Friday, September 27, 2013

Ezra 8:1-10:44


Other obligations have kept me from updating this blog as frequently as I would like. Please know, dear reader, that I remain committed to this project. (And to painting my deck). The Year of Blogging Biblically will go on.

So let's finish up Ezra.

Sent by King Artaxerxes, Ezra the priest travels to Jerusalem with a posse of 1500 men and unnumbered women and children. Ezra makes sure that Levites are included in the group. They bring rich gifts for the temple. In spite of this they refuse a military escort, preferring to trust in God for safe passage. God does not disappoint.

Once arrived, Ezra is appalled to learn that Judean men have married the women of the land. He tears his hair and clothes, signs of mourning, and says a prayer of repentance on behalf of all the people. After an investigation, Ezra orders the 113 offenders to send their wives and children away.

It is appropriate to be horrified by this. It is also appropriate to remember Jesus' teachings against divorce.

In Ezra's defense, let us note that the returned exiles were determined to preserve the purity of their heritage, their worship, their traditions, and their way of life. This explains, but does not excuse, his actions.

It is heartening to note that there was opposition to Ezra's plan, though the opposition failed. It is useful to keep in mind that when a similar situation recurs in Nehemiah, the solution is less drastic. It is also important to remember that there are other, more inclusive,voices in Scripture, even from the time of Ezra.

It is tempting to skip ahead to read Jonah.

Next: Nehamiah 1-3

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