Ezra 9-10

Ezra 9-10

Chapter 9: The Jews Intermarry

When these things were done, the leaders came to Ezra, saying that the people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands.

So when Ezra heard this, he tore his garment and robe, and ripped out some of the hair of his head and beard, and sat down astonished.

Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel assembled to him, because of the transgression of those who had been carried away captive, and he continued to sit astonished until the evening sacrifice.

At the evening sacrifice Ezra arose from his fasting; and having torn his garment and robe, he fell on his knees and spread out his hands to the Lord, and said:

 “…O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.

And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may  lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.

And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments,

Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness. Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever. And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this;

 Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O Lord God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this. (Ezra 9:6-15) 

Chapter 10: Jews Put Away Foreign Wives

While Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly.

Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, “…We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it. (Ezra 10:2-4)

Ezra arose, and made the leaders of the priests, the Levites, and all Israel swear an oath that they would do according to this word. So they swore an oath. Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib; and when he came there, he ate no bread and drank no water, for he mourned because of the guilt of those from the captivity. And they issued a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the descendants of the captivity, that they must gather at Jerusalem, and that whoever would not come within three days, according to the instructions of the leaders and elders, all his property would be confiscated, and he himself would be separated from the assembly of those from the captivity.

So all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered at Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth of the month; and all the people sat in the open square of the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of heavy rain. “..Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.” (Ezra 10:10-11)

All of the assembly answered and said with a loud voice, “…o must we do. But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing. Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.” (Ezra 10:12-14)

Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite gave them support. Then the descendants of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain heads of the fathers’ households, were set apart by the fathers’ households, each of them by name; and they sat down on the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter. By the first day of the first month they finished questioning all the men who had taken pagan wives.

And among the sons of the priests who had taken pagan wives the following were found of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah. And they gave their promise that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they presented a ram of the flock as their trespass offering…

…Also of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah; of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah; of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah. Also of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (the same is Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer. Also of the singers: Eliashib; and of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri. And others of Israel: of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Jeziah, Malchiah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malchijah, and Benaiah; of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Eliah; of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza; of the sons of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai; of the sons of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Ramoth; of the sons of Pahath-Moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh; of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah; of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei; of the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel, Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluh, Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Mattenai, Jaasai, Bani, Binnui, Shimei, Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph; of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah. All these had taken pagan wives, and some of them had wives by whom they had children.

 

Ruth 3-4

Ruth 3-4

Chapter 3: Ruth Lies at the Feet of Boaz

Naomi decides that it is time for Ruth to find her own home, where she can be provided for and not do the providing. Naomi decides that Boaz would be a good choice to marry Ruth. Naomi knows that Boaz will be eating and drinking on a specific night and tells Ruth to go in and uncover herself and lie down at his feet. So Ruth does this and in the middle of the night, Boaz is awoken by something and he discovers someone lying at his feet.

Boaz asks Ruth who she is, and she responds by telling him that she is his servant. When Boaz hears this he is happy (because he is an older man and Ruth is much younger, he is thrilled she chose him). Even though Boaz is closely related to Naomi, another man is even closer and he must give him the first chance at marrying Ruth. This is part of the rules found in Deuteronomy 23:15-25:19.

Boaz tells Ruth to stay there that night and in the morning to leave before anyone sees them together, but he gives her “six measures” of barley to take home. Ruth tells Naomi everything and Naomi tells Ruth to wait and see what happens.

Chapter 4: Boaz Marries Ruth

Boaz wants to solve the issue of being married or not to Ruth, so he waits at the town gate for the nearest kin to Naomi, so he can conduct some business. Boaz has the man sit down, alongside the town elders and explains to him that Naomi is selling a piece of land that had belonged to her late husband Elimelech. He tells the man that he has the right to claim it, but if he does not, then Boaz will claim it.  The man agrees to take the property, but Boaz tells him that when he acquires the land he also acquires the dead man’s widow, in order to continue the line of Elimelech. When the man hears this he changes his mind and tells him that if he does this, it could endanger his own estate. So Boaz tells him that he will do it. They seal the deal by having the man take off his sandal and give it to Boaz. Boaz has acquired the land and has also acquired Mahlon’s widow Ruth as his wife. This way Boaz can continue the family line of Mahlon.

Boaz marries Ruth and the Lord gives him the ability to give birth to a son, that they name Obed. The end of the book tells us that Obed will father a son named Jesse and he is going to become the father of David

Numbers 35-36

Numbers 35-36

Chapter 35: Murderers

The Lord speaks to Moses and tells him to command the Israelites to give a portion of their inheritance to the Levites. The Israelites are to allocate 48 towns (verse 7). Each land has a place for their flocks. Each Levite town would be” 1 thousand cubits roundabout” (1,500 feet or about 1/3 of a mile). In each Levite town there were pasture lands (in squares, 2000 cubits on each side) OR each pasture land was squared by 1/2 miles.

Each tribe of the Israelites would give a fair/proper portion of their lands. Tribes with more land would give more to the Levites, than a tribe with less land.

Six of the cities given to the Levites (3 on each side of the river Jordan) were designated as “cities of refuge”. If someone accidently murdered someone, they could run to a city of refuge and stay there until the high priest died, to return back to their home. However, if that person came back before the High Priest died and the “avenger” of the person he killed saw him, the “avenger” could kill the “murderer” without consequence of being a “murderer” himself.

The Rules of Murder among the Israelites is set forth in verses 15-34.

If someone accidently kills someone, then they can flee to a city of refuge to avoid the “revenger of blood” – maybe a relative of the person killed?

If however it was not an accident, but a murder. Then the murderer would be put to death.

The end of the chapter leaves us with a warning from God, that we should not pollute the land with blood. Also warns about “defiling the land”, because the Lord dwells among his people. A warning not to pollute, or misuse the land that God has given us? I think so.

Chapter 36: Marry in Your Tribe

The chief fathers of the families of Gilead come to speak before Moses, asking them about inheritances and marrying within or without of your tribe.

Their complaint/worry is that the daughters of Zelophehad (read Numbers 27:1-11) were given their fathers inheritance and they were worried that they would marry outside of the tribe of their fathers. The worry here, is that the name and property (inheritance) would disappear from the clan.

The Lord responds to this, by saying that the daughters of Zelophehad can marry anyone they choose, just as long as they marry within their tribe (verse 6). Zelophehad’s daughters do as they are commanded and marry their father’s, brothers, sons. OR their cousins on their fathers side. This would keep the land and their name in the tribe of their father.