Then asked we those elders, and said unto them, Who commanded you to build this house, and to complete these walls?
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And at the evening sacrifice I rose up from my self-abasement and, having torn my cloak and tunic, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God and said: 'Oh my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, my God'. Ezra had prepared himself both through compunction of heart and through bodily affliction so that he might be made worthy to hear heavenly mercy, and only then did he begin to break forth in words of prayer. He bends his knees, spreads out his hands, and pours forth prayers to the Lord at the time of the evening sacrifice, not doubting that this sacrifice which is offered with a humble spirit and contrite heart would be more pleasing to God than one offered with the flesh or blood of cattle. Typologically, however, in the fact that with his garment torn he falls on his knees, spreads out his hands to God and turns the minds of very many to repentance by pouring out prayers and tears, as is written in what follows, he represents the Lord Saviour, who deigned to pray for our sins both before and at the very time of his passion, and who allowed his hands to be stretched out on the cross and the garment of his own flesh to be torn with wounds and mortified at the appointed time on behalf of our restoration, so that, as the Apostle says: he who died on behalf of our sins might rise for our justification? This was aptly done at the time of evening sacrifice either because the Lord at the end of the age offered the sacrifice of his own flesh and blood to the Father and ordered that it should be offered by us in bread and wine; or because with legal sacrifice coming to an end, he freed us through his own passion and, separating us from the people of the lands, made us become heavenly and allowed those who are chaste in heart and body to adhere to him. This prayer too, in which, though he was righteous, he associated himself with the people who were sinners.