Biblical commentary the Old Testament/Volume V. Greater Prophets/Ezekiel 29-48
Against Egypt - Ezekiel 29-32 Edit
The announcement of the judgment upon Egypt is proclaimed in seven “words of God.” The first five are threats. The first (Ezekiel 29:1-16) contains a threat of the judgment upon Pharaoh and his people and land, expressed in grand and general traits. The second (Eze 29:17-21) gives a special prediction of the conquest and plundering of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar. The third (Ezekiel 30:1-19) depicts the day of judgment which will break upon Egypt and its allies. The fourth (Eze 30:20-26) foretells the annihilation of the might of Pharaoh by the king of Babylon; and the fifth (Ezekiel 31) holds up as a warning to the king and people of Egypt the glory and the overthrow of Assyria. The last two words of God in Ezekiel 32 contain lamentations over the destruction of Pharaoh and his might, viz., Ezekiel 32:1-16, a lamentation over the king of Egypt; and Ezekiel 32:17-32, a second lamentation over the destruction of his imperial power. - Ezekiel's prophecy concerning Egypt assumes this elaborate form, because he regards the power of Pharaoh and Egypt as the embodiment of that phase of the imperial power which imagines in its ungodly self-deification that it is able to uphold the kingdom of God, and thus seduces the people of God to rely with false confidence upon the imperial power of this world.
The Judgment upon Pharaoh and His People and Land Edit
Because Pharaoh looks upon himself as the creator of his kingdom and of his might, he is to be destroyed with his men of war (Eze 29:2-5). In order that Israel may no longer put its trust in the fragile power of Egypt, the sword shall cut off from Egypt both man and beast, the land shall be turned into a barren wilderness, and the people shall be scattered over the lands (Eze 29:5-12). But after the expiration of the time appointed for its punishment, both people and land shall be restored, though only to remain an insignificant kingdom (Eze 29:13-16). - According to Eze 29:1, this prophecy belongs to the tenth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin; and as we may see by comparing it with the other oracles against Egypt of which the dates are given, it was the first word of God uttered by Ezekiel concerning this imperial kingdom. The contents also harmonize with this, inasmuch as the threat which it contains merely announces in general terms the overthrow of the might of Egypt and its king, without naming the instrument employed to execute the judgment, and at the same time the future condition of Egypt is also disclosed.
Chap. 29 Edit
Verses 1-12 Edit
Destruction of the might of Pharaoh, and devastation of Egypt Edit
Eze 29:1. In the tenth year, in the tenth (month), on the twelfth of the month, the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Eze 29:2. Son of man, direct thy face against Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and prophesy against him and against all Egypt. Eze 29:3. Speak and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with thee, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, thou great dragon which lieth in its rivers, which saith, “Mine is the river, and I have made it for myself.” Eze 29:4. I will put a ring into thy jaws, and cause the fishes of thy rivers to hang upon thy scales, and draw thee out of thy rivers, and all the fishes of thy rivers which hang upon thy scales; Eze 29:5. And will cast thee into the desert, thee and all the fishes of thy rivers; upon the
surface of the field wilt thou fall, thou wilt not be lifted up nor gathered together; I give thee for food to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the heaven. Eze 29:6. And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall learn that I am Jehovah. Because it is a reed-staff to the house of Israel, - Eze 29:7. When they grasp thee by thy branches, thou crackest and tearest open all their shoulder; and when they lean upon thee, thou breakest and causest all their loins to shake, - Eze 29:8. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I bring upon thee the sword, and will cut off from thee man and beast; Eze 29:9. And the land of Egypt will become a waste and desolation, and they shall learn that I am Jehovah. Because he saith: “The river is mine, and I have made it,” Eze 29:10. Therefore, behold, I will deal with thee and thy rivers, and will make the land of Egypt into barren waste desolations from Migdol to Syene, even to the border of Cush. Eze 29:11. The foot of man will not pass through it, and the foot of beast will not pass through it, and it will not be inhabited for forty years. Eze 29:12. I make the land of Egypt a waste in the midst of devastated lands, and its cities shall be waste among desolate cities forty years; and I scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them in the lands. - The date given, viz., “in the tenth year,” is defended even by Hitzig as more correct than the reading of the lxx, ἐν τῷ ἔτει τῷ δωδεκάτω; and he supposes the Alexandrian reading to have originated in the fact that the last date mentioned in Eze 26:1 had already brought down the account to the eleventh year. - Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, against whom the threat is first directed, is called “the great dragon” in Eze 29:3. תּנּים (here and Eze 32:2) is equivalent to תּנּין, literally, the lengthened animal, the snake; here, the water-snake, the crocodile, the standing symbol of Egypt in the prophets (cf. Isa 51:9; Isa 27:1; Psa 74:13), which is here transferred to Pharaoh, as the ruler of Egypt and representative of its power. By יארים we are to understand the arms and canals of the Nile (vid., Isa 7:18). The predicate, “lying in the midst of his rivers,” points at once
to the proud security in his own power to which Pharaoh gave himself up. As the crocodile lies quietly in the waters of the Nile, as though he were lord of the river; so did Pharaoh regard himself as the omnipotent lord of Egypt. His words affirm this: “the river is mine, I have made it for myself.” The suffix attached to עשׂיתני stands in the place of לי, as Eze 29:9, where the suffix is wanting, clearly shows. There is an incorrectness in this use of the suffix, which evidently passed into the language of literature from the popular phraseology (cf. Ewald, §315b). The rendering of the Vulgate, ego feci memetipsum, is false. יארי is the expression used by him as a king who regards the land and its rivers as his own property; in connection with which we must bear in mind that Egypt is indebted to the Nile not only for its greatness, but for its actual existence. In this respect Pharaoh says emphatically לי, it is mine, it belongs to me, because he regards himself as the creator. The words, “I have made it for myself,” simply explain the reason for the expression לי, and affirm more than “I have put myself in possession of this through my own power, or have acquired its blessings for myself” (Hävernick); or, “I have put it into its present condition by constructing canals, dams, sluices, and buildings by the river-side” (Hitzig). Pharaoh calls himself the creator of the Nile, because he regards himself as the creator of the greatness of Egypt. This pride, in which he forgets God and attributes divine power to himself, is the cause of his sin, for which he will be overthrown by God. God will draw the crocodile Pharaoh out of his Nile with hooks, and cast him upon the dry land, where he and the fishes that have been drawn out along with him upon his scales will not be gathered up, but devoured by the wild beasts and birds of prey. The figure is derived from the manner in which even in ancient times the crocodile was caught with large hooks of a peculiar construction (compare Herod. ii. 70, and the testimonies of travellers in Oedmann's Vermischten Sammlungen, III pp. 6ff., and Jomard in the Déscription de l'Egypte, I p. 27). The
form חחיים with a double Yod is a copyist's error, probably occasioned by the double Yod occurring after ח in בּלחייך, which follows. A dual form for חחים is unsuitable, and is not used anywhere else even by Ezekiel (cf. Eze 19:4, Eze 19:9, and more especially Eze 38:4).
The fishes which hang upon the scales of the monster, and are drawn along with it out of the Nile, are the inhabitants of Egypt, for the Nile represents the land. The casting of the beast into the wilderness, where it putrefies and is devoured by the beasts and birds of prey, must not be interpreted in the insipid manner proposed by Hitzig, namely, that Pharaoh would advance with his army into the desert of Arabia and be defeated there. The wilderness is the dry and barren land, in which animals that inhabit the water must perish; and the thought is simply that the monster will be cast upon the desert land, where it will finally become the food of the beasts of prey.
In Eze 29:6 the construction is a subject of dispute, inasmuch as many of the commentators follow the Hebrew division of the verse, taking the second hemistich 'יען היותם וגו as dependent upon the first half of the verse, for which it assigns the reason, and then interpreting Eze 29:7 as a further development of Eze 29:6, and commencing a new period with Eze 29:8 (Hitzig, Kliefoth, and others). But it is decidedly wrong to connect together the two halves of the sixth verse, if only for the simple reason that the formula וידעוּ כּי אני יהוה, which occurs so frequently elsewhere in Ezekiel, invariably closes a train of thought, and is never followed by the addition of a further reason. Moreover, a sentence commencing with יען is just as invariably followed by an apodosis introduced by לכן, of which we have an example just below in Eze 29:9 and Eze 29:10. For both these reasons it is absolutely necessary that we should regard 'יען ה as the beginning of a protasis, the apodosis to which commences with לכן in Eze 29:8. The correctness of this construction is established beyond all doubt by the fact that from Eze 29:6 onwards it is no longer Pharaoh who is spoken of, as in Eze 29:3-5, but Egypt; so that יען introduces
a new train of thought. But Eze 29:7 is clearly shown, both by the contents and the form, to be an explanatory intermediate clause inserted as a parenthesis. And inasmuch as the protasis is removed in consequence to some distance from its apodosis, Ezekiel has introduced the formula “thus saith the Lord Jehovah” at the commencement of the apodosis, for the purpose of giving additional emphasis to the announcement of the punishment. Eze 29:7 cannot in any case be regarded as the protasis, the apodosis to which commences with the לכן in Eze 29:8, and Hävernick maintains. The suffix attached to היותם, to which Hitzig takes exception, because he has misunderstood the construction, and which he would conjecture away, refers to מצרים as a land or kingdom. Because the kingdom of Egypt was a reed-staff to the house of Israel (a figure drawn from the physical character of the banks of the Nile, with its thick growth of tall, thick rushes, and recalling to mind Isa 36:6), the Lord would bring the sword upon it and cut off from it both man and beast. But before this apodosis the figure of the reed-staff is more clearly defined: “when they (the Israelites) take thee by thy branches, thou breakest,” etc. This explanation is not to be taken as referring to any particular facts either of the past or future, but indicates the deceptive nature of Egypt as the standing characteristic of that kingdom. At the same time, to give greater vivacity to the description, the words concerning Egypt are changed into a direct address to the Egyptians, i.e., not to Pharaoh, but to the Egyptian people regarded as a single individual. The expression בכפך causes some difficulty, since the ordinary meaning of כּף (hand) is apparently unsuitable, inasmuch as the verb תּרוץ, from רצץ, to break or crack (not to break in pieces, i.e., to break quite through), clearly shows that the figure if the reed is still continued. The Keri בּכּף is a bad emendation, based upon the rendering “to grasp with the hand,” which is grammatically inadmissible. תּפשׂ with ב does not mean to grasp with something, but to seize upon something, to take hold of a person
(Isa 3:6; Deu 9:17), so that בכפך can only be an explanatory apposition to בּך. The meaning grip, or grasp of the hand, is also unsuitable and cannot be sustained, as the plural כּפּות alone is used in this sense in Sol 5:5. The only meaning appropriate to the figure is that of branches, which is sustained, so far as the language is concerned, by the use of the plural כּפּות for palm-branches in Lev 23:40, and of the singular כּפּה for the collection of branches in Job 15:32, and Isa 9:13; Isa 19:15; and this is apparently in perfect harmony with natural facts, since the tall reed of the Nile, more especially the papyrus, is furnished with hollow, sword-shaped leaves at the lower part of the talk. When it cracks, the reed-staff pierces the shoulder of the man who has grasped it, and tears it; and if a man lean upon it, it breaks in pieces and causes all the loins to tremble. העמיד cannot mean to cause to stand, or to set upright, still less render stiff and rigid. The latter meaning cannot be established from the usage of the language, and would be unsuitable here. For if a stick on which a man leans should break and penetrate his loins, it would inflict such injury upon them as to cause him to fall, and not to remain stiff and rigid. העמד cannot have any other meaning than that of המעד, to cause to tremble or relax, as in Psa 69:24, to shake the firmness of the loins, so that the power to stand is impaired.
In the apodosis the thought of the land gives place to that of the people; hence the use of the feminine suffixes עליך and ממּך in the place of the masculine suffixes בּך and עליך in Eze 29:7. Man and beast shall be cut off, and the land made into a desert waste by the sword, i.e., by war. This is carried out still further in Eze 29:9-12; and once again in the protasis 9b (cf. Eze 29:3) the inordinate pride of the king is placed in the foreground as the reason for the devastation of his land and kingdom. The Lord will make of Egypt the most desolate wilderness. חרבות is intensified into a superlative by the double genitive חרב שׁממה, desolation of the wilderness. Throughout its whole extent from Migdol, i.e.,
Magdolo, according to the Itiner. Anton. p. 171 (ed. Wessel), twelve Roman miles from Pelusium; in the Coptic Meshtol, Egyptian Màktr (Brugsch, Geogr. Inschr. I pp. 261f.), the most northerly place in Egypt. סונה, to Syene (for the construction see Eze 30:6 and Eze 21:3), Συήνη, Sun in the inscriptions, according to Brugsch (Geogr. Inschr. I. p. 155), probably the profane designation of the place (Coptic Souan), the most southerly border town of Egypt in the direction of Cush, i.e., Ethiopia, on the eastern bank of the Nile, some ruins of which are still to be seen in the modern Assvan (Assuan, Arab. aswa=n), which is situated to the north-east of them (vid., Brugsch, Reiseber. aus. Aegypten, p. 247, and Leyrer in Herzog's Encyclopaedia). The additional clause, “and to the border of Cush,” does not give a fresh terminal point, still further advanced, but simply defines with still greater clearness the boundary toward the south, viz., to Syene, where Egypt terminates and Ethiopia beings. In Eze 29:11 the desolation is more fully depicted. לא תשׁב, it will not dwell, poetical for “be inhabited,” as in Joel 4 (3):20, Isa 13:20, etc. This devastation shall last for forty years, and so long shall the people of Egypt be scattered among the nations. But after the expiration of that time they shall be gathered together again (Eze 29:13). The number forty is neither a round number (Hitzig) nor a very long time (Ewald), but is a symbolical term denoting a period appointed by God for punishment and penitence (see the comm. on Eze 4:6), which is not to be understood in a chronological sense, or capable of being calculated.
Verses 13-16 Edit
Restoration of Egypt
Eze 29:13. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians out of the nations, whither they were scattered. Eze 29:14. And I will turn the captivity of Egypt, and will bring them back into the land of Pathros, into the land of their origin, and they shall be a lowly kingdom there. Eze 29:15. Lowlier than the kingdoms shall it be, and exalt itself no more over the nations; and I will make
them small, so that they shall rule no more over the nations. Eze 29:16. And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, bringing iniquity to remembrance when they incline towards it; and they shall learn that I am the Lord Jehovah. - The turning of the period of Egypt's punishment is connected by כּי, which refers to the time indicated, viz., “forty years.” For forty years shall Egypt be utterly laid waste; for after the expiration of that period the Lord will gather the Egyptians again from their dispersion among the nations, turn their captivity, i.e., put an end to their suffering (see the comm. on Eze 16:53), and lead them back into the land of their birth, i.e., of their origin (for מכוּרה, see Eze 16:3), namely, to Pathros. פתרוס, the Egyptian Petorēs (Παθούρης, lxx Jer 44:1), or south land, i.e., Upper Egypt, the Thebais of the Greeks and Romans. The designation of Upper Egypt as the mother country of the Egyptians, or the land of their nativity, is confirmed not only by the accounts given by Herodotus (ii. 4 and 15) and Diodorus Sic. (i. 50), but also by the Egyptian mythology, according to which the first king who reigned after the gods, viz., Menes or Mena, sprang from the city of Thinis (Thynis), Egypt. Tenj, in the neighbourhood of Abydos in Upper Egypt, and founded the city of Memphis in Lower Egypt, which became so celebrated in later times (vid., Brugsch, Histoire d'Egypte, I p. 16). But Egypt shall not attain to its former power any more. It will be and continue a lowly kingdom, that it may not again become a ground of confidence to Israel, a power upon which Israel can rely, so as to fall into guilt and punishment. The subject to ולא יהיה is Egypt as a nation, notwithstanding the fact that it has previously been construed in the feminine as a land or kingdom, and in אחריהם the Egyptians are spoken of in the plural number. For it is out of the question to take מזכּיר עון as the subject to לא יהיה in the sense of “no more shall one who calls guilt to remembrance inspire the house of Israel with confidence,” as Kliefoth proposes, not only because of the arrangement of the words, but because the more precise definition of מזכּיר עון as 'בּפנותם אח
clearly shows that Egypt is the subject of the sentence; whereas, in order to connect this definition in any way, Kliefoth is compelled to resort to the interpolation of the words, “which it committed.” מזכּיר עון is in apposition to מבטח; making Egypt the ground of confidence, brings into remembrance before God the guilt of Israel, which consists in the fact that the Israelites turn to the Egyptians and seek salvation from them, so that He is obliged to punish them (vid., Eze 21:28-29). - The truth of the prediction in Eze 29:13-16 has been confirmed by history, inasmuch as Egypt never recovered its former power after the Chaldean period. - Moreover, if we compare the Messianic promise for Egypt in Isa 19:18-25 with the prediction in Eze 29:13-15, we are struck at once with the peculiarity of Ezekiel, already referred to in the introductory remarks on Ezekiel 25-32, namely, that he leaves entirely out of sight the Messianic future of the heathen nations.
Verses 17-21 Edit
Conquest and Plundering of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar
Eze 29:17. In the seven and twentieth year, in the first (moon), on the first of the moon, the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Eze 29:18. Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, has made his army perform hard work at Tyre: every head is bald, and every shoulder grazed, and no wages have been given to him and to his army from Tyre for the work which he performed against it. Eze 29:19. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I give Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, the land of Egypt, that he may carry away its possessions, and plunder its plunder, and make booty of its booty, and this may be the wages of his army. Eze 29:20. As the pay for which he worked, I give him the land of Egypt, because they did it for me, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Eze 29:21. In that day will I cause a horn to sprout to the house of Israel, and I will open the mouth for thee in the midst of them; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. -
This brief prophecy concerning Egypt was uttered about seventeen years after the preceding word of God, and was the latest of all the predictions of Ezekiel that are supplied with dates. But notwithstanding its brevity, it is not to be taken in connection with the utterance which follows in Ezekiel 30:1-19 so as to form one prophecy, as Hitzig supposes. This is at variance not only with the formula in Eze 30:1, which is the usual introduction to a new word of God, but also with Eze 29:21 of the present chapter, which is obviously intended to bring the previous word of God to a close. This termination, which is analogous to the closing words of the prophecies against Tyre and Sidon in Eze 28:25-26, also shows that the present word of God contains the last of Ezekiel's prophecies against the Egyptian world-power, and that the only reason why the prophet did not place it at the end when collecting his prophecies - that is to say, after Ezekiel 32 - was, that the promise in v. 30, that the Lord would cause a horn to bud to the house of Israel, contained the correlate to the declaration that Egypt was henceforth to be but a lowly kingdom. Moreover, this threat of judgment, which is as brief as it is definite, was well fitted to prepare the way and to serve as an introduction for the more elaborate threats which follow. The contents of the prophecy, namely, the assurance that God would give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar as spoil in return for the hard labour which he and his army had performed at Tyre, point to the time immediately following the termination of the thirteen years' siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar. If we compare with this the date given in Eze 29:17, the siege was brought to a close in the twenty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin, i.e., b.c. 572, and must therefore have commenced in the year b.c. 586, or about two years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and with this the extract given by Josephus (c. Ap. i. 21) from the Tyrian annals agrees. העביד עבדה, to cause a work to be
executed, or service to be rendered. This labour was so severe, that every head was bald and every shoulder grazed. These words have been correctly interpreted by the commentators, even by Ewald, as referring to the heavy burdens that had to be carried in order to fill up the strait which separated Insular Tyre from the mainland. They confirm what we have said above, in the remarks on Eze 26:10 and elsewhere, concerning the capture of Tyre.
But neither he nor his army had received any recompense for their severe toil. This does not imply that Nebuchadnezzar had been unable to accomplish the work which he had undertaken, i.e., to execute his design and conquer the city, but simply that he had not received the recompense which he expected after this severe labour; in other words, had not found the booty he hoped for when the city was taken (see the introductory remarks on Ezekiel 26-28). To compensate him for this, the Lord will give him the land of Egypt with its possessions as booty, ונשׂא המנהּ, that he may carry off the abundance of its possessions, its wealth; not that he may lead away the multitude of its people (De Wette, Kliefoth, etc.), for “נשׂא is not the appropriate expression for this” (Hitzig). המון, abundance of possessions, as in Isa 60:5; Psa 37:16, etc. פּעלּה, the doing of a thing; then that which is gained by working, the recompense for labour, as in Lev 19:13 and other passages. אשׁר עשׂוּ is taken by Hitzig as referring to the Egyptians, and rendered, “in consequence of that which they have done to me.” But although אשׁר may be taken in this sense (vid., Isa 65:18), the arguments employed by Hitzig in
opposition to the ordinary rendering - ”for they (Nebuchadnezzar and his army) have done it for me,” i.e., have performed their hard work at Tyre for me and by my commission - have no force whatever. This use of עשׂה is thoroughly established by Gen 30:30; and the objection which he raises, namely, that “the assertion that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre in the service of Jehovah could only have been properly made by Ezekiel in the event of the city having been really conquered,” is out of place, for this simple reason, that the assumption that the city was not taken is a mere conjecture; and even if the conjecture could be sustained, the siege itself might still be a work undertaken in the service of Jehovah. And the principal argument, namely, “that we should necessarily expect עשׂה (instead of עשׂוּ), inasmuch as with עשׂוּ every Hebrew reader would inevitably take אשׁר as referring to מצרים,” is altogether wide of the mark; for מצרים does not signify the Egyptians in this passage, but the land of Egypt alone is spoken of both in the verse before us and throughout the oracle, and for this עשׂוּ is quite unsuitable, whereas the context suggests in the most natural way the allusion to Nebuchadnezzar and his army. But what is absolutely decisive is the circumstance that the thought itself, “in consequence of what the Egyptians have done to me,” i.e., what evil they have done, is foreign to, if not at variance with, all the prophecies of Ezekiel concerning Egypt. For the guilt of Egypt and its Pharaoh mentioned by Ezekiel is not any crime against Jehovah, but simply Pharaoh's deification of himself, and the treacherous nature of the help which Egypt afforded to Israel. ליהוה = עשׂה לי is not the appropriate expression for this, in support of which assertion we might point to עשׂוּ לי in Eze 23:38. - Eze 29:21. On that day, namely, when the judgment upon Egypt is executed by Nebuchadnezzar, the Lord will cause a horn to sprout or grow to the house (people) of Israel. The horn is a symbol of might and strength, by which the attacks of foreigners are warded off. By the overthrow of Judah the horn of Israel was cut off (Lam 2:3;
compare also Jer 48:25). In עצמיח קרן the promise coincides, so far as the words are concerned, with Psa 132:17; but it also points back to the prophetic words of the godly Hannah in 1Sa 2:1, “My horn is exalted in Jehovah, my mouth hath opened itself wide over my enemies,” and is Messianic in the broader sense of the word. The horn which the Lord will cause to sprout to the people of Israel is neither Zerubbabel nor the Messiah, but the Messianic salvation. The reason for connecting this promise of salvation for Israel with the overthrow of the power of Egypt, as Hävernick has observed, is that “Egypt presented itself to the prophet as the power in which the idea of heathenism was embodied and circumscribed.” In the might of Egypt the world-power is shattered, and the overthrow of the world-power is the dawn of the unfolding of the might of the kingdom of God. Then also will the Lord give to His prophet an opening of the mouth in the midst of Israel. These words are unquestionably connected with the promise of God in Eze 24:26-27, that after the fall of Jerusalem the mouth of Ezekiel should be opened, and also with the fulfilment of that promise in Eze 33:22; but they have a much more comprehensive meaning, namely, that with the dawn of salvation in Israel, i.e., in the church of the Lord, the word of prophecy would sound forth in the richest measure, inasmuch as, according to Joel (Eze 2:1-10), a universal outpouring of the Spirit of God would then take place. In this light Theodoret is correct in his remark, that “through Ezekiel He signified the whole band of prophets.” But Kliefoth has quite mistaken the meaning of the words when he discovers in them the thought that “God would then give the prophet a new word of God concerning both Egypt and Israel, and that this is contained in the oracle in Ezekiel 30:1-19.” Such a view as this is proved at once to be false, apart from other grounds, by the expression בּתוכם (in the midst of them), which cannot be taken as applying to Egypt and Israel, but can only refer to בּית ישׂראל, the house of Israel.
Chap. 30 Edit
Verses 1-5 Edit
The Day of Judgment upon Egypt - Ezekiel 30:1-19 Edit
Commencing with a call to lamentation, the prophet announces that the Lord's day of judgment upon the nations is near at hand, and will burst upon Egypt, and the nations in alliance with it (Eze 30:2-5). He then depicts in three strophes, with the introductory words 'כּה אמר , the execution for this judgment, namely: (a) the destruction of the might of Egypt and the devastation of the land (Eze 30:6-9); (b) the enemy by whom the judgment will be accomplished (Eze 30:10-12); and (c) the extermination of the idols of Egypt, the conquest and demolition of its fortresses, the slaughter of its male population, and the captivity of the daughters of the land (Eze 30:13-19).
The heading does not contain any chronological information; and the contents furnish no definite criteria for determining with precision the date of the prophecy. Jerome assigns this oracle to the same period as the prophecy in Ezekiel 29:1-16, whilst others connect it more closely with Eze 29:17-21, and regard it as the latest of all Ezekiel's prophecies. The latter is the conclusion adopted by Rosenmüller, Hävernick, Hitzig, Kliefoth, and some others. The principal argument adduced for linking it on to Eze 29:17. is, that in Eze 30:3 the day of judgment upon Egypt is threatened as near at hand, and this did not apply to the tenth year (Eze 29:1), though it was perfectly applicable to the twenty-seventh (Eze 29:17), when the siege of Tyre was ended, and Nebuchadnezzar was on the point of attacking Egypt. But the expression, “the day of the Lord is near at hand,” is so relative a chronological phrase, that nothing definite can be gathered from it as to the date at which an oracle was composed. Nor does the fact that our prophecy stands after the prophecy in Eze 29:17-21, which is furnished with a date, prove anything; for the other prophecies which follow, and are furnished with dates, all belong to a much earlier period. It is very evident from this that Eze 29:17-21 is inserted without regard to chronological
sequence, and consequently Ezekiel 30:1-19 may just as well belong to the period between the tenth month of the tenth year (Eze 29:1) and the first month of the eleventh year (Eze 30:20), as to the twenty-seventh year (Eze 29:17), since all the reasons assigned for the closer connection of our prophecy with the one immediately preceding (Eze 29:17-21), which is supposed to indicate similarity of date, are invalid; whilst, on the other hand, the resemblance of Eze 30:6 and Eze 30:17 to Eze 29:10 and Eze 29:12 is not sufficient to warrant the assumption of a contemporaneous origin.
Announcement of the judgment upon Egypt and its allies. - Eze 30:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Eze 30:2. Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Howl ye! Woe to the day! Eze 30:3. For the day is near, the day of Jehovah near, a day of cloud, the time of the heathen will it be. Eze 30:4. And the sword will come upon Egypt, and there will be pangs in Ethiopia, when the slain fall in Egypt, and they take her possessions, and her foundations are destroyed. Eze 30:5. Ethiopians and Libyans and Lydians, and all the rabble, and Chub, and the sons of the covenant land, will fall by the sword with them. - In the announcement of the judgment in Eze 30:2 and Eze 30:3, Ezekiel rests upon Joe 1:13, Joe 1:15, and Joe 2:2, where the designation already applied to the judgment upon the heathen world by Obadiah, viz., “the day of Jehovah” (Oba 1:15), is followed by such a picture of the nearness and terrible nature of that day, that even Isaiah (Isa 13:6, Isa 13:9) and Zephaniah (Zep 1:7, Zep 1:14) appropriate the words of Joel. Ezekiel also does the same, with this exception, that he uses ההּ instead of אההּ, and adds to the force of the expression by the repetition of קרוב יום. In Eze 30:3, the words from יום ענן to יהיה are not to be taken together as forming one sentence, “a day of cloud will the time of the nations be” (De Wette), because the idea of a “time of the nations” has not been mentioned before, so as to prepare the way for a description of its real nature here. יום ענן and עת גּוים contain two co-ordinate
affirmations concerning the day of Jehovah. It will be a day of cloud, i.e., of great calamity (as in Joe 2:2), and a time of the heathen, i.e., when heathen (גּוים without the article) are judged, when their might is to be shattered (cf. Isa 13:22). This day is coming upon Egypt, which is to succumb to the sword. Ethiopia will be so terrified at this, that it will writhe convulsively with anguish (חלחלה, as in Nah 2:11 and Isa 21:3). לקח המנהּ signifies the plundering and removal of the possessions of the land, like נשׂא המנהּ in Eze 29:19. The subject to לקחוּ is indefinite, “they,” i.e., the enemy. The foundations of Egypt, which are to be destroyed, are not the foundations of its buildings, but may be understood in a figurative sense as relating to persons, after the analogy of Isa 19:10; but the notion that Cush, Phut, etc. (Eze 30:9), i.e., the mercenary troops obtained from those places, which are called the props of Egypt in Eze 30:6, are intended, as Hitzig assumes, is not only extremely improbable, but decidedly erroneous. The announcement in Eze 30:6, that Cush, Phut, etc., are to fall by the sword along with the Egyptians (אתּם), is sufficient of itself to show that these tribes, even if they were auxiliaries or mercenaries of Egypt, did not constitute the foundations of the Egyptian state and kingdom; but that, on the contrary, Egypt possessed a military force composed of native troops, which was simply strengthened by auxiliaries and allies. We there interpret יסדותיה, after the analogy of Psa 11:3 and Psa 82:5, as referring to the real foundations of the state, the regulations and institutions on which the stability and prosperity of the kingdom rest.
