Ezra: Chapter 8, 9, and 10

Ezra: Chapter 8, 9, and 10

Ezra Chapter 8, 9, and 10                           January 4, 2020

The Second Return

In the seventh year of Artaxerxes, 458 B.C., just 58 years after the completion of the temple, Ezra led a group of some 1,500 men and their families back to Jerusalem.

The walls of Jerusalem had not been rebuilt, and the people had begun to intermarry with the pagans of the land.  This last act was a serious breach of Old Testament Law, which insisted that God’s people maintain a separate identity.  This was a very practical law: history demonstrates over and over again that when the Israelites intermarried with pagans, punishment comes.

Ezra 8:1 These are the heads of their fathers’ houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of King Artaxerxes:

This list consists of the major men (family heads) who returned as well as the numbers of those who accompanied them. Most of the people listed were related to the families who had returned previously under Zerubbabel (538 B.C.) 80 years earlier

Ezra 8:2-14 of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom; of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel; of the sons of David, Hattush; (3) of the sons of Shecaniah, of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah; and registered with him were one hundred and fifty males; (4) of the sons of Pahath-Moab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred males; (5) of the sons of Shechaniah, Ben-Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males; (6)  of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him fifty males;  (7) of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males; (8) of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him eighty males; (9) of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males; (10) of the sons of Shelomith, Ben-Josiphiah, and with him one hundred and sixty males;  (11) of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah the son of Bebai, and with him twenty-eight males; (12) of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him one hundred and ten males; (13) of the last sons of Adonikam, whose names are these–Eliphelet, Jeiel, and Shemaiah–and with them sixty males;  (14) also of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zabbud, and with them seventy males.

Ezra Sends for Levites

Ezra 8:15-16 Now I gathered them by the river that flows to Ahava, and we camped there three days. And I looked among the people and the priests, and found none of the sons of Levi there. (16) Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, leaders; also for Joiarib and Elnathan, men of understanding.

Ezra discovered that there were no sons of Levi among the returnees who accompanied him back to Jerusalem.  {check map}

Levites were to function as teachers of the Law (cf. Lev 10:11; Deut 33:10). Therefore they were to have an extremely important role in the reestablished community.

Ezra 8:17 And I gave them a command for Iddo the chief man at the place Casiphia, and I told them what they should say to Iddo and his brethren the Nethinim at the place Casiphia–that they should bring us servants for the house of our God.

Therefore Ezra sent nine leaders and two men of learning to secure some Levites and temple servants from the man Iddo. Ezra told the messengers what to say, which seems to indicate that this

Ezra 8:18 Then, by the good hand of our God upon us, they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli the son of Levi, the son of Israel, namely Sherebiah, with his sons and brothers, eighteen men;

Ezra 8:19-20 and Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brothers and their sons, twenty men; (20) also of the Nethinim, whom David and the leaders had appointed for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinim. All of them were designated by name.  The men were able to secure 38 Levites from two families—18 from Sherebiah’s family and 20 from Jeshaiah’s relatives—as well as 220 temple servants. Only then was Ezra ready to start on the important journey. Without the Levite teachers of the Law and people to serve at the temple all would be lost and the trip futile.

Fasting and Prayer for Protection

Ezra 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions.

On the road to Jerusalem, the large Jewish caravan would have been an easy target for robbers. Knowing that the returnees needed the Lord’s help, Ezra proclaimed a fast as a symbol of their submission to God.

First, spiritual preparation was made for the journey. Ezra was concerned with matters pertaining to God’s people. So Ezra proclaimed a fast in preparation for the journey. He wanted the assembled group thereby to humble themselves before God

Ezra 8:22  For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.”

Ezra 8:23  So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.

Ezra did not want to ask for military protection (soldiers and horsemen) because he had already publicly announced that God would take care of the people as they returned. In contrast, Nehemiah readily accepted a military escort on his way back to the land

Priests to Guard Offerings, entrusted valuables to twelve people

Ezra 8:24-27 And I separated twelve of the leaders of the priests–Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them– (25) and weighed out to them the silver, the gold, and the articles, the offering for the house of our God which the king and his counselors and his princes, and all Israel who were present, had offered. (26) I weighed into their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, silver articles weighing one hundred talents, one hundred talents of gold, (27) twenty gold basins worth a thousand drachmas, and two vessels of fine polished bronze, precious as gold.

Next, physical preparation was made for the journey. Ezra divided the silver, gold, and articles among 24 of the key men in the group. These items were gifts for the temple, given by Persian officials and by nonreturning Israelites

Ezra 8:28-30 And I said to them, “You are holy to the LORD; the articles are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to the LORD God of your fathers. (29) Watch and keep them until you weigh them before the leaders of the priests and the Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses of Israel in Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the LORD.” (30) So the priests and the Levites received the silver and the gold and the articles by weight, to bring them to Jerusalem to the house of our God.

Ezra 8:31 Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. And the hand of our God was upon us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambush along the road.

Ezra 8:32 So we came to Jerusalem, and stayed there three days.

Ezra 8:33 Now on the fourth day the silver and the gold and the articles were weighed in the house of our God by the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest, and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas; with them were the Levites, Jozabad the son of Jeshua and Noadiah the son of Binnui,

Ezra 8:34 with the number and weight of everything. All the weight was written down at that time.

The total journey was about 900 miles and must have been difficult for a group without a military escort. Had to maintain and carry it all, by cart?

Ezra 8:35 The children of those who had been carried away captive, who had come from the captivity, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel: twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and twelve male goats as a sin offering. All this was a burnt offering to the LORD.

Ezra 8:36 And they delivered the king’s orders to the king’s satraps and the governors in the region beyond the River. So they gave support to the people and the house of God.   {satraps are king’s officers}

The Reform in the Land, Ezra prays about intermarriage

When Ezra arrived in Judah he found that the people of Israel had not kept themselves separate from the peoples of the land, but had begun to intermarry with them. Not only was intermarriage commonplace, but the spiritual and political leaders in Judah were the worst offenders!

The mixed marriages had prevented that complete separation of the people of God from the idolatrous rites, or “abominations,” which the Law required, and which was necessary for purity of religion

Ezra 9:1 When these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.

Ezra 9:2 For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass.”

Ezra’s return had a profound effect on the people of Israel. 

The Jew were marrying the pagan peoples of the land, a practice that the Law of Moses, God expressly prohibited (Exo 34:16; Deu 7:3).

Ezra 9:3 So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished. {He was upset, demonstrated tremendous grief Neh 13:25}

Ezra 9:4 Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel assembled to me, because of the transgression of those who had been carried away captive, and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice.

Ezra 9:5 At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God. {kneeling – humble respect, hands – sign of openness}

The evening sacrifice was around 3 P.M.

Ezra 9:6 And I said: “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. {pray of confession – sin}

Ezra 9:7 Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, 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 humiliation, as it is this day. {Ezra acknowledge people sinful actions}

Ezra 9:8 And now for a little while grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.  {refers to peg in the wall on which utensil is hung}

Ezra 9:9 For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.

Ezra 9:10  And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commandments,

Ezra 9:11 which You commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity.

Ezra 9:12 Now therefore, do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons; and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your children forever.’

They had directly disobeyed the clear Word of God. Foreign marriages contaminated Israel, both physically and spiritually.

Deuteronomy 7:2-3  and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. (3) Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son.

Why did the Lord say this and what was the results

Deuteronomy 7:4 For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly. (5) But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire.

(6) “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.

You can read what Israel did and how God handle it. 

Numbers 25:1-9 Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. (2) They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. (3) So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel.

(4) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before the LORD, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.” (5) So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal of Peor.” (6) And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.

(7) Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; (8) and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. (9) And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.

Numbers 25:10-18  Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: (11) “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. (12) Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace;

(13) and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’ ” (14) Now the name of the Israelite who was killed, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of a father’s house among the Simeonites. (15) And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur; he was head of the people of a father’s house in Midian.

(16) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: (17) “Harass the Midianites, and attack them; (18) for they harassed you with their schemes by which they seduced you in the matter of Peor and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a leader of Midian, their sister, who was killed in the day of the plague because of Peor.”

There are Exceptions, they became a worshiper of the Lord, as Rahab, who was married by Salmon, and as Ruth the Moabitess,

Ezra 9:13 And after all that has come upon 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 deliverance as this,

Ezra 9:14 should we again break Your commandments, and join in marriage with the people committing these abominations? Would You not be angry with us until You had consumed us, so that there would be no remnant or survivor?

This is the reason why Ezra made and directed a very legalistic system of worship and put it in place: Do {what we can do} and Don’t {what we cannot do}, We read about this during Jesus time and even to today.  Go from one extreme to the other extreme.

