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Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.
For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.
And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.
Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.
And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God,
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 showed 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.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

9:1 princes came to me. This meeting apparently took place on or just before the seventeenth day of the ninth month (Ezra 10:9), which would have been some four months after Ezra’s arrival in Jerusalem (compare Ezra 7:9). The intervening time must have been spent in organizing the governmental and judicial systems as he had been authorized to do (Ezra 7:25; 8:36).

9:2 mingled themselves. The Mosaic law had specifically prohibited intermarriage of God’s chosen people with pagan idol worshippers (Deuteronomy 7:1-4).

9:4 trembled at the words. The written words of God are true and powerful, and men will be judged by their response to the Scriptures (note John 5:45; 12:48; Revelation 20:12). Instead of mocking and ignoring God’s Word, men would do well to “tremble” at its commands and warnings.

9:6 I am ashamed. Although he himself had not sinned, Ezra identified himself with his people, confessing their sins as a people. The prophet Daniel had done the same (Daniel 9:5-14) as he prayed for God to send His people back home from their exile in Babylon. The Lord Jesus Christ not only identified Himself with us in our sinful state but also then “bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (I Peter 2:24).

9:8 a nail in His holy place. Their little foothold back in the promised land was compared to a peg in a wall, capable of holding an implement or two, but also fragile and capable of being removed.

9:10 forsaken thy commandments. The rebellious iniquity of the human heart is astonishing! Here are God’s chosen people, only one generation after their miraculous deliverance from captive exile, already falling back into the same sins which had sent them away into captivity in the first place. They were already “doing according to their abominations”—that is, the idolatrous practices—of the Canaanites and the other pagan people that had led to their first downfall. Furthermore, their leaders were among the worst offenders (Ezra 9:2).

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