The neighbouring, friendly, and allied peoples will also be smitten by the judgment together with the Egyptians. Cush, i.e., the Ethiopians, Phut and Lud, i.e., the Libyans and African Lydians (see the comm. on Eze 27:10), are mentioned here primarily as auxiliaries of Egypt, because, according to Jer 46:9, they served in Necho's army. By כּל־הערב, the whole of the mixed crowd (see the comm. on 1Ki 10:15 - πάντες οἱ ἐπίμικτοι, lxx),
we are then to understand the mercenary soldiers in the Egyptian army, which were obtained from different nations (chiefly Greeks, Ionians, and Carians, οἱ επίκουροι, as they are called by Herodotus, iii. 4, etc.). In addition to these, כּוּב ,eseht (ἁπ λεγ.) is also mentioned. Hävernick connects this name with the people of Kufa, so frequently met with on the Egyptian monuments. But, according to Wilkinson (Manners, etc., I 1, pp. 361ff.), they inhabited a portion of Asia farther north even than Palestine; and he ranks them (p. 379) among the enemies of Egypt. Hitzig therefore imagines that Kufa is probably to be found in Kohistan, a district of Media, from which, however, the Egyptians can hardly have obtained mercenary troops. And so long as nothing certain can be gathered from the advancing Egyptological researches with regard to the name Cub, the conjecture that כּוּב is a mis-spelling for לוּב is not to be absolutely set aside, the more especially as this conjecture is naturally suggested by the לוּבים of Nah 3:9 and 2Ch 16:8, and the form לוּב by the side of לוּבים is analogous to לוּד by the side of לוּדים in Jer 46:9, whilst the Liby-Aegyptii of the ancients, who are to be understood by the term לוּבים (see the comm. on Gen 10:13), would be quite in keeping here. On the other hand, the conjecture offered by Gesenius (Thes. p. 664), viz., נוּב, Nubia, has but a very weak support in the Arabic translator; and the supposition that לוּב may have been the earlier Hebrew form for Nubia (Hitzig), is destitute of any solid foundation. Maurer suggests Cob, a city (municipium) of Mauretania, in the Itiner. Anton. p. 17, ed. Wessel. - The following expression, “sons of the covenant land,” is also obscure. Hitzig has correctly observed, that it cannot be synonymous with בּעלי , their allies. But we certainly cannot admit that the covenant land (made definite by the article) is Canaan, the Holy Land (Hitzig and Kliefoth); although Jerome writes without reserve, de filiis terrae foederis, i.e., de populo Judaeorum; and the lxx in their translation, καὶ τῶν υιῶν τῆς διαθήκης μου, undoubtedly thought of the
Jews, who fled to Egypt, according to Theodoret's exposition, along with Jeremiah after the destruction of Jerusalem and the murder of the governor Gedaliah, for fear of the vengeance of the Chaldeans (Jer 42-43, and 44). For the application of the expression “land of the covenant” to the Holy Land is never met with either in the Old or New Testament, and cannot be inferred, as Hitzig supposes, from Psa 74:20 and Dan 11:28, or supported in any way from either the epithet “the land of promise” in Heb 11:9, or from Act 3:25, where Peter calls the Jews “the children of the prophets and of the covenant.” We therefore agree with Schmieder in regarding ארץ as signifying a definite region, though one unknown to us, in the vicinity of Egypt, which was inhabited by a tribe that was independent of the Egyptians, yet bound to render help in time of war.
Verses 6-9 Edit
All the supports and helpers of Egypt will fall, and the whole land with its cities will be laid waste. - Eze 30:6. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Those who support Egypt will fall, and its proud might will sink; from Migdol to Syene will they fall by the sword therein, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Eze 30:7. And they will lie waste in the midst of waste lands, and its cities be in the midst of desolate cities. Eze 30:8. They shall learn that I am Jehovah, when I bring fire into Egypt, and all its helpers are shattered. Eze 30:9. In that day will messengers go forth from me in ships to terrify the confident Ethiopia, and there will be writing among them as in the day of Egypt; for, behold, it cometh. - ”Those who support Egypt” are not the auxiliary tribes and allies, for they are included in the term עזריה in Eze 30:8, but the idols and princes (Eze 30:13), the fortified cities (Eze 30:15), and the warriors (Eze 30:17), who formed the foundation of the might of the kingdom. גּאון , “the pride of its might,” which is an expression applied in Eze 24:21 to the temple at Jerusalem, is to be taken here in a general sense, and understood not merely of the temples and idols of Egypt, but as the sum total of all the things on which the Egyptians
rested the might of their kingdom, and on the ground of which they regarded it as indestructible. For 'ממּגדּל וגו, see the comm. on Eze 29:10. The subject to יפּלוּ בהּ is the 'סמכי מצר. Eze 30:7 is almost a literal repetition of Eze 29:12; and the subject to נשׁמּוּ is מצרים regarded as a country, though the number and gender of the verb have both been regulated by the form of the noun. The fire which God will bring into Egypt (Eze 30:8) is the fire of war. Eze 30:9. The tidings of this judgment of God will be carried by messengers to Ethiopia, and there awaken the most terrible dread of a similar fate. In the first hemistich, the prophet has Isa 18:2 floating before his mind. The messengers, who carry the tidings thither, are not the warlike forces of Chaldea, who are sent thither by God; for they would not be content with performing the service of messengers alone. We have rather to think of Egyptians, who flee by ship to Ethiopia. The messengers go, מלפני, from before Jehovah, who is regarded as being present in Egypt, while executing judgment there (cf. Isa 19:1). צים, as in Num 24:24 = ציּים (Dan 11:30), ships, trieres, according to the Rabbins, in Hieron. Symm. on Isa 33:21, and the Targum on Num. (cf. Ges. Thes. p. 1156). בּטח is attached to כּוּשׁ, Cush secure or confident, equivalent to the confident Cush (Ewald, §287c). 'והיתה חלח, repeated from Eze 30:4. בּהם, among the Ethiopians. 'כּיום מצר, as in the day of Egypt, i.e., not the present day of Egypt's punishment, for the Ethiopians have only just heard of this from the messengers; but the ancient, well-known day of judgment upon Egypt (Exo 15:12.). Ewald and Hitzig follow the lxx in taking כּיום for בּיום; but this is both incorrect and unsuitable, and reduces 'בּיום מצר into a tame repetition of בּיּום החוּא. The subject to הנּה באה is to be taken from the context, viz., that which is predicted in the preceding verses (Eze 30:6-8).
Verses 10-12 Edit
He and his people with him, violent of the nations, will be brought to destroy the land; they will draw their swords against Egypt, and fill the land with slain. Eze 30:12. And I will make the rivers dry, and sell the land into the hand of wicked men, and lay waste the land and its fulness by the hand of foreigners; I Jehovah have spoken it. - המון cannot be understood as signifying either the multitude of people only, or the abundance of possessions alone; for השׁבּית is not really applicable to either of these meanings. They are evidently both included in the המון, which signifies the tumult of the people in the possession and enjoyment of their property (cf. Eze 26:13). The expression is thus specifically explained in Eze 30:11 and Eze 30:12. Nebuchadnezzar will destroy the land with his men of war, slaying the people with its possessions. עריצי, as in Eze 28:7. מוּבאים, as in Eze 23:42. 'הריק וגו, cf. Eze 12:14, Eze 12:28; 7. חלל...מלאוּ, as in Eze 11:6. יארים, the arms and canals of the Nile, by which the land was watered, and on which the fertility and prosperity of Egypt depended. The drying up of the arms of the Nile must not be restricted, therefore, to the fact that God would clear away the hindrances to the entrance of the Chaldeans into the land, but embraces also the removal of the natural resources on which the country depended. מכר, to sell a land or people into the hand of any one, i.e., to deliver it into his power (cf. Deu 32:30; Jdg 2:14, etc.). For the fact itself, see Isa 19:4-6. For 'השׁמּתי וגו, see Eze 19:7.
Verses 13-19 Edit
Further Description of the Judgment
Eze 30:13. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I will exterminate the idols and cut off the deities from Noph, and there shall be no more a prince from the land of Egypt; and I put terror upon the land of Egypt. Eze 30:14. And I lay Pathros waste, and bring fire into Zoan, and execute judgments upon No; Eze 30:15. And I pour out my fury upon Sin, the stronghold of Egypt, and cut off the multitude of No; Eze 30:16. And I put fire in Egypt; Sin will writhe in pain, and No will be broken open, and Noph - enemies by day. Eze 30:17. The men of On and Bubastus will fall by the sword,
and they themselves will go into captivity. Eze 30:18. At Tachpanches the day will be darkened when I shatter the yokes of Egypt there, and an end will be put to its proud haughtiness; cloud will cover it, and its daughters till go into captivity. Eze 30:19. And thus I execute judgments upon Egypt, that they may know that I am Jehovah. - Egypt will lose its idols and its princes (cf. Jer 46:25). גּלּוּלים and אלילים are synonymous, signifying not the images, but the deities; the former being the ordinary epithet applied to false deities by Ezekiel (see the comm. on Eze 6:4), the latter traceable to the reading of Isa 19:1. נף, contracted from מנף, Manoph or Menoph = מף in Hos 9:6, is Memphis, the ancient capital of Lower Egypt, with the celebrated temple of Ptah, one of the principal seats of Egyptian idolatry (see the comm. on Hos 9:6 and Isa 19:13). In Eze 30:13 מארץ מצר' belongs to נשׂיא, there shall be no more a prince from the land of Egypt, i.e., a native prince. נתן יראה, to put fear upon (cf. Eze 26:17). From Lower Egypt Ezekiel passes in Eze 30:14 to Upper Egypt (Pathros, see the comm. on Eze 29:14), which is also to be laid waste, and then names several more of the principal cities of Lower Egypt along with the chief city of Upper Egypt. צען, Egypt. Zane, Copt. Jane, is the Τανίς, Tanis, of the Greeks and Romans, on the Tanitic arm of the Nile, an ancient city of Lower Egypt; see the comm. on Num 13:22 and Isa 19:11. נא = נא אמון in Nah 3:8, probably “abode of Amon,” Egypt. P-amen, i.e., house of Amon, the sacred name of Thebes, the celebrated royal city of Upper Egypt, the Διὸς πόλις ἡ μεγάλη of the Greeks (see the comm. on Nah 3:8). סין (literally, mire; compare the Aram. סין) is Πηλούσιον, Pelusium, which derives its name from πηλός (ὠνόμασται ἀπὸ τοῦ πηλοῦ πηλός, Strab. xvii. p. 802), because there were swamps all round. It was situated on the eastern arm of the Nile, to which it gave its name, at a distance of twenty stadia from the sea. The Egyptian name Pehromi also signifies dirty, or muddy. From this the Arabs have made
Elfarama; and in the vicinity of the few ruins of the ancient Pelusium there is still a castle called Arab. t, Tineh (compare the Chaldee טינא, clay, in Dan 2:41). Ezekiel calls it the “fortress or bulwark of Egypt,” because, as Strabo (l.c.) observes, “Egypt is difficult of access here from places in the East;” for which reason Hirtius (de bell. Al. c. 27) calls it “the key of Egypt,” and Suidas (s.v.) “the key both of the entrance and exit of Egypt.” On the history of this city, see Leyrer in Herzog's Encyclopaedia. In המון נא many of the commentators find a play upon the name of the god אמון (Jer 46:25), the chief deity of Thebes, which is possible, but not very probable, as we should not expect to find a god mentioned again here after Eze 30:13; and הכרתּי would be inappropriate. - In Eze 30:16 Sin (= Pelusium) is mentioned again as the border fortress, No (= Memphis) as the capital of Upper Egypt, as all falling within the range of the judgment. The expression נף צרי יומם has caused some difficulty and given occasion to various conjectures, none of which, however, commend themselves as either simple or natural explanations.
As Hitzig has correctly observed, צרי יומם is the same as שׁדד בּצּהרים in Jer 15:8, and is the opposite of שׁדדי לילה in Oba 1:5. The enemy who comes by day, not in the night, is the enemy who does not shun open attack. The connection with נף is to be explained by the same rule as Jer 24:2, “the one basket - very good figs.” Memphis will have enemies in broad daylight,
i.e., will be filled with them. און = און, אן, in Gen 41:45, Gen 41:50 (Egyptian An, or Anu), is the popular name of Heliopolis in Lower Egypt (see the comm. on Gen 41:45); and the form און (a vain thing, or idol) is probably selected intentionally in the sense of an idol-city (see the comm. on Hos 4:15), because On-Heliopolis (בּית־שׁמשׁ in Jer 43:13) was from time immemorial one of the principal seats of the Egyptian worship of the sun, and possessed a celebrated temple of the sun, with a numerous and learned priesthood (see the comm. on Gen 41:45, ed. 2). פּי־בסת, i.e., βουβαστός (lxx), or βουβαστίν (Herod. ii. 59), Egyptian Pi-Pasht, i.e., the place of Pasht, so called from the cat-headed Bubastis or Pasht, the Egyptian Diana, which was worshipped there in a splendid temple. It was situated on the royal canal leading to Suez, which was begun by Necho and finished under Ptolemy II, not far from its junction with the Pelusiac arm of the Nile. It was the chief seat of the Nomos Bubastites, was destroyed by the Persians, who demolished its walls (Diod. Sic. xvi. 51), and has entirely disappeared, with the exception of some heaps of ruins which still bear the name of Tel Bastah, about seven hours' journey from the Nile (compare Ges. Thes. pp. 1101ff., and Leyrer in Herzog's Encyclopaedia, s.v.). The Nomos of Bubastis, according to Herod. ii. 166, was assigned to the warrior-caste of Calasirians. The בּחוּרים, the young military men, will fall by the sword; and הנּה, not αἱ γυναῖκες (lxx and others), but the cities themselves, i.e., their civil population as distinguished from the military garrison, shall go into exile. This explanation of הנּה is commended by בּנותיה in Eze 30:18. תּחפנחס or תּחפּנחס (Jer 43:7., Eze 44:1; Eze 46:14), and תּחפנס in Jer 2:16 (Chetib), is Τάφναι, Τάφνη (lxx), or Δάφναι (Herod. ii. 30. 107), a frontier city of Egypt in the vicinity of Pelusium, after the time of Psammetichus a fortification with a strong garrison, where a palace of Pharaoh was also to be found, according to Jer 43:9. After the destruction of Jerusalem, a portion of the Jews took refuge there,
and to them Jeremiah predicted the punishment of God on the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 43:7., Eze 44:1.). In the case of השך the reading varies; the printed Masora at Gen 39:3 giving חשׂך as the reading to be found in all the codices examined by the author of the Masora; whereas many of the codices and printed editions have חשׁך, and this is adopted in all the ancient versions. This is evidently the correct reading, as חשׂך does not furnish an appropriate meaning, and the parallel passages, Eze 32:8; Isa 13:10; Joe 3:4; Amo 8:9, all favour חשׁך. The darkening of the day is the phenomenal prognostic of the dawning of the great day of judgment upon the nations (cf. Joe 2:10; Joe 3:4, Joe 3:15; Isa 13:10, etc.). This day is to dawn upon Egypt at Tachpanches, the border fortress of the land towards Syria and Palestine, when the Lord will break the yokes of Egypt. These words point back to Lev 26:13, where the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt is called the breaking in pieces of its yokes (see also Eze 34:27). That which took place then is to be repeated here. The yokes which Egypt put upon the nations are to be broken; and all the proud might of that kingdom is to be brought to an end (גּאון עזּהּ, as in Eze 30:6). In Eze 30:18, היא, which stands at the head in an absolute form, points back to בּתּחפנחס. The city (Daphne) will be covered with cloud, i.e., will be overthrown by the judgment; and her daughters, i.e., the smaller cities and hamlets dependent upon her (cf. Eze 16:46 and Eze 26:6), will go into captivity in the persons of their inhabitants. It follows from this that Daphne was the chief city of a Nomos in Lower Egypt; and this is confirmed by the circumstance that there was a royal palace there. If we compare the threat in this verse, that in Tachpanches an end is to be put to the proud might of Pharaoh, with the threatening words of Jer 43:9., to the effect that Nebuchadnezzar would set up his throne at Tachpanches and smite Egypt, it is evident that the situation of Daphne must at that time have been such that the war
between Egypt and Babylonia would necessarily be decided in or near this city. These prophetic utterances cannot be explained, as Kliefoth supposes, from the fact that many Jews had settled in Daphne; nor do the contents of this verse furnish any proof that Ezekiel did not utter this prophecy of his till after the Jews had settled there (Jer 43:1-13 and 44). Eze 30:19 serves to round off the prophecy.
Verse 20 Edit
Destruction of the Might of Pharaoh by Nebuchadnezzar
According to the heading in Eze 30:20, “In the eleventh year, in the first (month), on the seventh of the month, the word of Jehovah came to me, saying,” this short word of threatening against Egypt falls in the second year of the siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, and, as Eze 30:21 clearly shows, after the army of Pharaoh Hophra, which marched to the relief of Jerusalem, had been defeated by the Chaldeans who turned to meet it (Jer 37:5, Jer 37:7). If we compare with this the date of the first prophecy against Egypt in Eze 29:1, the prophecy before us was separated from the former by an interval of three months. But as there is no allusion whatever in Ezekiel 29 to Pharaoh's attempt to come to the relief of the besieged city of Jerusalem, or to his repulse, the arrival of the Egyptian army in Palestine, its defeat, and its repulse by the Chaldeans, seems to have occurred in the interval between these two prophecies, towards the close of the tenth year.
Verses 21-26 Edit
Eze 30:21. son of man, the arm of Pharaoh the king of Egypt have I broken; and, behold, it will no more be bound up, to apply remedies, to put on a bandage to bind it up, that it may grow strong to grasp the sword. Eze 30:22. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and will break both his arms, the strong one and the broken one, and will cause the sword to fall out of his hand. Eze 30:23. And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them in the lands,
Eze 30:24. And will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and give my sword into his hand, and will break the arms of Pharaoh, so that he shall groan the groanings of a pierced one before him. Eze 30:25. I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and the arms of Pharaoh will fall; and they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I give my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon, that he may stretch it against the land of Egypt. Eze 30:26. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them in the lands; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. - The perfect שׁברתּי in Eze 30:21 is not a prophetic utterance of the certainty of the future, but a pure preterite. This may be seen “both from the allusion in Eze 30:21 to the condition resulting from the shbr שׁבר, and also to the obviously antithetical relation of Eze 30:22, in which future events are predicted” (Hitzig). The arm is a figurative expression for power, here for military power, as it wields the sword. God broke the arm of Pharaoh by the defeat which the Chaldeans inflicted upon Pharaoh Hophra, when he was marching to the relief of besieged Jerusalem. חבּשׁה is a present, as is apparent from the infinitive clauses ('לתת וגו) which follow, altogether apart from הנּה; and חבשׁ signifies to bind up, for the purpose of healing a broken limb, that remedies may be applied and a bandage put on. לחזקהּ, that it may become strong or sound, is subordinate to the preceding clause, and governs the infinitive which follows. The fact that the further judgment which is to fall upon Pharaoh is introduced with לכן (therefore) here (Eze 30:22), notwithstanding the fact that it has not been preceded by any enumeration of the guilt which occasioned it, may be accounted for on the ground that the causal לכן forms a link with the concluding clause of Eze 30:21 : the arm shall not be healed, so as to be able to grasp or hold the sword. Because Pharaoh is not to attain any more to victorious power, therefore God will shatter both of his arms, the strong, i.e., the sound one and the broken one, that is to say, will smite it so completely, that the sword will fall from his hand. The
Egyptians are to be scattered among the nations, as is repeated in Eze 30:23 verbatim from Eze 29:12. God will give the sword into the hand of the king of Babylon, and equip and strengthen him to destroy the might of Pharaoh, that the latter may groan before him like one who is pierced with the sword. This thought is repeated in Eze 30:25 and Eze 30:26 with an intimation of the purpose of this divine procedure. That purpose it: that men may come to recognise Jehovah as God the Lord. The subject to וידעוּ is indefinite; and the rendering of the lxx is a very good one, καὶ γνώσονται πάντες.
Chap. 31 Edit
Verses 1-9 Edit
The Glory and Fall of Asshur a Type of Egypt Edit
In two months minus six days from the time when the preceding word of God was uttered, Ezekiel received another threatening word against the king and the people of Egypt, in which the former announcement of the destruction of the might of Egypt was confirmed by a comparison drawn between the power of Egypt and that of Asshur. Ezekiel having opened his prophecy with the question, whom does Pharaoh with his might resemble (Eze 31:2), proceeds to depict Asshur as a mighty towering cedar (Eze 31:3-9) which has been felled and cast down by the prince of the nations on account of its height and pride (Eze 31:10-14), so that everything mourned over its fall, because many nations went down with it to hell (Eze 31:15-17). The question, whom Pharaoh resembles, is then repeated in Eze 31:18; and from the preceding comparison the conclusion is drawn, that he will perish like that lofty cedar. - The reminiscence of the greatness of the Assyrian empire and of its destruction was well adapted to overthrow all reliance upon the might and greatness of Egypt. The fall of that great empire was still so fresh in the mind at the time, that the reminiscence could not fail to make a deep impression upon the prophet's hearers.
The might of Pharaoh resembles the greatness and glory of Asshur. - Eze 31:1. In the eleventh year, in the third (month), on the first of the month, the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Eze 31:2. Son of man, say to Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and to his tumult, Whom art thou like in thy greatness? Eze 31:3. Behold, Asshur was a cedar-tree upon Lebanon, beautiful in branches, a shadowing thicket, and its top was high in growth, and among the clouds. Eze 31:4. Water brought him up, the flood made him high, its streams went round about its plantation, and it sent its channels to all the trees of the field. Eze 31:5. Therefore its growth became higher than all the trees of the field, and its branches became great, and its boughs long from many waters in its shooting out. Eze 31:6. In its branches all the birds of the heaven made their nests, and under its boughs all the beasts of the field brought forth, and in its shadow sat great nations of all kinds. Eze 31:7. And he was beautiful in his greatness, in the length of his shoots; for his root was by many waters. Eze 31:8. Cedars did not obscure him in the garden of God, cypresses did not resemble his branches, and plane-trees were not like his boughs; no tree in the garden of God resembled him in his beauty. Eze 31:9. I had made him beautiful in the multitude of his shoots, and all the trees of Eden which were in the garden of God envied him. - The word of God is addressed to King Pharaoh and to המונו, his tumult, i.e., whoever and whatever occasions noise and tumult in the land. We must not interpret this, however, as Hitzig has done, as signifying the ruling classes and estates in contrast with the quiet in the land, for no such use of המון is anywhere to be found. Nor must we regard the word as applying to the multitude of people only, but to the people with their possessions, their riches, which gave rise to luxury and tumult, as in Eze 30:10. The inquiry, whom does Pharaoh with his tumult resemble in his greatness, is followed in the place of a reply by a description of Asshur as a glorious cedar (Eze 31:3-9). It is true that Ewald has followed the example of Meibom
(vanarum in Cod. Hebr. interprett. spec. III p. 70) and J. D. Michaelis, and endeavours to set aside the allusion to Asshur, by taking the word אשּׁוּר in an appellative sense, and understanding אשּׁוּר ארז as signifying a particular kind of cedar, namely, the tallest species of all. But apart altogether from there being no foundation whatever for such an explanation in the usage of the language, there is nothing in the fact to justify it. For it is not anywhere affirmed that Pharaoh resembled this cedar; on the contrary, the question, whom does he resemble? is asked again in Eze 31:18 (Hitzig). Moreover, Michaelis is wrong in the supposition that “from Eze 31:10 onwards it becomes perfectly obvious that it is not Assyria but Egypt itself which is meant by the cedar-tree previously described.” Under the figure of the felling of a cedar there is depicted the overthrow of a king or monarchy, which has already taken place. Compare Eze 31:12 and Eze 31:16, where the past is indicated quite as certainly as the future in Eze 31:18. And as Eze 31:18 plainly designates the overthrow of Pharaoh and his power as still in the future, the cedar, whose destruction is not only threatened in Eze 31:10-17, but declared to have already taken place, can only be Asshur, and not Egypt at all.
The picture of the glory of this cedar recalls in several respects the similar figurative description in Ezekiel 17. Asshur is called a cedar upon Lebanon, because it was there that the most stately cedars grew. חרשׁ מצל, a shade-giving thicket (מצל is a Hiphil participle of צלל), belongs to יפה ענף as a further expansion of ענף, corresponding to the further expansion of גּבהּ קמה by “its top was among the clouds.” If we bear this in mind, the reasons assigned by Hitzig for altering חרשׁ into an adjective הרשׁ, and taking מצל as a substantive formation after the analogy of מסב, lose all their force. Analogy would only require an adjective in the construct state in the event of the three statements 'יפה ע, 'הרשׁ מ, and 'גּבהּ גּבהּ ק being co-ordinate with one another. But what is decisive against the proposed conjecture is the fact that neither the noun מצל nor the adjective הרשׁ
is ever met with, and that, in any case, מצל cannot signify foliage. The rendering of the Vulgate, “frondibus nemorosus,” is merely guessed at, whilst the Seventy have omitted the word as unintelligible to them. For עבתים, thicket of clouds, see the comm. on Eze 19:11; and for צמּרת, that on Eze 17:3. The cedar grew to so large a size because it was richly watered (Eze 31:4). A flood poured its streams round about the place where the cedar was planted, and sent out brooks to all the trees of the field. The difficult words את־נהרתיה וגו' are to be taken literally thus: as for its (the flood's) streams, it (the flood) was going round about its plantation, i.e., round about the plantation belonging to the flood or the place situated near it, where the cedar was planted. את is not to be taken as a preposition, but as a sign of the accusative, and את־נהרתיה dna , as an accusative used for the more precise definition of the manner in which the flood surrounded the plantation. It is true that there still remains something striking in the masculine הלך, since תּהום, although of common gender, is construed throughout as a feminine, even in this very verse. But the difficulty remains even if we follow Ewald, and take הלך to be a defectively written or irregular form of the Hiphil הוליך; a conjecture which is precluded by the use of הוליך, to cause to run = to cause to flow away, in Eze 32:14. מטּעהּ, its (the flood's) plantation, i.e., the plantation for which the flood existed. תּהום is used here to signify the source of starting-point of a flood, as in Deu 8:7, where תּהמות are co-ordinate with עינות. - While the place where the cedar was planted was surrounded by the streams of the flood, only the brooks and channels of this flood reached to the trees of the field. The cedar therefore surpassed all the trees of the field in height and luxuriance of growth (Eze 31:5). fגּבהאheb>, an Aramean mode of spelling for גּבהה heb>; and asרעפּתheb>, ἁπ. λεγ.., an Aramean formation with ר inserted, for סעפת, branches. For פּארת, see the comm. on Eze 17:6. בּשׁלּחו cannot mean “since it (the stream) sent out the water” (Ewald); for although תּהום in Eze 31:4 is also construed as a
masculine, the suffix cannot be taken as referring to תּהום, for this is much too far off. And the explanation proposed by Rosenmüller, Hävernick, Kliefoth, and others, “as it (the tree) sent them (the branches) out,” is open to this objection, that בּשׁלּחו would then contain a spiritless tautology; since the stretching out of the branches is already contained in the fact of their becoming numerous and long. the tautology has no existence if the object is left indefinite, “in its spreading out,” i.e., the spreading not only of the branches, but also of the roots, to which שׁלּח is sometimes applied (cf. Jer 17:8). By the many waters which made the cedar great, we must not understand, either solely or especially, the numerous peoples which rendered Assyria great and mighty, as the Chaldee and many of the older commentators have done. It must rather be taken as embracing everything which contributed to the growth and greatness of Assyria. It is questionable whether the prophet, when describing the flood which watered the cedar plantation, had the description of the rivers of Paradise in Gen 2:10. floating before his mind. Ewald and Hävernick think that he had; but Hitzig and Kliefoth take a decidedly opposite view. There is certainly no distinct indication of any such allusion. We meet with this for the first time from Eze 31:8 onwards.
