“the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites….” This list in Ezra would have immediately reminded Ezra of God’s command in Deuteronomy 7:1-4, in which God commands that those nations that inhabited Canaan were to be driven out and that the Israelites were not to intermarry with them, and if they did intermarry then they would be turned away from the God of Israel. Five of the eight pagan nations listed here in Ezra 9:1 are in the list in Deuteronomy 7:1 (the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, and Jebusites), and Ezra adds two pagan nations to the list: the Moabites and Egyptians. Sadly, the Israelites who lived in Israel were living according to the ungodly pagan practices of those nations. No wonder Ezra was stunned and ashamed. Even the leaders and the priests and Levites had shown no concern for the Law of God, but openly disobeyed it. Ezra knew it was because of that kind of willful disobedience that Israel and Judah had been defeated by their enemies, causing incalculable amounts of physical and emotional pain, and he was concerned that the Israelites might now be wiped out completely (Ezra 9:14).
Upon hearing about the sin of the leaders and the people, Ezra’s response was to pray. He sets a good example for us today. Many people, including God’s people, openly thumb their nose at God’s commands today and live the way they want to as if God did not see or care. It is appropriate for God’s people to pray for His mercy to intervene and prevent disasters coming upon the earth, because flagrant sin opens doors for the Adversary to act against the earth and all who live on it.
The ancestry of the tribes listed can be traced in the Bible with the exception of the Perizzites. The Perizzites were a tribe of unknown origin in that by the time of Joshua lived in the hill country of Judah and Ephraim. See commentary on Joshua 9:1.