Ezra 10 – “Ezra’s Reformation”

200236712-001Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Ezra gathers the people in Jerusalem. He castigates them about their foreign wives, and they agree to change their ways. The chapter ends with a long list of people who abandoned their foreign wives.

II. Photo
Ezra gathers the entire nation in Jerusalem: “… All the people sat in the square of the House of God, trembling on account of the event and because of the rains.” (v. 9)

III. Important Verses
vv. 2-3: Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel of the family of Elam spoke up and said to Ezra, “We have trespassed against our God by bringing into our homes foreign women from the peoples of the land; but there is still hope for Israel despite this. Now then, let us make a covenant with our God to expel all these women and those who have been born to them, in accordance with the bidding of the LORD and of all who are concerned over the commandment of our God, and let the Teaching be obeyed.
vv. 7-8: Then a proclamation was issued in Judah and Jerusalem that all who had returned from the exile should assemble in Jerusalem, and that anyone who did not come in three days would, by decision of the officers and elders, have his property confiscated and himself excluded from the congregation of the returning exiles.

IV. Outline
1-4. A penitent leader confesses his sins
5-8. Ezra commands the entire nation to assemble in Jerusalem
9-11. Ezra castigates the people
12-17. The people confess their guilt and vow to desist from their foreign wives
18-44. A list of those who abandoned their foreign wives

V. Comment
Like the chapter before it, chapter 10 deals with the issue of marrying foreign wives. Besides for pointing out that only the men are castigated (but the women are also scorned in Neh. 13:25), Collins writes: “The problem of intermarriage is based on two passages in Deuteronomy. Chapter 7 orders the Israelites to destroy utterly the seven nations who inhabited the land before them: Hittites, Girgashites, Ammonites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivvites, and Jebusites. It adds: ‘Do not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for for your sons, for that would turn away your children from following me, to serve other gods.’ In this case idolatry seems to be the issue, and the prohibition applies equally whether the amrriage iw with foreign men or foreign women. Deuteronomy 23:3-8 declares categorically: ‘No Ammonite or Moabite shall be admitted to the assembly of the Lord.’ But the passage continues in 23:7-8: ‘You shall not abhor any of the Edomites, for they are your kin. You shall not abhor any of the Egyptians, because you were an alien residing in their land. The children of the third generation that are born to them may be admitted to the assembly of the Lord.’ It is apparent that Ezra’s prohibition of intermarriage is broader than either of these, because it includes the Egyptians. The point, then, is not just strict observance of the law, but bespeaks a more extreme fear of contact with outsiders. Moreover, Ezra provides a new rationale for the prohibition. The danger is not just that those who worship other gods might lead the Israelites into idolatry, but that the ‘holy seed’ would be defiled by the union itself. This is quite a novel idea in the Hebrew Bible, and presupposes a greater gulf between Jew and Gentile than anything we have seen hitherto. This idea is rooted in the self-identity of the exilic community as a pure and holy remnant, and its determination to keep that character pristine.” (435)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)

Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Photo taken from http://israelity.com/wp-content//rain-blog.jpg

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