In Eze 31:6-9 the greatness and glory of Asshur are still further depicted. Upon and under the branches of the stately tree, all creatures, birds, beasts, and men, found shelter and protection for life and increase (Eze 31:6; cf. Eze 17:23 and Dan 4:9). In כּּל־גּוים רבּים, all kinds of great nations, the fact glimmers through the figure. The tree was so beautiful (ויּיף from יפה) in its greatness, that of all the trees in the garden of God not one was to be compared with it, and all envied it on that account; that is to say, all the other nations and kingdoms in God's creation were far inferior to Asshur in greatness and glory. גּן אלהים is the garden of Paradise; and consequently עדן in Eze 31:9, Eze 31:16, and Eze 31:18 is also Paradise, as in Eze 28:13. There is no ground for Kliefoth's objection,
that if עדן be taken in this sense, the words “which are in the garden of God” will contain a superfluous pleonasm, a mere tautology. In Gen 2:8 a distinction is also made between עדן and the garden in Eden. It was not all Eden, but the garden planted by Jehovah in Eden, which formed the real paradisaical creation; so that the words “which are in the garden of God” give intensity to the idea of the “trees of Eden.” Moreover, as Hävernick has correctly pointed out, there is a peculiar emphasis in the separation of בּגן אלהים from ארזים in Eze 31:8 : “cedars...even such as were found in the garden of God.” Not one even of the other and most glorious trees, viz., cypresses and planes, resembled the cedar Asshur, planted by God by many waters, in its boughs and branches. It is not stated in so many words in Eze 31:8 and Eze 31:9 that the cedar Asshur stood in the garden of God; but it by no means follows from this, that by the garden of God we are to understand simply the world and the earth as the creation of God, as Kliefoth imagines, and in support of which he argues that “as all the nations and kingdoms of the world are regarded as trees planted by God, the world itself is quite consistently called a garden or plantation of God.” The very fact that a distinction is made between trees of the field (Eze 31:4 and Eze 31:5) and trees of Eden in the garden of God (Eze 31:8 and Eze 31:9), shows that the trees are not all regarded here as being in the same sense planted by God. If the garden of God stood for the world, where should we then have to look for the field (השּׂדה)? The thought of Eze 31:8 and Eze 31:9 is not that “not a single tree in all God's broad earth was to be compared to the cedar Asshur,” but that even of the trees of Paradise, the garden in Eden, there was not one so beautiful and glorious as the cedar Asshur, planted by God by many waters.
Verses 10-14 Edit
The Felling of this Cedar, or the Overthrow of Asshur on Account of Its Pride
Eze 31:10. Therefore thus said the Lord Jehovah, Because thou didst exalt thyself in height, and he stretched his top to the midst of the clouds, and his heart exalted itself in its height,
Eze 31:11. I will give him into the hand of the prince of the nations; he shall deal with him: for his wickedness I rejected him. Eze 31:12. And strangers cut him down, violent ones of the nations, and cast him away: upon the mountains and in all the valleys his shoots fell, and his boughs were broken in pieces into all the deep places of the earth; and all the nations of the earth withdrew from his shadow, and let him lie. Eze 31:13. Upon his fallen trunk all the birds of the heaven settle, and all the beasts of the field are over his branches: Eze 31:14. That no trees by the water may exalt themselves on account of their height, or stretch their top to the midst of the clouds, and no water-drinkers stand upon themselves in their exaltation: for they are all given up to death into hell, in the midst of the children of men, to those that go into the grave. - In the description of the cause of the overthrow of Asshur which commences with יען אשׁר, the figurative language changes in the third clause into the literal fact, the towering of the cedar being interpreted as signifying the lifting up of the heart in his height, - that is to say, in his pride. In the first clause the tree itself is addressed; but in the clauses which follow, it is spoken of in the third person. The direct address in the first clause is to be explained from the vivid manner in which the fact presented itself. The divine sentence in Eze 31:10 and Eze 31:11 is not directed against Pharaoh, but against the Assyrian, who is depicted as a stately cedar; whilst the address in Eze 31:10, and the imperfect (future) in Eze 31:11, are both to be accounted for from the fact that the fall of Asshur is related in the form in which it was denounced on the part of Jehovah upon that imperial kingdom. The perfect אמר is therefore a preterite here: the Lord said...for His part: because Asshur has exalted itself in the pride of its greatness, I give it up. The form ואתנהוּ is not to be changed into ואתנהוּ, but is defended against critical caprice by the imperfect יעשׂה which follows. That the penal sentence of God is not to be regarded as being first uttered in the time then present, but belongs to the past, - and therefore the words merely communicate what God had
already spoken, - is clearly shown by the preterites commencing with גּרשׁתּיהוּ, the historical tenses ויּכרתהוּ and ויּטּשׁהוּ, and the preterite נפלוּ, which must not be turned into futures in violation of grammar. גּבהּ בּקומה does not mean, to be high in its height, which would be a tautology; but to exalt itself (be proud) in, or on account of, its height. And in the same way is רוּם also affirmed of the heart, in the sense of exultation from pride. For the fact itself, compare Isa 10:5. אל גּוים does not mean God, but a powerful one of the nations, i.e., Nebuchadnezzar. אל is a simple appellative from אוּל, the strong one; and is neither a name of God nor a defective form for איל, the construct state of איל, a ram. For this defective form is only met with once in the case of איל, a ram, namely, in Job 42:8, where we have the plural אלים, and nowhere else; whereas, in the case of אל, אלים, in the sense of a strong one, the scriptio plena very frequently alternates with the defectiva. Compare, for example, Job 42:8, where both readings occur just as in this instance, where many MSS have איל (vid., de Rossi, variae lectt. ad h. l.); also Exo 15:15 and Eze 17:13, אילי, compared with אלי in Eze 32:21, after the analogy of נירי, 2Sa 22:29, and גּירים, 2Ch 2:16. עשׂו is not a relative clause, “who should treat him ill,” nor is the w relat. omitted on account of the preceding עשׂו, as Hitzig imagines; but it is an independent sentence, and יעשׂה is a forcible expression for the imperative: he will deal with him, equivalent to, “let him deal with him.” עשׂה ל, to do anything to a person, used here as it frequently is in an evil sense; compare Psa 56:5. בּרשׁעו-or כּרשׁעו, which Norzi and Abarbanel (in de Rossi, variae lectt. ad. h. l.) uphold as the reading of many of the more exact manuscripts and editions - belongs to גּרשׁתּיהוּ: for, or according to, his wickedness, I rejected him.
In Eze 31:12 the figure of the tree is resumed; and the extinction of the Assyrian empire is described as the cutting down of the proud cedar. זרים עריצי גּוים as in Eze 28:7 and Eze 30:11-12. ויּטּשׁהוּ: they cast him away and let him lie, as in Eze 29:5; Eze 32:4;
so that in the first sentence the idea of casting away predominates, and in the second that of letting lie. By the casting away, the tree became so shattered to atoms that its boughs and branches fell upon the mountains and on the low ground and valleys of the earth, and the nations which had sat under its shadow withdrew. ויּרדוּ (they descended) is to be explained from the idea that the three had grown upon a high mountain (namely Lebanon); and Hitzig is mistaken in his conjecture that ויּרדוּ was the original reading, as נדד, to fly, is not an appropriate expression for עמּים. On the falling of the tree, the birds which had made their nests in its branches naturally flew away. If, then, in Eze 31:13, birds and beasts are said to settle upon the fallen trunk, as several of the commentators have correctly observed, the description is based upon the idea of a corpse, a מפּלת (Jdg 14:8), around which both birds and beasts of prey gather together to tear it in pieces (cf. Eze 32:4 and Isa 18:6). היה אל, to come towards or over any one, to be above it. The thought expressed is, that many nations took advantage of the fall of Asshur and rose into new life upon its ruins. - Eze 31:14. This fate was prepared for Asshur in order that henceforth no tree should grow up to the sky any more, i.e., that no powerful one of this earth (no king or prince) should strive after superhuman greatness and might. למען אשׁר is dependent upon גּרשׁתּיהוּ in Eze 31:11; for Eze 31:12 and Eze 31:13 are simply a further expansion of the thought expressed in that word. עצי מים are trees growing near the water, and therefore nourished by water. For 'לא , see Eze 31:10. The words 'ולא יעמדוּ are difficult. As אליהם, with Tzere under א, to which the Masora calls attention, cannot be the preposition אל with the suffix, many have taken אליהם to be a noun, in the sense of fortes, principes, or terebinthi (vid., Isa 61:3), and have rendered the clause either ut non perstent terebinthi eorum in altitudine sua, omnes (ceterae arbores) bibentes aquam (Vatabl., Starck, Maurer, and Kliefoth), or, that their princes may not lift themselves up in their pride, all the
drinkers of water (Hävernick). But both renderings founder on the simple fact that they leave the suffix הם in אליהם either unnoticed or unexplained. As only the trees of the water have been spoken of previously, the suffix must be taken as referring to them. But the water-trees have neither terebinths nor princes; on the contrary, these are what they must either be, or signify. Terebinths, or princes of the water-trees, would be senseless ideas. Ewald has therefore taken אליהם as the object, and rendered it thus: “and (that) no water-drinkers may contend with their gods in their pride.” He has not proved, however, but has simply asserted, that עמד is to endure = to contend (!). The only remaining course is to follow the lxx, Targum, and many commentators, and to take אליהם as a pronoun, and point it אליהם. עמד אל: to station oneself against, or upon = עמד על (Eze 33:26), in the sense of resting, or relying upon anything. The suffix is to be taken in a reflective sense, as in Eze 34:2, etc. (vid., Ewald, §314c), and precedes the noun to which it refers, as in Pro 14:20 for example. בּגבהם, as in Eze 31:10, referring to pride. כּל־שׁתי מים, the subject of the sentence, is really synonymous with כּל־עצי מים, except that the figure of the tree falls into the background behind the fact portrayed. The rendering of the Berleburg Bible is very good: “and no trees abounding in water stand upon themselves (rely upon themselves) on account of their height.” The water-drinkers are princes of this earth who have attained to great power through rich resources. “As a tree grows through the moisture of water, so men are accustomed to become proud through their abundance, not reflecting that these waters have been supplied to them by God” (Starck). The reason for this warning against proud self-exaltation is given in Eze 31:14 in the general statement, that all the proud great ones of this earth are delivered up to death. כּלּם, all of them, the water-drinkers or water-trees already named, by whom kings, earthly potentates, are intended. ארץ תּחתּית = ארץ תּח (Eze 26:20). בּתוך בּני אדם: in the midst of the
children of men, i.e., like all other men. “Thus the prophet teaches that princes must die as well as the people, that death and decomposition are common to both. Hence he takes all ground of proud boasting away” (Starck).
Verses 15-18 Edit
Impression Made upon the Nations by the Fall of Asshur; and Its Application to Pharaoh
Eze 31:15. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, In the day that he went down to hell I caused a mourning: covered the flood for his sake, and stopped its streams, and the great waters were held back: I caused Lebanon to blacken itself for him, and all the trees of the field pined for him. Eze 31:16. I made the nations tremble at the noise of his fall, when I cast him down to hell to those who go into the grave: and they comforted themselves in the nether world, even all the trees of Eden, the choice and most beautiful of Lebanon, all the water-drinkers. Eze 31:17. They also went with him into hell, to those pierced with the sword, who sat as his helpers in his shade among the nations. Eze 31:18. Whom dost thou thus resemble in glory and greatness among the trees of Eden? So shalt thou be thrust down to the trees of Eden into the nether world, and lie among uncircumcised ones with those pierced with the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his tumult, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - In order that the overthrow of the Assyrian, i.e., the destruction of the Assyrian empire, may be placed in the clearest light, a picture is drawn of the impression which it made upon the whole creation. There is no necessity to understand כּה אמר in a past sense, as in Eze 31:10. What God did on the overthrow of Asshur He may even now, for the first time, make known through the prophet, for a warning to Pharaoh and the people of Israel. That this is the way in which the words are to be interpreted, is evident from the use of the perfect האבלתּי, followed by the historical imperfects, which cannot be taken in a prophetical sense, as Kliefoth supposes, or turned into futures. It is contrary to Hebrew usage to connect האבלתּי and כּסּתי together as asyndeton, so as to form one idea, viz., “to veil in mourning” as Ewald and Hävernick propose. The
circumstances under which two verbs are joined together to form one idea are of a totally different kind. In this instance האבלתּי is placed first as an absolute; and in the sentences which follow, it is more specifically defined by a detail of the objects which were turned into mourning. כּסּה עליו את־תּהום cannot mean her, “to cover the flood upon (over) him” (after Eze 24:7 and Eze 26:19); for this is altogether unsuitable to either the more remote or the more immediate context. The tree Asshur was not destroyed by a flood, but cut down by strangers. The following clauses, “I stopped its streams,” etc., show very plainly that the connection between the flood (תּהום) and the tree which had been felled is to be understood in accordance with Eze 31:4. A flood, which poured its נהרות round about its plantation, made the cedar-tree great; and now that the tree has been felled, God covers the flood on its account. כּסּה is to be explained from כּסּה שׂק, to veil or wrap in mourning, as Raschi, Kimchi, Vatablus, and many others have shown. The word שׂק is omitted, because it appeared inappropriate to תּהום. The mourning of the flood is to be taken as equivalent to drying up, so that the streams which issued from it were deprived of their water. Lebanon, i.e., the cedar-forest (Isa 10:34), and all the other trees, mourned over the fall of the cedar Asshur. הקדּיר, to clothe in black, i.e., to turn into mourning. עלפּה is regarded by Ewald as a Pual formed after the Aramean mode, that is to say, by attaching the syllable ae instead of doubling the middle radical; whilst Hitzig proposes to change the form into עלּפּה. In any case the word must be a perfect Pual, as a nomen verbale appears unsuitable; and it must also be a third person feminine, the termination ־ה being softened into ־ה, as in זוּרה (Isa 59:5), and the doubling of the ל being dropped on account of the Sheva; so that the plural is construed with the singular feminine (Ewald, §317a). עלּף, to faint with grief (cf. Isa 51:20). The thought is the following: all nature was so painfully affected by the fall of Asshur, that the whole of the resources from
which its prosperity and might had been derived were dried up. To interpret the different figures as specially relating to princes and nations appears a doubtful procedure, for the simple reason that in Eze 31:16 the trembling of the nations is expressly named.
Whilst all the nations on the surface of the earth tremble at the fall of Assyria, because they are thereby warned of the perishable nature of all earthly greatness and of their own destruction, the inhabitants of the nether world console themselves with the thought that the Assyrian is now sharing their fate (for this thought, compare Eze 32:31 and Isa 14:9-10). “All the trees of Eden” are all the powerful and noble princes. The idea itself, “trees of Eden,” is explained by the apposition, “the choice and beautiful ones of Lebanon,” i.e., the picked and finest cedars, and still further strengthened by the expression כּל־שׁתי (cf. Eze 31:14). מבחר are connected, as in 1Sa 9:2; and both words are placed side by side in the construct state, as in Dan 1:4 (cf. Ewald, §339b). They comfort themselves because they have gone down with him into Sheol, so that he has no advantage over them. They come thither to those pierced with the sword, i.e., to the princes and peoples whom Asshur slew in wars to establish his imperial power. וּזרעו might also belong to ירדוּ as a second subject. In that case ישׁבוּ בצלּו should be taken in a relative sense: “and his arm,” i.e., his resources, “which sat in his shadow among the nations.” With this explanation זרעו would be different from הם, and could only denote the army of the Assyrian. But this does not harmonize with the sitting in his shadow among the nations, for these words obviously point back to Eze 31:6; so that זרעו is evidently meant to correspond to כּּל־גוים רבּים (Eze 31:6), and is actually identical with הם, i.e., with all the trees of Eden. We therefore agree with Osiander, Grotius, and others, in regarding the whole of the second hemistich as more precisely determining the subject, - in other words, as a declaration of the reason for their descending into hell along with the Assyrians, - and render the passage thus: “for as his arm (as his
might) they sat in his shadow among the nations;” so that the cop. w is used in place of a causal particle. In any case, the conjecture which Ewald has adopted from the lxx and the Syriac, viz., וזרעו, and his seed, in support of which appeal might be made to Isa 14:21, is unsuitable, for the simple reason that the statement, that it sat in his shadow among the nations, does not apply. - After this description of the greatness and the destruction of the imperial power of Assyria, Ezekiel repeats in Eze 31:18 the question already asked in Eze 31:3 : to whom is Pharaoh like? כּכה, so, i.e., under such circumstances, when the glorious cedar Asshur has been smitten by such a fate (Hitzig). The reply to this question is really contained in the description given already; so that it is immediately followed by the announcement, “and thou wilt be thrust down,” etc. ערלים, uncircumcised, equivalent to ungodly heathen 'הוּא פ, not “he is,” as that would require פּרעה הוּא; but הוּא is the predicate: this is (i.e., so does it happen to) Pharaoh. המונו, as in Eze 31:2.
Chap. 32 Edit
Lamentations over the Ruin of Pharaoh and His People Edit
The chapter contains two lamentations composed at different times: the first, in vv. 1-16, relating to the fall of Pharaoh, which rests upon the prophecy contained in Ezekiel 29:1-16 and Eze 30:20-26; the second, in vv. 17-32, in which the prophecy concerning the casting down of this imperial power into hell (Eze 31:14-17) is worked out in elegiac form.
Verse 1 Edit
Lamentation over the King of Egypt Edit
Pharaoh, a sea-monster, is drawn by the nations out of his waters with the net of God, and cast out upon the earth. His flesh is given to the birds and beasts of prey to devour, and the earth is saturated with his blood (Eze 32:2-6). At his destruction the lights of heaven lose their brightness, and all the nations
will be amazed thereat (Eze 32:7-10). The king of Babel will come upon Egypt, will destroy both man and beast, and will make the land a desert (Eze 32:11-16). - The date given in Eze 32:1 - ”In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first of the month, the word of Jehovah came to me, saying” - agrees entirely with the relation in which the substance of the ode itself stands to the prophecies belonging to the tenth and eleventh years in Ezekiel 29:1-16 and Eze 30:20-26; whereas the different date found in the Septuagint cannot come into consideration for a moment.
Verses 2-6 Edit
The destruction of Pharoah. - Eze 32:2. Son of man, raise a lamentation over Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and say to him, Thou wast compared to a young lion among the nations, and yet wast like a dragon in the sea; thou didst break forth in thy streams, and didst trouble the waters with thy feet, and didst tread their streams. Eze 32:3. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Therefore will I spread out my net over thee in the midst of many nations, that they may draw thee up in my yarn; Eze 32:4. And will cast thee upon the land, hurl thee upon the surface of the field, and will cause all the birds of the heaven to settle upon thee, and the beasts of the whole earth to satisfy themselves with thee. Eze 32:5. Thy flesh will I put upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with thy funeral heap. Eze 32:6. I will saturate the earth with thine outflow of thy blood even to the mountains, and the low places shall become full of thee. - This lamentation begins, like others, with a picture of the glory of the fallen king. Hitzig objects to the ordinary explanation of the words כּפיר גּוים נדמיתה, λέοντι ἐθνῶν ὡμοιώθης (lxx), leoni gentium assimilatus es (Vulg.), on the ground that the frequently recurring נדמה would only have this meaning in the present passage, and that נמשׁל, which would then be synonymous, is construed in three other ways, but not with the nominative. For these reasons he adopts the rendering, “lion of the nations, thou belongest to death.” But it would be contrary to the analogy of all the קינות to commence the lamentation with such a threat; and Hitzig's objections to the ordinary rendering of the words will not bear examination.
The circumstance that the Niphal נדמה is only met with here in the sense of ὁμοιοῦσθαι, proves nothing; for דּמה has this meaning in the Kal, Piel, and Hithpael, and the construction of the Niphal with the accusative (not nominative, as Hitzig says) may be derived without difficulty from the construction of the synonymous נמשׁל with כ. But what is decisive in favour of this rendering is the fact that the following clause is connected by means of the adversative ואתּה (but thou), which shows that the comparison of Pharaoh to a תּנּים forms an antithesis to the clause in which he is compared to a young lion. If נדמית 'כּפיר ג contained a declaration of destruction, not only would this antithesis be lost, but the words addressed to it as a lion of the nations would float in the air and be used without any intelligible meaning. The lion is a figurative representation of a powerful and victorious ruler; and כּפיר גּוים is really equivalent to אל גּוים in Eze 31:11.
Pharaoh was regarded as a mighty conqueror of the nations, “though he was rather to be compared to the crocodile, which stirs up the streams, the fresh waters, and life-giving springs of the nations most perniciously with mouth and feet, and renders turbid all that is pure” (Ewald). תּנּים, as in Eze 29:3. Ewald and Hitzig have taken offence at the words תּגח בּנהרתיך, “thou didst break forth in thy streams,” and alter בּנהרתיך retla d into בּנחרתיך, with thy nostrils (Job 41:12); but they have not considered that תּגח would be quite out of place with such an alteration, as גּיח in both the Kal and Hiphil (Jdg 20:33) has only the intransitive meaning to break out. The thought is simply this: the crocodile lies in the sea, then breaks occasionally forth in its streams, and makes the waters and their streams turbid with its feet. Therefore shall Pharaoh also end like such a monster (Eze 32:3-6). The guilt of Pharaoh did not consist in the fact that he had assumed the position of a ruler among the nations (Kliefoth); but in his polluting the water-streams, stirring up and disturbing the life-giving streams of the nations. God will take him in His net by a gathering of nations, and cause him
to be drawn out of his element upon the dry land, where he shall become food to the birds and beasts of prey (cf. Eze 29:4-5; Eze 31:12-13). The words 'בּקהל עמּים ר are not to be understood as referring to the nations, as spectators of the event (Hävernick); but ב denotes the instrument, or medium employed, here the persons by whom God causes the net to be thrown, as is evident from the והעלוּך which follows. According to the parallelismus membrorum, the ἁπ. λεγ. רמוּת can only refer to the carcase of the beast, although the source from which this meaning of the word is derived has not yet been traced. There is no worth to be attached to the reading rimowt in some of the codices, as רמּה does not yield a suitable meaning either in the sense of reptile, or in that of putrefaction or decomposed bodies, which has been attributed to it from the Arabic. Under these circumstances we adhere to the derivation from רוּם, to be high, according to which רמוּת may signify a height or a heap, which the context defines as a funeral-pile. צפה, strictly speaking, a participle from צוּף, to flow, that which flows out, the outflow (Hitzig), is not to be taken in connection with ארץ, but is a second object to השׁקיתי; and the appended word מדּמך indicates the source whence the flowing takes place, and of what the outflow consists. אל ההרים, to the mountains, i.e., up to the top of the mountains. The thought in these verses is probably simply this, that the fall of Pharaoh would bring destruction upon the whole of the land of Egypt, and that many nations would derive advantage from his fall.
Verses 7-10 Edit
His overthrow fills the whole world with mourning and terror. - Eze 32:7. When I extinguish thee, I will cover the sky and darken its stars; I will cover the sun with cloud, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. Eze 32:8. All the shining lights in the sky do I darken because of thee, and I bring darkness over thy land, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Eze 32:9. And I will trouble the heart of many nations when I bring out thine overthrow among the nations into lands which thou knowest not, Eze 32:10. And I will make many nations amazed at thee, and their
kings shall shudder at thee when I brandish my sword before their face; and they shall tremble every moment, every one for his life on the day of his fall. - The thought of Eze 32:7 and Eze 32:8 is not exhausted by the paraphrase, “when thou art extinguished, all light will be extinguished, so far as Egypt is concerned,” accompanied with the remark, that the darkness consequent thereupon is a figurative representation of utterly hopeless circumstances (Schmieder). The thought on which the figure rests is that of the day of the Lord, the day of God's judgment, on which the lights of heaven lose their brightness (cf. Eze 30:3 and Joe 2:10, etc.). This day bursts upon Egypt with the fall of Pharaoh, and on it the shining stars of heaven are darkened, so that the land of Pharaoh becomes dark. Egypt is a world-power represented by Pharaoh, which collapses with his fall. But the overthrow of this world-power is an omen and prelude of the overthrow of every ungodly world-power on the day of the last judgment, when the present heaven and the present earth will perish in the judgment-fire. Compare the remarks to be found in the commentary on Joe 3:4 upon the connection between the phenomena of the heavens and great catastrophes on earth. The contents of both verses may be fully explained from the biblical idea of the day of the Lord and the accompanying phenomena; and for the explanation of בּכבּותך, there is no necessity to assume, as Dereser and Hitzig have done, that the sea-dragon of Egypt is presented here under the constellation of a dragon; for there is no connection between the comparison of Egypt to a tannim or sea-dragon, in Eze 32:2 and Eze 29:3 (=רהב, Isa 51:9), and the constellation of the dragon (see the comm. on Isa 51:9 and Isa 30:7). In בּכבּותך Pharaoh is no doubt regarded as a star of the first magnitude in the sky; but in this conception Ezekiel rests upon Isa 14:12, where the king of Babylon is designated as a bright morning-star. That this passage was in the prophet's mind, is evident at once from the fact that Eze 32:7 coincides almost verbatim with Isa 13:10. - The extinction
and obscuration of the stars are not merely a figurative representation of the mourning occasioned by the fall of Pharaoh; still less can Eze 32:9 and Eze 32:10 be taken as an interpretation in literal phraseology of the figurative words in Eze 32:7 and Eze 32:8. For Eze 32:9 and Eze 32:10 do not relate to the mourning of the nations, but to anxiety and terror into which they are plunged by God through the fall of Pharaoh and his might. הכעיס , to afflict the heart, does not mean to make it sorrowful, but to fill it with anxiety, to deprive it of its peace and cheerfulness. “When I bring thy fall among the nations” is equivalent to “spread the report of thy fall.” Consequently there is no need for either the arbitrary alteration of שׁברך into שׂברך, which Ewald proposes, with the imaginary rendering announcement or report; nor for the marvellous assumption of Hävernick, that שׁברך describes the prisoners scattered among the heathen as the ruins of the ancient glory of Egypt, in support of which he adduces the rendering of the lxx αἰχμαλωσίαν σου, which is founded upon the change of שׁברך into שׁביך. For Eze 32:10 compare Eze 27:35. עופף, to cause to fly, to brandish. The sword is brandished before their face when it falls time after time upon their brother the king of Egypt, whereby they are thrown into alarm for their own lives. לרגעים, by moments = every moment (see the comm. on Isa 27:3).
Verses 11-16 Edit
The judgment upon Egypt will be executed by the king of Babylon. - Eze 32:11. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, The sword of the king of Babylon will come upon thee. Eze 32:12. By swords of heroes will I cause thy tumult to fall, violent ones of the nations are they all, and will lay waste the pride of Egypt, and all its tumult will be destroyed. Eze 32:13. And I will cut off all its cattle from the great waters, that no foot of man may disturb them any more, nor any hoof of cattle disturb them. Eze 32:14. Then will I cause their waters to settle and their streams to flow like oil, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, Eze 32:15. When I make the land of Egypt a desert, and the land is made desolate of its fulness, because I smite all the inhabitants therein, and they
shall know that I am Jehovah. Eze 32:16. A lamentatoin (mournful ode) is this, and they will sing it mournfully; the daughters of the nations will sing it mournfully, over Egypt and over all its tumult will they sing it mournfully, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - In this concluding strophe the figurative announcement of the preceding one is summed up briefly in literal terms; and toward the close (Eze 32:14) there is a slight intimation of a better future. The destruction of the proud might of Egypt will be effected through the king of Babylon and his brave and violent hosts. עריצי גּוים, as in Eze 31:12 (see the comm. on Eze 28:7). המון in Eze 32:12 and Eze 32:13 must not be restricted to the multitude of people. It signifies tumult, and embraces everything in Egypt by which noise and confusion were made (as in Eze 31:2 and Eze 31:18); although the idea of a multitude of people undoubtedly predominates in the use of המון in Eze 32:12. גּאון , the pride of Egypt, is not that of which Egypt is proud, but whatever is proud or exalts itself in Egypt. The utter devastation of Egypt includes the destruction of the cattle, i.e., of the numerous herds which fed on the grassy banks of the Nile and were driven to the Nile to drink (cf. Gen 47:6; Gen 41:2.; Exo 9:3); and this is therefore specially mentioned in Eze 32:13, with an allusion to the consequence thereof, namely, that the waters of the Nile would not be disturbed any more either by the foot of man or hoof of beast (compare Eze 32:13 with Eze 29:11). The disturbing of the water is mentioned with evident reference to Eze 32:2, where Pharaoh is depicted as a sea-monster, which disturbs the streams of water. The disturbance of the water is therefore a figurative representation of the wild driving of the imperial power of Egypt, by which the life-giving streams of the nations were stirred up.
Eze 32:14. Then will God cause the waters of Egypt to sink. Hitzig and Kliefoth understand this as signifying the diminution of the abundance of water in the Nile, which had previously overflowed the land and rendered it fertile, but for which there was no further purpose now. According to this explanation, the
words would contain a continued picture of the devastation of the land. But this is evidently a mistake, for the simple reason that it is irreconcilable with the אז, by which the thought is introduced. אז, tunc, is more precisely defined by 'בּתתּי וגו in Eze 32:15 as the time when the devastation has taken place; whereas Kliefoth takes the 15th verse, in opposition both to the words and the usage of the language, as the sequel to Eze 32:14, or in other words, regards בּתתּי as synonymous with ונתתּי. The verse contains a promise, as most of the commentators, led by the Chaldee and Jerome, have correctly assumed. השׁקיע, to make the water sink, might no doubt signify in itself a diminution of the abundance of water. But if we consider the context, in which reference is made to the disturbance of the water through its being trodden with the feet (Eze 32:13), השׁקיע can only signify to settle, i.e., to become clear through the sinking to the bottom of the slime which had been stirred up (cf. Eze 34:18). The correctness of this explanation is confirmed by the parallel clause, to make their streams flow with oil. To understand this as signifying the slow and gentle flow of the diminished water, would introduce a figure of which there is no trace in Hebrew. Oil is used throughout the Scriptures as a figurative representation of the divine blessing, or the power of the divine Spirit. כּשׁמן, like oil, according to Hebrew phraseology, is equivalent to “like rivers of oil.” And oil-rivers are not rivers which flow quietly like oil, but rivers which contain oil instead of water (cf. Job 29:6), and are symbolical of the rich blessing of God (cf. Deu 32:13). The figure is a very appropriate one for Egypt, as the land is indebted to the Nile for all its fertility. Whereas its water had been stirred up and rendered turbid by Pharaoh; after the fall of Pharaoh the Lord will cause the waters of the stream,
which pours its blessings upon the land, to purify themselves, and will make its streams flow with oil. The clarified water and flowing oil are figures of the life-giving power of the word and Spirit of God. But this blessing will not flow to Egypt till its natural power is destroyed. Ewald has therefore given the following as the precise meaning of Eze 32:14 : “The Messianic times will then for the first time dawn on Egypt, when the waters no more become devastating and turbid, that is to say, through the true knowledge to which the chastisement leads.” Eze 32:16 “rounds off the passage by turning back to Eze 32:2” (Hitzig). The daughters of the nations are mentioned as the singers, because mourning for the dead was for the most part the business of women (cf. Jer 9:16). The words do not contain a summons to the daughters of the nations to sing the lamentation, but the declaration that they will do it, in which the thought is implied that the predicted devastation of Egypt will certainly occur.
Verse 17 Edit
Funeral-Dirge for the Destruction of the Might of Egypt
This second lamentation or mourning ode, according to the heading in Eze 32:17, belongs to the same year as the preceding, and to the 15th of the month, no doubt the 12th month; in which case it was composed only fourteen days after the first. The statement of the month is omitted here, as in Eze 26:1; and the omission is, no doubt, to be attributed to a copyist in this instance also. In the ode, which Ewald aptly describes as a “dull, heavy lamentation,” we have six regular strophes, preserving the uniform and monotonous character of the lamentations for the dead, in which the thought is worked out, that Egypt, like other great nations, is cast down to the nether world. The whole of it is simply an elegiac expansion of the closing thought of the previous chapter (Ezekiel 31).
Verses 18-21 Edit
Introduction and first strophe. - Eze 32:18. Son of man, lament over the tumult of Egypt, and hurl it down, her,
like the daughters of glorious nations, into the nether world, to those who go into the pit! Eze 32:19. Whom dost thou surpass in loveliness? Go down and lay thyself with the uncircumcised. Eze 32:20. Among those slain with the sword will they fall; the sword is handed, draw her down and all her tumult. Eze 32:21. The strong ones of the heroes say of it out of the midst of hell with its helpers: they are gone down, they lie there, the uncircumcised, slain with the sword. - נהה, utter a lamentation, and והורדהוּ, thrust it (the tumult of Egypt) down, are co-ordinate. With the lamentation, or by means thereof, is Ezekiel to thrust down the tumult of Egypt into hell. The lamentation is God's word; and as such it has the power to accomplish what it utters. אותהּ is not intended as a repetition of the suffix ־הוּ, but resumes the principal idea contained in the object already named, viz., מצרים, Egypt, i.e., its population. אותהּ and the daughters of glorious nations are co-ordinate. בּנות, as in the expression, daughter of Tyre, daughter Babel, denotes the population of powerful heathen nations. The גּוים אדּרם can only be the nations enumerated in Eze 32:22, Eze 32:24., which, according to these verses, are already in Sheol, not about to be thrust down, but thrust down already. Consequently the copula ו before בּנות is to be taken in the sense of a comparison, as in 1Sa 12:15 (cf. Ewald, §340b). All these glorious nations have also been hurled down by the word of God; and Egypt is to be associated with them. By thus placing Egypt on a level with all the fallen nations, the enumeration of which fills the middle strophes of the ode, the lamentation over Egypt is extended into a funeral-dirge on the fall of all the heathen powers of the world. For ארץ תּחתּיּות and יורדי , compare Ezekiel 276:20. The ode itself commences in Eze 32:19, by giving prominence to the glory of the falling kingdom. But this prominence consists in the brief inquiry ממּי נעמתּ, before whom art thou lovely? i.e., art thou more lovely than any one else? The words are addressed either to המון מצרים (Eze 32:18), or what is more probable, to Pharaoh with all
his tumult (cf. Eze 32:32), i.e., to the world-power, Egypt, as embodied in the person of Pharaoh; and the meaning of the question is the following: - Thou, Egypt, art indeed lovely; but thou art not better or more lovely than other mighty heathen nations; therefore thou canst not expect any better fate than to go down into Sheol, and there lie with the uncircumcised. ערלים, as in Eze 31:18. This is carried out still further in Eze 32:20, and the ground thereof assigned. The subject to יפּלוּ is the Egyptians, or Pharaoh and his tumult. They fall in the midst of those pierced with the sword. The sword is already handed to the executor of the judgment, the king of Babel (Eze 31:11). Their destruction is so certain, that the words are addressed to the bearers of the sword: “Draw Egypt and all its tumult down into Sheol” (משׁכוּ is imperative for משׁכוּ in Exo 12:21), and, according to Eze 32:21, the heathen already in Sheol are speaking of his destruction. ידבּרוּ לו is rendered by many, “there speak to him, address him, greet him,” with an allusion to Isa 14:9., where the king of Babel, when descending into Sheol, is greeted with malicious pleasure by the kings already there. But however obvious the fact may be that Ezekiel has this passage in mind, there is no address in the verse before us as in Isa 14:10, but simply a statement concerning the Egyptians, made in the third person. Moreover, את־עזריו could hardly be made to harmonize with ידבּרוּ לו, if לו signified ad eum. For it is not allowable to connect עת־עזריו (taken in the sense of along with their helpers) with אלי גבּורים as a noun in apposition, for the simple reason that the two are separated by מתּוך שׁאול. Consequently את־עזריו can only belong to ידבּרוּ: they talk (of him) with his helpers. עזריו, his (Pharaoh's) helpers are his allies, who have already gone down before him into hell (cf. Eze 30:8). The singular suffix, which has offended Hitzig, is quite in order as corresponding to לו. The words, “they have gone down, lie there,” etc., point once more to the fact that the same fate has happened to the Egyptians as to all the rest of the rulers and
nations of the world whom God has judged. For אלי גבּורים, strong ones of the heroes, compare the comm. on Eze 31:11. שׁאול, hell = the nether world, the gathering-place of the dead; not the place of punishment for the damned. חללי without the article is a predicate, and not in apposition to הערלים. On the application of this epithet to the Egyptians, Kliefoth has correctly observed that “the question whether the Egyptians received circumcision is one that has no bearing upon this passage; for in the sense in which Ezekiel understands circumcision, the Egyptians were uncircumcised, even if they were accustomed to circumcise their flesh.”
In the four following strophes (Eze 32:22-30) a series of heathen nations is enumerated, whom the Egyptian finds already in hell, and with whom he will share the same fate. There are six of these - namely, Asshur, Elam, Meshech-Tubal, Edom, the princes of the north, and Sidon. The six are divisible into two classes - three great and remote world-powers, and three smaller neighbouring nations. In this no regard is paid to the time of destruction. With the empire of Asshur, which had already fallen, there are associated Elam and Meshech-Tubal, two nations, which only rose to the rank of world-powers in the more immediate and more remote future; and among the neighbouring nations, the Sidonians and princes of the north, i.e., The Syrian kings, are grouped with Edom, although the Sidonians had long ago given up their supremacy to Tyre, and the Aramean kings, who had once so grievously oppressed the kingdom of Israel, had already been swallowed up in the Assyrian and Chaldean empire. It may, indeed, be said that “in any case, at the time when Ezekiel prophesied, princes enough had already descended into Sheol both of the Assyrians and Elamites, etc., to welcome the Egyptians as soon as they came” (Kliefoth); but with the same justice may it also be said that many of the rulers and countrymen of Egypt had also descended into Sheol already, at the time when Pharaoh, reigning in Ezekiel's day, was to share the same fate. It is
evident, therefore, that “any such reflection upon chronological relations is out of place in connection with our text, the intention of which is merely to furnish an exemplification” (Kliefoth), and that Ezekiel looks upon Egypt more in the light of a world-power, discerning in its fall the overthrow of all the heathen power of the world, and predicting it under the prophetic picture, that Pharaoh and his tumult are expected and welcomed by the princes and nations that have already descended into Sheol, as coming to share their fate with them.
Verses 22-23 Edit
Second strophe. - Eze 32:22. There is Asshur and all its multitude, round about it their graves, all of them slain, fallen by the sword Eze 32:23. Whose graves are made in the deepest pit, and its multitude is round about its grave; all slain, fallen by the sword, who spread terror in the land of the living. - The enumeration commences with Asshur, the world-power, which had already been overthrown by the Chaldeans. It is important to notice here, that אשּׁוּר, like עילם in Eze 32:24, and משׁך in Eze 32:26, is construed as a feminine, as המונהּ which follows in every case plainly shows. It is obvious, therefore, that the predominant idea is not that of the king or people, but that of the kingdom or world-power. It is true that in the suffixes attached to סביבותיו קברתיו in Eze 32:22, and סביבותיו in Eze 32:25 and Eze 32:26, the masculine alternates with the feminine, and Hitzig therefore proposes to erase these words; but the alternation may be very simply explained, on the ground that the ideas of the kingdom and its king are not kept strictly separate, but that the words oscillate from one idea to the other. It is affirmed of Asshur, that as a world-power it lies in Sheol, and the gravers of its countrymen are round about the graves of its ruler. They all lie there as those who have fallen by the sword, i.e., who have been swept away by a judgment of God. To this is added in Eze 32:23 the declaration that the graves of Asshur lie in the utmost sides, i.e., the utmost or deepest extremity of Sheol; whereas so long as this power together with its people was in the land of the living, i.e., so long
as they ruled on earth, they spread terror all around them by their violent deeds. From the loftiest height of earthly might and greatness, they are hurled down to the lowest hell. The higher on earth, the deeper in the nether world. Hävernick has entirely misunderstood the words “round about Asshur are its graves” (Eze 32:22), and “its multitude is round about its grave” (the grave of this world-power), when he finds therein the thought that the graves and corpses are to be regarded as separated, so that the dead are waiting near their graves in deepest sorrow, looking for the honour of burial, but looking in vain. There is not a word of this in the text, but simply that the graves of the people lie round about the grave of their ruler.
Verses 24-25 Edit
Third strophe. - Eze 32:24. There is Elam, and all its multitude round about its grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who went down uncircumcised into the nether world, who spread terror before them in the land of the living, and bear their shame with those who went into the pit. Eze 32:25. In the midst of the slain have they made it a bed with all its multitude, round about it are their graves; all of them uncircumcised, pierced with the sword; because terror was spread before them in the land of the living, they bear their shame with those who have gone into the pit. In the midst of slain ones is he laid. - Asshur is followed by עילם, Elam, the warlike people of Elymais, i.e., Susiana, the modern Chusistan, whose archers served in the Assyrian army (Isa 22:6), and which is mentioned along with the Medes as one of the conquerors of Babylon (Isa 21:2), whereas Jeremiah prophesied its destruction at the commencement of Zedekiah's reign (Jer 49:34.). Ezekiel says just the same of Elam as he has already said of Asshur, and almost in the same words. The only difference is, that his description is more copious, and that he expresses more distinctly the thought of shameful destruction which is implied in the fact of lying in Sheol among the slain, and repeats it a second time, and that he also sets the bearing of shame
into Sheol in contrast with the terror which Elam had spread around it during its life on earth. נשׂא , as in Eze 16:52. The ב in בּכל־המונהּ is either the “with of association,” or the fact of being in the midst of a crowd. להּ refers to עילם; and נתנוּ has an indefinite subject, “they gave” = there was given. משׁכּב, the resting-place of the dead, as in 2Ch 16:14. The last clause in Eze 32:25 is an emphatic repetition of the leading thought: he (Elam) is brought or laid in the midst of the slain.
Verses 26-28 Edit
Fourth strophe. - Eze 32:26. There is Meshech-Tubal and all its multitude, its graves round about it; all of them uncircumcised, slain in with the sword, because they spread terror before them in the land of the living. Eze 32:27. They lie not with the fallen heroes of uncircumcised men, who went down into hell with their weapons of war, whose swords they laid under their heads; their iniquities have come upon their bones, because they were a terror of the heroes in the land of the living. Eze 32:28. Thou also wilt be dashed to pieces among uncircumcised men, and lie with those slain with the sword. - משׁך and תּבל, the Moschi and Tibareni of the Greeks (see the comm. on Eze 27:13), are joined together ἀσυνδετῶς here as one people or heathen power; and Ewald, Hitzig, and others suppose that the reference is to the Scythians, who invaded the land in the time of Josiah, and the majority of whom had miserably perished not very long before (Herod. i. 106). But apart from the fact that the prophets of the Old Testament make no allusion to any invasion of Palestine by the Scythians (see Minor Prophets, vol. ii. p. 124, Eng. transl.), this view is founded entirely upon the erroneous supposition that in this funeral-dirge Ezekiel mentions only such peoples as had sustained great defeats a longer or shorter time before. Meshech-Tubal comes into consideration here, as in Ezekiel 38, as a northern power, which is overcome in its conflict with the kingdom of God, and is prophetically exhibited by the prophet as having already fallen under the judgment of death. In Eze 32:26 Ezekiel makes the
same announcement as he has already made concerning Asshur in Eze 32:22, Eze 32:23, and with regard to Elam in Eze 32:24, Eze 32:25. But the announcement in Eze 32:27 is obscure. Rosenmüller, Ewald, Hävernick, and others, regard this verse as a question (ולא in the sense of הלא): “and should they not lie with (rest with) other fallen heroes of the uncircumcised, who...?” i.e., they do lie with them, and could not possibly expect a better fate. But although the interrogation is merely indicated by the tone where the language is excited, and therefore ולא might stand for הלא, as in Exo 8:22, there is not the slightest indication of such excitement in the description given here as could render this assumption a probable one. On the contrary, ולא at the commencement of the sentence suggests the supposition that an antithesis is intended to the preceding verse. And the probability of this conjecture is heightened by the allusion made to heroes, who have descended into the nether world with their weapons of war; inasmuch as, at all events, something is therein affirmed which does not apply to all the heroes who have gone down into hell. The custom of placing the weapons of fallen heroes along with them in the grave is attested by Diod. Sic. xviii. 26; Arrian, i. 5; Virgil, Ane. vi. 233 (cf. Dougtaei Analectt. ss. i. pp. 281, 282); and, according to the ideas prevailing in ancient times, it was a mark of great respect to the dead. But the last place in which we should expect to meet with any allusion to the payment of such honour to the dead would be in connection with Meshech and Tubal, those wild hordes of the north, who were only known to Israel by hearsay. We therefore follow the Vulgate, the Rabbins, and many of the earlier commentators, and regard the verse before us as containing a declaration that the slain of Meshech-Tubal would not receive the honour of resting in the nether world along with those fallen heroes whose weapons were buried with them in the grave, because they fell with honour.
כּלי מלחמה, instruments of war, weapons, as in Deu 1:41. The text leaves it uncertain who they were who had been buried with such honours. The Seventy have confounded מערלים with מעולם, and rendered ,נפלים τῶν πεπτωκότων ἀπ ̓αἰῶνος possibly thinking of the gibborim of Gen 6:4. Dathe and Hitzig propose to alter the text to this; and even Hävernick imagines that the prophet may possibly have had such passages as Gen 6:4 and Gen 10:9. floating before his mind. But there is not sufficient ground to warrant an alteration of the text; and if Ezekiel had had Gen 6:4 in his mind, he would no doubt have written הגבּורים. The clause ותּהי עונותם is regarded by the more recent commentators as a continuation of the preceding 'ויּתּנוּ וגו, which is a very natural conclusion, if we simply take notice of the construction. But if we consider the sense of the words, this combination can hardly be sustained. The words, “and so were their iniquities upon their bones” (or they came upon them), can well be understood as an explanation of the reason for their descending into Sheol with their weapons, and lying upon their swords. We must therefore regard ותּהי עונותם as a continuation of ישׁכּבוּ, so that their not resting with those who were buried with their weapons of war furnishes the proof that their guilt lay upon their bones. The words, therefore, have no other meaning than the phrase ישׂאוּ כלמּתם in Eze 32:24 and Eze 32:30. Sin comes upon the bones when the punishment consequent upon it falls upon the bones of the sinner. In the last clause we connect גבּורים with חתּית, terror of the heroes, i.e., terrible even to heroes on account of their savage and cruel nature. In Eze 32:28 we cannot take אתּה as referring to Meshech-Tubal, as many of the commentators propose. A direct address to that people would be at variance with the whole plan of the ode. Moreover, the declaration contained in the verse would contradict what precedes.
As Meshech-Tubal is already lying in Sheol among the slain, according to Eze 32:26, the announcement cannot be made to it for the first time here, that it is to be dashed in pieces and laid with those who are slain with the sword. It is the Egyptian who is addressed, and he is told that this fate will also fall upon him. And through this announcement, occurring in the midst of the list of peoples that have already gone down to Sheol, the design of that list is once more called to mind.
Verses 29-30 Edit
Fifth strophe. - Eze 32:29. There are Edom, its kings and all its princes, who in spite of their bravery are associated with those that are pierced with the sword; they lie with the uncircumcised and with those that have gone down into the pit. Eze 32:30. There are princes of the north, all of them, and all the Sidonians who have gone down to the slain, been put to shame in spite of the dread of them because of their bravery; they lie there as uncircumcised, and bear their shame with those who have gone into the pit. - In this strophe Ezekiel groups together the rest of the heathen nations in the neighbourhood of Israel; and in doing so, he changes the שׁם of the preceding list for שׁמּה, thither. This might be taken prophetically: thither will they come, “to these they also belong” (Hävernick), only such nations being mentioned here as are still awaiting their destruction. But, in the first place, the perfects אשׁר נתנוּ, אשׁר ירדוּ, in Eze 32:29, Eze 32:30, do not favour this explanation, inasmuch as they are used as preterites in Eze 32:22, Eze 32:24, Eze 32:25, Eze 32:26, Eze 32:27; and, secondly, even in the previous strophes, not only are such peoples mentioned as have already perished, but some, like Elam and Meshech-Tubal, which did not rise into historical importance, or exert any influence upon the development of the kingdom of God till after Ezekiel's time, whereas the Edomites and Sidonians were already approaching destruction. We therefore regard שׁמּה as simply a variation of expression in the sense of “thither have they come,” without discovering any allusion to the future. - In the case of Edom, kings and נשׂיאים, i.e., tribe-princes, are mentioned. The allusion is to the ‘alluphim
or phylarchs, literally chiliarchs, the heads of the leading families (Gen 36:15.), in whose hands the government of the people lay, inasmuch as the kings were elective, and were probably chosen by the phylarchs (see the comm. on Gen 36:31.). בּגבוּרתם, in, or with their bravery, i.e., in spite of it. There is something remarkable in the allusion to princes of the north (נסיכי, lit., persons enfeoffed, vassal-princes; see the comm. on Jos 13:21 and Mic 5:4) in connection with the Sidonians, and after Meshech-Tubal the representative of the northern nations. The association with the Sidonians renders the conjecture a very natural one, that allusion is made to the north of Palestine, and more especially to the Aram of Scripture, with its many separate states and princes (Hävernick); although Jer 25:26, “the kings of the north, both far and near,” does not furnish a conclusive proof of this. So much, at any rate, is certain, that the princes of the north are not to be identified with the Sidonians. For, as Kliefoth has correctly observed, “there are six heathen nations mentioned, viz., Asshur, Elam, Meshech-Tubal, Edom, the princes of the north, and Sidon; and if we add Egypt to the list, we shall have seven, which would be thoroughly adapted, as it was eminently intended, to depict the fate of universal heathenism.” A principle is also clearly discernible in the mode in which they are grouped. Asshur, Elam, and Meshech-Tubal represent the greater and more distant world-powers; Edom the princes of the north, and Sidon the neighbouring nations of Israel on both south and north. בּחתּיתם מגּבוּרתם, literally, in dread of them, (which proceeded) from their bravery, i.e., which their bravery inspired. 'ויּשׂאוּ וגו, as in Eze 32:24.
Verses 31-32 Edit
Sixth and last strophe. - Eze 32:31. Pharaoh will see them, and comfort himself over all his multitude. Pharaoh and all his army are slain with the sword, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Eze 32:32. For I caused him to spread terror in the land of the living, therefore is he laid in the midst of uncircumcised, those slain with the sword. Pharaoh and all his multitude,
is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - In these verses the application to Egypt follows. Pharaoh will see in the nether world all the greater and smaller heathen nations with their rulers; and when he sees them all given up to the judgment of death, he will comfort himself over the fate which has fallen upon himself and his army, as he will perceive that he could not expect any better lot than that of the other rulers of the world. נחם על, to comfort oneself, as in Eze 31:16 and Eze 14:22. Hitzig's assertion, that נחם never signifies to comfort oneself, is incorrect (see the comm. on Eze 14:22). נתתּי את־חתּיתו, I have given terror of him, i.e., I have made him an instrument of terror. The Keri חתּיתי arose from a misunderstanding. The Chetib is confirmed by Eze 32:24 and Eze 32:26. In Eze 32:32 the ode is brought to a close by returning even in expression to Eze 32:19 and Eze 32:20.
If, now, we close with a review of the whole of the contents of the words of God directed against Egypt, in all of them is the destruction of the might of Pharaoh and Egypt as a world-power foretold. And this prophecy has been completely fulfilled. As Kliefoth has most truly observed, “one only needs to enter the pyramids of Egypt and its catacombs to see that the glory of the Pharaohs has gone down into Sheol. And it is equally certain that this destruction of the glory of ancient Egypt dates from the times of the Babylonio-Persian empire. Moreover, this destruction was so thorough, that even to the New Egypt of the Ptolemies the character of the Old Egypt was a perfect enigma, a thing forgotten and incomprehensible.” But if Ezekiel repeatedly speaks of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon as executing this judgment upon Egypt, we must bear in mind that here, as in the case of Tyre (see the comm. on Ezekiel 28:1-19), Ezekiel regards Nebuchadnezzar as the instrument of the righteous punishment of God in general, and discerns in what he accomplishes the sum of all that in the course of ages has been gradually fulfilling itself in history. At the same time, it is equally certain that this
view of the prophet would have no foundation in truth unless Nebuchadnezzar really did conquer Egypt and lay it waste, and the might and glory of this ancient empire were so shattered thereby, that it never could recover its former greatness, but even after the turning of its captivity, i.e., after its recovery from the deadly wounds which the imperial monarchy of Babylonia and afterwards of Persia inflicted upon it, still remained a lowly kingdom, which could “no more rule over the nations” (Eze 29:13-16). Volney, however, in his Recherch. nouv. sur l'hist. anc. (III pp. 151ff.), and Hitzig (Ezekiel p. 231), dispute the conquest and devastation of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, because the Greek historians, with Herodotus (ii. 161ff.) at their head, make no allusion whatever to an invasion of Egypt; and their statements are even opposed to such an occurrence. But the silence of Greek historians, especially of Herodotus, is a most “miserable” argument. The same historians do not say a word about the defeat of Necho by Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish; and yet even Hitzig accepts this as an indisputable fact. Herodotus and his successors derived their accounts of Egypt from the communications of Egyptian priests, who suppressed everything that was humiliating to the pride of Egypt, and endeavoured to cover it up with their accounts of glorious deeds which the Pharaohs had performed. But Hitzig has by no means proved that the statements of the Greeks are at variance with the assumption of a Chaldean invasion of Egypt, whilst he has simply rejected but not refuted the attempts of Perizonius, Vitringa, Hävernick, and others, to reconcile the biblical narrative of the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar with the accounts given by Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, and other Greeks, concerning the mighty feats of Necho, and his being slain by Amasis. The remark that, in the description given by Herodotus, Amasis appears as an independent king by the side of Cambyses, only less powerful than the Persian monarch, proves nothing more, even assuming the correctness of the fact, than that Amasis
had made Egypt once more independent of Babylonia on the sudden overthrow of the Chaldean monarchy.
The conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, after the attitude which Pharaoh Necho assumed towards the Babylonian empire, and even attempted to maintain in the time of Zedekiah by sending an army to the relief of Jerusalem when besieged by the Chaldeans, is not only extremely probable in itself, but confirmed by testimony outside the Bible. Even if no great importance can be attached to the notice of Megasthenes, handed down by Strabo (xv. 1. 6) and Josephus (c. Ap. i. 20): “he says that he (Nebuchadnezzar) conquered the greater part of Libya and Iberia;” Josephus not only quotes from Berosus (l.c. i. 19) to the effect that “the Babylonian got possession of Egypt, Syria, Phoenicia, Arabia,” but, on the ground of such statements, relates the complete fulfilment of the prophecies of Scripture, saying, in Antt. x. 9. 7, with reference to Nebuchadnezzar, “he fell upon Egypt to conquer it. And the reigning king he slew; and having appointed another in his place, made those Jews prisoners who had hitherto resided there, and led them into Babylon.” And even if Josephus does not give his authority in this case, the assertion that he gathered this from the prophecies of Jeremiah is untrue; because, immediately before the words we have quoted, he says that what Jeremiah had prophesied (Jer 43:10 and Jer 44) had thus come to pass; making a distinction, therefore, between prophecy and history. And suspicion is not to be cast upon this testimony by such objections as that Josephus does not mention the name of the Egyptian king, or state precisely the time when Egypt was conquered, but merely affirms in general terms that it was after the war with the Ammonites and Moabites.
