Matthew Poole's Commentary
Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.Shechaniah encourageth Ezra to reform the strange marriages, Ezra 10:1-4. All Israel swear to do accordingly, Ezra 10:5. Ezra, mourning, assembleth the people, Ezra 10:6-8. The people at the exhortation of Ezra repent, and promise amendment, Ezra 10:9-14. Their care to perform it, Ezra 10:15-17. The names of them that married strange wives, Ezra 10:18-44.
Awakened by the words and example of this holy priest and great potentate. So inexpressible is the good which is done by the good example, and the evil which is done by the bad example, of a great person, or of a minister. The fame of his great passion of grief, and of his many and public expressions thereof in the court before the temple, being in an instant dispersed over all the city, brought a great company together. The people wept very sore, being greatly affected with Ezra’s prayer, and with the common sin.
And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.He saith
1. Because he was guilty in this matter. Or rather,
2. In the name of the people, and their several families, and his own amongst the rest. For this man’s name is not in the following catalogue, but there we have his father, Jehiel, and his father’s brethren, five other sons of his grandfather Elam, Ezra 10:26. It was therefore an evidence of his great courage, and good conscience, that he durst so freely and fully discharge his duty, whereby he showed that he honored God more than his nearest and dearest relations.
There is hope concerning this thing, in case of our repentance and reformation. Therefore let us not sorrow like persons without hope, nor sit down in despair, but let us fall upon action, and amend our errors, and then trust to God’s mercy.
Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.To put away all the wives; which though it may seem harsh, yet is not unjust, if it be considered,
1. That marriages made between some prohibited persons; as suppose, between a father and his daughter, a brother and a sister, are not only unlawful, but void marriages, and ipso facto null, by the political laws of civil nations. And therefore these marriages with idolatrous and heathen women, being expressly and severely forbidden by God, might well be disannulled. And it was one of good Theodosius’s laws, that those actions which were done against law, should be accounted not only unlawful, but null.
2. That there were many peculiar laws given to the Jews concerning the marrying and putting away of wives, as hath been observed before in their proper places, and therefore it is not strange if there be something more in this case that is now usual with us.
3. Supposing the matrimonial tie had continued, yet they might be excluded from cohabitation with them, as a just punishment upon them for the wilful breach of a known and positive law of God.
And such as are born of them: this may seem harder than the former, but many things may be said.
1. Whatsoever evil befell either them or their children, they had all reason to accept it as the just and deserved fruit of their own sin.
2. That children may and sometimes do suffer, at least temporal evils, for their parents’ sins, or upon occasion of them, is most evident, both by the Scripture instances, and by the laws and usages of nations in some cases.
3. This may seem to have been a necessary part of severity, partly, as a proper punishment of the parents’ sin herein, and to deter others more effectually from the like practices; partly, to prevent the corruption of their other children by the conversation and society of this ungodly and idolatrous brood; and partly, lest such children, being continually present with them, and stealing into their affections, might at last prevail with them to take their ejected wives again.
4. These children were only cast out of the families and commonwealth of Israel, but were not utterly forsaken and ruined; but due care was probably taken by authority that they should have some provision made for them, and some care taken about their education in the Jewish religion, &c.
According to the counsel of my lord; either,
1. As thou counsellest and desirest us to do. Or,
2. Let us do it in such manner as thou shalt think fit and agreeable to the law, as it follows; for it requires great caution, as being a matter of no small difficulty.
And of those that tremble at the commandment of our God: and of other serious and religious persons who may with thee consider and regulate the business.
Let it be done according to the law: this is meant, either,
1. Of the matter of the business, let that be done which the law requires; let them be put away. Or,
2. Of the manner of it, which must be according to the rules of God’s law.
Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.This matter belongeth unto thee; because thou hast both skill to manage it, and authority both from God and from the Persian king to do it.
Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away.Went into the chamber, that he with the princes and elders, as it follows, Ezra 10:8, might consult about the execution of their resolution.
And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem;No text from Poole on this verse.
And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away.Either by banishment; or rather, by excommunication from the church, and people, and house, and public worship of God.
Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain.All the men of Judah and Benjamin not only of these two tribes, as appears from the following catalogue, where there are priests and Levites; but all the Israelites, Ezra 10:25, who are thus described, partly because the greatest part of them were of these tribes, though others were mixed with them; and partly because they all now dwelt in that land which formerly was appropriated to those tribes.
In the street of the house of God; in that street of the city which was next to the temple, and within the view of it, that so they might be as in God’s presence, whereby they might be awed to a more faithful and vigorous prosecution of their work. And this place they might choose rather than the court of the people, because they thought it might be polluted by the delinquents, who were all to come thither.
For the great rain, which they took for a token of God’s displeasure against them.
And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel.No text from Poole on this verse.
Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.Do his pleasure; you have sinfully pleased yourselves, now please God by your obedience to his command.
Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do.No text from Poole on this verse.
But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing.No text from Poole on this verse.
Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.Let our rulers of all the congregation stand; let the great council, called the Sanhedrim, be settled, and meet to judge and determine of all particular causes.
Them which have taken strange wives, to wit, of these heathen nations, such as were not proselyted to the Jewish religion before their marriage, or since revolted from it.
The elders of every city, and the judges thereof; who are best able to inform the great council of the quality of the persons, and of all matters of fact and circumstances.
Until the fierce wrath of our God be turned from us, i.e. until the thing be done, and God’s wrath thereby removed.
Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah were employed about this matter: and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them.To wit, to take due care that the business should be executed in the manner proposed, that the officers and delinquents of every city should come successively in convenient time and order, as these should appoint, and to take and keep an exact account of the whole transaction, and of the names of the cities and persons whose causes were despatched, and to give notice to others to come in their turns, and to prepare the business for the hearing of the judges. And these two were priests, as their coadjutors or helpers were Levites; that so they might inform the persons concerned, if any matter of doubt did arise.
And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain chief of the fathers, after the house of their fathers, and all of them by their names, were separated, and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.Were separated, i.e. sequestered themselves from all other business, and gave themselves wholly to this.
And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month.No text from Poole on this verse.
And among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives: namely, of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren; Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah.No text from Poole on this verse.
And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass.They gave their hand, i.e. they covenanted or swore by giving their hand; which was the usual gesture in those cases; of which see Leviticus 6:2 Ezekiel 17:18.
And of the sons of Immer; Hanani, and Zebadiah.No text from Poole on this verse.
And of the sons of Harim; Maaseiah, and Elijah, and Shemaiah, and Jehiel, and Uzziah.No text from Poole on this verse.
And of the sons of Pashur; Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethaneel, Jozabad, and Elasah.No text from Poole on this verse.
Also of the Levites; Jozabad, and Shimei, and Kelaiah, (the same is Kelita,) Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.No text from Poole on this verse.
Of the singers also; Eliashib: and of the porters; Shallum, and Telem, and Uri.No text from Poole on this verse.
Moreover of Israel: of the sons of Parosh; Ramiah, and Jeziah, and Malchiah, and Miamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah.Of Israel, i.e. of the people of Israel, distinguished from the priests and the Levites hitherto named, who before were called Judah and Benjamin, Ezra 10:9, See Poole "Ezra 10:9".
And of the sons of Elam; Mattaniah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, and Abdi, and Jeremoth, and Eliah.No text from Poole on this verse.
And of the sons of Zattu; Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, and Jeremoth, and Zabad, and Aziza.No text from Poole on this verse.
Of the sons also of Bebai; Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.No text from Poole on this verse.
And of the sons of Bani; Meshullam, Malluch, and Adaiah, Jashub, and Sheal, and Ramoth.No text from Poole on this verse.
And of the sons of Pahathmoab; Adna, and Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezaleel, and Binnui, and Manasseh.No text from Poole on this verse.
And of the sons of Harim; Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchiah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,No text from Poole on this verse.
Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.No text from Poole on this verse.
Of the sons of Hashum; Mattenai, Mattathah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.No text from Poole on this verse.
Of the sons of Bani; Maadai, Amram, and Uel,No text from Poole on this verse.
Benaiah, Bedeiah, Chelluh,No text from Poole on this verse.
Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,No text from Poole on this verse.
Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasau,No text from Poole on this verse.
And Bani, and Binnui, Shimei,No text from Poole on this verse.
And Shelemiah, and Nathan, and Adaiah,No text from Poole on this verse.
Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,No text from Poole on this verse.
Azareel, and Shelemiah, Shemariah,No text from Poole on this verse.
Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.No text from Poole on this verse.
Of the sons of Nebo; Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jadau, and Joel, Benaiah.No text from Poole on this verse.
All these had taken strange wives: and some of them had wives by whom they had children.Whereby he implies that most of their wives were barren; which came to pass by God’s special providence, partly to manifest his displeasure against such matches, and partly that the practice of this great and necessary duty might not be encumbered with too many difficulties.