AS A PASSIONATE STUDENT OF SCRIPTURE, EZRA UNDERSTOOD THAT THERE WAS A DEFINITE STATUS AND FEELING OF SHALOM (IE AN OVERALL SENSE OF BLESSING, FAVOR, HEALTH AND PROTECTION) TO BE ACHIEVED IN YAHUAH'S ECONOMY (LIKE A PRIZE OR CROWN) ... AND THAT SUCH A RELATIONSHIP COULD ONLY FORM WITHIN THE NARROW BOUNDARIES OF HIS DIVINE INSTRUCTIONS, THE VERY THING THAT ISRAEL HAD ABANDONED. SO THE MAIN ISSUE THAT CURRENTLY HAD EZRA’S ATTENTION CONCERNED MIXED-UNIONS BETWEEN JEWS AND PAGAN FOREIGNERS THAT YAHUAH SAID HE FOUND ABOMINABLE ... AND THEREFORE UNACCEPTABLE!
1Ezra was praying and confessing. He was crying and bowing down in front of YAHUAH’s Temple. While Ezra was doing that, a large group of the Israelites (men, women, and children) gathered around him. They were crying too (AT THE SIGHT OF THEIR LEADER BROKEN AND WAILING LOUDLY). 2Then Shecaniah (son of Jehiel), one of the descendants of Elam, spoke to Ezra and said, “We have not been obedient to YAHUAH. We have joined ourselves to the people living around us. But, even though we've done this treachery, there's still hope for Israel. 3Now let us make a Covenant before YAHUAH to send away all these women and their children. We'll do that to follow the advice of Ezra and the people who respect the Divine Laws of our Alahim YAHUAH. We will obey YAHUAH’S Instructions once again. 4Now get up Ezra. Come on! This is your responsibility, but we'll all support you in it ...
Now be brave and do it.”
THE TREACHERY BEING REFERRED TO IS THAT THE JEWS JOINED WITH FOREIGN PAGAN WOMEN FROM THE PEOPLE OF THE LAND. THE HEBREW EXPRESSION THAT IS TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH AS “MARRYING” HERE DOESN’T REALLY MEAN TO MARRY BUT MEANS “TO CAUSE TO DWELL" OR “TO GIVE A HOME TO”. THERE ARE SEVERAL HEBREW WORDS USED TO INDICATE MARRIAGE UNIONS IN SCRIPTURE, BUT HERE THE WORD IS ONLY IN RELATION TO A MIXED (OR BETTER, ILLEGAL) UNION. IN FACT, WE PROBABLY SHOULDN'T EVEN USE THE TERM “MARRIAGE” TO TRANSLATE THIS IDEA ... BECAUSE :
FURTHER, IN THESE SAME VERSES THE HEBREW EXPRESSION FOR THE KIND OF WOMAN WHO HAS COME INTO UNION WITH THE JEWISH MAN, MEANS 'A FOREIGNER' WHO HAS NO ASSOCIATION WITH ISRAEL - 'A FOREIGNER' IN EVERY ASPECT. SO WHAT WE FIND (IN PROVERBS FOR EXAMPLE) IS THAT WHEN A HEBREW MAN TAKES THIS SORT OF WOMAN FOR A WIFE, SHE IS SEEN AS A HARLOT/WHORE. SO THE ENTIRE STRUCTURE OF THE STATEMENT HERE HAS THIS TONE OF SAYING THAT THE TERMS “MARRIAGE” AND “WIFE” AREN’T APPROPRIATE AND THAT THIS WASN’T A TRUE MARRIAGE UNION ANYWAY, JUST LIKE HIRING THE SERVICES OF A PROSTITUTE ISN'T A MARRIAGE (SINCE CONSUMMATION IS NECESSARY TO COMPLETE A MARRIAGE UNION FROM YAHUAH’S PERSPECTIVE).
5So Ezra got up. He made the Chief Priests, the Levites, and all the Israelites promise to do what he said. 6Then Ezra went away from the front of YAHUAH’S house. He went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While Ezra was there, he didn’t eat food or drink water. He did that because he was still very sad about the state of the Israelites who'd come back to Jerusalem. 7Then he sent a message to every place in Judah and Jerusalem, telling all the Jewish people who'd come back from captivity to meet together in Jerusalem. 8Those who did not come to Jerusalem in three days would lose their property-deeds and be removed from the group.
9So in three days all the men from the families of Judah and Benjamin gathered in Jerusalem. And on the twentieth day of the ninth month, all the people met together in the Temple-yard. They were very upset because of the reason for the meeting and because of the heavy rain.
10Then Ezra the Priest stood and said to them, “You people have not been obedient to YAHUAH. You've joined yourselves to foreign women and made Israel even more guilty than ever by doing that. 11Now you must confess your sins to YAHUAH, the Alahim of your ancestors. You must obey His Commands. Separate yourselves from the people living around you and from your foreign women now!”
THEY WERE TREMBLING OUT IN THE COLD RAIN, AND ALSO TREMBLING BECAUSE OF THIS MATTER OF THE MIXED RELATIONSHIPS. IN OTHER WORDS THEY WERE TREMBLING ON ACCOUNT OF THE PHYSICAL RAIN THAT AFFECTED THEIR GOOSE-BUMPLED FLESH, BUT THEY WERE MAINLY TREMBLING IN THEIR GUILTY CONSCIENCES (THEY WERE IN FEAR) AT THE CONSEQUENCES THAT WERE ABOUT TO HAPPEN AS A RESULT OF THEIR TERRIBLE SIN AGAINST YAHUAH OF MIXED IDOLATRY WITH THE PAGAN NATIONS.
