Ezra had a commission from the king and all the people had gathered ready to begin the journey a thousand miles to Jerusalem. This was a trade route but Ezra was nervous about ambush along the way. He didn’t want to tell the king they needed an army for protection so they fasted and prayed and God showed them what to do. They arrived safely and delivered the people and the gold and silver and vessels and the kings commands for the regional governors to help them. It seemed Ezra could relax, but the leaders in Jerusalem came to tell him that many had broken Gods law by intermarrying with the pagan peoples around them. Ezra is appalled. Then men come to him and offer a solution. They will separate themselves and commit themselves to God’s ways.
We Humble Ourselves
Ezra knew they were about to embark on a four month journey with gold and silver, women and children, personal belongings and provisions. He was concerned about their safety traveling along this trade route. He wanted, in Ezra 8:22 “to ask the king for troops and horses” but he had said to the king “the hand of our God is favorable to all who seek him, but his strength and anger are against all who forsake them” and had committed their lives into God’s hands. Ezra didn’t know how to proceed, and he says in Ezra 8:23 “so we fasted … and he responded”.
God gave them a strategy that they implemented in Ezra 8:24-30 they “set apart twelve … priests … and ten of their brothers … then I weighed out to them silver and gold and vessels”. This meant that each of these men, twenty two of them, had ten of the temple servants around them (form Ezra 8:20 “from the temple servants … two hundred and twenty in total”). So there was not one place were all of the treasure was found, only one twentieth at any point. And every point where there was treasure, there were ten strong men around it.
The Hand of God Was On Us
In Ezra 8:32 “we came to Jerusalem”. They arrived safely, Ezra 8:31 simply says, “The hand of our God was on us and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushing on the way”. No one touched them along the way. All of them and all of their belongings, and all that was to be delivered to the house of God also arrived with them. Then in Ezra 8:33-34 it was all weighed and recorded at the house of God. They “offered burnt offerings” in Ezra 8:35 and finished their journey when they, in Ezra 8:36 “delivered the customs of the king to the kings satraps … “. To clarify, “the customs” here means that “Ezra presents his authorization to the local Persian officials (see 7:21–24). A satrap was typically a chief governor who ruled a satrapy that might be made up of smaller provinces and administrative districts, each overseen by a governor”.1
The Holy Seed Has Mixed Itself
They have arrived, they completed their delivery. And in Ezra 9:1 “After finishing these things the officials approached me saying”. Ezra wasn’t expecting anyone much less all of the leaders, and here, “This Hebrew term can mean “official” or “prince.” They were probably the family leaders of the descendants of the Jewish remnant that originally returned under Sheshbazzar”.2
These princes, or officials, or family heads had joined together to bring a message to Ezra, still in vs. 1, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated from the people of the lands with their detestable things”. Ezra was shocked. These people that had returned from Babylon had been carried captive because their ancestors had not followed after God. Now, these returned exiles had forgotten God’s commands to them and had not just intermarried, but had taken on their pagan practices. In Ezra 9:3-4 he “sat appalled”.
Our God Did Not Forsake Us
Ezra kneeled in front of them all and reached his hands out to heaven in Ezra 9:5 and said in Ezra 9:6-9 recounts their unfaithfulness, they had been taken captive but God’s mercy “our God did not forsake us, and he has extended to us loyal love in the presence of the king of Persia … to set up the house of God”. Then Ezra brings the indictment against them,
Ezra 9:10–12 (LEB) 10 “And now our God what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments, 11 which you commanded by the hand of your servants the prophets saying, ‘The land that you are entering to possess is a land of impurity with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their detestable things which they have filled from end to end with their uncleanness. 12 Therefore, do not give your daughters to their sons, and do not take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek their peace and prosperity so that forever you may be strong and eat the good of the land and may give it as an inheritance to your sons.’
Then in Ezra 9:13-15 he says, “for our great guilt-you, our God have held back … God of Israel, you are righteous, … none can stand before you because of this”.
Let Us Make A Covenant
In Ezra 10:1 “While Ezra was praying and confessing” men came to him confessing that they themselves “have broken faith with our God” in Ezra 10:2. And the say, in Ezra 10:3 “let us make a covenant with our God to send away all of these women and their offspring, according to the advice of my lord and those who tremble at the commandment of our God. Let it be done according to the law”.
Sometimes we see the prophet telling the people what to do. Here, we see Ezra, the teacher of the law, telling them what God has said. And the people recognize their error and suggest the solution, “”let us make a covenant with our God”.
Separate Yourselves From the Peoples of the Land
Ezra rose and in Ezra 10:7 “They sent a proclamation … to all the returned exiles to assemble in Jerusalem”.
- Ezra 8:21–30 We Humble Ourselves
- Ezra 8:31–36 The Hand of God Was On Us
- Ezra 9:5–15 Our God Did Not Forsake Us
- Ezra 8:21-36
- Ezra 9:1-15
- Ezra 10:1-15
is helping Jewish people return to their homeland. You might fund one that desires to go home. http://operationexodususa.org/Overview
Return to Israel – Ezra
We often read one book of the Bible at a time and that is easier for everyone to follow. The order of our readings, beginning with Ezra, are from the Tyndale One Year Chronological Bible because the return from Babylonian exile includes Haggai, Zechariah, Nehemiah, Esther, a few Psalms, and other connections. Covering these events chronologically as they happened, gives a much better context and helps us understand the move of God as He is reestablishing His people. Review the whole series beginning with Go Up To Jerusalem.
- 1. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ezr 8:36). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- 2. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ezr 9:1). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.