Chap. 33 Edit
Verses 1-9 Edit
Second Half Edit
The Announcement of Salvation - Ezekiel 33-48 Edit
the first half of his book, Ezekiel has predicted severe judgments, both to the covenant nation and to the heathen nations. But to the people of Israel he has also promised the turning of its captivity, after the judgment of the destruction of the kingdom and the dispersion of the refractory generation in the heathen lands; not merely their restoration to their own land, but the setting up of the covenant made with the fathers, and the renewing of the restored nation by the Spirit of God, so that it will serve the Lord upon His holy mountain with offerings acceptable to Him (compare Eze 11:16-21; Eze 16:60, and Eze 20:40.). On the other hand, he has threatened the heathenish peoples and kingdoms of the world with devastation and everlasting destruction, so that they will be remembered no more (compare Ezekiel 21:36-37; Eze 25:7, Eze 25:10,Eze 25:16; Eze 26:21; Eze 27:36, and Eze 28:19), or rather with the lasting humiliation and overthrow of their glory in the nether world (compare Eze 29:13., Eze 31:15., and Eze 32:17.); whilst God will create a glorious thing in the land of the living, gather Israel from its dispersion, cause it to dwell safely and happily in the land given to His servant Jacob, and a horn to grow thereto (Eze 26:20; Eze 28:25., and Eze 29:21). - This announcement is carried out still further in the second half of the book, where first of
all the pardon, blessing, and glorification promised to the covenant nation, after its sifting by the judgment of exile, are unfolded according to their leading features, and the destruction of its foes is foretold (Ezekiel 34-39); and then, secondly, there is depicted the establishment of the renovated kingdom of God for everlasting continuance (Ezekiel 40-48). The prophet's mouth was opened to make the announcement when a fugitive brought the tidings of the destruction both of Jerusalem and of the kingdom to the captives by the Chaboras; and this constitutes the second half of the prophetic ministry of Ezekiel. The introduction to this is contained in Ezekiel 33, whilst the announcement itself is divisible into two parts, according to its contents, as just indicated, - namely, first, the promise of the restoration and glorification of Israel (Ezekiel 34-39); and secondly, the apocalyptic picture of the new constitution of the kingdom of God (Ezekiel 40-48).
The Calling of the Prophet, and His Future Attitude towards the People - Ezekiel 33 Edit
This chapter is divided into two words of God of an introductory character, which are separated by the historical statement in Eze 33:21 and Eze 33:22, though substantially they are one. The first (vv. 1-20) exhibits the calling of the prophet for the time to come; the second (Eze 33:23-33) sets before him his own attitude towards the people, and the attitude of the people towards his further announcement. The first precedes the arrival of the messenger, who brought to the prophet and the exiles the tidings of the conquest and destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (Eze 33:21). The second was uttered afterwards. The fall of the holy city formed a turning-point in the prophetic work of Ezekiel. Previous to this catastrophe, God had appointed him to be a watchman over Israel: to show the people their sins, and to proclaim the consequent punishment, namely, the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah, together with
the dispersion of the people among the heathen. But after the city had fallen, and the judgment predicted by him had taken place, the object to be aimed at was to inspire those who were desponding and despairing of salvation with confidence and consolation, by predicting the restoration of the fallen kingdom of God in a new and glorious form, to show them the way to new life, and to open the door for their entrance into the new kingdom of God. The two divisions of our chapter correspond to this, which was to be henceforth the task imposed upon the prophet. In the first (vv. 1-20), his calling to be the spiritual watchman over the house of Israel is renewed (Eze 33:2-9), with special instructions to announce to the people, who are inclined to despair under the burden of their sins, that the Lord has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but will give life to him who turns from his iniquity (Eze 33:10-20). The kernel and central point of this word of God are found in the lamentation of the people: “Our transgressions and sins lie upon us, and we are pining away through them; how then can we live?” (Eze 33:10), together with the reply given by the Lord: “By my life, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked...turn ye, turn yourselves; why do ye wish to die?” (Eze 33:11). The way is prepared for this by Eze 33:2-9, whilst Eze 33:12-20 carry out this promise of God still further, and assign the reason for it. - The thoughts with which the promise of the Lord, thus presented as an antidote to despair, is introduced and explained are not new, however, but repetitions of earlier words of God. The preparatory introduction in Eze 33:2-9 is essentially a return to the word in Eze 3:17-21, with which the Lord closes the prophet's call by pointing out to him the duty and responsibility connected with his vocation. And the reason assigned in Eze 33:12-20, together with the divine promise in Eze 33:11, is taken from Ezekiel 18, where the prophet unfolds the working of the righteousness of God; and more precisely from Eze 18:20-32 of that chapter, where the thought is more fully expanded, that the judgments of God can be averted by repentance and conversion.
From all this it is indisputably evident that the first section of this chapter contains an introduction to the second half of the prophecies of Ezekiel; and this also explains the absence of any date at the head of the section, or the “remarkable” fact that the date (Eze 33:21 and Eze 33:22) is not given till the middle of the chapter, where it stands between the first and second of the words of God contained therein. - The word of God in Eze 33:23. was no doubt addressed to the prophet after the fugitive had arrived with the tidings of the fall of Jerusalem; whereas the word by which the prophet was prepared for his further labours (vv. 1-20) preceded that event, and coincided in point of time with the working of God upon the prophet on the evening preceding the arrival of the fugitive, through which his mouth was opened for further speaking (Eze 33:22); and it is placed before this historical statement because it was a renewal of his call.
Calling of the Prophet for the Future - Ezekiel 33:1-20 Edit
The prophet's office of watchman. Eze 33:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Eze 33:2. Son of man, speak to the sons of thy people, and say to them, When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their company and set him for a watchman, Eze 33:3. And he seeth the sword come upon the land, and bloweth the trumpet, and warneth the people; Eze 33:4. If, then, one should hear the blast of the trumpet and not take warning, so that the sword should come and take him away, his blood would come upon his own head. Eze 33:5. He heard the blast of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood will come upon him: whereas, if he had taken warning, he would have delivered his soul. Eze 33:6. But if the watchman seeth the sword come, and bloweth not the trumpet, and the people is not warned; and the sword should come and take away a soul from them, he is taken away through his guilt; but his blood will I demand from the watchman's hand. Eze 33:7. Thou, then, son of man, I have set thee for the watchman to the house of Israel; thou shalt hear the word from my mouth, and warn them for me. Eze 33:8. If I say to the sinner, Sinner, thou wilt die the death; and thou speakest not to warn the sinner from his way, he, the sinner, will die for his iniquity, and his blood I will demand from thy hand. Eze 33:9. But if thou hast warned the sinner from his way, to turn from it, and he does not turn from his way, he will die for his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. - Eze 33:7-9, with the exception of slight deviations which have little influence upon the sense, are repeated verbatim from Eze 3:17-19. The repetition of the duty binding upon the prophet, and of the responsibility connected therewith, is introduced, however, in Eze 33:2-6, by an example taken from life, and made so plain that every one who heard the words must see that Ezekiel was obliged to call the attention of the people to the judgment awaiting them, and to warn them of the threatening danger, and that this obligation rested upon him still. In this respect the expansion, which is wanting in Ezekiel 3, serves to connect the following prophecies of Ezekiel with the threats of judgment contained in the first part. The meaning of it is the following: As it is the duty of the appointed watchman of a land to announce to the people the approach of the enemy, and if he fail to do this he is deserving of death; so Ezekiel also, as the watchman of Israel appointed by God, not only is bound to warn the people of the approaching judgment, in order to fulfil his duty, but has already warned them of it, so that whoever has not taken warning has
been overtaken by the sword because of his sin. As, then, Ezekiel has only discharged his duty and obligation by so doing, so has he the same duty still further to perform. - In Eze 33:2 ארץ is placed at the head in an absolute form; and 'כּי אביא וגו, “if I bring the sword upon a land,” is to be understood with this restriction: “so that the enemy is on the way and an attack may be expected” (Hitzig). מקציהם, from the end of the people of the land, i.e., one taken from the whole body of the people, as in Gen 47:2 (see the comm. on Gen 19:4). Blowing the trumpet is a signal of alarm on the approach of an enemy (compare Amo 3:6; Jer 4:5). נזהר in Eze 33:5 is a participle; on the other hand, both before and afterwards it is a perfect, pointed with Kametz on account of the tone. For Eze 33:7-9, see the exposition of Eze 3:17-19.
Verses 10-20 Edit
As watchman over Israel, Ezekiel is to announce to those who are despairing of the mercy of God, that the Lord will preserve from destruction those who turn from their sin, and lead them into life. - Eze 33:10. Thou then, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Ye rightly say, Our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and in them we vanish away; how, then, can we live? Eze 33:11. Say to them, As truly as I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the sinner; but when the sinner turneth from his way, he shall live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways! for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Eze 33:12. And thou, son of man, say to the sons of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression, and the sinner will not fall through his sin in the day that he turneth from his sin, and the righteous man will not be able to live thereby in the day that he sinneth. Eze 33:13. If I say to the righteous man that he shall live, and he relies upon his righteousness and does wrong, all his righteousnesses will not be remembered; and for his wrong that he has done, he will die. Eze 33:14. If I say to the sinner, Thou shalt die, and he turns from his sin, and does justice and righteousness, Eze 33:15.
So that the wicked returns the pledge, restores what has been robbed, walks in the statutes of life without doing wrong, he will live, not die. Eze 33:16. All his sins which he has committed shall not be remembered against him; he has done justice and righteousness, he will live. Eze 33:17. And the sons of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not right; but they - their way is not right. Eze 33:18. If the righteous man turneth from his righteousness and doeth wrong, he shall die thereby; Eze 33:19. But if the wicked man turneth from his wickedness and doeth right and righteousness, he will live thereby. Eze 33:20. And yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not right. I will judge you every one according to his ways, O house of Israel. - In Eze 33:10 and Eze 33:11 the prophet's calling for the future is set before him, inasmuch as God instructs him to announce to those who are in despair on account of their sins the gracious will of the Lord. The threat contained in the law (Lev 26:39), ימּקּוּ בּעונם, of which Ezekiel had repeatedly reminded the people with warning, and, last of all, when predicting the conquest and destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (compare Eze 4:17 and Eze 24:23), had pressed heavily upon their heart, when the threatened judgment took place, so that they quote the words, not “in self-defence,” as Hävernick erroneously supposes, but in despair of any deliverance. Ezekiel is to meet this despair of little faith by the announcement that the Lord has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but desires his conversion and his life. Ezekiel had already set this word of grave before the people in Eze 18:23, Eze 18:32, accompanied with the summons to salvation for them to lay to heart: there, it was done to overthrow the delusion that the present generation had to atone for the sins of the fathers; but here, to lift up the hearts of those who were despairing of salvation; and for this reason it is accompanied with the asseveration (wanting in Eze 18:23 and Eze 18:32): “as truly as I live, saith the Lord,” and with the urgent appeal to repent and turn. But in order to preclude the abuse of this word of consolation by making it a
ground of false confidence in their own righteousness, Ezekiel repeats in Eze 33:12-20 the principal thoughts contained in that announcement (Eze 18:20-32) - namely, first of all, in Eze 33:12-16, the thought that the righteousness of the righteous is of no avail to him if he gives himself up to the unrighteousness, and that the sinner will not perish on account of his sin if he turns from his wickedness and strives after righteousness (יכּשׁל , Eze 33:12, as in Hos 5:5; Jer 6:15; compare Eze 18:24-25, and Eze 18:21, Eze 18:22; and for Eze 33:14 and Eze 33:15, more especially Eze 18:5 and Eze 18:7); and then, secondly, in Eze 33:17-20, the reproof of those who find fault with the way of the Lord (compare Eze 18:25, Eze 18:27, Eze 18:29-30).
Verses 21-22 Edit
Tidings of the Fall of Jerusalem, and the Consequences with Regard to the Prophet
Eze 33:21. And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the tenth (month), on the fifth of the month after our being taken captive, there came to me a fugitive from Jerusalem, and said, The city is smitten. Eze 33:22. And the hand of Jehovah had come upon me in the evening before the arrival of the fugitive, and He opened my mouth, till he came to me in the morning; and so was my mouth opened, and I was silent no more. - In these verses the fulfilment of the promise made by God to the prophet in Eze 24:25-27, after the prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, is recorded. The chronological datum, as to the precise time at which the messenger arrived with the account of the destruction of Jerusalem, serves to mark with precision the point of time at which the obstacle was removed, and the prophet was able to speak and prophesy without restraint. - The fact that the tidings of the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place in the fifth month of the eleventh year, are said to have only reached the exiles in the tenth month of the twelfth year, that is to say, nearly a year and a half after it occurred, does not warrant our following the Syriac, as Doederlein and Hitzig have done, calling in question the correctness of the text and substituting the eleventh year for the twelfth. With the distance
at which Ezekiel was living, namely, in northern Mesopotamia, and with the fearful confusion which followed the catastrophe, a year and a half might very easily pass by before a fugitive arrived with the information. But Hitzig's assertion, that Ezekiel would contradict himself, inasmuch as, according to Eze 26:1-2, he received intelligence of the affair in the eleventh year, is founded upon a misinterpretation of the passage quoted. It is not stated there that Ezekiel received this information through a fugitive or any man whatever, but simply that God had revealed to him the fall of Jerusalem even before it occurred. לגלוּתינוּ, after our being led away (Eze 33:21 and Eze 40:1), coincides with לגלוּת המּלך in Eze 1:2. הכּתה, smitten, i.e., conquered and destroyed, exterminated. In the clause 'ויד יהוה , the verb היתה is a pluperfect, and אלי stands for עלי, according to the later usage. The formula indicates the translation of the prophet into an ecstatic state (see the comm. on Eze 1:3), in which his mouth was opened to speak, that is to say, the silence imposed upon him was taken away. The words, “till he came to me in the morning,” etc., are not to be understood as signifying that the prophet's mouth had only been opened for the time from evening till morning; for this would be opposed to the following sentence. They simply affirm that the opening of the mouth took place before the arrival of the fugitive, the night before the morning of his arrival. ויּפּתח פּי, which follows, is an emphatic repetition, introduced as a link with which to connect the practically important statement that from that time forward he was not speechless any more. - It was in all probability shortly afterwards that Ezekiel was inspired with the word of God which follows in Eze 33:23-33, as we may infer from the contents of the word itself, which laid the foundation for the prophet's further prophesying. But nothing can be gathered from Eze 33:22 with regard to the time when this and the following words of God (as far as Ezekiel 39), of which no chronological data are given, were communicated to the prophet and uttered by him. His
being “silent no more” by no means involves immediate or continuous speaking, but simply recalls the command to be speechless. There is no ground for the assumption that all these words of God were communicated to him in one night (Hävernick, Hengstenberg, and others), either in Eze 33:22 or in the contents of these divine revelations.
Preaching of Repentance after the Fall of Jerusalem
The first word of God, which Ezekiel received after the arrival of the fugitive with the intelligence of the destruction of Jerusalem, was not of a consolatory, but of a rebuking nature, and directed against those who, while boasting in an impenitent state of mind of the promise given to the patriarchs of the everlasting possession of the Holy Land, fancied that they could still remain in possession of the promised land even after the destruction of Jerusalem and of the kingdom of Judah. This delusion the prophet overthrows by the announcement that the unrighteous are to have no share in the possession of the land of Israel, but are to perish miserably, and that the land is to be utterly waste and without inhabitants (Eze 33:23-29). The Lord then shows him that his countrymen will indeed come to him and listen to his words, but will only do that which is pleasant to themselves; that they will still seek after gain, and not do his words; and that it will not be till after his words have been fulfilled that they will come to the knowledge of the fact that he really was a prophet (Eze 33:30-33). We perceive from these last verses that the threat uttered in Eze 33:24-29 was to form the basis for Ezekiel's further prophecies, so that the whole of this word of God has only the force of an introduction to his further labours. But however the two halves of this word of God may appear to differ, so far as their contents are concerned, they are nevertheless closely connected. The state of heart disclosed in the first half, with reference to the judgment that has already fallen upon the
land and kingdom, is to preclude the illusion, that the fact of the people's coming to the prophet to hear his words is a sign of penitential humiliation under the punishing hand of God, and to bring out the truth, that the salvation which he is about to foretell to the people is only to be enjoyed by those who turn with sincerity to the Lord.
Verses 23-29 Edit
False reliance upon God's Promises
Eze 33:23. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Eze 33:24. Son of man, the inhabitants of these ruins in the land of Israel speak thus: Abraham was one, and received the land for a possession; but we are many, the land is given to us for a possession. Eze 33:25. Therefore say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Ye eat upon the blood, and lift up your eyes to your idols, and shed blood, and would ye possess the land? Eze 33:26. Ye rely upon your sword, do abomination, and one defileth another's wife, and would ye possess the land? Eze 33:27. Speak thus to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, By my life, those who are in the ruins shall fall by the sword, and whoever is in the open field him do I give to the beasts to devour, and those who are in the fortresses and caves shall die of the pestilence. Eze 33:28. And I make the land devastation and waste, and its proud might shall have an end, and the mountains of Israel shall be waste, so that no one passeth through. Eze 33:29. And they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I make the land devastation and waste because of all the abominations which they have done. - This threat is directed against the people who remained behind in the land of Judah after the destruction of Jerusalem. ישׁבי are the Israelites who dwelt amidst the ruins of the Holy Land, the remnant of the people left behind in the land. For it is so evident as to need no proof that Kliefoth is wrong in asserting that by החרבות we are to understand the district bordering on the Chaboras, which was not properly cultivated; and by the inhabitants thereof, the exiles who surrounded Ezekiel. It is only by confounding אמר and דּבּר that Kliefoth is able to set aside the more precise definition of the inhabitants of these
ruins contained in the words על אדמת ישׂראל, and to connect ישׂ 'על אד with אמרים, “they speak concerning the land of Israel;” and in Eze 33:27 it is only in a forced manner that he can generalize החרבות and take it as referring to the waste places both in the Holy Land and on the Chaboras. The fact, moreover, that Eze 33:30-33 treat of the Israelites by the Chaboras, is no proof whatever that they must also be referred to in Eze 33:24-29. For the relation in which the two halves of this word of God stand to one another is not that “Eze 33:30-33 depict the impression made upon the hearers by the words contained in Eze 33:24-29,” so that “the persons alluded to in Eze 33:30-33 must necessarily be the hearers of Eze 33:24-29.” Eze 33:30-33 treat in quite a general manner of the attitude which the prophet's countrymen would assume towards his words - that is to say, not merely to his threats, but also to his predictions of salvation; they would only attend to that which had a pleasant sound to them, but they would not do his words (Eze 33:31, Eze 33:32). It is quite in harmony with this, that in Eze 33:23-29 these people should be told of the state of heart of those who had remained behind on the ruins of the Holy Land, and that it should be announced to them that the fixed belief in the permanent possession of the Holy Land, on which those who remained behind in the land relied, was a delusion, and that those who were victims of this delusion should be destroyed by sword and pestilence. Just as in the first part of this book Ezekiel uttered the threatened prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah in the presence of his countrymen by the Chaboras, and addressed them to these, because they stood in the same internal relation to the Lord as their brethren in Jerusalem and Judah; so here does he hold up this delusion before them as a warning, in order that he may disclose to them the worthlessness of such vain hope, and preach repentance and conversion as the only way to lie.
The meaning of the words spoken by these people, “Abraham was one,” etc., is, that if Abraham, as one solitary individual,
received the land of Canaan or a possession by the promise of God, the same God could not take this possession away from them, the many sons of Abraham. The antithesis of the “one” and the “many” derived its significance, in relation to their argument, from the descent of the many from the one, which is taken for granted, and also from the fact, which is assumed to be well know from the book of Genesis, that the land was not promised and given to the patriarch for his own possession, but for his seed or descendants to possess. They relied, like the Jews of the time of Christ (Joh 8:33, Joh 8:39), upon their corporeal descent from Abraham (compare the similar words in Eze 11:15). Ezekiel, on the other hand, simply reminds them of their own sinful conduct (Eze 33:25, Eze 33:26), for the purpose of showing them that they have thereby incurred the loss of this possession. Eating upon the blood, is eating flesh in which the blood is still lying, which has not been cleansed from blood, as in Lev 19:26 and 1Sa 14:32-33; an act the prohibition of which was first addressed to Noah (Gen 9:4), and is repeatedly urged in the law (cf. Lev 7:26-27). This is also the case with the prohibition of idolatry, lifting up the eyes to idols (cf. Eze 18:6), and the shedding of blood (cf. Eze 18:10; Eze 22:3, etc.). עמד, to support oneself, or rely (עמד, used as in Eze 31:14) upon the sword, i.e., to put confidence in violence and bloodshed. In this connection we are not to think of the use of the sword in war. To work abomination, as in Eze 18:12. עשׂיתן is not a feminine, “ye women,” but ן is written in the place of מ on account of the ת which follows, after the analogy of פּדיון for פּדיום (Hitzig). On the defiling of a neighbour's wife, see the comm. on Eze 18:6. Such daring sinners the Lord would destroy wherever they might be. In v. 37 the punishment is individualized (cf. Eze 14:21). Those in the חרבות shall fall by the חרב (the play upon the word is very obvious); those in the open country shall perish by wild beasts (compare 2Ki 17:25; Exo 23:19; Lev 26:22); those who are in mountain fastnesses and caves,
where they are safe from the sword and ravenous beasts, shall perish by plague and pestilence. This threat is not to be restricted to the acts of the Chaldeans in the land after the destruction of Jerusalem, but applies to all succeeding times. Even the devastation and utter depopulation of the land, threatened in Eze 33:28, are not to be taken as referring merely to the time of the Babylonian captivity, but embrace the devastation which accompanied and followed the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. For גּאון ע, see the comm. on Eze 7:24. For Eze 33:29, compare Eze 6:14.
Verses 30-33 Edit
Behaviour of the People Towards the prophet
Eze 33:30. And thou, son of man, the sons of thy people converse about thee by the walls and in the house-doors; one talketh to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come and let us hear what kind of word goeth out from Jehovah. Eze 33:31. And they will come to thee, like an assembly of the people, and sit before thee as my people, and will hear thy words, but not do them; but that which is pleasant in their mouth they do; their heart goeth after their gain. Eze 33:32. And, behold, thou art unto them like a pleasant singer, beautiful in voice and playing well; they will hear thy words, but they will not do them. Eze 33:33. But when it cometh - behold, it cometh - they will know that a prophet was in the midst of them. - This addition to the preceding word of God, which is addressed to Ezekiel personally, applies to the whole of the second half of his ministry, and stands in obvious connection with the instructions given to the prophet on the occasion of his first call (Eze 3:16.), and repeated, so far as their substance is concerned, in Eze 33:7-9, as Kliefoth himself acknowledges, in opposition to his assumption that vv. 1-20 of this chapter belong to the prophecies directed against the foreign nations. As God had directed the prophet's attention, on the occasion of his call, to the difficulties connected with the discharge of the duties of a watchman with which he was entrusted, by setting before him the object and the responsibility of his vocation, and had warned him not to allow himself
to be turned aside by the opposition of the people; so here in Eze 33:30-33, at the commencement of the second section of his ministry, another word is addressed to him personally, in order that he may not be influenced in the further prosecution of his calling by either the pleasure or displeasure of men.
His former utterances had already induced the elders of the people to come to him to hear the word of God (cf. Eze 14:1 and Eze 20:1). But now that his prophecies concerning Jerusalem had been fulfilled, the exiles could not fail to be still more attentive to his words, so that they talked of him both secretly and openly, and encouraged one another to come and listen to his discourses. God foretells this to him, but announces to him at the same time that this disposition on the part of his countrymen to listen to him is even now no sign of genuine conversion to the word of God, in order that he may not be mistaken in his expectations concerning the people. Kliefoth has thus correctly explained the contents, design, and connection of these verses as a whole. In Eze 33:30 the article before the participle נדבּרים takes the place of the relative אשׁר, and the words are in apposition to בּני עמך, the sons of thy people who converse about thee. נדבּר is reciprocal, as in Mal 3:13, Mal 3:16, and Psa 119:12. But ב is to be understood, not in a hostile sense, as in the passage cited from the Psalms, but in the sense of concerning, like דּבּר ב in 1Sa 19:3 as contrasted with דּבּר ב in Num 21:7, to speak against a person. The participle is continued by the finite ודּבּר, and the verb belonging to בּני follows, in the ויבאוּ of Eze 33:31, in the form of an apodosis. There is something monstrous in Hitzig's assumption, that the whole passage from Eze 33:30 to Eze 33:33 forms but one clause, and that the predicate to בּני עמך does not occur till the וידעוּ of Eze 33:33. - אצל , by the side of the walls, i.e., sitting against the walls, equivalent to secretly; and in the doors of the houses, in other words publicly, one neighbour conversing with another. חד, Aramean for אחד, and אישׁ by the side of אחד, every one; not merely one here or there, but every man to his neighbour. כּמבוא־עם,
lit., as the coming of a people, i.e., as when a crowd of men flock together in crowds or troops. עמּי is a predicate, as my people, i.e., as if they wished, like my people, to hear my word from thee. But they do not think of doing thy words, i.e., what thou dost announce to them as my word. עגבים are things for which one cherishes an eager desire, pleasant things in their mouth, i.e., according to their taste (cf. Gen 25:28). Hävernick is wrong in taking עגבים to mean illicit love. The word בּפיהם is quite inapplicable to such a meaning. The rendering, they do it with their mouth, is opposed both to the construction and the sense. בּצעם .esnes , their gain, the source from which they promise themselves advantage or gain. In Eze 33:32 a clearer explanation is given of the reason why they come to the prophet, notwithstanding the fact that they do not wish to do his words. “Thou art to them כּשיּר עגבים;” this cannot mean like a pleasant song, but, as מטב נגּן (one who can play well) clearly shows, like a singer of pleasant songs. The abstract שׁיּר stands for the concrete שׁר, a singer, a man of song (Hitzig). In Eze 33:32, “they hear thy words, but do them not,” is repeated with emphasis, for the purpose of attaching the threat in Eze 33:33. But when it cometh - namely, what thou sayest, or prophesiest - behold, it cometh, i.e., it will come as surely as thy prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem; then will they know that a prophet was among them (cf. Eze 2:5), that is to say, that he proclaimed God's word to them. Therefore Ezekiel is not to be prevented, by the misuse which will be made of his words, from preaching the truth. - This conclusion of the word of God, which points back to Eze 2:5, also shows that it forms the introduction to the prophecies which follow.
Chap. 34 Edit
Verses 1-10 Edit
The Restoration of Israel, and Destruction of Gog and Magog - Ezekiel 34-39 Edit
The promise of the salvation, which is to blossom for the covenant nation after the judgment, commences with the announcement that the Lord will deliver Israel out of the hand of its evil shepherds, who only feed themselves and destroy the flock, and will take care of His own flock, gather them together, feed and tend them on a good meadow, protect the weak sheep against the strong, and through His servant David bring security and blessing to the whole of the flock (Ezekiel 34). This comprehensive promise is carried out still further in the following chapters in various phases. Because Edom cherishes perpetual enmity against the sons of Israel, and has sought to take possession of their land, in which Jehovah was, the mountains of Seir shall become a perpetual desert (Eze 35:1-15); whereas the devastated land of Israel shall be rebuilt, and sown once more, bear fruit, and be filled with man and beast (Eze 36:1-15). The Lord will do this for His holy name's sake, will cleanse His people from their sins, when gathered out of the nations, by sprinkling them with pure water, and renew them by His Spirit in heart and mind, that they may walk in His commandments, and multiply greatly in their land, when it has been glorified into a garden of God (Ezekiel 36:16-38). The house of Israel, which has been slain with the sword, and has become like a field full of dry bones of the dead, the Lord will awaken to new life, and bring in peace into the land of Israel (Eze 37:1-14); the two divided peoples and kingdoms of Israel He will unite into one people and kingdom, will liberate them from their sins, cause them to dwell in the land given to His servant Jacob under the sovereignty of His servant David, will make with them a covenant of peace for ever, and dwell above them as their God for ever in the sanctuary, which He will establish in the midst of them (Eze 37:15-28). And, finally, in the last time, when Israel
is dwelling in its own land in security and peace, the Lord will bring Gog from the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, with a powerful army of numerous peoples, into the land that has been restored from the sword; but when he has come to plunder and prey, the Lord will destroy him with all his army, and by this judgment display His glory among the nations, and so have compassion upon the whole house of Israel, and because He has poured out His Spirit upon it, will hide His face from it no more (Ezekiel 38 and 39). - From this general survey it is evident that the words of God contained in Ezekiel 34-37 announce the restoration and exaltation of Israel to be the sanctified people of God, and Ezekiel 38 and 39 the lasting establishment of this salvation, through the extermination of those enemies who rise up against the restored people of God.
