Let us make a covenant - ברית נכרת nichrath berith, let us cut or divide the covenant sacrifice. See the notes on Genesis 15:10.
Let it be done according to the law - i. e., let a formal “bill of divorcement” be given to each foreign wife, whereby she will be restored to the condition of an unmarried woman, and be free to marry another husband (see Deuteronomy 24:1-2). The facility of divorce among the Jews is well-known. According to many of the rabbis, a bill of divorcement might he given by the husband for the most trivial cause. Thus, no legal difficulty stood in the way of Shechaniah‘s proposition; and Ezra regarded it as necessary for the moral and religious welfare of the people.
Wherever Ezra labored, there sprang up a revival in the study of the Holy Scriptures. Teachers were appointed to instruct the people; the law of the Lord was exalted and made honorable. The books of the prophets were searched, and the passages foretelling the coming of the Messiah brought hope and comfort to many a sad and weary heart. PK 623.1
More than two thousand years have passed since Ezra “prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it” (Ezra 7:10), yet the lapse of time has not lessened the influence of his pious example. Through the centuries the record of his life of consecration has inspired many with the determination “to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it.” PK 623.2
Ezra's motives were high and holy; in all that he did he was actuated by a deep love for souls. The compassion and tenderness that he revealed toward those who had sinned, either willfully or through ignorance, should be an object lesson to all who seek to bring about reforms. The servants of God are to be as firm as a rock where right principles are involved; and yet, withal, they are to manifest sympathy and forbearance. Like Ezra, they are to teach transgressors the way of life by calculating principles that are the foundation of all rightdoing. PK 623.3Read in context »
The sorrow of Ezra and his associates over the evils that had insidiously crept into the very heart of the Lord's work, wrought repentance. Many of those who had sinned were deeply affected. “The people wept very sore.” Ezra 10:1. In a limited degree they began to realize the heinousness of sin and the horror with which God regards it. They saw the sacredness of the law spoken at Sinai, and many trembled at the thought of their transgressions. PK 622.1
One of those present, Shechaniah by name, acknowledged as true all the words spoken by Ezra. “We have trespassed against our God,” he confessed, “and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.” Shechaniah proposed that all who had transgressed should make a covenant with God to forsake their sin and to be adjudged “according to the law.” “Arise,” he bade Ezra; “for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage.” “Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word.” Verses 2-5. PK 622.2
This was the beginning of a wonderful reformation. With infinite patience and tact, and with a careful consideration for the rights and welfare of every individual concerned, Ezra and his associates strove to lead the penitent of Israel into the right way. Above all else, Ezra was a teacher of the law; and as he gave personal attention to the examination of every case, he sought to impress the people with the holiness of this law and the blessings to be gained through obedience. PK 622.3Read in context »