Ezra 9


The princes inform Ezra that many of the people now settled

in the had married heathen wives; and several of the rulers

were principal offenders in this thing, 1, 2.

He is greatly afflicted, 3, 4.

His prayer to God on thus account, 5-15.


Verse 1. The people of Israel] These were they who had returned

at first with Zerubbabel, and were settled in the land of Judea

and whom Ezra found on his arrival to be little better than the

Canaanitish nations from whom God had commanded them ever to keep


Verse 2. Hath been chief in this trespass.] They who are the

first men have been the most capital offenders; so VIRGIL, AEn.

ix. 783:-

Unus homo, vestris, o cives, undique septus

Aggeribus, tantas strages impune per urbem

Ediderit? Juvenum primos tot miserit orco?

"Shall one, and he enclosed within your walls,

One rash imprisoned warrior, vanquish all?

Calm you look on, and see the furious foe

Plunge crowds of heroes to the shades below!"


The first of the Trojan youth were the chief, the most

illustrious; so we say the first men of the kingdom for the

nobles, &c.

Verse 3. I rent my garment and my mantle] The outer and inner

garment, in sign of great grief. This significant act is

frequently mentioned in the sacred writings, and was common among

all ancient nations.

Plucked off the hair] Shaving the head and beard were signs of

excessive grief; much more so the plucking off the hair, which

must produce exquisite pain. All this testified his abhorrence,

not merely of the act of having taken strange wives, but their

having also joined them in their idolatrous abominations.

Verse 4. Those that had been carried away] Those that had

returned long before with Zerubbabel; see Ezr 9:1.

Until the evening sacrifice.] The morning sacrifice was the

first of all the offerings of the day, the evening sacrifice the

last. As the latter was offered between the two evenings, i.e.,

between sunset and the end of twilight, so the former was offered

between break of day and sunrise. Ezra sat astonied-confounded

in his mind, distressed in his soul, and scarcely knowing what to

do. He probably had withdrawn himself into some sequestered place,

or into some secret part of the temple, spending the time in

meditation and reflection.

Verse 5. Fell upon my knees] In token of the deepest humility.

Spread out my hands, as if to lay hold on the mercy of God. We

have already had occasion to explain these significant acts.

Verse 6. I am ashamed and blush] God had been so often provoked,

and had so often pardoned them, and they had continued to

transgress, that he was ashamed to go back again to the throne of

grace to ask for mercy in their behalf. This is the genuine

feeling of every reawakened backslider.

Verse 8. And now for a little space] This interval in which they

were returning from servitude to their own land.

Grace hath been showed] God has disposed the hearts of the

Persian kings to publish edicts in our favour.

To leave us a remnant to escape] The ten tribes are gone

irrecoverably into captivity; a great part even of Judah and

Benjamin had continued beyond the Euphrates: so that Ezra might

well say, there was but a remnant which had escaped.

A nail in his holy place] Even so much ground as to fix our

tent-poles in.

May lighten our eyes] To give us a thorough knowledge of

ourselves and of our highest interest, and to enable us to

re-establish his worship, is the reason why God has brought us

back to this place.

A little reviving] We were perishing, and our hopes were almost

dead; and, because of our sins, we were sentenced to death: but

God in his great mercy has given us a new trial; and he begins

with little, to see if we will make a wise and faithful use of it.

Verse 10. What shall we say after this?] Even in the midst of

these beginnings of respite and mercy we have begun to provoke

thee anew!

Verse 11. Have filled it from one end to another] The

abominations have been like a sweeping mighty torrent, that has

increased till it filled the whole land, and carried every thing

before it.

Verse 13. Hast punished us less than our iniquities] Great,

numerous, and oppressive as our calamities have been, yet merely

as temporal punishments, they have been much less than our

provocations have deserved.

Verse 15. Thou art righteous] Thou art merciful; this is one

of the many meanings of the word tsedek; and to this meaning

St. Paul refers, when he says, God declares his righteousness for

the remission of sins that are past, Ro 3:25. See the note there.

We remain yet escaped] Because of this righteousness or mercy.

In our trespasses] We have no righteousness; we are clothed and

covered with our trespasses.

We cannot stand before thee because of this.] The parallel

place, as noted in the margin, is Ps 130:3:

If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall

stand? Every man must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ:

but who shall stand there with joy? No man against whom the Lord

marks iniquities. There is a reference here to the temple service:

the priests and Levites stood and ministered before the Lord, but

they were not permitted to do so unless pure from all legal

pollution; so no man shall stand before the judgment-seat of

Christ who is not washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb.

Reader, how dost thou expect to stand there?

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