12Then the whole group who met together answered Ezra, shouting, “Ezra, you’re right! We must do what you say! 13But there are many people here. And it’s the rainy time of year, so we can’t stay outside. This problem cannot be solved in a day or two because we have sinned in a very bad way. 14Let our leaders decide for the whole group meeting here. Then let every man in our towns who joined to a foreign woman come here to Jerusalem at a planned time. Let them come here with the elders and judges of their towns. Then YAHUAH will stop being angry with us.”
15Only a few men were against this plan. They were Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah. Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite were also against the plan. 16But the Israelites who came back to Jerusalem accepted the plan. Ezra the Priest chose men who were family leaders (one man from each Tribe). Each man was chosen by name and on the first day of the tenth month, the men who were chosen sat down to study each of the cases. 17And by the first day of the first month, they finished discussing all the men who had joined with foreign women...
(REMEMBER THIS IS NOT ABOUT RACE OR ETHNICITY BUT IDOLATRY)
ALMOST ALL ENGLISH VERSIONS DO NOT SAY THAT THE MEN WERE TO DIVORCE THEIR WIVES, BUT RATHER THEY WERE TO 'PUT AWAY' OR 'SEND AWAY' THEIR WIVES ALONG WITH THEIR CHILDREN. THE HEBREW WORD BEING TRANSLATED
DOES NOT MEAN A FORMAL DIVORCE
(BECAUSE TO YAHUAH IT WASN'T A LEGIT MARRIAGE) ...
IN HEBREW THERE ARE TWO OTHER WORDS THAT DIRECTLY MEAN DIVORCE, BUT THEY'RE NOT USED HERE (BUT CERTAINLY IF YOU DIVORCE A WOMAN, YOU ARE SENDING HER AWAY)! HOWEVER YOU COULD ALSO `SEND AWAY' A DISOBEDIENT SON, OR AN UNWANTED CONCUBINE, OR A SLAVE, YET NONE OF THOSE INVOLVES DIVORCE FROM A TRUE MARRIAGE-UNION.
SO WHAT WE SEE FROM THIS IS THAT THE BOOK OF EZRA DOESN’T CLASSIFY THESE RELATIONSHIPS AS TRUE MARRIAGES IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND SO IT'S NOT A DIVORCE IN THE SECOND PLACE - SINCE YAHUAH HATES DIVORCE! THE CONTEXT AND THE PRECISE HEBREW WORDS BEAR THIS OUT, BUT IT'S OBSCURED BY THE ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS AND BY NOT UNDERSTANDING ANCIENT HEBREW AND MIDDLE EASTERN CULTURE.
18These are the names of the descendants of the Priests who joined with foreign women and who now promised to send them away:
From the descendants of Jeshua son of Jozadak and Jeshua’s brothers, these men: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah.
19All of them promised to send away their foreign women. And then each one of them offered a ram from the flock for a guilt offering. They did that because of their guilt.
20From the descendants of Immer, these men: Hanani and Zebadiah. 21From the descendants of Harim, these men: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah.
22From the descendants of Pashhur, these men: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.
23Among the Levites, these are the men who joined with foreign women: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (also called Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer. 24Among the singers, this is the man who joined with a foreign woman: Eliashib.
Among the gatekeepers, these are the men who took foreign women: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.
25Among the other Israelites, these men joined with foreign women: From the descendants of Parosh, these men: Ramiah, Izziah, Malkijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malkijah, and Benaiah.
26From the descendants of Elam, these men: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah. 27From the descendants of Zattu, these men: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza. 28From the descendants of Bebai, these men: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.
29From the descendants of Bani, these men: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth.
30From the descendants of Pahath Moab, these men: Adna, Kelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh.
31From the descendants of Harim, these men: Eliezer, Ishijah, Malkijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, 32Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.
33From the descendants of Hashum, these men: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.
34From the descendants of Bani, these men: Maadai, Amram, Uel, 35Benaiah, Bedeiah, Keluhi, 36Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, 37Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasu. 38From the descendants of Binnui, these men: Shimei, 39Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, 40Macnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, 41Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, 42Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph. 43From the descendants of Nebo, these men: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah.
44All these men had joined themselves with foreign women, and many had children with them also. ( END EZRA )
WHAT THE BOOK OF EZRA ASKS US ALL TO DECIDE IS THIS: WHICH DO WE DESIRE MORE? THE PRAISE OF MEN OR THE APPROVAL OF YAHUSHA? A COMFORTABLE MAN-MADE `COUNTRY-CLUB' MINDSET THAT MAY HAVE AN AURA OF RIGHTEOUSNESS ABOUT IT, OR A HARD-PRESSED, NARROW SCRIPTURAL PATH THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN TO US BY YAHUSHA IN THE SUPERNATURAL?
OUR STRUGGLE IS NEITHER NEW NOR UNIQUE - WE FIND IT ALL THROUGHOUT THE OLD AND NEW BLOOD-COVENANTS. SO AS WE CLOSE OUT THE BOOK OF EZRA, THE INESCAPABLE QUESTION THAT YAHUSHA CONFRONTS US ALL WITH IS: WHAT SORT OF BRIDE WILL WE BE - A PURE ONE OR A FAKE HARLOT WITH NO REAL RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR GROOM? WILL WE FOLLOW & OBEY NO MATTER THE PERSONAL COST OR HOW WEARY WE MIGHT GET, AS EZRA AND OTHER PASSIONATE FOLLOWERS OF YAHUSHA DID IN ALL ERAS?
OUR BROTHER JAMES WROTE ALL ABOUT THIS: