Verse 43 "The Nethimins." These are people who gathered wood for use in sacrifices in the temple.
When these people disappeared then the priests had to go and gather wood. The priests would appoint
people in the town to bring wood on a certain day.
Verse 14 Covenant of salt. There was damage being done to a part of the king's kingdom. Should read,
"We are salted with the salt of the palace," instead of "maintenance." We are employed by you—you
give us food, king. Because we have been salted, we shouldn't see your loss and must be loyal.
Dishonor—loss. Servants would sit and watch outskirts of king's property. If someone moved in on the
king, servant would go to tell the king so he wouldn't have loss. This is talking of the covenant of salt—
the servants took with their kings.
Salt was taken in their food, not by itself. (Mark 9:50—salt in yourselves— not stated but quoted.)
You are taught custom of salt from birth—if you broke the covenant, your conscience would be pricked
because you're taught this from birth. We must say what we mean. These people couldn't be bribed or
persuaded to go against the salt covenant.
Salt covenant. When the Jews went to build the temple (Rehum and Ezra were responsible for
building it), the people on the other side of the Jordan complained to their king. The fear was that the
Jews would not pay taxes when they finished building their temple. These leaders reported to the king, as
stewards of his property.
4:11-13, "maintenance from...palace" should be "we are salted with the salt of the palace." The salt
was used as the king's palace maintenance. People who worked for the king were paid by the king. They
must give him no damage. They had eaten his salt, so they were honest with him. Honesty is the result of
the salt covenant, regardless of circumstances. This covenant of salt is always honored by the people
engaged in it.
Background: Jerusalem was being rebuilt and those in charge in that city complained to the king and
wrote to him "because...." They were saying if this city is rebuilt they will stop paying the taxes to us.
Because we have maintenance from king's palace we write to you because we do not want to bring
dishonor to the king.
"Because...palace" should read "we are salted with the salt of the palace." They were eating food of
the king.
If you eat the salt of a person, you should never bring dishonor or disgrace to that person. Can't
witness against person whose salt you have eaten.
"We have maintenance from the king's palace." This means we are salted with the salt of the palace.
Every servant which is taken into service is given a covenant of salt. Salt stands for fidelity, loyalty.
Covenant of salt. II Chronicles 13:5. Abijah was talking to Jeroboam (kings of Judah and of Israel)
before the war actually began. Abijah says that the kingdom which Jeroboam came to fight was given by
God to his father, David, and his seed forever. Therefore, anything given by the covenant of salt can
never be broken or conquered. Once God has Himself made this covenant with the people, His promise is
absolutely unbreakable.
Covenant of salt. Servants of the King Artaxeres writing against the Jews, the enemies who went to
build at Jerusalem. The word "maintenance" means "salted, the salt of the palace." They were the salt of
the palace and certified of the king. Abijah was asserting the authority he had over the country. What is
the covenant of salt? Covenant of sacrifice: cut a calf in two halves. Put one on one side, one on
another, leaving a space. The people who make the covenant walk through the two pieces. (Jeremiah
34:18,19.) Once the vow is made (walking between the calves) it is never broken, generally speaking.
To affirm a promise, the custom was to touch the head, a man would say, "In the name of my head, I
will never break my promise." They also bring their only son and put their hand on it and say, "Look
here, I have borrowed $100 from you, on the authority of touching my son's head, I will never defraud
you, I will repay it" calling on the name of the temple, look to the temple and make a promise.
Covenant of salt. Maintenance. Maintenance: Every servant taken to serve the Easterner exchange
the covenant of salt with the master. The entire property is entrusted to the servants as well as all
responsibility. Therefore, "maintenance" means salted at the house where you work. The servants are
salted to look after king's palace, king's revenue, king's castle; if anybody goes there to hinder it, they are
responsible to let the king know. If they were not salted, they would say, "Let it go, I don't care as long as
I get my wage." Salt stands for loyalty, fidelity and care.
Verse 12 Many of the Oriental kings used to call themselves "king of kings," because there were so
many little kingdoms under them and they all had kings. For every little place they used to have a king in
those days; but not now.
