Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.
There assembled — The account of his grief, and publick expressions thereof in the court before the temple, being in an instant dispersed over all the city, brought a great company together. See what an happy influence the example of great ones may have upon their inferiors!
 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.
We — He saith, we, in the name of the people, and their several families, and his own amongst the rest. For this man's name is not in the following catalogue, but there we have his father, Jehiel, and his father's brethren, five other sons of his grandfather, Elam, verse 26. It was therefore an evidence of his great courage, and good conscience, that he durst so freely discharge his duty, whereby he shewed, that he honoured God more than his nearest and dearest relations.
Hope — In case of our repentance, and reformation.
 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.
Such as are born — These children were only cast out of the common-wealth of Israel, but were not utterly forsaken; probably care was taken by authority, that they should have provision made for them.
 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away.
Went — That with the princes and elders, he might consult about the execution of their resolution.
Thither — 'Till he saw something done.
 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain.
Of Judah — Not only of these two tribes, as appears from the following catalogue, where there are priests and Levites; but all the Israelites, verse 25, who are thus described, because the greatest part of them were of these tribes, though others were mixed with them: and because they all now dwelt in that land, which formerly was appropriated to those tribes.
The street — In that street of the city, which was next the temple, and within the view of it, that so they might be as in God's presence, whereby they might be awed to a more faithful and vigorous prosecution of their work. And this place they might chuse rather than the court of the people, because they thought it might be polluted by the delinquents, who were all to come thither.
Great rain — Which they took for a token of God's displeasure against them.
 Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.
Our rulers — Let the great council, called the Sanhedrim, be settled, and meet to determine of all particular causes.
Judges — Who are best able to inform the great council of the quality of the persons, and all matters of fact and circumstances.
Until — Until the thing be done, and God's wrath thereby removed.
 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah were employed about this matter: and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them.
Employed — To take care that the business should be executed in the manner proposed, that the officers and delinquents of every city should come successively in convenient time and order, as these should appoint, to keep an exact account of the whole transaction, and of the names of the cities and persons whose causes were dispatched, to give notice to others to come in their turns, and to prepare the business for the hearing of the judges. These two were priests, as their helpers were Levites; that so they might inform the persons concerned, in any matter of doubt.
 And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain chief of the fathers, after the house of their fathers, and all of them by their names, were separated, and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.
Separated — Sequestered themselves from all other business, and gave themselves wholly to this.
 Moreover of Israel: of the sons of Parosh; Ramiah, and Jeziah, and Malchiah, and Miamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah.
Of Israel — Of the people of Israel, distinguished from the priests and Levites hitherto named.
 All these had taken strange wives: and some of them had wives by whom they had children.
Had children — This implies that most of their wives were barren. Which came to pass by God's special providence, to manifest his displeasure against such matches, and that the putting them away might not be encumbered with too many difficulties. One would think this grievance altogether removed. Yet we meet with it again, Nehemiah 13:22. Such corruptions are easily and insensibly brought in, tho' not easily purged out. The best reformers can but do their endeavour. It is only the Redeemer himself, who when he cometh to Sion, will effectually turn away ungodliness from Jacob.