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NOW when Esdras was thus praying, and beseeching, and weeping, and lying before the temple of God, there was gathered to him of Israel an exceeding great assembly of men and women and children, and the people wept with much lamentation.

Ver. 1.  God, in the court of the people, before the eastern gate.

2 And Sechenias the son of Jehiel of the sons of Elam answered, and said to Esdras: We have sinned against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: and now if there be repentance in Israel concerning this,

Ver. 2.  Sechenias.  3 Esd. calls him "Jechoias."  See C. viii. 5.  The name of Sechenias is not found among the transgressors; (v. 20.) but that of Jehiel is, v. 26.  It seems, however, that the former returned with Esdras, and speaks in the name of the people, to encourage them to confess their guilt, (C.) unless his name be omitted.  M.


--- Repentance.  Heb. "yet there is hope, (Prot.) or an assembly of Israel."  Du Dieu.

3 Let us make a covenant with the Lord our God, to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the will of the Lord, and of them that fear the commandment of the Lord our God: let it be done according to the law.

Ver. 3.  Covenant.  The marrying with strange women seemed to have annulled the covenant of God.


--- Of them.  The children were to follow the mothers, as in other unlawful connections.  Their being suffered to remain behind, might have had dangerous consequences.  C.


--- The custom of divorcing was then in force, (T.) and the Jews looked upon all as null, which was done contrary to the law; (V. Bede.  E.  C.  Grot.) though here the law was only prohibitory.  Cajet.  T.


--- As all was directed by the will of God, the dictates of humanity would not be disregarded (C.) on this trying occasion.  H.


--- The children migth be placed in houses for education.  Cajet.  T.

4 Arise, it is thy part to give orders, and we will be with thee: take courage, and do it.

Ver. 4.  Thy part.  The high priest not acting, (M.) Esdras was appointed chief, (H.) and his abilities were universally acknowledged.  C.

5 So Esdras arose, and made the chiefs of the priests and of the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they would do according to this word, and they swore. 6 And Esdras rose up from before the house of God, and went to the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliasib, and entered in thither: he ate no bread, and drank no water: for he mourned for the transgression of them that were come out of the captivity.

Ver. 6.  Before.  3 Esd. "the court or hall of the temple."  H.


--- Eliasib.  His son and successor is styled Joiada.  2 Esd. xii. 10.  The same person had often many names, (C.) or Johanan might be a younger son.  M.


--- Josephus (xi. 5.) says, that Esdras went to the apartments of John and Eliasib.  H.


--- Esdras, though sent extraordinarily by God, repairs to the son of the priest, as S. Paul conferred with other apostles.  Gal. ii.  W.

7 And proclamation was made in Juda and Jerusalem to all the children of the captivity, that they should assemble together into Jerusalem.

8 And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the ancients, all his substance should be taken away, and he should be cast out of the company of them that were returned from captivity.

Ver. 8.  Away.  Heb. and Sept. "subjected to anathema," (C.) and utterly destroyed; (H.) or, according to some editions of the Sept. and Josephus, "consecrated to the temple."  Esdras exercised the power which had been entrusted to him.  C. vii. 16.

9 Then all the men of Juda, and Benjamin gathered themselves together to Jerusalem within three days, in the ninth month, the twentieth day of the month: and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of the sin, and the rain.

Ver. 9.  Ninth.  Casleu, (Zac. vii. 1.)  which corresponds with our November and December.  M.


--- Street.  Court, which afforded as yet no shelter from the rain.  C.


--- This would tend to punish them for their sin, and to make them more sensible to it.  W.

10 And Esdras the priest stood up, and said to them: You have transgressed, and taken strange wives, to add to the sins of Israel. 11 And now make confession to the Lord the God of your fathers, and do his pleasure, and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from your strange wives.

Ver. 11.  Confession.  Sept. "give praise;" which is done by repentance and virtue.  M.


--- Confess your faults, and submit to the justice of God.  Jos. vii. 19.  C.

12 And all the multitude answered and said with a loud voice: According to thy word unto us, so be it done.
13 But as the people are many, and it is time of rain, and me are not able to stand without, and it is not a work of one day or two, (for we have exceedingly sinned in this matter,) 14 Let rulers be appointed in all the multitude: and in all our cities, let them that have taken strange wives come at the times appointed, and with them the ancients and the judges of every city, until the wrath of our God be turned away from us for this sin.