Scribe. Even the kings of the East respect very highly the priests. The king writing to the priest has
a greeting first. Then the date is put: "at such a time." A scribe is a man who has a bottle of ink, a pad
and some papers in his hand. He stays on a street corner and writes letters for people who cannot read or
write, or he will read a letter from someone to a non-reader. Ezra was a scribe, not of the letters, but of
spiritual things.
Verse 22 Everything that was dedicated to the temple was prescribed like this. But where salt is
concerned, no prescribing is done. We are called the salt of the earth. There is no limitations to salt. It is
symbolic of the grace and power of God through us. In the temple, when the people bring salt, they don't
bring it by measurement because it is a sin to do so.
Salt. A "bath" is eight gallons. Everything here has a measure except salt. Salt is symbolic of grace;
also fidelity, loyalty and unbreakability. Grace has no measure. Everything else does.
Verse 21 Fasting. Ezra was going with his men to Jerusalem to help build the temple. He took much
gold and men with him. A spiritual man is a powerful man with enemies. "Woe unto you if all men
speak well unto you." For protection, he proclaimed a fast. The more protection a man gets, the worse he
is. God does not get the whole glory, and you don't get the peace only. We cannot sleep when we have
"police protection." With our peace inside, we must keep our eyes on him. Keep your eyes on him. We
have freedom from fear, freedom from want. We need spiritual freedom along with political freedom.
This spiritual freedom comes only when men are born-again.
Verses 21 and 22 They had come to a river where there was a lot of thieves and crooks. So before they
crossed the river, they wanted to trust the Lord. Symbolic of their trust in the Lord they made a fast.
Only the thieves know the highway. But the wise people always go through the winding way where it is
narrow. There is no food there, but there is safety. Here they wanted to find a right way, and also wait on
God for protection. But they trusted in God to lead them the right way. In India before you cross a river,
there are police stations there and you are bound to ask them for protection. Here instead of looking to
political authority, he looked to God and fasted himself.
Ashamed (renewed mind). Under Ezra they were going to build the walls of Jerusalem. They had
much gold and silver and many people with them to build the temple walls. There were enemies in the
way to Jerusalem. There were thieves waiting for them to ambush. "...That we might afflict ourselves"
means humble ourselves before God. Ezra had the king's permission to build the wall and restore the
temple. Ezra wanted some military aid against the thieves waiting. So Ezra, because the hand of God
was upon them, was ashamed to ask for military aid. They were to believe in God for protection against
the enemy. So they fasted to humble themselves.
We might have an enemy in life too. What we need is to be wide awake. God never leaves us, never
lets us down. He is ready to help us, provided we are ready to use the reins properly on the freedom of
our will. God expects us to use our will and drive the mind. Change the mind from negative to positive,
especially when the enemy is working on us. We have the Word, we have the power and ability. Let's
change our minds.
Verses 1-3 Rent garment and mantle, sat down, astonied, plucked the hair off my head. We-want to
love all of the other people, we just do not want to walk in their ways. We don't have to become alcoholic
in order to witness to one. Verse 2 shows an indication of where the caste system began. When one gets
married outside his belief in God's Word, his blood gets corrupted. The unbeliever draws his heart away
from his God. It happened to Solomon. It draws one away from the faith, from the heritage. First one
loses his culture and soon he loses his religion. "Plucked off" should be "shaved" off. Whenever it says
"rent my garment and my mantle." A hole is made in the cloth in the garment somewhere, and it is ripped
apart, as well as the mantle. When Ezra first heard this he reacted this way. Renting the mantle is an
outward sign of an inner anger or frustration. Renting the garment is a stronger emotion, indicating he
will lay his whole body open in shame and disgrace for the deeds of his people. Shaving off the beard is a
disgraceful act. To make a man a slave, the first thing he does is to go away. It is an insult. The men
must remain until it grows back. Ezra did this that the people might repent. He disgraced himself for the
people's transgression. As a leader, Ezra effects the lives of many.
Verse 3 When he rent his garment and mantle both, it meant the situation was absolutely hopeless.
Very seldom does this happen. When they pluck off the hairs that is still worse. "Plucked out" should be
"shaved off." "When a person dies, to express affection and absolute sorrow, they shave off their heads.
