as all who were alarmed at the transgression of the commands of God (Ezra 10:3), and at the threats which the Law contained against transgressors (Deuteronomy 7:4). Because of the transgression of those that had been carried away. The transgression of "the children of the captivity" (Ezra 4:1) - of those who had been removed to Babylon and had returned under Zerubbabel. I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice. As morning is the time for business in the East, we may assume that the princes had waited upon Ezra tolerably early in the day - before noon, at any rate - to communicate their intelligence. The evening sacrifice took place at three in the afternoon. Ezra must, therefore, either from the intensity of his own feelings or with the view of impressing the people, have "sat astonied" - speechless and motionless - for several hours. EZRA'S CONFESSION AND PRAYER TO GOD (Ezra 9:5-15). The most remarkable feature of Ezra's confession is the thoroughness with which he identifies himself with his erring countrymen, blushes for their transgressions, and is ashamed for their misconduct. All their sins he appears to consider as his sins, all their disobedience as his disobedience, all their perils as his perils. Another striking feature is his sense of the exceeding sinfulness of the particular sin of the time (see vers. 6, 7, 10). He views it as a "great trespass" - one that "is grown up into the heavens" - which is equivalent to a complete forsaking of God's commandments, and on account of Which he and his people "cannot stand before" God. This feeling seems based partly on the nature of the sin itself (ver. 14), but also, and in an especial way, on a strong sense of the ingratitude shown by the people in turning from God so soon after he had forgiven their former sins against him, and allowed them to return from the captivity, rebuild the temple, and re-establish themselves as a nation. If after their deliverance they again fell away, the sin could not but be unpardonable; and the punishment to be expected was a final uprooting and destruction from which there could be no recovery (vers. 13, 14). "By number, by weight, as to all," i.e., all was delivered by number and weight; and the whole weight was written at that time, i.e., an authentic list was made at the delivery which then took place.
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