Ver. 14.  Cities.  It is not clear whether the rulers went to the different cities, or the principal men of each gave information, and caused the guilty to appear before Esdras, at Jerusalem.  H.

15 Then Jonathan the son of Azahel, and Jaasia the son of Thecua were appointed over this, and Mesollam and Sebethai, Levites, helped them:

16 And the children of the captivity did so. And Esdras the priest, and the men heads of the families in the houses of their fathers, and all by their names, went and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.

Ver. 16.  So.  Cajetan improperly concludes, that the sentence was not put in execution; because Nehemias (C. xiii. 23.) complains of such marriages.  C.


--- But the guilty might have resumed their women.  H.


--- Went.  Heb. "were separated."  H.


--- By making a small change, we may translate, with 3 Esd. "and Esdras separated or chose the men."  Josephus seems generally to have followed the Greek of 3 Esd.  The Syriac says there were 20 judges.

17 And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month. 18 And there were found among the sons of the priests that had taken strange wives: Of the sons of Josue the son of Josedec, and his brethren, Maasia, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Godolia. 19 And they gave their hands to put away their wives, and to offer for their offence a ram of the flock.

Ver. 19.  Hands.  Thus the Persians confirmed their most solemn engagements.  C.

20 And of the sons of Emmer, Hanani, and Zebedia. 21 And of the sons of Harim, Maasia, and Elia, and Semeia, and Jehiel, and Ozias. 22 And of the sons of Pheshur, Elioenai, Maasia, Ismael, Nathanael, Jozabed, and Elasa. 23 And of the sons of the Levites, Jozabed, and Semei, and Celaia, the same is Calita, Phataia, Juda, and Eliezer.

24 And of the singing men, Elisiab: and of the porters, Sellum, and Telem, and

25 And of Israel, of the sons of Pharos, Remeia, and Jezia, and Melchia, and Miamin, and Eliezer, and Melchia, and Banea.

Ver. 25.  Israel.  Laymen, (C.) not of the tribe of Levi.  M.

26 And of the sons of Elam, Mathania, Zacharias, annd Jehiel, and Abdi, and Jerimoth, and Elia.

27 And of the sons of Zethua, Elioenai, Eliasib, Mathania, Jerimuth, and Zabad, and Aziaza. 28 And of the sons of Babai, Johanan, Hanania, Zabbai, Athalai: 29 And of the sons of Bani, Mosollam, and Melluch, and Adaia, Jasub, and Seal, and Ramoth.

30 And of the sons of Phahath, Moab, Edna, and Chalal, Banaias, and Maasias, Mathanias, Beseleel, Bennui, and Manasse.

Ver. 30.  Moab.  The inhabitants of this town, as well as of Nebo, (v. 43.) are specified.

31 And of the sons of Herem, Eliezer, Josue, Melchias, Semeias, Simeon,

32 Benjamin, Maloch, Samarias. 33 And of the sons of Hasom, Mathanai, Mathatha, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jermai, Manasse, Semei. 34 Of the sons of Bani, Maaddi, Amran, and Uel, 35 Baneas, and Badaias, Cheliau, 36 Vania, Marimuth, and Eliasib,
37 Mathanias, Mathania, and Jasi, 38 And Bani, and Bennui, Semei, 39 And Salmias, and Nathan, and Adaias, 40 And Mechnedebai, Sisai, Sarai, 41 Ezrel, and Selemiau, Semeria, 42 Sellum, Amaria, Joseph. 43 Of the sons of Nebo, Jehiel, Mathathias, Zabad, Zabina, Jeddu, and Joel, and Banaia.

44 All these had taken strange wives, and there were among them women that had borne children.

Ver. 44.  Children.  Heb. may be, "and some of these women had exposed their children."  But most follow the Sept. and Vulg.  3 Esd. ix. 36, "and they ejected them with their children."  None was spared.  C.


--- One great inconvenience of such connections is, that the offspring is illegitimate.  W.


--- Only 17 priests, 10 Levites, and 86 laymen, are stigmatized as guilty of this scandal; yet these fill Israel with confusion, and Esdras with extreme affliction.  H.

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