1. Exposition

Who were the elders?

Ezra 10:14 (ESV)

14 Let our officials stand for the whole assembly. Let all in our cities who have taken foreign wives come at appointed times, and with them the elders and judges of every city, until the fierce wrath of our God over this matter is turned away from us.”

Elders were older men of the community who had beards. They formed a governing council in every village (Leviticus 13:29; Deuteronomy 19:12; Numbers 22:4; 1 Samuel 30:26–31; 2 Samuel 10:5) and were responsible for the work of presiding over judicial/family matters.1 The elders at the gate of the town served as magistrates (Deuteronomy 19:12; Deuteronomy 21:3, Deuteronomy 21:19; Ruth 4:1–12).

The precise issues on which the elders had to decide is not specified. Most likely they had to discover the true lineage of the wives, judge if they were worshipping foreign gods and also arrange financial support for divorced wives and children.2