Verses 15–44

The method of proceeding in this matter being concluded on, and the congregation dismissed, that each in his respective place might gain and give intelligence to facilitate the matter, we are here told, 1. Who were the persons that undertook to manage the matter and bring the causes regularly before the commissioners—Jonathan and Jahaziah, two active men, whether of the priests or of the people does not appear; probably they were the men that made that proposal (Ezra 10:13, 14) and were therefore the fittest to see it pursued; two honest Levites were joined with them, and helped them, Ezra 10:15. Dr. Lightfoot gives a contrary sense of this: only (or nevertheless) Jonathan and Jahaziah stood against this matter (which reading the original will very well bear), and these two Levites helped them in opposing it, either the thing itself or this method of proceeding. It was strange if a work of this kind was carried on and met with no opposition. 2. Who were the commissioners that sat upon this matter. Ezra was president, and with him certain chief men of the fathers who were qualified with wisdom and zeal above others for this service, Ezra 10:16. It was happy for them that they had such a man as Ezra to head them; they could not have done it well without his direction, yet he would not do it without their concurrence. 3. How long they were about it. They began the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter (Ezra 10:16), which was but ten days after this method was proposed (Ezra 10:9), and they finished in three months, Ezra 10:17. They sat closely and minded their business, otherwise they could not have despatched so many causes as they had before them in so little time; for we may suppose that all who were impeached were fairly asked what cause they could show why they should not be parted, and, if we may judge by other cases, provided the wife were proselyted to the Jewish religion she was not to be put away, the trial of which would require great care. 4. Who the persons were that were found guilty of this crime. Their names are here recorded to their perpetual reproach; many of the priests, nay, of the family of Jeshua, the high priest, were found guilty (Ezra 10:18), though the law had particularly provided, for the preserving of their honour in their marriages, that being holy themselves they should not marry such as were profane, Lev. 21:7. Those that should have taught others the law broke it themselves and by their example emboldened others to do likewise. But, having lost their innocency in this matter, they did well to recant and give an example of repentance; for they promised under their hand to put away their strange wives (some think that they made oath to do so with their hands lifted up), and they took the appointed way of obtaining pardon, bringing the ram which was appointed by the law for a trespass offering (Lev. 6:6), so owning their guilt and the desert of it, and humbly suing for forgiveness. About 113 in all are here named who had married strange wives, and some of them, it is said (Ezra 10:44), had children by them, which implies that not many of them had, God not crowning those marriages with the blessing of increase. Whether the children were turned off with the mothers, as Shechaniah proposed, does not appear; it should seem not: however it is probable that the wives which were put away were well provided for, according to their rank. One would think this grievance was now thoroughly redressed, yet we meet with it again (Neh. 13:23; Mal. 2:11), for such corruptions are easily and insensibly brought in, but not without great difficulty purged out again. The best reformers can but do their endeavour, but, when the Redeemer himself shall come to Sion, he shall effectually turn away ungodliness from Jacob.