For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2004 James Melough

10:1.  “Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.”


Ezra’s prayer was one of confession, for he identified himself with the people, and was willing to acknowledge that as one of the congregation he must stand in the same position before God as they, and share in whatever chastisement He might inflict upon them for their sinfulness.  As has been noted already, the faithful believers within a guilty nation or church, are not exempt from having to share in what may result from God’s affliction of the wrongdoing majority.


Nor was his confession the mere ritualistic prayer so often heard today, in which the only “confession” consists of the thoughtless parroted “forgive us our sins,” it being obvious that there is neither conviction of conscience nor genuine sorrow resulting from the realization of how heinous any sin is God’s sight.


The prophet’s genuinely repentant conduct had a salutary effect on the people, for virtually all of them, it seems, were also moved to heartfelt repentance and sincere confession of sin, an essential prerequisite of blessing.  And while this particular event was unique, the fact remains that the lack of genuine repentant confession as the prelude to importunate prayer, is the root cause of dearth of blessing in the lives of most Christians today.


10:2.  “And Shecaniah the dwelling of Jehovah, the son of Jehiel swept away of God, one of the sons of Elam their heaps: suckling them: eternal, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.”


The meanings of these names convey no readily discernible spiritual message, though undoubtedly such instruction is there.


Shecaniah appears to have been one of the leading men in the congregation, and obviously he was prepared to do whatever might be required to secure Divine blessing for the people, there being valuable instruction for us in what he did.  First, he confessed that the people had sinned; second, he was specific relative to the nature of the sin; and third, he had faith to believe that    genuine repentant obedience would even yet bring God’s blessing. 

Incidentally the absence of his name from the following list of offenders indicates that he himself was not guilty; and his courage is evidenced by the fact that his father and five uncles were guilty of this very sin.


The pattern remains the same for believers today.  


10:3.  “Now, therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.”


Good intentions not carried out are worthless.  Shecaniah realized that unless the sin was abandoned, the marriages ended, and the heathen wives and children put away, there could be no blessing.  What was required may seem harsh, but it was what God commanded because He Himself had forbidden such marriages, see De 7:3, and it must therefore be done.  Some suggest that these wives and children may have been supported after having been put away, but Scripture is silent relative to this.


Believers of this present Church age are also forbidden to contract marriages with the unconverted, see 2 Cor 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers ....”  Nor is the proscription limited to marriage: believers are not to yoke themselves with the unconverted in business or in any other connection.


“Tremble” here means to stand in reverential awe of God - an attitude conspicuously absent today, not just in the world, but in the professing Church as well.


10:4.  “Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.”


“... this matter belongeth unto thee” is also translated is your task: is decreed for you: is your duty or business: is for you to decide.


Further encouragement for Ezra to act was the assurance that Shecaniah and other godly men would stand with him in the matter; and it would be well if there was the same unanimity today amongst those who take the place of leaders in the assemblies of God’s people.  Unfortunately, however, it happens all to often that the man seeking to maintain Divine order in the local church is left to stand alone, not only unsupported, but opposed by his brethren.


10:5.  “Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word.  And they sware (took an oath).”


Having secured their concurrence, Ezra guarded against the possibility of their reneging, by having them confirm their promise with a solemn oath.


10:6.  “Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan Jehovah is gracious giver, the son of Eliashib God will restore: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away.”


Having completed his task, Ezra entered the home of Johanan, to spend the night there, it is generally believed; but such was the extent of his sorrow that he neither ate nor drank, his grief being occasioned no doubt by the realization that obedience to God’s command would result in heartbreak for many of those whose obedience would require them to put away wives and children whom they loved dearly. 


Obedience to God isn’t always easy, but the alternative is disastrous, for it cuts off His protection and blessing.


“... carried away” in the context of the KJ translation is taken by some to refer to the people’s former Babylonian captivity, but it is more generally understood to refer to those who had been tempted to contract unlawful marriages.


10:7.  “And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem;”


As has already been noted, though the returned exiles were frequently addressed  as Judah, the term included a remnant from the other tribes also, so that all the people were to assemble in Jerusalem.


10:8.  “And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away.”


All the possessions of those refusing to assemble in Jerusalem within three days (number of resurrection) would be taken away, and they themselves excommunicated from the congregation of Israel, and it isn’t difficult to see in this a figure of the eternal fate of those who refuse to trust in Christ as Savior, for all such will be denied participation in the resurrection of life, i.e., entry into heaven, see Re 20:5-15, but will instead be consigned to eternal torment in the lake of fire.


“... those that had been carried away” were they who had been carried captive to Babylon, their bondage there being a type of that suffered by those who are the bondslaves of Roman Catholicism or any other of the world’s false, and therefore diabolic religions, of which Babylon is the symbol.


10:9.  “Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days.  It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain.”


In addition to the men of Judah and Benjamin there were also members of the other tribes though their numbers were smaller.  Their gathering in Jerusalem within three days points symbolically to the gathering of all believers at the resurrection of life, to enjoy eternal peace in heaven.


Since the factors of nine are 3 x 3, the Biblical number of resurrection; and the factors of twenty are 2 x 2 x 5, two being the number of witness or testimony; and five of responsibility; and a month - the twelfth part of a year - twelve being the number  of man under Divine government - their assembling on that day emphasizes the fact that they were a redeemed people resurrected  as it were, from bondage.


The street was the broad open area in front of the Temple; and their trembling was not just because of the torrential rain, but because they feared the wrath of God, of which torrential rain is a Biblical symbol, e.g., the flood of Noah’s day.


10:10.  “And Ezra, the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel.”


We should note that he doesn’t include himself with the guilty people, for he could not be charged with the sin of having taken a heathen wife, which trespass had compounded Israel’s already great culpability.


10:11.  “Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and do his pleasure (will); and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.”


Confession was the first step to be taken in averting God’s wrath; and doing “His pleasure,” i.e., obeying Him was the second, that obedience in the present instance being their severing every tie with the Canaanites, including the putting away of the Canaanite  wives they had taken.  This remains the pattern for restoration to God’s favor.  Sin must be confessed and put away, His Word obeyed, and every unnecessary link with an unsaved world severed.


10:12.  “Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do.”


There was nothing halfhearted about their acquiescence in what God required of them: their response was given in a loud voice; and he who would be blessed must yield the same willing obedience to all of God’s commands.


10:13.  “But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without (outside), neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing.”


It wasn’t just the rain that made immediate obedience impossible: the matter couldn’t be settled that day or in many days, for many thousands of them had sinned, and it would take time to examine every case, and do what God required.


10:14.  “Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.”


There was to be orderly adjudication of each case by the elders and judges.  For example, some of the wives in question might have been led by their husbands to saving faith in Jehovah, in which case it would seem that they should not be put away.


10:15.  “Only Jonathan Jehovah is giver the son of Asahel wrought of God and Jahaziah Jah will see the son of Tikvah hope: expectation were employed about this matter: and Meshullam reconciled: recompensed and Shabbethai my sabbaths the Levite joined helped them.”


The KJ translation here is ambiguous, for most scholars take  “employed,” in the present context, to mean that they were opposed to the suggestion.


10:16.  “And the children of the captivity did so.  And Ezra the priest, with certain chief of the fathers, after the house of their fathers, and all of them by their names, were separated, and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.”


This examination took place ten days after the decision had been made to conduct the investigation, the number ten being the number of God in government.


10:17.  “And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month.”


Estimates of the time vary, some believing that since the examination began on the first day of the tenth month, and was completed by the first day of the first month of the next year, it took two months to complete.  Some calculate it to have taken three months; while The Wycliffe Bible Commentary offers the following calculation, “... there was an intercalary month in this year, so that the examination actually lasted four months ....”


10:18.  “And among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives: namely, of the sons of Jeshua he will save: Jehovah is salvation the son of Jozadak Jehovah is the righteous (one), and his brethren; Maaseiah work of Jehovah, and Eliezer God of help, and Jarib he will contend, and Gedaliah magnified of Jehovah.”


The meanings of these names, in common with all Biblical names, have spiritual significance, but I regret being unable to see  what that meaning is in the present context.


10:19.  “And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass.”


Their giving their hands means that they pledged themselves to put away their unbelieving wives; but their also offering a ram for their trespass, as commanded in Lev 5:14-16, reminds us that “without shedding of blood is no remission,” Heb 9:22.  Nor could the blood of any animal put sin away for ever, each animal sacrificed being but a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, whose precious blood alone can cleanse the believer’s sin eternally.


Since a detailed discussion of the meanings of the more than one hundred and twenty names which follow, would go beyond the practical limits of this study, I shall insert the meanings in italics after each, so that the reader who so wishes may pursue that study for himself.


10:20.  “And the sons of Immer he hath said; Hanani my grace: gracious, and Zebadiah endowed of Jehovah.”


10:21.  “And the sons of Harim banned; flat-nosed; Maaseiah work of Jehovah, and Elijah my God is Jehovah, and Shemaiah the hearkening of Jah, and Jehiel swept away of God, and Uzziah my strength is Jehovah.”


10:22.  “And the sons of Pashur increasing of white (linen); Elioenai unto Jehovah mine eyes, Maaseiah work of Jehovah, Ishmael God will hear, Nethaneel given of God, Jozabad Jehovah is bestower, and Elasah God has wrought.”


10:23.  “Also of the Levites joined; Jozabad Jehovah is bestower, and Shimei hearkeners: my report, and Kelaiah lightly esteemed of Jah: voice of Jah, (the same is Kelita lacking: stunted,) Pethahiah opened of Jah, Judah he shall be praised, and Eliezer God of help.”


10:24.  “Of the singers also; Eliashib God will restore: and of the porters; Shallum requital: restitution, and Telem covering them: casting them out, and Uri my light.”


10:25.  “Moreover of Israel he shall be prince of God: God commands: of the sons of Parosh a flea; Ramiah Jah is exalted: loosed of Jah, and Jeziah he will be sprinkled of Jah, and Malchiah my king is Jehovah, and Miamin from the right hand, and Eleazar God is helper, and Malchijah my king is Jehovah, and Benaiah built of Jehovah.”


10:26.  “And of the sons of Elam their heaps: suckling them: eternal; Mattaniah a gift: givingness, Zechariah remembered of Jehovah, and Jehiel Jah will save alive, and Abdi my servant, and Jeremoth let there be liftings up, and Eliah my God is Jah.”


10:27.  “And of the sons of Zattu brightness of him; Elioenai unto Jehovah mine eyes, Eliashib God will restore, Mattaniah gift of Jehovah, and Jeremoth let there be liftings up, and Zabad a giver, and Aziza mightiness.”


10:28.  “Of the sons also of Bebai my cavities; Jehohanan Jehovah is gracious giver, Hananiah the grace of Jah, Zabbai my flittings: my wanderings: pure: my pure ones, and Athlai my due times.”


10:29.  “And of the sons of Bani my building; Meshullam reconciled: recompensed, Malluch kingly, and Adaiah adorned of Jah, Jashub he will return, and Sheal request, and Ramoth heights: coral.”


10:30.  “And of the sons of Pahathmoab pit of Moab; Adna pleasure, and Chelal complete, Benaiah built of Jehovah, Maaseiah work of Jehovah, Mattaniah gift of Jehovah, Bezaleel in God’s shade, and Binnui built up, and Manasseh causing to forget.”


10:31.  “And of the sons of Harim banned: flat-nosed; Eliezer God of help, Ishijah Jah will lend: forgotten of Jah, Malchiah my king is Jehovah, Shemaiah the hearkening of Jah, Shimeon a hearkener,”


10:32.  “Benjamin son of the right hand, Malluch kingly, and Shemariah guarded of Jehovah.”


10:33.  “Of the sons of Hashum the desolate hasted; Mattenai my gifts, Mattathah givingness, Zabad giver, Eliphelet God of escape, Jeremai let me have promotions, Manasseh causing to forget, and Shimei hearkeners: my report.”


10:34.  “Of the sons of Bani my building; Maadai my unclothings: my slidings: my adornings, Amram the people is exalted, and Uel desired of God,”


10:35.  “Benaiah built of Jehovah, Bedeiah isolated of Jah, Chelluh determine ye him: consume ye him,”


10:36.  “Vaniah and we were oppressed, Meremoth elevations, Eliashib God will restore,”


10:37.  “Mattaniah gift of Jehovah, Mattenai my gifts, and Jaasau they will make him: they will perform,”


10:38.  “And Bani my building, and Binnui built up, Shimei hearkeners: my report,”


10:39.  “And Shelemiah the peace-offering of Jehovah, and Nathan a giver, and Adaiah adorned of Jah,”


10:40.  “Machnadebai he brought low my willing ones, Shashai whitish: my white (ones): my linens, Sharai my observers: my settings free,”


10:41.  “Azareel helped of God, and Shelemiah the peace-offering of Jehovah, Shemariah guarded of Jehovah,”


10:42.  “Shallum requital: restitution, Amariah the saying of Jehovah, and Joseph let him add.”


10:43. “Of the sons of Nebo his prophecy; Jeiel swept away of God, Mattithiah gift of Jehovah, Zabad a giver, Zebina we are bought,    Jadau my loves, and Joel Jehovah is God, Benaiah built of Jehovah.”


10:44.  “All these had taken strange wives: and some of them had wives by whom they had children.”


The basic lesson of this little book has to do with revival, and as such, it’s teaching was never more applicable than to the present day in which revival amongst God’s people is sorely needed.  If there is to be recovery, however, we must follow the example set forth by Ezra.  There must be heart-searching examination of our personal lives; confession, and abandonment of every known sin; and a sincere determination to walk in obedience before God.




     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough