Bible Commentaries
Ezra 10

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary



Ezra, having demanded and received an oath from the chief persons, commands that those who had married strange wives should put them away. Rulers are chosen to inquire after those who were guilty. The names of such are enumerated.

Before Christ 457.

Verse 3

Ver. 3. To put away all the wives, and such as are born of them It has been objected by some, that it seems an act of extreme severity, if not of injustice, upon the dissolution of these illegal marriages, to turn the children adrift, and cause them to suffer. Now let it be first observed, that the law, Deuteronomy 7:1; Deu 7:26 was express, and enforced with weighty reasons against these pagan marriages; and therefore, since whatever is done contrary to law is ipso facto null and void, these marriages with idolatrous women, which were strictly forbidden by God, were, properly speaking, no marriages at all; and the children which proceeded from them were in no better condition than those whom we call bastards. No interposition of civil authority, therefore, was needful to dissolve these marriages; the infidelity of the party espoused was as much an interdiction as any the most proximate degree of consanguinity, which, by the laws of all civilized nations, is known to vacate the marriage. But, even supposing that the civil authority thought proper to interpose in this matter, yet wherein had the Jews any reason to complain, if, in just punishment of their wilful breach of a known and positive law, they were excluded from living with these illegal wives; those Jews, who, for every light and trivial cause, made no scruple to give even their lawful wives a bill of divorcement, and might therefore, with much less difficulty, be supposed willing to repudiate those whom the laws of their God, for fear of their catching the infection of idolatry, had forbidden them to live with? See Selden Uxor. Heb. l. iii. c. 18.

REFLECTIONS.—Great is the influence of one good man. No sooner was Ezra's deep concern noised abroad, than we find,

1. The congregation assembled before the house of God, men, women, and children; and while they beheld him thus weeping over their sins, their eye affected their heart, and they wept sore for themselves, brought to a deep conviction of the great evil which they had committed. Note; It is very affecting when ministers weep over their flocks; their tears are often more moving than their words.

2. When nothing but the sound of weeping is heard, asif there were no hope, the voice of Shechaniah, like a good angel, revives the disconsolate hearts of Ezra and the people. He owns the guilt which was evidently upon them, and in which his own family was deeply involved; but he encourages them not to despair. The case, though bad, was not utterly desperate; a remedy might still be found for the inveterate disease, and God yet pardon their past transgression. He advises, therefore, that without delay they should solemnly engage to put away their strange wives, and the children begotten of them; and encourages them to believe, that if Ezra, with those who trembled at God's word, zealously prosecuted the matter, as he exhorted them, they would find enough to support them; and the affair, however difficult, would be found practicable. Note; (1.) In the deepest distresses, let us never despair. (2.) When our sin is seen and felt, however terrible and discouraging the view, there is then hope. (3.) It is a great mercy, in times of soul-dejection, to have one to support our fainting hearts. (4.) However dear to us our sins be, we must entirely part with them; otherwise there is, indeed, no hope. (5.) That which seems desperate to the dejected, the spirit of a courageous Israelite can bring about. To have a good heart in times of difficulty, is more than half to overcome them.

3. Ezra immediately consented to a proposal so agreeable to his desires, and disdained not to be encouraged by an inferior. On the spot he engaged the chief priests and Levites, and the assembled congregation, upon oath, to stand by him; and thereto they consented.

Verse 8

Ver. 8. Separated Or, excommunicated, by which he was excluded from all society. After sixty days contumacy, the anathema or execration followed; which, however, was rescinded upon repentance: nevertheless, it was not allowable for any one to kill the person under such an anathema; but he might be supported in a tent or cottage entirely separated from all society.

Verse 9

Ver. 9. It was the ninth month, &c.— That is, some time in December, when the rains in the Holy Land are extremely cold. Dr. Russel, in his account of the weather at Aleppo, which very much resembles that in Judea, says, that "the natives reckon the severity of the winter to last but forty days, beginning from the twelfth of December and ending the twentieth of January; and that this computation comes in fact near the truth; that the air during this time is excessively piercing, even to those who are but just come from a cold climate;" &c. and it certainly must be much more so, when the season proves wet, as was the case at present. See Observations, p. 15. The street of the house of God, in this verse, is rendered by Houbigant, more properly, the court; for it means that court where the people stood when they worshipped.

Verse 19

Ver. 19. They gave their hands See 2 Kings 10:15. Houbigant renders the last clause, and who had offended, gave one ram of the flock for their offence.

Verse 44

Ver. 44. These had taken strange wives, &c.— The number is not very great, if compared with all those who came out of captivity; but they seem to have been eminent persons, and their examples would, doubtless, have spread the contagion, if a speedy stop had not been put to the evil. Justin Martyr, in his Dialogue with Trypho, says, that this following speech of Ezra was in the ancient Hebrew copies of the Bible, but was expunged by the Jews; viz. "And Ezra said to the people, this passover is our saviour and our refuge; and if you will be persuaded of it, and will let it enter into your hearts, that we are to humble him in a sign, and afterwards shall believe in him, this place shall not be destroyed for ever, saith the God of hosts; but if you believe not in him, neither hearken to his preaching, ye shall be a laughing-stock to the Gentiles."

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezra 10". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.