1 Esdras ix.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Abominations, or sins, (Menochius) marrying with infidels, contrary to the law, Exodus xxxiv. 15., and Deuteronomy vii. 3. (Du Hamel) — Malachy[Malachias] (ii. 11.) reprehends this conduct, and threatens both rulers and people who tolerate it, with God’s indignation. (Worthington)

Ver. 2. First. Or “was in this first transgression,” incurred by those who returned with Zorobabel; or “was concerned in this very heinous transgression;” in transgressione hac prima. (Calmet) — Protestants, “hath been chief.” 3 Esdras, “and the leaders and grandees partook in this illegal affair, from its commencement.” Septuagint, “and the hand of the chiefs was in this trespass, in the beginning.” This would greatly increase the difficulty of reformation. Some of the princes were however ready to undertake the work, and had preserved themselves from the too general contagion. (Haydock) — All marriages with the Moabites, &c., were prohibited, if the women remained infidels, Exodus xxxiv. (Tirinus)

Ver. 3. Coat, (tunicam) or inner garment. (Haydock) — Mourning. Hebrew, “astonished.” (Syriac) (Montanus) (Calmet) (Protestants) — Septuagint, “alone.” 3 Esdras, “pensive and in grief.” (Haydock) — Arabic, “not uttering a word.” See Job i. 20., and ii. 8. This was the ordinary posture of people in sorrow, Isaias iii. 26. (Calmet)

Ver. 4. To me, in the court of the temple, chap. x. 1. (Menochius) — Sacrifice, which was offered last of all, about sun-set, Exodus xxix. 38. The Jews commonly protract their fasts till the stars appear. (Leo, p. 3, art. 8.)

Ver. 7. At this day. Notwithstanding the favourable decrees of Cyrus, &c., the greatest part of the people continued in captivity, being dispersed, some into Egypt, others into distant countries, beyond the Euphrates. (Calmet)

Ver. 8. As a. Protestants, “for a little space, grace hath been shewed from the Lord,” (Haydock) and yet we are again irritating Him! (Calmet) — A pin, or nail, here signifies a small settlement or holding; which Esdras begs for, to preserve even a part of the people, who, by their great iniquity, had incurred the anger of God. (Challoner) — Allusion is made to the pins which fasten down a tent, (Isaias xxxiii. 20., and liv. 2.) or hinder a ship from being carried from the shore, (Tigur.; Menochius) on which utensils are hung up, (Tournemine) referring to the magistrates, who were now of the same country. (Tirinus) (Isaias xxii. 21.) (Delrio, adag. 218.) — Septuagint, “a support.” Hebrew yathed, denotes also a walking-stick, nail, &c. (Menochius) — Eyes, fill us with joy, in perfect security. — Little life, free us from danger. (Calmet) — Esdras is afraid to ask for the impunity of all, but only begs that a small part may be spared, like a nail or post from a house, which may serve to rebuild it. (Worthington)

Ver. 9. Fence. Hebrew gader, “the name which the Carthaginians” gave to Cadiz, “as it signifies a fence,” or an inclosure. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxii.) (Calmet) — Some Latin manuscripts read spem, “hope.” (Lyranus) — The Tig. version understands the wall of Jerusalem, built in a hurry. (Menochius) — But this was not perfected, (Haydock) if begun, till the time of Nehemias, 2 Esdras i. 3. (Calmet) — God gave his protection to the people, (Haydock; Delrio, adag. 219.) by the king of Persia. (Tirinus)

Ver. 11. Mouth, like a vessel brim-full. (Menochius) — Protestants, “from one end to the other.” (Haydock)

Ver. 12. Peace. Alliance, (Menochius) or advantage. See Psalm cxxi. 8. Moses had thus proscribed the Moabites, &c., as he had done the people of Chanaan still more severely. The Israelites were to execute God’s decrees, Deuteronomy xxiii. 6. (Calmet) — The obstinate idolaters were to be exterminated.

Ver. 13. Saved us. Protestants, “hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve and hast given us such deliverance as this.” Septuagint, “hast made our transgressions light,” (Haydock) not weighing them with rigid severity. (Calmet)

Ver. 14. That. Hebrew, “should we again break, &c….Wouldst thou not be angry?” &c.

Ver. 15. To be saved from our iniquities, which are still upon us. (Haydock) — We confess that, if we should be treated according to our deserts, we could expect no redress. But we trust in thy mercies, which have hitherto supported and brought us back from slavery. (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Esdras mourneth for the transgression of the people: his confession and prayer.

1 And* after these things were accomplished, the princes came to me, saying: The people of Israel, and the priests, and Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, and from their abominations, namely, of the Chanaanites, and the Hethites, and the Pherezites, and the Jebusites, and the Ammonites, and the Moabites, and the Egyptians, and the Amorrhites.

2 For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons, and they have mingled the holy seed with the people of the lands. And the hand of the princes and magistrates hath been first in this transgression.

3 And when I had heard this word, I rent my mantle and my coat, and plucked off the hairs of my head and my beard, and I sat down mourning.

4 And there were assembled to me all that feared the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those, that were come from the captivity, and I sat sorrowful, until the evening sacrifice.

5 And at the evening sacrifice I rose up from my affliction, and having rent my mantle and my garment, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands to the Lord, my God,

6 And said: My God, I am confounded and ashamed to lift up my face to thee: for our iniquities are multiplied over our heads, and our sins are grown up even unto heaven,

7 From the days of our fathers: and we ourselves, also, have sinned grievously unto this day, and for our iniquities we, and our kings, and our priests, have been delivered into the hands of the kings of the lands, and to the sword, and to captivity, and to spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is at this day.

8 And now as a little, and, for a moment, has our prayer been made before the Lord, our God, to leave us a remnant, and give us a pin in his holy place, and that our God would enlighten our eyes, and would give us a little life in our bondage.

9 For we are bondmen, and in our bondage our God hath not forsaken us, but hath extended mercy upon us before the king of the Persians, to give us life, and to set up the house of our God, and to rebuild the desolations thereof, and to give us a fence in Juda and Jerusalem.

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

11 Which thou hast commanded by the hand of thy servants, the prophets, saying: The land which you go to possess, is an unclean land, according to the uncleanness of the people, and of other lands, with their abominations, who have filled it from mouth to mouth with their filth.

12 *Now, therefore, give not your daughters to their sons, and take not their daughters for your sons, and seek not their peace, nor their prosperity forever; that you may be strengthened, and may eat the good things of the land, and may have your children your heirs for ever.

13 And after all that is come upon us, for our most wicked deeds, and our great sin, seeing that thou, our God, hast saved us from our iniquity, and hast given us a deliverance as at this day.

14 That we should not turn away, nor break thy commandments, nor join in marriage with the people of these abominations. Art thou angry with us unto utter destruction, not to leave us a remnant to be saved?

15 O Lord God of Israel, thou art just: for we remain yet to be saved, as at this day. Behold we are before thee in our sin, for there can be no standing before thee in this matter.



1: Year of the World 3538, Year before Christ 466.

12: Deuteronomy vii. 3.