This is done only in the case of death of a member in the immediate family. The East does not believe in
intermarriage, not because of the color, but because of the culture. If they get some other blood, their
children will be wild and of a different culture. When you lose culture, you lose your religion. Culture
and religion are one for them. That is why God warned them not to marry any heathen. When Ezra heard
that even the princes were doing it, he expressed such sorrow that he rent his mantle and shaved his head
as though someone was dead. He was going to wait for God in that condition until he heard his prayer.
Mantle—rent his robe. Outward sign of inward anger. Garment should read robe—rent my robe and
mantle. Rent robe—stunned, bewildered, confounded, shocked him. Wear mantle around neck. Rent
mantle—grieved, sad. Plucked—shaved—shows man under heavy grief, a sign of mourning. Spiritual
application—be engrossed with God—be grieved when God is blasphemed— be concerned about this.
Hindu—brave man never hits back, but loves the man that hits him. Only worms kick back, not
human beings. (Example of Gandhi is great.) We're not loyal and faithful to God's teaching today because
we're not salted.
"Garment" should not be there. People do not rent their garment. They rent their mantles. Mantle—
is worn around the shoulders and neck and it hangs down to the knees. We call them stoles and they are
worn by church ministers.
Mantle is six feet long folded into four folds. All priests wear them in the East and Greek Orthodox
church and Anglican church.
"Mantle of authority." Rending the mantle is taking off the mantle and unfolding it, tearing it in half
and throwing it away. This is an outward sign of inward anger or sorrow.
The translation of Ezra 9:3 should read, "I rent my garment otherwise known as my mantle."
"Plucked off" means shaved off. They would shave off hair and beard to show grief over the death of
someone they love. Hair can be shaved off as a sign of consecrating your life to God.
See also: Nehemiah 5:13.
Verse 8 "Nail in a holy place" means "in a secure place." Each home has a place for the holy of holies
and many of the things they have there are hung on a nail—the incense, the bell that they ring, etc. So it
is symbolic of permanency. Where God dwells there is security. Refer to Isaiah 22:23.
Spear, pots repaired in the way. "Nail" is a spear, symbolic of the permanency of the Word of God
and of God's faithfulness. This originated in the East. Broken pots in the junk pile in the Eastern
backyard. These are pots which leak, at a potter's home. All the cracked pots are put in piles. Ones
which cannot be repaired are available for the public to take. The public puts the broken pots in their
garden, where junk is kept. They are hung to the wall, arranged on a spear; all of the junk can be put on
it. David says he's a broken vessel. It cannot hold water, is thrown in the backyard as junk. (Psalm
31:12). It is in the company of rags and dirt and filth. David felt he was a broken vessel. The broken
vessel is not to be just any place. This is why "a nail in a sure place"—a "constant and sure abode."
Some pots are slightly unnoticeably cracked. The potter sits down with his type of pot, breaks broken pot
open and uses the smaller pieces and powders them. Then he gets insects which sit on ox's backs, which
are large and full of blood. He mixes the powder and blood and he puts touch ups on the crack of the pot
(with a small brush). Then they put it in the kiln again and it is closed. Jesus Christ's blood can be taught
much better in the East because they believe in the repairing of pots. The pots are likened to human
beings. This is why they apply blood to the fixing of cracks. (Samaritan woman left the water pot at the
well. John 4:28.) The sacrifice of this woman is considered much greater than all of the money sacrifices
that a man could ever make. To suffer disgrace and reputation constantly is much greater sacrifice, as a
result of taking certain steps for God is most important. More than giving away all our money, wealth, in
the name of God. This is why pots are repaired in the way.
Spears have pots hanging in a dirty place—here, contrary to custom, the pots are hanging in God's
holy place (Jesus Christ). Only through him can one dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1.
God's Word is this spear, secure in its holy place, settled in heaven. We are fixed up, settled in the
heavens, eternal there, by our faith in Christ Jesus.
Verse 11 Separate from the strange wives, those who are not of the same spirit, the same way. The
Eastern law allows religious men to be separated from their wives under certain conditions: until the
woman becomes of the same opinion. If a person is wrong, talk to him. (Matthew 18:15-18) Gossip
would harden his heart.