Pastoral Commentary for Ezra 10
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
Ezra's prayer proved a powerful example to many of the people who joined Ezra in acts of contrition. A man named Shecaniah took the lead in proposing a solution to the compromising position the returning exiles found themselves in. He proposed a covenant with the LORD to send away the foreign wives with their children. Ezra made the leaders of the people take an oath fulfill the covenant, while Ezra continued his fasting and prayer. A proclamation was issued for the exiles to assemble in Jerusalem, on penalty of forfeiting their property and being expelled from the returning exiles. Within three days they gathered and Ezra confronted the people directly: "You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel." He called the people to confession and they responded positively, "It is so; we must do as you have said." Only a handful of the people were opposed to the covenant to put away their foreign wives. Heads of houses were appointed to carry out an investigation, which took three months to complete. Those who had taken foreign wives were listed by category: 17 priests, 10 Levites, and 86 laymen. Although the total number was small out of the entire number of returnees, this act of unfaithfulness to the LORD was serious, especially since priests and other leading men were among those who were guilty. Certainly, the sending away of these women, some of whom had children, caused pain and suffering, but our sinful choices almost always cause us pain, and frequently it spills over into the lives of those around us. We learn more of Ezra's spiritual leadership later on in the book of Nehemiah.