Deposition of the Bad Shepherds; Collecting and Tending of the Flock; and Appointment of the One Good Shepherd - Ezekiel 34
The shepherds, who have fed themselves and neglected the flock, so that it has been scattered and has become a prey to wild beasts, will be deprived by the Lord of their office of shepherd (Eze 34:1-10). And He will take charge of His own flock, gather it together from its dispersion in the lands, feed and tend it on good pasture in the land of Israel, and sift it by the extermination of the fat and violent ones (Eze 34:11-22). He will appoint His servant David shepherd over His flock, make a covenant of peace with His people, and bless the land with fruitfulness, so that Israel may dwell there in security, and no more be carried off either as booty for the nations or by famine, and may acknowledge Jehovah as its God (Eze 34:23-31).
This word of God is a repetition and further expansion of the short prophecy of Jeremiah in Jer 23:1-8. The threat against the bad shepherds simply forms the foil for the promise,
that the flock, which has been plunged into misery by bad shepherds, shall be gathered and tended by the Lord and His servant David, whom Jehovah will appoint prince over His people, so that it is essentially a prophecy of salvation for Israel. - The question in dispute among the commentators, whether we are to understand by the shepherds, out of whose hand and tyranny the Lord will rescue Israel His flock, the priests ad kings (Ephr., Syr., and Theodoret), or the false prophets and false teachers of the people (Glass and others), or simply the kings (Hengst., Häv., and others), or all those who, by reason of their office, were leaders of the people, rulers, priests, and prophets, “the whole body of official persons charged with the direction of the nation” (Kliefoth), may be settled by the simple conclusion, that only the rulers of the nation are intended. This is proved not only by the biblical idea of the shepherd generally, which (probably in distinction from the idea of the bell-wether) is everywhere employed to denote rulers alone, but more particularly by the primary passage already referred to (Jer 23:1-8), where we are to understand by the shepherds, kings and princes, to the exclusion of priests and prophets, against whom Jeremiah first prophesies from Eze 34:9 onwards; and, lastly, by the antithesis to the good shepherd, David, who is to feed the flock of Jehovah as prince (נשׂיא), and not as priest or prophet (Eze 34:23, Eze 34:24). Only we must not take the term rulers as applying to the kings alone, but must understand thereby all the persons entrusted with the government of the nation, or the whole body of the civil authorities of Israel, among whom priests and prophets come into consideration, not on account of their spiritual calling and rank, but only so far as they held magisterial offices. And apart from other grounds, we are not warranted in restricting the idea of shepherds to the kings alone; for the simple reason that our prophecy, which dates from the time succeeding the destruction of Jerusalem, does not apply to the former rulers only, i.e., the kings who had
fallen along with the kingdom of Judah, but although treating of shepherds, who had scattered Israel among the nations, assumes that the rule of these shepherds is still continuing, and announces their removal, or the deliverance of the flock out of their hand, as something to be effected in the future (cf. Eze 34:8-10); so that it also refers to the civil rulers who governed Israel after the overthrow of the monarchy, and even after the captivity until the coming of the Messiah, the promised Prince of David.
Woe to the Bad Shepherds Edit
Eze 34:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Eze 34:2. Son of man, prophesy concerning the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, to the shepherds, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who fed themselves; should not the shepherds feed the flock? Eze 34:3. Ye eat the fat, and clothe yourselves whit the wool; ye slay the fattened; the flock ye do not feed. Eze 34:4. The weak ones ye do not strengthen, and that which is sick ye do not cure, the wounded one ye bind not up, the scattered ye bring not back, and the lost one ye do not seek; and ye rule over them with violence and with severity. Eze 34:5. Therefore they were scattered, because without shepherd, and became food to all the beasts of the field, and were scattered. Eze 34:6. My sheep wander about on all the mountains, and on every high hill; and over all the land have my sheep been scattered, and there is no one who asks for them, and no one who seeks them. Eze 34:7. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear ye the word of Jehovah: Eze 34:8. As I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, because my sheep become a prey, and my sheep become food to all the beasts of the field, because there is no shepherd, and my shepherds do not inquire after my sheep, and the shepherds feed themselves, but do not feed the sheep, Eze 34:9. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear ye the word of Jehovah, Eze 34:10. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with the shepherds, and will demand my sheep from their hand, and cause them to cease to feed my flock, that they may feed themselves no more; and I will deliver my sheep from
their mouth, that they may be food to them no more. - In Eze 34:2 לרעים is an explanatory apposition to אליהם, and is not to be taken in connection with כּה אמר יי, in opposition to the constant use of this formula, as Kliefoth maintains. The reason for the woe pronounced is given in the apposition, who fed themselves, whereas they ought to have fed the flock; and the charge that they only care for themselves is still further explained by a description of their conduct (Eze 34:3 and Eze 34:4), and of the dispersion of the flock occasioned thereby (Eze 34:5 and Eze 34:6). Observe the periphrastic preterite היוּ רעים, they were feeding, which shows that the woe had relation chiefly to the former shepherds or rulers of the nation. אותם is reflective, se ipsos (cf. Gesen. §124. 1b). The disgracefulness of their feeding themselves is brought out by the question, “Ought not the shepherds to feed the flock?” Eze 34:3 shows how they fed themselves, and Eze 34:4 how they neglected the flock. חלב, the fat, which Bochart and Hitzig propose to alter into החלב, the milk, after the Septuagint and Vulgate, is not open to any objection. The fat, as the best portion of the flesh, which was laid upon the altar, for example, in the case of the sacrifices, as being the flower of all the flesh, is mentioned here as pars melior pro toto. Hävernick has very properly pointed, in vindication of the reading in the text, to Zec 11:16, where the two clauses, ye eat the fat, and slay the fattened, are joined together in the one clause, “the flesh of the fattened one will he eat.” There is no force in the objection raised by Hitzig, that “the slaughtering of the fat beasts, which ought to be mentioned first, is not introduced till afterwards;” for this clause contains a heightening of the thought that they use the flock to feed themselves: they do not even kill the leaner beasts, but those that are well fattened; and it follows very suitably after the general statement, that they make use of both the flesh and the wool of the sheep for their own advantage. They care nothing for the wellbeing of the flock: this is stated in the last clause of Eze 34:3, which is explained in detail in Eze 34:4. נהלות is the Niphal participle of חלה,
and is a contracted form of נחלות, like נחלה in Isa 17:11. The distinction between נהלות and חולה is determined by the respective predicates חזּק and רפא. According to these, נחלה signifies that which is weak in consequence of sickness, and חלה that which is weak in itself. נשׁבּרת, literally, that which is broken, an animal with a leg or some other member injured. נדּח, scattered, as in Deu 22:1.
In the last clause of Eze 34:4, the neglect of the flock is summed up in the positive expression, to rule over them with violence and severity. רדה בפרך is taken from Lev 25:43, Lev 25:46; but there as well as here it points back to Exo 1:13-14, where בפרך is applied to the tyrannical measures adopted by Pharaoh for the oppression of the Israelites. The result of this (Eze 34:5, Eze 34:6) was, that the sheep were scattered, and became food to the beasts of prey. מבּלי, on account of there not being a shepherd, i.e., because there was no shepherd worthy of the name. This took place when Israel was carried away into exile, where it became a prey to the heathen nations. When we find this mournful fate of the people described as brought about by the bad shepherds, and attributable to faults of theirs, we must not regard the words as applying merely to the mistaken policy of the kings with regard to external affairs (Hitzig); for this was in itself simply a consequence of their neglect of their theocratic calling, and of their falling away from the Lord into idolatry. It is true that the people had also made themselves guilty of this sin, so that it was obliged to atone not only for the sins of its shepherds, but for its own sin also; but this is passed by here, in accordance with the design of this prophecy. And it could very properly be kept out of sight, inasmuch as the rulers had also occasioned the idolatry of the people, partly by their neglect of their duty, and partly by their bad example. ותּפוּצינה is repeated with emphasis at the close of Eze 34:5; and the thought is still further expanded in Eze 34:6. The wandering upon all the mountains and hills must not be understood as signifying the straying of the people to the worship on high places, as Theodoret and
Kliefoth suppose. The fallacy of this explanation is clearly shown by the passage on which this figurative description rests (1Ki 22:17), where the people are represented as scattered upon the mountains in consequence of the fall of the king in battle, like a flock that had no shepherd. The words in the next clause, corresponding to the mountains and hills, are כּל־פּני הארץ, the whole face of the land, not “of the earth” (Kliefoth). For although the dispersion of the flock actually consisted in the carrying away of the people into heathen lands, the actual meaning of the figure is kept in the background here, as is evident from the fact that Ezekiel constantly uses the expression הארצות (plural) when speaking of the dispersion among the heathen (cf. Ezekiel 13). The distinction between דּרשׁ and בּקּשׁ is, that דרשׁ taht , signifies rather to ask, inquire for a thing, to trouble oneself about it, whereas בקשׁ means to seek for that which has strayed or is lost. In Eze 34:7-10, the punishment for their unfaithfulness is announced to the shepherds themselves; but at the same time, as is constantly the case with Ezekiel, their guilt is once more recapitulated as an explanation of the threatening of punishment, and the earnest appeal to listen is repeated in Eze 34:9. The Lord will demand His sheep of them; and because sheep have been lost through their fault, He will dispose them from the office of shepherd, and so deliver the poor flock from their violence. If we compare with this Jer 23:2 : “Behold, I will visit upon you the wickedness of your doings,” the threat in Ezekiel has a much milder sound. There is nothing said about the punishment of the shepherd, but simply that the task of keeping the sheep shall be taken from them, so that they shall feed themselves no more. This distinction is to be explained from the design of our prophecy, which is not so much to foretell the punishment of the shepherds, as the deliverance from destruction of the sheep that have been plunged into misery. The repetition of צאני, my flock (Eze 34:8 and Eze 34:10, as before in Eze 34:6), is also connected with this. The rescue of the sheep out of the hand of the bad
shepherds had already commenced with the overthrow of the monarchy on the destruction of Jerusalem. If, then it is here described as only to take place in the future, justice is not done to these words by explaining them, as Hitzig does, as signifying that what has already actually taken place is now to be made final, and not to be reversed. For although this is implied, the words clearly affirm that the deliverance of the sheep out of the hand of the shepherds has not yet taken place, but still remains to be effected, so that the people are regarded as being at the time in the power of bad shepherds, and their rescue is predicted as still in the future. How and when it will be accomplished, by the removal of the bad shepherds, is shown in the announcement, commencing with Eze 34:11, of what the Lord will do for His flock.
Verses 11-22 Edit
Jehovah Himself will seek His flock, gather it together from the dispersion, lead it to good pasture, and sift it by the destruction of the bad sheep. - Eze 34:11. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I myself, I will inquire after my flock, and take charge thereof. Eze 34:12. As a shepherd taketh charge of his flock in the day when he is in the midst of his scattered sheep, so will I take charge of my flock, and deliver them out of all the places whither they have been scattered in the day of cloud and cloudy night. Eze 34:13. And I will bring them out from the nations, and gather them together out of the lands, and bring them into their land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel, in the valleys, and in all the dwelling-places of the land. Eze 34:14. I will feed them in a good pasture, and on the high mountains of Israel will their pasture-ground be: there shall they lie down in a good pasture-ground, and have fat pasture on the mountains of Israel. Eze 34:15. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Eze 34:16. That which is lost will I seek, and that which is driven away will I bring back; that which is wounded will I bind up, and that which is sick will I strengthen: but that which is fat and strong will I destroy, and feed them according to justice. Eze 34:17.
And you, my sheep, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will judge between sheep and sheep, and the rams and the he-goats. Eze 34:18. Is it too little for you, that ye eat up the good pasture, and what remains of your pasture ye tread down with your feet? and the clear water ye drink, and render muddy what remains with your feet? Eze 34:19. And are my sheep to have for food that which is trodden down by your feet, and to drink that which is made muddy by your feet? Eze 34:20. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah to them, Behold, I, I will judge between fat sheep and lean. Eze 34:21. Because ye press with side and shoulder, and thrust all the weak with your horns, till ye have driven them out; Eze 34:22. I will help my sheep, so that they shall no more become a prey; and will judge between sheep and sheep. - All that the Lord will do for His flock is summed up in Eze 34:11, in the words דּרשׁתּי את־צאני וּבקּרתּים, which stand in obvious antithesis to 'ואין דּורשׁ וגו in Eze 34:6 - an antithesis sharply accentuated by the emphatic הנני אני, which stands at the head in an absolute form. The fuller explanation is given in the verses which follow, from Eze 34:12 onwards. Observe here that biqeer is substituted for בּקּשׁ. בּקּר, to seek and examine minutely, involves the idea of taking affectionate charge. What the Lord does for His people is compared in Eze 34:12 to the care which a shepherd who deserves the name manifests towards sheep when they are scattered (נפרשׁות without the article is connected with צאנו in the form of apposition); and in Eze 34:12 it is still more particularly explained. In the first place, He will gather them from all the places to which they have been scattered. הצּיל implies that in their dispersion they have fallen into a state of oppression and bondage among the nations (cf. Exo 6:6). בּיום belongs to the relative clause: whither they have been scattered. The circumstance that these words are taken from Joe 2:2 does not compel us to take them in connection with the principal clause, as Hitzig and Kliefoth propose, and to understand them as relating to the time when God will hold His judgment of the heathen world. The
notion that the words in Joel signify “God's day of judgment upon all the heathen” (Kliefoth), is quite erroneous; and even Hitzig does not derive this meaning from Joe 2:2, but from the combination of our verse with Eze 30:3 and Eze 29:21. The deliverance of the sheep out of the places to which they have been scattered, consists in the gathering together of Israel out of the nations, and their restoration to their own land, and their feeding upon the mountains and all the dwelling-places of the land (מושׁב, a place suitable for settlement), and that in good and fat pasture (Eze 34:14); and lastly, in the fact that Jehovah bestows the necessary care upon the sheep, strengthens and heals the weak and sick (Eze 34:15 and Eze 34:16) - that is to say, does just what the bad shepherds have omitted (Eze 34:4) - and destroys the fat and strong. In this last clause another side is shown of the pastoral fidelity of Jehovah. אשׁמיד has been changed by the lxx, Syr., and Vulg. into ,אשׁמורφυλάχω; and Luther has followed them in his rendering, “I will watch over them.” But this is evidently a mistake, as it fails to harmonize with ארענּה במשׁפּט. The fat and strong sheep are characterized in Eze 34:18 and Eze 34:19 as those which spoil the food and water of the others. The allusion, therefore, is to the rich and strong ones of the nation, who oppress the humble and poor, and treat them with severity. The destruction of these oppressors shows that the loving care of the Lord is associated with righteousness - that He feeds the flock בּמשׁפּט.
This thought is carried out still further in Eze 34:17-21, the sheep themselves being directly addressed, and the Lord assuring them that He will judge between sheep and sheep, and put an end to the oppressive conduct of the fat sheep and the strong. בּין שׂה לשׂה: between the one sheep and the other. לשׂה is extended in the apposition, “the rams and he-goats,” which must not be rendered, “with regard to the rams and he-goats,” as it has been by Kliefoth. The thought is not that Jehovah will divide the rams and he-goats from the sheep, as some have explained it, from an inappropriate comparison with Mat 25:32;
but the division is to be effected in such a manner that sheep will be separated from sheep, the fat sheep being placed on one side with the rams and he-goats, and kept apart from the lean (רזה, Eze 34:20) and the sickly sheep (נהלות, Mat 25:21). It is to the last-named sheep, rams, and he-goats that Mat 25:18 and Mat 25:19 are addressed. With regard to the charge brought against them, that they eat up the pasture and tread down the remainder with their feet, etc., Bochart has already correctly observed, that “if the words are not quite applicable to actual sheep, they are perfectly appropriate to the mystical sheep intended here, i.e., to the Israelites, among whom many of the rich, after enjoying an abundant harvest and vintage, grudged the poor their gleaning in either one or the other.” משׁקע, a substantive formation, like מרמס, literally, precipitation of the water, i.e., the water purified by precipitation; for שׁקע, to sink, is the opposite of רפשׂ, to stir up or render muddy by treading with the feet (compare Eze 32:14 and Eze 32:2). בּריה, Eze 34:20 = בּראה or בּריּה. Eze 34:22 brings to a close the description of the manner in which God will deliver His flock, and feed it with righteousness. והושׁעתּי points back to והצּלתּי in Eze 34:12, and ושׁפטתּי to ארענּה במשׁפּט in Eze 34:16. - To this there is appended in Eze 34:23. a new train of thought, describing how God will still further display to His people His pastoral fidelity.
Verses 23-31 Edit
Appointment of David as Shepherd, and Blessing of the People
Eze 34:23. And I will raise up one shepherd over them, who shall feed them, my servant David; he will feed them, and he will be to them a shepherd. Eze 34:24. And I, Jehovah, will be God to them, and my servant David prince in the midst of them: I, Jehovah, have spoken it. Eze 34:25. And I will make a covenant of peace with them, and destroy the evil beasts out of the land, so that they will dwell safely in the desert and sleep in the forests. Eze 34:26. And I will make them and the places round my hill a blessing, and cause the rain to fall in its season: showers of blessing shall there be. Eze 34:27. The tree of the field will give its fruit, and the land will give its produce, and
they will be safe in their land, and will know that I am Jehovah, when I break their yoke-bars in pieces, and deliver them out of the hand of those who made them servants. Eze 34:28. They will be no more a prey to the nations, and the wild beasts will not devour them; but they will dwell safely, and no one will terrify them. Eze 34:29. And I will raise up for them a plantation for a name, so that they will no more be swept away by famine in the land, and shall no longer bear the disgrace of the heathen nations. Eze 34:30. And they shall know that I, Jehovah, their God, am with them, and they are my people, the house of Israel, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Eze 34:31. And ye are my sheep, the flock of my pasture; ye are men, I am your God, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - God will cause to stand up, raise up, one single shepherd over His flock. הקים, the standing expression for the rising up of a person in history through the interposition of God (cf. Deu 18:15; 2Sa 7:12, and other passages). רעה, not unicus, singularis, a shepherd unique in his kind, but one shepherd, in contrast not only with the many bad shepherds, but with the former division of the people into two kingdoms, each with its own separate king. Compare Eze 37:24 with Jer 28:6, where it is expressly said that the David to be raised up is to feed Israel and Judah, the two peoples that had been divided before. “My servant David:” Jehovah calls him עבדּי, not merely with reference to the obedience rendered (Hävernick), but also with regard to his election (Isa 42:1; Hengstenberg). There is no necessity to refute the assertion of Hitzig, David Strauss, and others, that Ezekiel expected the former King David to be raised from the dead. The reference is to the sprout of David (Jer 23:5), already called simply David in Hos 3:5 and Jer 30:9. In Eze 34:24 the relation of Jehovah to this David is more precisely defined: Jehovah will then be God to His people, and David be prince in the midst of them. The last words point back to 2Sa 7:8. Through the government of David, Jehovah will become in
truth God of His people Israel; for David will feed the people in perfect unity with Jehovah, - will merely carry out the will of Jehovah, and not place himself in opposition to God, like the bad shepherds, because, as is therewith presupposed, he is connected with God by unity of nature.
In Eze 34:25. the thought is carried out still further, - how God will become God to His people, and prove Himself to be its covenant God through the pastoral fidelity of the future David. God will fully accomplish the covenant mercies promised to Israel. The making of the covenant of peace need not be restricted, in accordance with Hos 2:20 (18), to a covenant which God would make with the beasts in favour of His people. The thought is a more comprehensive one here, and, according to Lev 26:4-6, the passage which Ezekiel had in his mind involves all the salvation which God had included in His promises to His people: viz., (1) the extermination of everything that could injure Israel, of all the wild beasts, so that they would be able to sleep securely in the deserts and the forests (Eze 34:25, compare Lev 26:6); (2) the pouring out of an abundant rain, so that the field and land would yield rich produce (Eze 34:26, Eze 34:27; cf. Lev 26:4-5). “I make them, the Israelites, and the surroundings of my hill, a blessing.” גּבעתי, the hill of Jehovah, is, according to Isa 31:4, Mount Zion, the temple-mountains, including the city of Jerusalem. The surroundings of this hill are the land of Israel, that lay around it. But Zion, with the land around, is not mentioned in the place of the inhabitants; and still less are we to understand by the surroundings of the hill the heathen nations, as Hengstenberg does, in opposition both to the context and the usage of the language. The thought is simply that the Lord will make both the people and the land a blessing (Hävernick, Kliefoth). בּרכה, a blessing, is stronger than “blessed” (cf. Gen 12:2). The blessing is brought by the rain in its season, which fertilizes the earth. This will take place when the Lord breaks the yokes laid upon His people. These words are from Lev 26:13,
where they refer to the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt; and they are transferred by Ezekiel to the future redemption of Israel from the bondage of the heathen. For עבדים , compare Exo 1:14. This thought is carried out still further in Eze 34:28; and then, in Eze 34:29, all that has been said is summed up in the thoughts, “I raise up for them a plantation for a name,” etc. מטּע, a plantation, as in Eze 17:7; not a land for planting (Hitzig). לשׁם, for a name, i.e., not for the glory of God (De Wette); but the plantation, which the Lord will cause to grow by pouring down showers of blessing (Eze 34:26), is to bring renown to the Israelites, namely, among the heathen, who will see from this that Israel is a people blessed by its God. This explanation of the words is supplied by the following clause: they shall no more be swept away by famine in the land, and no more bear the disgrace of the heathen, i.e., the disgrace which the heathen heaped upon Israel when in distress (compare Zep 3:19; Jer 13:11; and the primary passage, Deut. 26:29). From this blessing they will learn that Jehovah their God is with them, and Israel is His people. The promise concludes in Eze 34:31 with these words, which set a seal upon the whole: “Ye are my flock, the flock of my pasture (lit., my pasture-flock; צאן , Jer 23:1, the flock fed by God Himself); men are ye, I am your God.” That these last words to not serve merely as an explanation of the figurative expression “flock,” is a fact of which no proof is needed. The figure of a flock was intelligible to every one. The words “call attention to the depth and greatness of the divine condescension, and meet the objection of men of weak faith, that man, who is taken from the earth האדמה, and returns to it again, is incapable of so intimate a connection with God” (Hengstenberg).
If we take another survey, in conclusion, of the contents of our prophecy, the following are the three features of the salvation promised to the people of Israel: - (1) The Lord will liberate His people from the hand of the bad shepherds, and
He Himself will feed it as His flock; (2) He will gather it together from its dispersion, bring it back to the land of Israel and feed it there, will take charge of the sheep in need of help, and destroy the fat and strong sheep by which the weak ones are oppressed; (3) He will raise up the future David for a shepherd, and under his care He will bestow upon His people the promised covenant blessings in richest measure. These saving acts of God for His people, however, are not depicted according to their several details and historical peculiarities, as Kliefoth has correctly observed, nor are they narrated in the chronological order in which they would follow one another in history; but they are grouped together according to their general design and character, and their essential features. If, then, we seek for the fulfilment, the Lord raised up His servant David as a shepherd to Israel, by sending Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luk 19:10; Mat 18:11), and who calls Himself the Good Shepherd with obvious reference to this and other prophetic declarations of a similar kind (Joh 10:11.). But the sending of Christ was preceded by the gathering of Israel out of the Babylonian exile, by which God had already taken charge of His flock, Yet, inasmuch as only a small portion of Israel received the Messiah, who appeared in Jesus, as its shepherd, there fell upon the unbelieving Israel a new judgment of dispersion among all nations, which continues still, so that a gathering together still awaits the people of Israel at some future time. No distinction is made in the prophecy before us between these two judgments of dispersion, which are associated with the twofold gathering of Israel; but they are grouped together as one, so that although their fulfilment commenced with the deliverance of Israel from the Babylonian captivity and the coming of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd of the family of David, it was only realized in that portion of Israel, numerically the smallest portion, which was willing to be gathered and fed by Jesus Christ, and the full realization will only be effected
when that conversion of Israel shall take place, which the Apostle Paul foretells in Rom 11:25. - For further remarks on the ultimate fulfilment, we refer the reader to a later page.
Chap. 35 Edit
Verses 1-15 Edit
Devastation of Edom, and Restoration of the Land of Israel - Ezekiel 35:1-36:15 Edit
The two sections, Eze 35:1-15 and Eze 36:1-15, form a connected prophecy. This is apparent not only from their formal arrangement, both of them being placed together under the introductory formula, “And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying,” but also from their contents, the promise in relation to the mountains of Israel being so opposed to the threat against the mountains of Seir (Eze 35:1-15) as to form the obverse and completion of the latter; whilst allusion is evidently made to it in the form of expression employed (compare Eze 36:4, Eze 36:6, with Eze 35:8; and Eze 36:5 with Eze 35:15). The contents are the following: The mountains of Seir shall be laid waste (Eze 35:1-4), because Edom cherishes eternal enmity and bloody hatred towards Israel (Eze 35:5-9), and because it has coveted the land of Israel and blasphemed Jehovah (Eze 35:10-15). On the other hand, the mountain-land of Israel, which the heathen have despised on account of its devastation, and have appropriated to themselves as booty (Eze 36:1-7), shall be inhabited by Israel again, and shall be cultivated and no longer bear the disgrace of the heathen (Eze 35:8-15). This closing thought (Eze 35:15) points back to Eze 34:29, and shows that our prophecy is intended as a further expansion of that conclusion; and at the same time, that in the devastation of Edom the overthrow of the heathen world as a whole, with its enmity against God, is predicted, and in the restoration of the land of Israel the re-erection of the fallen kingdom of God.
The Devastation of Edom Edit
Eze 35:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Eze 35:2. Son of man, set thy face against Mount Seir, and prophesy against it, Eze 35:3. And say to it, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with thee, Mount Seir, and will stretch out my hand against thee, and make thee waste and devastation. Eze 35:4. Thy cities will I make into ruins, and thou wilt become a waste, and shalt know that I am Jehovah. Eze 35:5. Because thou cherishest eternal enmity, and gavest up the sons of Israel to the sword at the time of their distress, at the time of the final transgression, Eze 35:6. Therefore, as truly as I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, I will make thee blood, and blood shall pursue thee; since thou hast not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue thee. Eze 35:7. I will make Mount Seir devastation and waste, and cut off therefrom him that goeth away and him that returneth, Eze 35:8. And fill his mountains with his slain; upon thy hills, and in thy valleys, and in all thy low places, those pierced with the sword shall fall. Eze 35:9. I will make thee eternal wastes, and thy cities shall not be inhabited; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. Eze 35:10. Because thou sayest, The two nations and the two lands they shall be mine, and we will take possession of it, when Jehovah was there; Eze 35:11. Therefore, as truly as I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, I will do according to thy wrath and thine envy, as thou hast done because of thy hatred, and will make myself known among them, as I shall judge thee. Eze 35:12. And thou shalt know that I, Jehovah, have heard all thy reproaches which thou hast uttered against the mountains of Israel, saying, “they are laid waste, they are given to us for food.” Eze 35:13. Ye have magnified against me with your mouth, and heaped up your sayings against me; I have heard it. Eze 35:14. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will prepare devastation for thee. Eze 35:15. As thou hadst thy delight in the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was laid waste, so will I do to thee; thou shalt become a waste, Mount Seir and all Edom together; and they shall know that I am Jehovah.
