Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass to this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ezra 9:7-8. Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass — We are not purged from the guilt of our fathers’ sins, but we are still feeling the sad effects of them; yea, and are repeating the same sins. And now for a little space grace hath been showed — It is but a little while since God hath delivered us, and yet we are already returned to our sin and folly. Or, we have enjoyed this favour but a little while, now we are sinning it away, and shortening our own happiness. To leave us a remnant to escape — That by his favour many of us should escape out of captivity; whom he calls but a remnant, because the greatest part of the Israelitish nation was yet in captivity. To give us a nail — Some kind of settlement; whereas before we were tossed and removed from place to place as our masters pleased. It is a metaphor from tents, which are fastened by cords and nails, or pins. In his holy place — In this holy land, as the land of Judah is called, Zechariah 2:12. Or, in Jerusalem, called the holy city, (Nehemiah 11:1; Nehemiah 11:18; Daniel 10:24,) which is peculiarly mentioned, because of the temple, which was the nail that fastened their tents, and gave them some hopes of continuing in their land. That our God may lighten our eyes — That he might revive and comfort our hearts. For, as darkness is often put for a state of sorrow and affliction, so light is put for joy and comfort. And give us a little reviving in our bondage — For we are not quite delivered, being even here in subjection to our former lords.
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.We have been in a great trespass unto this day: we are not purged from the guilt and filth of our fathers’ sins, but we are still feeling the sad effects of their sins in the continuing captivity of a great number of our brethren; and we are still repeating the same sins.
and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands; the ten tribes and their king into the hand of the king of Assyria, the kings of Judah, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah, into the hands of the king of Babylon, with the priests and people:
to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil; some were slain with the sword, others carried captive, and the houses of them all plundered and spoiled:
and to confusion of face, as it is this day; being filled with shame when they reflected on their sins, the cause of those evils; and besides, the captivity of the ten tribes continued, and of many others, which exposed them to shame among their neighbours.Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. The record of Israelite history, i.e. sin and its retribution. But for their sin, the Israelites would have had a far different history.
Since the days of our fathers] The exact phrase hardly occurs elsewhere except Malachi 3:7 ‘From the days of your fathers ye have turned aside from mine ordinances’. The context there seems to show that, though the expression is purposely indefinite, it points back to the time when the Law was first given, and is equivalent to saying ‘from the first beginnings of the Israelite people’.
have we been in a great trespass] R.V. we have been exceedingly guilty. Marg. Heb. in great guiltiness. See note on Ezra 9:6.
we, our kings, and our priests] i.e. the nation, with its civil and sacred chiefs. Cf. the fuller category Nehemiah 9:32 ‘Our kings … our princes … our priests … our prophets … our fathers’.
the kings of the lands] With special reference to ‘the kings of Assyria’ (Nehemiah 9:32) and Babylon.
sword … captivity … spoil (R.V. spoiling) … confusion of face] Life, freedom, property, honour: items of the penalty. ‘Confusion of face’, lit. shame of face, i.e. dishonour. Cf. Daniel 9:7-8 ‘Unto us confusion of face, as it is this day’, ‘To us belongeth confusion of face’. 2 Chronicles 32:21 ‘So he returned with shame of face’. ‘Spoiling’: a late Hebrew word, occurring also in Esther 9:10; Esther 9:15-16; Daniel 11:24; Daniel 11:33; 2 Chronicles 14:14; 2 Chronicles 25:13; 2 Chronicles 28:14.
as it is this day] cf. Ezra 9:15; Nehemiah 9:10; Deuteronomy 6:24; Jeremiah 44:22.Verse 7. - Since the days of our fathers. The historical sketches in Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:6-35) and the Acts (Acts 7:2-53) show that this phrase might be taken in a very wide sense, and be regarded as including the "fathers" of the nation who came out of Egypt; but perhaps Ezra has rather in his mind the series of idolatries belonging to the kingly period, and extending from Solomon to Zedekiah. We, our kings, and our priests, have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands. Menahem into the hand of Pul, Pekah of Tiglath-Pileser, Hoshea of Shalmaneser or Sargon, Manasseh of Esarhaddon, Josiah of Pharaoh-Necho, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, of Nebuchadnezzar. That the priests had their full share in the calamities of the captivity appears from 2 Kings 25:18; Jeremiah 52:24; Ezekiel 1:1-3. And to confusion of face. i.e. To disgrace and shame (compare Psalm 44:13-15). 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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