Ezra 9:15  O LORD God of Israel, You are righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as it is this day. Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!”

Ezra’s prayer included no specific request; he simply threw himself on God’s mercy. Ezra ended his prayer not by asking for forgiveness, but by declaring that God was righteous.  Only this small group of Jews were left.

The People Confess Their Sin, Describes how Ezra deal with this sin

Ezra 10:1 Now while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly.

Ezra 10:2  And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, “We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this.

Ezra 10:3 Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.

Do we tremble at the commandment, covenant with God means binding oneself by an oath to God to do something.

Ezra 10:4 Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it.”

Ezra was reminded that it was his responsibility to teach Israel the Law of God.  Many people acknowledged that something had to be done about the situation.  Apparently this sin had gone on and had been tolerated for some time.

We know an Israelite could marry a woman from outside the nation if she had become Jewish in faith. Perhaps that is why each marriage was investigated thoroughly (vv. 16-19)—to see if any women had become Jewish proselytes.  Example, Ruth.

Ezra 10:5 Then Ezra arose, and made the leaders of the priests, the Levites, and all Israel swear an oath that they would do according to this word. So they swore an oath.

Ezra 10:6 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib; and when he came there, he ate no bread and drank no water, for he mourned because of the guilt of those from the captivity.

Ezra 10:7 And they issued a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the descendants of the captivity, that they must gather at Jerusalem, 

Ezra 10:8  and that whoever would not come within three days, according to the instructions of the leaders and elders, all his property would be confiscated, and he himself would be separated from the assembly of those from the captivity. {all money/property went into the Temple Treasury}

Ezra 10:9 So all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered at Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth of the month; and all the people sat in the open square of the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of heavy rain.  {Nov – Dec time}

Ezra 10:10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives, adding to the guilt of Israel.

Ezra 10:11 Now therefore, make confession to the LORD God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives.” 

Why the Jews keep to themselves is because of this oath. Jesus time, now

This was the rainy season.  However, because of the oath (v. 5) and because of the threat of punishment the meeting went on as scheduled.  The people were distressed out of fear of God’s wrath and over concern about their families being separated. 

Ezra 10:12 Then all the assembly answered and said with a loud voice, “Yes! As you have said, so we must do.  {unanimous agreement to do}

Ezra 10:13 But there are many people; it is the season for heavy rain, and we are not able to stand outside. Nor is this the work of one or two days, for there are many of us who have transgressed in this matter.

Ezra 10:14 Please, let the leaders of our entire assembly stand; and let all those in our cities who have taken pagan wives come at appointed times, together with the elders and judges of their cities, until the fierce wrath of our God is turned away from us in this matter.”

Ezra 10:15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite gave them support.

Two opposed Ezra’s plan, Why?? The people responded that they agreed, but that the matter would take some time because of the large number of people involved and because of the rain. In fact, it took three months;

Ezra 10:16  Then the descendants of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain heads of the fathers’ households, were set apart by the fathers’ households, each of them by name; and they sat down on the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.

Ezra 10:17 By the first day of the first month they finished questioning all the men who had taken pagan wives.

It took three months for all the marriages to be examined, from the first day of the 10th month (December-January 457) to the first day of the 1st month of the next year

The following list are those Guilty of taken pagan wives, included 113 men, 17 Priests, 10 Levites, and 86 others

Ezra 10:18  And among the sons of the priests who had taken pagan wives the following were found of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah.

Ezra 10:19 And they gave their promise that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they presented a ram of the flock as their trespass offering.

Ezra 10:20-43 Also of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah; (21) of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah; (22) of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah. (23) Also of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (the same is Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer. (24) Also of the singers: Eliashib; and of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri. (25) And others of Israel: of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Jeziah, Malchiah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malchijah, and Benaiah; (26) of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Eliah; (27) of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza; (28) of the sons of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai; (29) of the sons of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Ramoth; (30) of the sons of Pahath-Moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh; (31) of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, (32) Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah; (33) of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei; (34) of the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel, (35) Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluh, (36) Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, (37) Mattaniah, Mattenai, Jaasai, (38) Bani, Binnui, Shimei, (39) Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, (40) Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, (41) Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, (42) Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph; (43) of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah.

Ezra 10:44 All these had taken pagan wives, and some of them had wives by whom they had children. 

Tomb of Ezra, on the east bank of the Tigris River,

Then ISIS destroyed the tomb

In your spare time, read the book of Nehemiah, more detail given.

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