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This Ezra 10 Bible study contains outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Ezra 10 Bible Study Commentary – A Terrible Dilemma

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Ezra 10 Video Bible Study


I. Ezra leads the people in prayer and confession (1)
II. Shecaniah offers a plan (2-4)
III. Ezra gets a commitment from the leaders and calls a grand assembly (5-8)
IV. A plan was adopted to deal with this matter city by city (9-15)
V. Ezra appointed leaders to look into and hold people responsible to obey the plan (16-17)
VI. A list of the offending leaders (18-44)

I. Ezra leads the people in prayer and confession (1)

Discussion Questions

  • Do you remember what we learned about true confession in the last chapter?
  • What is the connection between confession and weeping/prostrating himself?
  • While Ezra was praying there, what was happening around him?
  • What can we learn about leadership from this?


Verses on Leadership

Proverbs 11:1 – The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.

Isaiah 30:21 – Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.

Numbers 27:17 – To go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Review confession and leadership from Ezra 9. True confession requires sorrow (weeping) as well as humility (prostrating). Ezra’s good example in leadership was a rallying point for all the people. He set them an example on what attitude to have towards sin. Because he was grieved over it, they were too.

II. Shecaniah offers a plan (2-4)

Discussion Questions

  • Was Shecaniah one of the offenders (see verse 26 for some of his family members)?
  • What was his plan?
  • What can we learn from his example of speaking out?
  • Do you think it was important that this plan came from the people and not directly from Ezra?
  • Knowing that 6 of his family members were offenders, what may have been going through Shecaniah’s mind, and how might that have influenced him not to speak up?
  • Do you agree that there was hope for Israel in spite of what they had done?
  • Is there hope for us if we sin? What hope do we have when we sin?
  • What was Shecaniah’s solution?
  • Why make a covenant with God instead of just agreeing together to do it or doing it on their own?
  • What do you think of his solution?
  • Was it the right choice to divorce these women?
  • What is God’s view of divorce?
  • What was God’s view of these marriages?
  • What lessons can we learn from this predicament?
  • Do you think this was Ezra’s responsibility as Shecaniah claimed? Why or why not?


Exodus 23:2 – Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd.

Psalm 103:12 – As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

2 Chronicles 29:10 – Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us.

Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Verses on Divorce

Romans 7:2-3 – For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.

Malachi 2:14-16 – You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

Matthew 19:3-11 – In this passage Jesus explains God’s original design for marriage.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Ezra finally gets some help. Shecaniah speaks out offering a plan to deal with this problem. If you look at verse 26 you will notice that 6 of his family members were involved in this sin, including his own father. For this reason it would have been hard for him to speak out. He may have sympathized with the sinners or felt pressure from his family to be quiet. Yet he knew that sin must be dealt with even among those close to him. The fact that his family members were doing this, made his proposal more difficult and highlights his boldness. It is worthwhile to note that he did not follow his family to do evil, but instead spoke out against it. The application for us is not join in wrongdoing just because people close to us are doing it. Instead of joining them, we should seek to encourage them a way more perfect.

2. He starts off admitting the unfaithfulness of the people. Notice that he, like Ezra, used the personal pronouns “we” and “us” even though it appears that he personally hadn’t committed this sin. He takes responsibility as a fellow Israelite and fellow family member of those who had sinned.

3. He also recognized that there was hope. This is one of the most amazing and exciting truths in the Bible. No matter how deep a hole we are in, God’s grace is big enough enough to help us out of it. No matter how lost we are, He can find us. Like the father of the prodigal sin, he is always waiting to forgive us, to welcome us back into His loving arms. He doesn’t take the first (or second, or 100th) opportunity to punish us for our sins. He could have wiped out Israel long ago (and been completely justified in doing it) for their evil. But He didn’t. He is patient and merciful. Is there some sin that has been plaguing you for years? Some bad habit you just can’t get rid of? There is hope! God is willing to forgive and show mercy to you. But we are responsible to come to Him for that forgiveness and change our ways.

4. His proposal was to make a covenant with God and divorce the women and put away the children from these relationships. Let’s take a look at this proposal.

A. The first part is the make a covenant with God. This is an excellent place to begin. This would show that they recognized their culpability. They were admitting their wrongdoing and making a vow to God “fix” it. This shows that they realized their sin was primarily against God.

B. The second part is a drastic step to solve this problem and not without controversy. This was not a “pretty” plan. It was not an easy plan. It would be ugly and messy. Divorce is always ugly and that would be amplified many times over because of the sheer number of them. As bad as it was to send away the wives, it would be many times even more difficult to send away the children of these marriages who were completely innocent parties. Then why do this? Let’s look at this issue in detail:

1. First we need to know God’s view of divorce. The biblical view of divorce is VERY different from the view in the world. Culture tells us that divorce is an acceptable option when the two sides just cannot resolve their differences. People fall in love and then after a while this “love” grows cold and they “fall out” of love. Love is seen as something that comes and goes and people will make the excuse that “I can’t help it.” They don’t decide to not love the person anymore, it “just happens.” When this random anti-love bug strikes, the couple feels justified in getting a divorce. They often offer the excuse that it is not fair to the kids or their spouse to put them through a marriage that doesn’t have that spark anymore.

Money is a leading cause of divorce. Finding a younger and more attractive partner is another. Amazingly I read recently that arguments over housework is one of the leading causes of divorce. Although when people get married they make vows, these vows are cast aside as soon as difficulty comes. This view of divorce is a stark contrast with the Bible. Read cross-references. God’s plan has always been one man and one woman for life, literally until death do them part.

Genesis 2:24 Verse

Malachi tells us that God hates divorce. Jesus went even further to say that divorce and remarriage is adultery. He did give one possible exception, which is the infidelity of one partner. Bible scholars debate whether there is any basis for divorce, but it is reasonable to conclude that there is only one and that is infidelity. When we look at the whole context of Scripture, we know that we should forgive even seventy times seven times. So this clause should not be considered a reason to pull the trigger on a marriage after one mistake by the spouse. A godly spouse should forgive again and again. Normally a person who is brazenly committing adultery without repenting will divorce the Christian anyway, at which point the Christian should let the person go (1 Corinthians 7).

2. If God has this view of divorce, then why did Ezra agree with this plan? I can think of two reasons.

A. God hates divorce, but God also hates their sin of getting married to pagan people who would lead them astray from God. Although it is not often a good practice to rank sins, this case could be the exception. Basically the people got themselves into a serious dilemma. There were two bad choices with no good way out. Bad choice number 1 equals staying married to these people. The result would likely be disastrous in that a huge part of the remnant would gradually fall away from God. Bad choice number 2 is to immediately end these relationships.

This would cause some collateral damage (specifically the children), but was a necessary step to ensure the spiritual purity of the nation. There is an important lesson here. The lesson is that our sin can lead us into situations from which there is no good way out. Remember that God did not led them into this dilemma. He warned them against it. Their own sinful choices led them into it. Can you think of other examples where our sin leads us into dilemmas? In Exodus we saw how a person’s bad financial choices could lead them to sell themselves or even worse, a child. By far the best solution is to obey God on the front side. If you do, you will avoid these types of “lesser of two evil” choices.

B. We should also keep in mind the fragile state of the remnant. There was a small remnant of people who returned to Jerusalem. They were unprotected (there were no walls). They were few in number. Their faith was volatile. God had already been judging them for their si