Many of them had intermarried.
VERSE 1. Now when these things were done, the princes came near to me, saying, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, following their abominations, even those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.
the princes came near to me. The leaders approached Ezra.
This suggests they had previously returned to the land under Zerubbabel.
following their abominations. Some translations say “detestable practices.”
In any case, it means they had married Gentiles.
VERSE 2. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy offspring have mixed themselves with the peoples of the lands. Yes, the hand of the princes and rulers has been chief in this trespass.”
they have taken of their daughters for themselves. The LORD God had forbade the Hebrew people from marrying non-Hebrews.
But now Ezra learns that many of them had intermarried.
VERSE 3. When I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and pulled the hair out of my head and of my beard, and sat down confounded.
I tore my garment and my robe. In those days, this was a sign of mourning.
pulled the hair out of my head and of my beard. In those days, this was a sign of unusual grief or intense anger.
VERSE 4. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel were assembled to me because of the trespass of the exiles; and I sat confounded until the evening offering.
everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel. When they encountered the words of the Bible, they trembled.
VERSE 5. At the evening offering I rose up from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn; and I fell on my knees, and spread out my hands to the LORD my God;
the evening offering. That is, about 3 PM.
I fell on my knees. Ezra assumes a position of begging before the LORD God.
VERSE 6. and I said, “My God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have increased over our head, and our guiltiness has grown up to the heavens.
My God, I am ashamed. Ezra is appalled because of the people’s sin.
On behalf of his wayward nation, Ezra repents before the LORD God.
Ezra identifies with the nation in their sin, even though he himself was innocent of the offense.
They had a group conscience. It was not just individuals who had sinned. The entire nation had sinned.
VERSE 7. Since the days of our fathers we have been exceedingly guilty to this day; and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.
VERSE 8. Now for a little moment grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a stake in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and revive us a little in our bondage.
revive us a little in our bondage. They escaped their bondage in Babylon. But now they are in bondage again.
This time their bondage is to sin.
VERSE 9. For we are bondservants; yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended loving kindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to set up the house of our God, and to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
VERSE 10. “Now, our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments,
VERSE 11. which you have commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land to which you go to possess is an unclean land through the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, through their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their filthiness.
VERSE 12. Now therefore don’t give your daughters to their sons. Don’t take their daughters to your sons, nor seek their peace or their prosperity forever, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’
Don’t take their daughters to your sons. This verse provides three reasons for not intermarrying:
that you may be strong. By not intermarrying, they will remain strong in their faith.
eat the good of the land. By not intermarrying, they will receive the abundance of the Promised Land.
leave it for an inheritance to your children forever. By not intermarrying, they will accumulate wealth and pass it on to their children.
VERSE 13. “After all that has come on us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such a remnant,
VERSE 14. shall we again break your commandments, and join ourselves with the peoples that do these abominations? Wouldn’t you be angry with us until you had consumed us, so that there would be no remnant, nor any to escape?
VERSE 15. LORD, the God of Israel, you are righteous; for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guiltiness; for no one can stand before you because of this.”
Behold. The Hebrew word is הִנֵּה. It means look at, take notice, observe, see, or gaze at. It is often used as an interjection.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.