10:8 three days. The people in the outlying towns of Judah and Benjamin were all within fifty miles or less of Jerusalem, and so could reach the capital within three days after they heard the proclamation. In view of the rather severe fine threatened for those who would not come, they all came (Ezra 10:9).
10:11 separate yourselves. This edict of complete separation from the people of the land, even to the point of divorcing their pagan wives, seems severe, but it was necessary if the divine mission of Israel was to be accomplished. It was his marriages with “strange wives” that first led to King Solomon’s downfall, and to the introduction of idolatry into the kingdom of Israel. Once again the same problem had produced a pervasive compromise with their “abominations,” so it had to be stopped, cost what it may. Ezra had been given complete authority by Artaxerxes not only to teach the laws of God to the people of Israel but also to enforce them through magistrates and judges which he would establish, even to the extent of capital punishment when necessary (Ezra 7:25-26).
10:15 were employed about this matter. The Hebrew word here translated “employed” has a wide variety of meanings depending on context, with its basic etymology apparently meaning “stand.” The context here seems to indicate that the four men listed in this verse “stood” against Ezra’s command to divorce their “strange wives,” at least for a time. One of them, Meshullam, had married one of these women, but he did agree finally to divorce her (Ezra 10:19,29). It is significant that no other opposition than this arose against Ezra’s seemingly harsh decree.
10:17 all the men. Nothing is said about the Jewish women that may have married pagan men, although they also had been included in the Mosaic prohibition (Deuteronomy 7:3). If there were such, their husbands were probably not under Ezra’s authority, and in effect they would have given up their Jewish identity.
10:44 strange wives. These pagan wives and their children were not simply turned out to fend for themselves. The customs of the time—as well as simple considerations of right and wrong—would require that any dowry a wife had brought with her be returned with her back to her parents’ home. Both she and her children, if any, would become members again of the family of her parents.