The theme of this prophecy, viz., “Edom and its cities are
to become a desert” (Eze 35:2-4), is vindicated and earnestly elaborated in two strophes, commencing with 'יען וגו (Eze 35:5 and Eze 35:10), and closing, like the announcement of the theme itself (Eze 35:4), with 'כּי אני (וידעוּ) וידעתּם, by a distinct statement of the sins of Edom. - Already, in Ezekiel 25, Edom has been named among the hostile border nations which are threatened with destruction (Eze 35:12-14). The earlier prophecy applied to the Edomites, according to their historical relation to the people of Israel and the kingdom of Judah. In the present word of God, on the contrary, Edom comes into consideration, on the ground of its hostile attitude towards the covenant people, as the representative of the world and of mankind in its hostility to the people and kingdom of God, as in Isa 34 and Isa 63:1-6. This is apparent from the fact that devastation is to be prepared for Edom, when the whole earth rejoices (Eze 35:14), which does not apply to Edom as a small and solitary nation, and still more clearly from the circumstance that, in the promise of salvation in Ezekiel 36, not all Edom alone (Eze 35:5), but the remnant of the heathen nations generally (Eze 36:3-7 and Eze 36:15), are mentioned as the enemies from whose disgrace and oppression Israel is to be delivered. For Eze 35:2, compare Eze 13:17. הר is the name given to the mountainous district inhabited by the Edomites, between the Dead Sea and the Elanitic Gulf (see the comm. on Gen 36:9). The prophecy is directed against the land; but it also applies to the nation, which brings upon itself the desolation of its land by its hostility to Israel. For Eze 35:3, compare Eze 6:14, etc. חרבּה, destruction. The sin of Edom mentioned in Eze 35:5 is eternal enmity toward Israel, which has also been imputed to the Philistines in Eze 25:15, but which struck deeper root, in the case of Edom, in the hostile attitude of Esau toward Jacob (Gen 25:22. and Gen 27:37), and was manifested, as Amos (Amo 1:11) has already said, in the constant retention of its malignity toward the covenant nation, so that Edom embraced every opportunity to effect its destruction, and according to the charge
brought against it by Ezekiel, gave up the sons of Israel to the sword when the kingdom of Judah fell. הנּיר על , lit., to pour upon ( - into) the hands of the sword, i.e., to deliver up to the power of the sword (cf. Psa 63:11; Jer 18:21). בּעת recalls to mind בּיום אידם in Oba 1:13; but here it is more precisely defined by בּעת עון , and limited to the time of the overthrow of the Israelites, when Jerusalem was taken and destroyed by the Chaldeans. בּעת עון קץ, as in Eze 21:30. On account of this display of its hostility, the Lord will make Edom blood (Eze 35:6). This expression is probably chosen for the play upon the words דּם and אדם. Edom shall become what its name suggests. Making it blood does not mean merely filling it with bloodshed, or reddening the soil with blood (Hitzig); but, as in Eze 16:38, turning it as it were into blood, or causing it to vanish therein. Blood shall pursue thee, “as blood-guiltiness invariably pursues a murderer, cries for vengeance, and so delivers him up to punishment” (Hävernick). אם לא cannot be the particle employed in swearing, and dependent upon חי־אני, since this particle introduces an affirmative declaration, which would be unsuitable here, inasmuch as דּם in this connection cannot possibly signify blood-relationship. אם לא means “if not,” in which the conditional meaning of אם coincides with the causal, “if” being equivalent to “since.” The unusual separation of the לא from the verb is occasioned by the fact that דּם is placed before the verb to avoid collision with ודּם. To hate blood is the same as to have a horror of bloodshed or murder. This threat is carried out still further in Eze 35:7 and Eze 35:8. The land of Edom is to become a complete and perpetual devastation; its inhabitants are to be exterminated by war. The form שׁממה stands for שׁמּמה, and is not to be changed into משׁמּה. Considering the frequency with which משׁמּה occurs, the supposition that we have here a copyist's error is by no means a probable one, and still less probable is the perpetuation of such an error. עבר ושׁב, as in Zec 7:14. For Eze 35:8 compare Eze 32:5-6 and Eze 31:12.
The Chetib תּישׁבנה is scriptio plena for תּשׁבנה, the imperfect Kal of ישׁב in the intransitive sense to be inhabited. The Keri תּשׁבנה, from שׁוּב, is a needless and unsuitable correction, since שׁוּב does not mean restitui.
In the second strophe, Eze 35:10-15, the additional reason assigned for the desolation of Edom is its longing for the possession of Israel and its land, of which it desired to take forcible possession, although it knew that they belonged to Jehovah, whereby the hatred of Edom toward Israel became contempt of Jehovah. The two peoples and the two lands are Israel and Judah with their lands, and therefore the whole of the holy people and land. את is the sign of the accusative: as for the two peoples, they are mine. The suffix appended to ירשׁנוּה is neuter, and is to be taken as referring generally to what has gone before. ויהוה שׁם היה is a circumstantial clause, through which the desire of Edom is placed in the right light, and characterized as an attack upon Jehovah Himself. Jehovah was there - namely, in the land of which Edom wished to take possession. Kliefoth's rendering, “and yet Jehovah is there,” is opposed to Hebrew usage, by changing the preterite היה into a present; and the objection which he offers to the only rendering that is grammatically admissible, viz., “when Jehovah was there,” to the effect “that it attributes to Ezekiel the thought that the Holy Land had once been the land and dwelling-place of God, but was so no longer,” calls in question the actual historical condition of things without the slightest reason. For Jehovah had really forsaken His dwelling-place in Canaan before the destruction of the temple, but without thereby renouncing His right to the land; since it was only for the sins of Israel that He had given up the temple, city, and land to be laid waste by the heathen. “But Edom had acted as if Israel existed among the nations without God, and Jehovah had departed from it for ever” (Hävernick); or rather as if Jehovah were a powerless and useless Deity, who had not been able to defend His people against the might of the heathen nations.
The Lord will requite Edom for this, in a manner answering to its anger and envy, which had both sprung from hatred. נודעתּי בם, “I will make myself known among them (the Israelites) when I judge thee;” i.e., by the fact that He punishes Edom for its sin, He will prove to Israel that He is a God who does not suffer His people and His possession to be attacked with impunity. From this shall Edom learn that He is Jehovah, the omniscient God, who has heard the revilings of His enemies (Eze 35:12, Eze 35:13), and the almighty God, who rewards those who utter such proud sayings according to their deeds (Eze 35:14 and Eze 35:15). נאצות has retained the Kametz on account of the guttural in the first tone, in contrast with נאצות in Neh 9:18, Neh 9:26 (cf. Ewald, §69b). - The expression “mountains of Israel,” for the land of Israel, in Eze 35:12 and Eze 36:1, is occasioned by the antithesis “mountain (mountain-range) of Seir.” The Chetib hmmhs is to be pronounced שׁממה, and to be retained in spite of the Keri. The singular of the neuter gender is used with emphasis in a broken and emotional address, and is to be taken as referring ad sensum to the land. הגדּיל בּפה, to magnify or boast with the mouth, i.e., to utter proud sayings against God, in other words, actually to deride God (compare הגדּיל פּה in Oba 1:12, which has a kindred meaning). העתיר, used here according to Aramean usage for העשׁיר, to multiply, or heap up. In כּשׂמה, in Eze 35:14, כּ is a particle of time, as it frequently is before infinitives (e.g., Jos 6:20), when all the earth rejoices, not “over thy desolation” (Hitzig), which does not yield any rational thought, but when joy is prepared for all the world, I will prepare devastation for thee. Through this antithesis כּל־הארץ is limited to the world, with the exception of Edom, i.e., to that portion of the human race which stood in a different relation to God and His people from that of Edom; in other words, which acknowledged the Lord as the true God. It follows from this, that Edom represents the world at enmity against God. In כּשׂמחתך (Eze 35:15) כ is a particle of comparison; and the meaning of Eze 35:15 is: as thou didst rejoice over
the desolation of the inheritance of the house of Israel, so will I cause others to rejoice over thy desolation. In Eze 35:15 we agree with the lxx, Vulgate, Syriac, and others, in taking תּהיה as the second person, not as the third. כּל־אדום כּלּהּ serves to strengthen הר־שׂעיר (compare Eze 11:15 and Eze 36:10).
Chap. 36 Edit
Verses 1-15 Edit
The Restoration and Blessing of Israel Edit
Eze 36:1. And thou, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel, and say, Mountains of Israel, hear the word of Jehovah: Eze 36:2. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because the enemy saith concerning you, Aha! the everlasting heights have become ours for a possession: Eze 36:3. Therefore prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because, even because they lay you waste, and pant for you round about, so that ye have become a possession to the remnant of the nations, and have come to the talk of the tongue and gossip of the people: Eze 36:4. Therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord Jehovah: Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to the mountains and hills, to the low places and valleys, and to the waste ruins and the forsaken cities, which have become a prey and derision to the remnant of the nations round about; Eze 36:5. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Truly in the fire of my jealousy I have spoken against the remnant of the nations, and against Edom altogether, which have made my land a possession for themselves in all joy of heart, in contempt of soul, to empty it out for booty. Eze 36:6. Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say to the mountains and hills, to the low places and valleys, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, in my jealousy and fury have I spoken, because ye have borne the disgrace of the nations. Eze 36:7. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I, I have lifted up my hand; truly the nations round about you, they shall bear their disgrace. Eze 36:8. But ye, ye mountains of Israel, shall put forth your branches, and bear your fruit to my people Israel; for they will soon come. Eze 36:9. For, behold, I will deal with you, and turn toward you, and ye shall be tilled and sown. Eze 36:10.
I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel at once; and the cities shall be inhabited, and the ruins built. Eze 36:11. And I will multiply upon you man and beast; they shall multiply and be fruitful: and I will make you inhabited as in your former time, and do more good to you than in your earlier days; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. Eze 36:12. I will cause men, my people Israel, to walk upon you; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be an inheritance to them, and make them childless no more. Eze 36:13. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because they say to you, “Thou art a devourer of men, and hast made thy people childless;” Eze 36:14. Therefore thou shalt no more devour men, and no more cause thy people to stumble, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Eze 36:15. And I will no more cause thee to hear the scoffing of the nations, and the disgrace of the nations thou shalt bear no more, and shalt no more cause thy people to stumble, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah.
This prophecy is uttered concerning the land of Israel, as is plainly declared in Eze 36:6; whereas in Eze 36:1 and Eze 36:4 the mountains of Israel are mentioned instead of the land, in antithesis to the mountains of Seir (Eze 35:1-15; see the comm. on Eze 35:12). The promise takes throughout the form of antithesis to the threat against Edom in Eze 35:1-15. Because Edom rejoices that the Holy Land, which has been laid waste, has fallen to it for a possession, therefore shall the devastated land be cultivated and sown again, and be inhabited by Israel as in the former time. The heathen nations round about shall, on the other hand, bear their disgrace; Edom, as we have already observed, being expanded, so far as the idea is concerned, into all the heathen nations surrounding Israel (Eze 36:3-7). In Eze 36:2, האויב, the enemy, is mentioned in quite a general manner; and what has already been stated concerning Edom in Eze 35:5 and Eze 35:10, is her predicted of the enemy. In Eze 36:3 and Eze 36:4 this enemy is designated as a remnant of the heathen nations; and it is not till Eze 36:5 that it is more precisely defined by the clause, “and all Edom altogether.” The גּוים
round about (אשׁר, Eze 36:4, compared with Eze 36:3) are the heathen nations which are threatened with destruction in Ezekiel 25 and 26, on account of their malicious rejoicing at the devastation of Jerusalem and Judah. This serves to explain the fact that these nations are designated as שׁארית הגּוים, the rest, or remnant of the heathen nations, which presupposes that the judgment has fallen upon them, and that only a remnant of them is left, which remnant desires to take possession of the devastated land of Israel. The epithet applied to this land, בּמות, everlasting, i.e., primeval heights, points back to the גּבעות עולם of Gen 49:26 and Deu 33:15, and is chosen for the purpose of representing the land as a possession secured to the people of Israel by primeval promises, in consequence of which the attempt of the enemy to seize upon this land has become a sin against the Lord God. The indignation at such a sin is expressed in the emotional character of the address. As Ewald has aptly observed, “Ezekiel is seized with unusual fire, so that after the brief statement in Eze 36:2 'therefore' is repeated five times, the charges brought against these foes forcing themselves in again and again, before the prophecy settles calmly upon the mountains of Israel, to which it was really intended to apply.” For יען בּיען, see the comm. on Eze 13:10. שׁמּות is an infinitive Kal, formed after the analogy of the verbs ה'ל (cf. Ewald, §238e), from שׁמם, to be waste, to devastate, as in Dan 8:13; Dan 9:27; Dan 12:11, and is not to be taken in the sense of נשׁם, after Isa 42:14, as Hitzig supposes. שׁאף, to pant for a thing; here it is equivalent to snapping at anything. This is required by a comparison with Eze 36:4, where היה לבז corresponds to שׁמּות ושׁאף, and ללעג to 'תּעלוּ על שׂפת וגו. In the connection שׂפת לשׁון, שׂפה signifies the lip as an organ of speech, or, more precisely, the words spoken; and לשׁון, the tongue, is personified, and stands for אישׁ לשׁון (Psa 140:12), a tongue-man, i.e., a talker.
In Eze 36:4 the idea expressed in “the mountains of Israel” is expanded into mountains, hills, lowlands, and valleys (cf. Eze 31:12;
Eze 32:5-6); and this periphrastic description of the land is more minutely defined by the additional clause, “waste ruins and forsaken cities.” אם לא in Eze 36:5 is the particle used in oaths (cf. Eze 5:11, etc.); and the perfect דּבּרתּי is not merely prophetic, but also a preterite. God has already uttered a threatening word concerning the nations round about in Ezekiel 25, 26, and Eze 35:1-15; and here He once more declares that they shall bear their disgrace. אשׁ קנאח is the fiery jealousy of wrath. כּלּא is an Aramean form for כּלּהּ (Eze 35:15). For בשׁאט נפשׁ, see Eze 25:6. In the expression למען מגרשׁהּ לבז noisserp, which has been rendered in various ways, we agree with Gesenius and others in regarding מגרשׁ as an Aramean form of the infinitive of גּרשׁ, with the meaning to empty out, which is confirmed by the Syriac; for מגרשׁ cannot be a substantive, on account of the למען; and Hitzig's conjecture, that לבז should be pointed לבז, and the clause rendered “to plunder its produce,” is precluded by the fact that the separation of the preposition למען ל, by the insertion of a word between, is unexampled, to say nothing of the fact that מגרשׁ does not mean produce at all. The thought expressed in Eze 36:6 and Eze 36:7 is the following: because Israel has hitherto borne the contempt of the heathen, the heathen shall now bear their own contempt. The lifting of the hand is a gesture employed in taking an oath, as in Eze 20:6, etc. But the land of Israel is to receive a blessing. This blessing is described in Eze 36:8 in general terms, as the bearing of fruit by the mountains, i.e., by the land of Israel; and its speedy commencement is predicted. It is then depicted in detail in Eze 36:9. In the clause כּי קרבוּ לבוא, the Israelites are not to be regarded as the subject, as Kliefoth supposes, in which case their speedy return from exile would be announced. The כּי shows that this cannot be the meaning; for it is immediately preceded by 'לעמּי ישׁ' yb , which precludes the supposition that, when speaking of the mountains, Ezekiel had the inhabitants in his mind. The promised blessings are the subject, or the branches and fruits, which the mountains
are to bear. Nearly all the commentators have agreed in adopting this explanation of the words, after the analogy of Isa 56:1. With the כּי in Eze 36:9 the carrying out of the blessing promised is appended in the form of a reason assigned for the general promise. The mountains shall be cultivated, the men upon them, viz., all Israel, multiplied, the desolated cities rebuilt, so that Israel shall dwell in the land as in the former time, and be fruitful and blessed. This promise was no doubt fulfilled in certain weak beginnings after the return of a portion of the people under Zerubbabel and Ezra; but the multiplying and blessing, experienced by those who returned from Babylon, did not take place till long after the salvation promised here, and more especially in Eze 36:12-15.
According to Eze 36:12, the land is to become the inheritance of the people Israel, and will no more make the Israelites childless, or (according to Eze 36:14) cause them to stumble; and the people are no more to bear the contempt of the heathen. But that portion of the nation which returned from exile not only continued under the rule of the heathen, but had also in various ways to bear the contempt of the heathen still; and eventually, because Israel not only stumbled, but fell very low through the rejection of its Saviour, it was scattered again out of the land among the heathen, and the land was utterly wasted...until this day. In Eze 36:12 the masculine suffix attached to וירשׁוּך refers to the land regarded as הר, which is also the subject to היית and תּוסף. It is not till Eze 36:13, Eze 36:14, where the idea of the land becomes so prominent, that the feminine is used. שׁכּלם, to make them (the Israelites) childless, or bereaved, is explained in Eze 36:13, Eze 36:14 by אכלת, devouring men. That the land devours its inhabitants, is what the spies say of the land of Canaan in Num 13:32; and in 2Ki 2:19 is it affirmed of the district of Jericho that it causes משׁכּלת, i.e., miscarriages, on account of its bad water. The latter passage does not come into consideration; but the former (Num 13:32) probably does, and Ezekiel evidently refers to this. For there is no
doubt whatever that he explains or expands שׁכּלם by אכלת אדם yb. Although, for example, the charge that the land devours men is brought against it by the enemies or adversaries of Israel (אמרים לּכם, they say to you), the truth of the charge is admitted, since it is said that the land shall henceforth no more devour men, though without a repetition of the שׁכּל. But the sense in which Ezekiel affirms of the land that it had been אכלת אדם, and was henceforth to be so no more, is determined by וגויך לא תכשׁלי אוד, thou wilt no more cause thy people to stumble, which is added in Eze 36:14 in the place of משׁכּלת גּויך היית in Eze 36:14. Hence the land became a devourer of men by the fact that it caused its people to stumble, i.e., entangled them in sins (the Keri תּשׁכּלי for תכשׁלי is a bad conjecture, the incorrectness of which is placed beyond all doubt by the לא־תכשׁלי עוד of Eze 36:15). Consequently we cannot understand the “devouring of men,” after Num 13:32, as signifying that, on account of its situation and fruitfulness, the land is an apple of discord, for the possession of which the nations strive with one another, so that the inhabitants are destroyed, or at all events we must not restrict the meaning to this; and still less can we agree with Ewald and Hitzig in thinking of the restless hurrying and driving by which individual men were of necessity rapidly swept away. If the sweeping away of the population so connected with the stumbling, the people are devoured by the consequences of their sins, i.e., by the penal judgment, unfruitfulness, pestilence, and war, with which God threatened Israel for its apostasy from Him. These judgments had depopulated the land; and this fact was attributed by the heathen in their own way to the land, and thrown in the teeth of the Israelites as a disgrace. The Lord will henceforth remove this charge, and take away from the heathen all occasion to despise His people, namely, by bestowing upon His land and people the blessing which He promised in the law to those who kept His commandments. But this can only be done by His removing the occasion to stumble or sin, i.e., according to Eze 36:25. (compared
with Eze 11:18.), by His cleansing His people from all uncleanness and idols, and giving them a new heart and a new spirit. The Keri גּוייך in Eze 36:13, Eze 36:14, and Eze 36:15 is a needless alteration of the Chetib גּויך. - In Eze 36:15 this promise is rounded off and concluded by another summing up of the principal thoughts.
The Salvation of Israel Founded upon Its Sanctification
Because Israel has defiled its land by its sins, God has scattered the people among the heathen; but because they also profaned His name among the heathen, He will exercise forbearance for the sake of His holy name (Eze 36:16-21), will gather Israel out of the lands, cleanse it from its sins, and sanctify it by the communication of His Spirit, so that it will walk in His ways (Eze 36:22-28), and will so bless and multiply it, that both the nations around and Israel itself will know that He is the Lord (Eze 36:29-38). - This promise is shown by the introductory formula in Eze 36:16 and by the contents to be an independent word of God; but it is substantially connected in the closest manner with the preceding word of God, showing, on the one hand, the motive which prompted God to restore and bless His people;, and, on the other hand, the means by which He would permanently establish the salvation predicted in Ezekiel 34 and Eze 36:1-15. - The kernel of this promise is formed by Eze 36:25-28, for which the way is prepared in Eze 36:17-24, whilst the further extension is contained in Eze 36:29-38.
Verses 16-21 Edit
The Lord will extend His forbearance, for the sake of His holy name, to the people who have been rejected on account of their sins. - Eze 36:16. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Eze 36:17. Son of man, the house of Israel dwelt in its land, and defiled it with its way and its doings; like the uncleanness of the unclean woman, was its way before me. Eze 36:18. Then I poured out my fury upon them on account of
the blood which they had shed in the land, and because they had defiled it through their idols, Eze 36:19. And scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed in the land; according to their way and their doings I judge them. Eze 36:20. And they came to the nations whither they came, and profaned my holy name, for men said of them, “These are Jehovah's people, and they have come out of His land.” Eze 36:21. And so I had pity upon my holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations whither they came. - The address commences with a description of the reasons why God had thrust out His people among the heathen, namely, on account of their sins and idolatrous abominations, by which the Israelites had defiled the land (cf. Lev 18:28 and Num 35:34). Their conduct resembled the most offensive uncleanness, namely, the uncleanness of a woman in her menstruation (Lev 15:19), to which the moral depravity of the people had already been compared in Isa 64:5. - In Eze 36:18 the consequence of the defiling of the land by the people is introduced with the impression ואשׁפּך. In Eze 36:17, ויטמּאוּ is the continuation of the participle ישׁבים; and the participle is expressive of the condition in the past, as we may see from the words 'ואשׁפּך וגו. The simile in Eze 36:17 is an explanatory, circumstantial clause. For Eze 36:18, compare Eze 7:8, and for 'על הדּם וגו, Eze 22:3, Eze 22:6. The last clause, “and through their idols they have defiled it,” is loosely appended; but it really contains a second reason for the pouring out of the wrath of God upon the people. For Eze 36:19, compare Eze 22:15. ויּבוא in Eze 36:20 refers to בּית־ישׂראל; but there is no necessity to read ויבאוּ on that account. It is perfectly arbitrary to supply the subject proposed by Kliefoth, viz., “the report of what had happened to Israel” came to the heathen, which is quite foreign to the connection; for it was not the report concerning Israel, but Israel itself, which came to the heathen, and profaned the sacred name of God. This is not only plainly expressed in Eze 36:21, but has been already stated in Eze 36:20.
The fact that the words of the heathen, by which the name of God was profaned, are quoted here, does not prove that it is the heathen nations who are to be regarded as those who profaned the name of God, as Kliefoth imagines. The words, “these are Jehovah's people, and have come out of His (Jehovah's) land,” could only contain a profanation of the holy name of God, if their coming out was regarded as involuntary, i.e., as an exile enforced by the power of the heathen; or, on the other hand, if the Israelites themselves had denied the holiness of the people of God through their behaviour among the heathen. Most of the commentators have decided in favour of the former view. Vatablus, for example, gives this explanation: “if their God whom they preach had been omnipotent, He would not have allowed them to be expelled from His land.” And we must decide in favour of this exposition, not only because of the parallel passages, such as Num 14:16 and Jer 33:24, which support this view; but chiefly on account of the verses which follow, according to which the sanctification of the name of God among the nations consists in the fact that God gathers Israel out of its dispersion among the nations, and leads them back into His own land (vid., Eze 36:23 and Eze 36:24). Consequently the profanation of His name can only have consisted in the fact that Israel was carried away out of its own land, and scattered in the heathen lands. For, since the heathen acknowledged only national gods, and regarded Jehovah as nothing more than such a national god of Israel, they did not look upon the destruction of the kingdom of Judah and the carrying away of the people as a judgment of the almighty and holy God upon His people, but concluded that that catastrophe was a sign of the inability of Jehovah to defend His land and save His people. The only way in which God could destroy this delusion was by manifesting Himself to the heathen as the almighty God and Lord of the whole world through the redemption and glorification of His people. ואחמל על־שׁם ק: so I had pity, compassion upon my holy name. The
preterite is prophetic, inasmuch as the compassion consists in the gathering of Israel out of the nations, which is announced in Eze 36:22. as still in the future. The rendering, “I spared (them) for my holy name's sake” (lxx, Hävernick), is false; for חמל is construed with על, governing the person or the thing toward which the compassion is shown (vid., Eze 16:5 and 2Ch 36:15, 2Ch 36:17).
Verses 22-28 Edit
For His holy name's sake the Lord will bring Israel back from its dispersion into His own land, purify it from its sins, and sanctify it by His Spirit to be His own people. - Eze 36:22. Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I do it not for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for my holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the nations whither ye have come. Eze 36:23. I will sanctify my great name, which is profaned among the nations, which ye have profaned in the midst of them, so that the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, when I prove myself holy upon you before their eyes. Eze 36:24. I will take you out of the nations, and gather you out of all lands, and bring you into your land, Eze 36:25. And will sprinkle clean water upon you, that ye may become clean; from all your uncleannesses and from all your idols will I cleanse you, Eze 36:26. And I will give you a new heart, and give a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh. Eze 36:27. I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and keep my rights, and do them. Eze 36:28. And ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to your fathers, and shall become my people, and I will be your God. - These verses show in what way the Lord will have compassion upon His holy name, and how He will put an end to the scoffing thereat, and vindicate His honour in the sight of the heathen. “Nor for your sake,” i.e., not because you have any claim to deliverance on account of your behaviour (cf. Isa 48:11 and Deu 9:6), but for my holy name's sake, i.e., to manifest as holy the name
which has been profaned among the heathen, I do it, namely, what follows from Eze 36:23 onwards. The Lord will sanctify His name, i.e., show it to be holy by proving Himself to be holy upon Israel. קדּשׁ is not equivalent to glorify, although the holiness of God involves the idea of glory. Sanctifying is the removing or expunging of the blots and blemishes which adhere to anything. The giving up of His people was regarded by the heathen as a sign of the weakness of Jehovah. This blot through which His omnipotence and glory were dishonoured, God would remove by gathering Israel out of the heathen, and glorifying it. Instead of לעיניכם, the ancient versions have rendered לעיניהם. This reading is also found in many of the codices and the earliest editions, and is confirmed by the great Masora, and also commended by the parallel passages, Eze 20:41 and Eze 28:25, so that it no doubt deserves the preference, although לעיניכם can also be justified. For inasmuch as Israelites had despaired in the midst of their wretchedness through unbelief, it was necessary that Jehovah should sanctify His great name in their sight as well. The great name of Jehovah is His almighty exaltation above all gods (cf. Mal 1:11-12). The first thing that Jehovah does for the sanctification of His name is to bring back Israel from its dispersion into its own land (Eze 36:24, compare Eze 11:17 and Eze 20:41-42); and then follows the purifying of Israel from its sins. The figurative expression, “to sprinkle with clean water,” is taken from the lustrations prescribed by the law, more particularly the purifying from defilement from the dead by sprinkling with the water prepared from the ashes of a red heifer (Num 19:17-19; compare Psa 51:9). Cleansing from sins, which corresponds to justification, and is not to be confounded with sanctification (Schmieder), is followed by renewal with the Holy Spirit, which takes away the old heart of stone and puts within a new heart of flesh, so that the man can fulfil the commandments of God, and walk in newness of life (Eze 36:26-28; compare Eze 11:18-20, where this promise has already
occurred, and the necessary remarks concerning its fulfilment have been made). - With regard to the construction 'עשׂה את אשׁר , to make or effect your walking, compare Ewald, §337b.
Verses 29-38 Edit
The Lord will richly bless, multiply, and glorify His people, when thus renewed and sanctified. - Eze 36:29. And I will save you from all your uncleannesses, and will call the corn, and multiply it, and no more bring famine upon you; Eze 36:30. But I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that ye will no more bear the reproach of famine among the nations. Eze 36:31. But ye will remember your evil ways, and your deeds which were not good, and will loathe yourselves on account of your iniquities and your abominations. Eze 36:32. Not for your sake do I this, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, be this known to you; be ye ashamed and blush for your ways, O house of Israel! Eze 36:33. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, In the day when I shall cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will make the cities inhabited, and the ruins shall be built, Eze 36:34. And the devastated land shall be tilled instead of being a desert before the eyes of every one who passed by. Eze 36:35. And men will say, This land, which was laid waste, has become like the garden of Eden, and the desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited. Eze 36:36. And the nations, which have been left round about you, shall know that I Jehovah build up that which is destroyed, and plant that which is laid waste. I, Jehovah, have said it, and do it. Eze 36:37. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I will still let myself be sought by the house of Israel in this, to do it for them; I will multiply them, like a flock, in men; Eze 36:38. Like a flock of holy sacrifices, like the flock of Jerusalem on its feast-days, so shall the desolate cities be full of flocks of men; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. - The words 'הושׁעתּי , I help or save you from all your uncleannesses, cannot be understood as relating to their purification from the former uncleannesses; for they have already been cleansed from these, according to Eze 36:25. The טמאות can only be such defilements
as are still possible even after the renewing of the people; and הושׁע, to help, means to guard them against any further recurrence of such defilements (cf. Eze 37:23), and not to deliver them from the consequences of their former pollutions. But if God preserves His people from these, there is no longer any occasion for a fresh suspension of judgments over them, and God can bestow His blessing upon the sanctified nation without reserve. It is in this way that the further promises are appended; and, first of all, in Eze 36:29 and Eze 36:30, a promise that He will bless them with an abundant crop of fruits, both of the orchard and the field. “I call to the corn,” i.e., I cause it to come or grow, so that famine will occur no more (for the fact, compare Eze 34:29).
In consequence of this blessing, Israel will blush with shame at the thought of its former sins, and will loathe itself for those abominations (Eze 36:31); compare Eze 20:43, where the same thought has already occurred. To this, after repeating what has been said before in Eze 36:22, namely, that God is not doing all this for the sake of the Israelites themselves, the prophet appends the admonition to be ashamed of their conduct, i.e., to repent, which is so far inserted appropriately in the promise, that the promise itself is meant to entice Israel to repent and return to God. Then, secondly, in two strophes introduced with 'כּה אמר יי, the promise is still further expanded. In Eze 36:33-36, the prophet shows how the devastated land is to be restored and rebuilt, and to become a paradise; and in Eze 36:37 and Eze 36:38, how the people are to be blessed through a large increase in their numbers. Both of these strophes are simply a further elaboration of the promise contained in Eze 36:9-12. הושׁיב, causative of ישׁב, to cause to be inhabited, to populate, as in Isa 54:3. לעיני כּל־עובר, as in Eze 5:14. The subject to ואמרוּ in Eze 36:35 is, “those who pass by.” For the comparison to the garden of Eden, see Eze 31:9. בּצוּרות is a circumstantial word belonging to ישׁבוּ: they shall be inhabited as fortified cities, that is to say, shall afford to their inhabitants the security of fortresses, from
which there is no fear of their being expelled. In Eze 36:36 the expression, “the heathen nations which shall be left round about you,” presupposes that at the time of Israel's redemption the judgment will have fallen upon the heathen (compare Eze 30:3 with Eze 29:21), so that only a remnant of them will be still in existence; and this remnant will recognise the work of Jehovah in the restoration of Israel. This recognition, however, does not involve the conversion of the heathen to Jehovah, but is simply preparatory to it. For the fact itself, compare Eze 17:24. הדּרשׁ, to let oneself be asked or entreated, as in Eze 14:3. זאת, with regard to this, is explained by לעשׂות . What God will do follows in 'ארבּה ותו. God will multiply His people to such an extent, that they will resemble the flock of lambs, sheep, and goats brought to Jerusalem to sacrifice upon the feast days. Compare 2Ch 35:7, where Josiah is said to have given to the people thirty thousand lambs and goats for the feast of the passover. כּצּאן אדם does not mean, like a flock of men. אדם cannot be a genitive dependent upon צאן, on account of the article in כּצּאן, but belongs to ארבּה, either as a supplementary apposition to אותם, or as a second object, so that ארבּה would be construed with a double accusative, after the analogy of verbs of plenty, to multiply them in men. Kliefoth's rendering,, “I will multiply them, so that they shall be the flock of men” (of mankind), is grammatically untenable. צאן קדשׁים, a flock of holy beasts, i.e., of sacrificial lambs. The flock of Jerusalem is the flock brought to Jerusalem at the yearly feasts, when the male population of the land came to the sanctuary (Deu 16:16): So shall the desolate cities be filled again with flocks of men (compare Mic 2:12).
Chap. 37 Edit
Verses 1-14 Edit
Resurrection of Israel and Reunion as One Nation Edit
This chapter contains two revelations from God (Eze 37:1-14 and Eze 37:15-28). In the first, the prophet is shown in a vision the resurrection of Israel to a new life. In the second, he is commanded to exhibit, by means of a symbolical act, the reunion of the divided kingdoms into a single nation under one king. Both of these he is to announce to the children of Israel. The substantial connection between these two prophecies will be seen from the exposition. Eze 37:1-14. Resurrection of Israel to New Life
Eze 37:1. There came upon me the hand of Jehovah, and Jehovah led me out in the spirit, and set me down in the midst of the valley; this was full of bones. Eze 37:2. And He led me past them round about; and, behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and, behold, they were very dry. Eze 37:3. And He said to me, Son of man, will these bones come to life? and I said, Lord, Jehovah, thou knowest. Eze 37:4. Then He said to me, Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, Ye dry bones, hear ye the word of Jehovah. Eze 37:5. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to these bones, Behold, I bring breath into you, that ye may come to life. Eze 37:6. I will create sinews upon you, and cause flesh to grow upon you, and cover you with skin, and bring breath into you, so that ye shall live and know that I am Jehovah. Eze 37:7. And I prophesied as I was commanded; and there was a noise as I prophesied, and behold a rumbling, and the bones came together, bone to bone. Eze 37:8. And I saw, and behold sinews came over them, and flesh grew, and skin drew over it above; but there was no breath in them. Eze 37:9. Then He said to me, Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Come from the four winds, thou breath, and blow upon these slain, that they may come to life. Eze 37:10. And I prophesied as I was commanded;
then the breath came into them, and they came to life, and stood upon their feet, a very, very great army. Eze 37:11. And He said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, our bones are dried, and our hope has perished; we are destroyed! Eze 37:12. Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will open you graves, and cause you to come out of your graves, my people, and bring you into the land of Israel. Eze 37:13. And ye shall know that I am Jehovah, when I open your graves, and cause you to come out of your graves, my people. Eze 37:14. And I will put my Spirit into you, and will place you in your land, and ye shall know that I, Jehovah, have spoken and do it, is the saying of Jehovah. - This revelation divides itself into two sections. Eze 37:1-10 contain the vision, and Eze 37:11-14 give the interpretation. There are no particular difficulties in the description of the vision, so far as the meaning of the words is concerned. By a supernatural intervention on the part of God, Ezekiel is taken from his own home in a state of spiritual ecstasy into a valley which was full of dead men's bones. For the expression 'היתה עלי יד יי, see the comm. on Eze 1:3. In the second clause of Eze 37:1 יהוה is the subject, and is not to be taken as a genitive in connection with בּרוּח, as it has been by the Vulgate and Hitzig in opposition to the accents. בּרוּח stands for בּרוּח אלהים (Eze 11:24), and אלהים is omitted simply because יהוה follows immediately afterwards. הניח, to set down, here and Eze 40:2; whereas in other cases the form הנּיח is usually employed in this sense. The article prefixed to הבּקעה appears to point back to Eze 3:22, to the valley where Ezekiel received the first revelation concerning the fate of Jerusalem and its inhabitants. That עצמים are dead men's bones is evident from what follows. העבירני עליהם, not “He led me over them round about,” but past them, in order that Ezekiel might have a clear view of them, and see whether it were possible for them to come to life again. They were lying upon the surface of the valley, i.e., not under, but upon the ground, and not piled up in a heap, but scattered
over the valley, and they were very dry. The question asked by God, whether these bones could live, or come to life again, prepares the way for the miracle; and Ezekiel's answer, “Lord, Thou knowest” (cf. Rev 7:14), implies that, according to human judgment, it was inconceivable that they could come to life any more, and nothing but the omnipotence of God could effect this.
After this introduction there follows in Eze 37:4. the miracle of the raising to life of these very dry bones, accomplished through the medium of the word of God, which the prophet addresses to them, to show to the people that the power to realize itself is inherent in the word of Jehovah proclaimed by Ezekiel; in other words, that Jehovah possesses the power to accomplish whatever He promises to His people. The word in Eze 37:5, “Behold, I bring breath into you, that ye may come to life,” announces in general terms the raising of them to life, whilst the process itself is more minutely described in Eze 37:6. God will put on them (clothe them with) sinews, flesh, and skin, and then put רוּח in them. רוּח is the animating spirit or breath = רוּח היּים (Gen 6:17; Gen 7:17). ,קרםἁπ. λεγ. in Syriac incrustare, obducere. When Ezekiel prophesied there arose or followed a sound (קול), and then a shaking (רעשׁ), and the bones approached one another, every bone to its own bone. Different explanations have been given of the words קול and רעשׁ. קול signifies a sound or voice, and רעשׁ a trembling, and earthquake, and also a rumbling or a loud noise (compare Eze 3:12 and Isa 9:4). The relation between the two words as they stand here is certainly not that the sound (קול) passes at once into a loud noise, or is continued in that form; whilst רעשׁ denotes the rattling or rustling of bones in motion. The fact that the moving of the bones toward one another is represented by ותּקרבוּ (with Vav consec.), as the sequel to רעשׁ, is decisive against this. Yet we cannot agree with Kliefoth, that by קול we are to understand the trumpet-blast, or voice of God, that wakes the dead from their graves, according to those passages of the New Testament which treat of the resurrection, and by רעשׁ
the earthquake which opens the graves. This explanation is precluded, not only by the philological difficulty that קול without any further definition does not signify either the blast of a trumpet or the voice of God, but also by the circumstance that the קול is the result of the prophesying of Ezekiel; and we cannot suppose that God would make His almighty call dependent upon a prophet's prophesying. And even in the case of רעשׁ, the reference to Eze 38:19 does not prove that the word must mean earthquake in this passage also, since Ezekiel uses the word in a different sense in Eze 12:18 and Eze 3:12. We therefore take קול in the general sense of a loud noise, and רעשׁ in the sense of shaking (sc., of the bones), which was occasioned by the loud noise, and produced, or was followed by, the movement of the bones to approach one another.
The coming together of the bones was followed by their being clothed with sinews, flesh, and skin; but there was not yet any breath in them (Eze 37:8). To give them this the prophet is to prophesy again, and that to the breath, that it come from the four winds or quarters of the world and breathe into these slain (Eze 37:9). Then, when he prophesied, the breath came into them, so that they received life, and stood upright upon their feet. In Eze 37:9 and Eze 37:10 רוּח is rendered by some “wind,” by others “spirit;” but neither of these is in conformity with what precedes it. רוּח does not mean anything else than the breath of life, which has indeed a substratum in the wind, perceptible to the senses, but it not identical with it. The wind itself brings no life into dead bodies. If, therefore, the dead bodies become living, receive life through the blowing of the רוּח into them, what enters into them by the blowing cannot be a symbol of the breath of life, but must be the breath of life itself - namely, that divine breath of life which pervades all nature, giving and sustaining the life of all creatures (cf. Psa 104:29-30). The expression פּחי בּהרוּגים points back to Gen 2:7. The representation of the bringing of the dead bones to life in two acts may also be explained from the fact
that it is based upon the history of the creation of man in Gen 2, as Theodoret has observed, and serves plainly to depict the creative revivification here, like the first creation there, as a work of the almighty God. For a correct understanding of the vision, it is also necessary to observe that in Eze 37:9 the dead bones, clothed with sinews, flesh, and skin, are called הרוּגים, slain, killed, and not merely dead. It is apparent at once from this that our vision is not intended to symbolize the resurrection of all the dead, but simply the raising up of the nation of Israel, which has been slain. This is borne out by the explanation of the vision which God gives to the prophet in Eze 37:1-14,
and directs him to repeat to the people. The dead bones are the “whole house of Israel” that has been given up to death; in other words, Judah and Ephraim. “These bones” in Eze 37:11 are the same as in Eze 37:3 and Eze 37:5, and not the bodies brought to life in Eze 37:10; though Hitzig maintains that they are the latter, and then draws the erroneous conclusion that Eze 37:11-14 do not interpret the vision of the first ten verses, but that the bones in the valley are simply explained in these verses as signifying the dead of Israel. It is true that the further explanation in Eze 37:12. of what is described in Eze 37:5-10 as happening to the dead bones is not given in the form of an exposition of the separate details of that occurrence, but is summed up in the announcement that God will open their graves, bring them out of their graves, and transport them to their own land. But it does not follow from this that the announcement is merely an application of the vision to the restoration of Israel to new life, and therefore that something different is represented from what is announced in Eze 37:12-14. Such a view is at variance with the words, “these bones are the whole house of Israel.” Even if these words are not to be taken so literally as that we are to understand that the prophet was shown in the vision of the bones of the slain and deceased Israelites, but simply mean: these dead bones represent the house of Israel, depict the nation of Israel in its state of death, - they express so much in the clearest terms concerning the relation in which the explanation in Eze 37:12-14 stands to the visionary occurrence in Eze 37:4-10, namely, that God has shown to Ezekiel in the vision what He commands him to announce concerning Israel in Eze 37:12-14; in other words, that the bringing of the dead bones to life shown to him in the vision was intended to place visibly before him the raising of the whole nation of Israel to new life out of the death into which it had fallen. This is obvious enough from the words: these bones are the whole house of Israel. כּל־בּית ישׂראל points forward to the reunion of the tribes of Israel that are severed into two nations, as foretold in Eze 37:15. It is they who speak in Eze 37:11. The subject to אמרים is neither the bones nor the dead of Israel (Hitzig), but the כּל־בּית ישׂראל already named, which is also addressed in Eze 37:12. All Israel says: our bones are dried, i.e., our vital force is gone. The bones are the seat of the vital force, as in Psa 32:3; and יבשׁ, to dry up, applied to the marrow, or vital sap of the bones, is substantially the same as בּלה in the psalm (l.c.). Our hope has perished (cf. Eze 19:5). תּקוה is here the hope of rising into a nation once more. נגזרנוּ לנוּ .: literally, we are cut off for ourselves, sc. from the sphere of the living (cf. Lam 3:54; Isa 53:8), equivalent to “it is all over with us.”
To the people speaking thus, Ezekiel is to announce that the Lord will open their graves, bring them out of them, put His breath of life into them, and lead them into their own land. If we observe the relation in which Eze 37:12 and Eze 37:13 stand to Eze 37:14, namely, that the two halves of the 14th verse are parallel to the two Eze 37:12 and Eze 37:13, the clause 'וידאתּם כּי אני in Eze 37:14 to the similar clause in Eze 37:13, there can be no doubt that the contents of Eze 37:14 also correspond to those of Eze 37:12 - that is to say, that the words, “I put my breath
(Spirit) into you, that ye may live, and place you in your own land” (bring you to rest therein), affirm essentially the same as the words, “I bring you out of your graves, and lead you into the land of Israel;” with this simple difference, that the bringing out of the graves is explained and rendered more emphatic by the more definite idea of causing them to live through the breath or Spirit of God put into them, and the הביא by הנּיח, the leading into the land by the transporting and bringing them to rest therein. Consequently we are not to understand by נתתּי רוּחי בכם either a divine act differing from the raising of the dead to life, or the communication of the Holy Spirit as distinguished from the imparting of the breath of life. רוּחי, the Spirit of Jehovah, is identical with the רוּח, which comes, according to Eze 37:9 and Eze 37:10, into the bones of the dead when clothed with sinews, flesh, and skin, i.e., is breathed into them. This spirit or breath of life is the creative principle both of the physical and of the ethical or spiritual life. Consequently there are not three things announced in these verses, but only two: (1) The raising to life from a state of death, by bringing out of the graves, and communicating the divine Spirit of life; (2) the leading back to their own land to rest quietly therein. When, therefore, Kliefoth explains these verses as signifying that for the consolation of Israel, which is mourning hopelessly in its existing state of death, “God directs the prophet to say - (1) That at some future time it will experience a resurrection in the literal sense, that its graves will be opened, and that all its dead, those deceased with those still alive, will be raised up out of their graves; (2) that God will place them in their own land; and (3) that when He has so placed them in their land, He will put His Spirit within them that they may live: in the first point the idea of the future resurrection, both of those deceased and of those still living, is interpolated into the text; and in the third point, placing them in their land before they are brought to life by the Spirit of God, would be at variance with the text, according to which the giving of the Spirit
precedes the removal to their own land. The repetition of עמּי in Eze 37:12 and Eze 37:13 is also worthy of notice: you who are my people, which bases the comforting promise upon the fact that Israel is the people of Jehovah.
If, therefore, our vision does not set forth the resurrection of the dead in general, but simply the raising to life of the nation of Israel which is given up to death, it is only right that, in order still further to establish this view, we should briefly examine the other explanations that have been given. - The Fathers and most of the orthodox commentators, both of ancient and modern times, have found in Eze 37:1-10 a locus classicus for the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and that quite correctly. But their views differ widely as to the strict meaning and design of the vision itself; inasmuch as some regard the vision as a direct and immediate prophecy of the general resurrection of the dead at the last day, whilst others take the raising of the dead to life shown to the prophet in the vision to be merely a figure or type of the waking up to new life of the Israel which is now dead in its captivity. The first view is mentioned by Jerome; but in later times it has been more especially defended by Calov, and last of all most decidedly by Kliefoth. Yet the supporters of this view acknowledge that Eze 37:11-14 predict the raising to life of the nation of Israel. The question arises, therefore, how this prediction is to be brought into harmony with such an explanation of the vision. The persons noticed by Jerome, who supported the view that in Eze 37:4-10 it is the general resurrection that is spoken of, sought to remove the difficulties to which this explanation is exposed, by taking the words, “these bones are the whole house of Israel,” as referring to the resurrection of the saints, and connecting them with the first resurrection in Rev 20:5, and by interpreting the leading of Israel back to their own land as equivalent to the inheriting of the earth mentioned in Mat 5:5. Calov, on the other hand, gives the following explanation of the relation in which Eze 37:11-14 stand to Eze 37:1-10 : “in
this striking vision there was shown by the Lord to the prophet the resurrection of the dead; but the occasion, the cause, and the scope of this vision were the resurrection of the Israelitish people, not so much into its earlier political form, as for the restoration of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and the establishment of the worship of God, both of which were indeed restored in the time of Zerubbabel, but were first brought to perfection at the coming of Jesus Christ.” He also assumes that the raising of the dead is represented in the vision, “because God would have this representation exhibited for a figure and confirmation of the restitution of the people.” And lastly, according to Kliefoth, Eze 37:11-14 do not furnish a literal exposition of the vision, but simply make an application of it to the bringing of Israel to life. - We cannot regard either of these views as correct, because neither of them does justice to the words of the text. The idea of the Fathers, that Eze 37:11-14 treat of the resurrection of the saints (believers), cannot be reconciled either with the words or with the context of our prophecy, and has evidently originated in perplexity. And the assumption of Calov and Kliefoth, that Eze 37:11-14 contain simply an application of the general resurrection of the dead exhibited in Eze 37:1-10 to the resurrection of Israel, by no means exhausts the meaning of the words, “these bones are the whole house of Israel,” as we have already observed in our remarks on Eze 37:11. Moreover, in the vision itself there are certain features to be found which do not apply to the general resurrection of the dead. In proof of this, we will not lay any stress upon the circumstance that Ezekiel sees the resurrection of the dead within certain limits; that it is only the dead men's bones lying about in one particular valley, and not the dead of the whole earth, though a very great army, that he sees come to life again; but, on the other hand, we must press the fact that in Eze 37:9 those who are to be raised to life are called הרוּגים, a word which does not signify the dead of all kinds, but simply those who have been slain, or have perished by the sword, by
famine, or by other violent deaths, and which indisputably proves that Ezekiel was not shown the resurrection of all the dead, but simply the raising to life of Israel, which had been swept away by a violent death. Kliefoth would account for this restriction from the purpose for which the vision was shown to the prophet. Because the design of the vision was to comfort Israel concerning the wretchedness of its existing condition, and that wretchedness consisted for the most part in the fact that the greater portion of Israel had perished by sword, famine, and pestilence, he was shown the resurrection of the dead generally and universally, as it would take place not in the case of the Israelites alone, but in that of all the dead, though here confined within the limits of one particular field of dead; and stress is laid upon the circumstance that the dead which Ezekiel saw raised to life instar omnium, were such as had met with a violent death. This explanation would be admissible, if only it had been indicated or expressed in any way whatever, that the bones of the dead which Ezekiel saw lying about in the בּקעה represented all the dead of the whole earth. But we find no such indication; and because in the whole vision there is not a single feature contained which would warrant any such generalization of the field of the dead which Ezekiel saw, we are constrained to affirm that the dead men's bones seen by Ezekiel in the valley represent the whole house of Israel alone, and not the deceased and slain of all mankind; and that the vision does not set forth the resurrection of all the dead, but only the raising to life of the nation of Israel which had been given up to death.
Consequently we can only regard the figurative view of the vision as the correct one, though this also has been adopted in very different ways. When Jerome says that Ezekiel “is prophesying of the restoration of Israel through the parable of the resurrection,” and in order to defend himself from the charge of denying the dogma of the resurrection of the dead, adds that “the similitude of a resurrection would never have been
employed to exhibit the restoration of the Israelitish people, if that resurrection had been a delusion, and it had not been believed that it would really take place; because no one confirms uncertain things by means of things which have no existence;” - Hävernick very justly replies, that the resurrection of the dead is not to be so absolutely regarded as a dogma already completed and defined, or as one universally known and having its roots in the national belief; though Hävernick is wrong in affirming in support of this that the despair of the people described in Eze 37:11 plainly shows that so general a belief cannot possibly be presupposed. For we find just the same despair at times when faith in the resurrection of the dead was a universally accepted dogma. The principal error connected with this view is the assumption that the vision was merely a parable formed by Ezekiel in accordance with the dogma of the resurrection of the dead. If, on the contrary, the vision was a spiritual intuition produced by God in the soul of the prophet, it might set forth the resurrection of the dead, even if the belief in this dogma had no existence as yet in the consciousness of the people, or at all events was not yet a living faith; and God might have shown to the prophet the raising of Israel to life under this figure, for the purpose of awakening this belief in Israel.
In that case, however, the vision was not merely a parable, but a symbolical representation of a real fact, which was to serve as a pledge to the nation of
its restoration to life. Theodoret comes much nearer to the truth when he gives the following as his explanation of the vision: that “on account of the unbelief of the Jews in exile, who were despairing of their restoration, the almighty God makes known His might; and the resurrection of the dead bodies, which was much more difficult than their restoration, is shown to the prophet, in order that all the nation may be taught thereby that everything is easy to His will;” and when, accordingly, he calls what occurs in the vision “a type not of the calling to life of the Jews only, but also of the resurrection of all men.” The only defect in this is, that Theodoret regards the dead bones which are brought to life too much as a figurative representation of any dead whatever, and thereby does justice neither to the words, “these bones are the whole house of Israel,” which he paraphrases by τύπος τοῦ ̓Ισραὴλ ταῦτα, nor to the designation applied to them as הרוּגים, though it may fairly be pleaded as a valid excuse so far as הרוגים is concerned, that the force of this word has been completely neutralized in the Septuagint, upon which he was commenting, by the rendering τοὺς νεκροὺς τούτους. - Hävernick has interpreted the vision in a much more abstract manner, and evaporated it into the general idea of a symbolizing of the creative, life-giving power of God, which can raise even the bones of the dead to life again. His exposition is the following: “There is no express prediction of the resurrection in these words, whether of a general resurrection or of the particular resurrection of Israel; but this is only though of here, inasmuch as it rests upon the creative activity of God, to which even such a conquest of death as this is possible.”
The calling to life of the thoroughly dried dead bones shown to the prophet in the vision, is a figure or visible representation of that which the Lord announces to him in Eze 37:11-14, namely, that He will bring Israel out of its graves, give it life with His breath, and bring it into its own land; and consequently a figure of the raising of Israel to life from its existing state of death. The opening of the graves is also a figure; for those whom the Lord will bring out of their braves are they who say, “Our bones are dried,” etc. (Eze 37:11), and therefore not those who are deceased, nor even the spiritually dead, but those who have lost all hope of life. We are not, however, to understand by this merely mors civilis and vita civilis, as Grotius has done. For Israel was destroyed, not only politically as a nation, but spiritually as a church of the Lord, through the destruction of its two kingdoms and its dispersion among the heathen; and in a very large number of its members it had also been given up to the power of physical death and sunk into the grave. Even then, if we keep out of sight those who were deceased, Israel, as the people of God was slain (הרוּג), without any hope of coming to life again, or a resurrection to new life. But the Lord now shows the prophet this resurrection under the figure of the raising to life of the very dry bones that lie scattered all around. This is fulfilled through the restoration of Israel as the people of Jehovah, to which the leading of the people back into the land of Israel essentially belongs. The way was opened and prepared for this fulfilment by the return of a portion of the people from the Babylonian captivity under Zerubbabel and Ezra, which was
brought to pass by the Lord, by the rebuilding of the cities of Judah and the temple which had been destroyed, and by the restoration of political order. But all this was nothing more than a pledge of the future and complete restoration of Israel. For although the Lord still raised up prophets for those who had returned and furthered the building of His house, His glory did not enter the newly erected temple, and the people never attained to independence again, - that is to say, not to permanent independence, - but continued in subjection to the imperial power of the heathen. And even if, according to Ezra, very many more of the exiles may have returned to their native land, by whom, for example, Galilee was repopulated and brought into cultivation again, the greater portion of the nation remained dispersed among the heathen. The true restoration of Israel as the people of the Lord commenced with the founding of the new kingdom of God, the “kingdom of heaven,” through the appearing of Christ upon the earth. But inasmuch as the Jewish nation as such, or in its entirety, did not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Messiah foretold by the prophets and sent by God, but rejected its Saviour, there burst afresh upon Jerusalem and the Jewish nation the judgment of dispersion among the heathen; whereas the kingdom of God founded by Christ spread over the earth, through the entrance of believers from among the Gentiles. This judgment upon the Jewish people, which is hardened in unbelief, still continues, and will continue until the time when the full number of the Gentiles has entered into the kingdom of God, and Israel as a people shall also be converted to Christ, acknowledge the crucified One as its Saviour, and bow the knee before Him (Rom 11:25-26). Then will “all Israel” be raised up out of its graves, the graves of its political and spiritual death, and brought back into its own land, which will extend as far as the Israel of God inhabits the earth. Then also will the hour come in which all the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and come forth out of their graves to the resurrection (Dan 12:2;
Joh 5:25-29); when the Lord shall appear in His glory, and descend from heaven with the trump of God (1Th 4:16), to call all the dead to life, and through the judgment upon all the nations to perfect His kingdom in glory, and bring the righteous into the Canaan of the new earth, into the heavenly Jerusalem, to the imperishable life of everlasting blessedness.
All these several factors in the restoration of Israel, which has been given up to the death of exile on account of its sins, though far removed from one another, so far as the time of their occurrence is concerned, are grouped together as one in the vision of the coming to life of the dead bones of the whole house of Israel. The two features which are kept distinct in the visionary description - namely, (1) the coming together of the dry bones, and their being clothed with sinews, flesh, and skin; and (2) the bringing to life of the bones, which have now the form of corpses, through the divine breath of life - are not to be distinguished in the manner proposed by Hengstenberg, namely, that the first may be taken as referring to the restoration of the civil condition - the external restitutio in integrum; the second, to the giving of new life through the outpouring of the Spirit of God. - Even according to our view, the vision contains a prophecy of the resurrection of the dead, only not in this sense, that the doctrine of the general resurrection of the dead is the premiss, or the design, or the direct meaning of the vision; but that the figurative meaning constitutes the foreground, and the full, literal meaning of the words the background of the prophetic vision, and that the fulfilment advances from the figurative to the literal meaning, - the raising up of the people of Israel out of the civil and spiritual death of exile being completed in the raising up of the dead out of their graves to everlasting life at the last day.
Reunion of Israel as One Nation under the Future King David Edit
This word of God directs the prophet to represent by a sign the reunion of the tribes of Israel, which have been divided into two kingdoms (Eze 37:15-17), and to explain this sign to the people (Eze 37:18-21), and predict its sanctification and blessedness under the reign of the future David (Eze 37:22-28). What is new in this word of God is the express prediction embodied in a symbolical action, of the reunion of the divided tribes of Israel into one single people of God, which has been already hinted at in the promise of the raising to life of “the whole house of Israel” (Eze 37:11). This brief indication is here plainly expressed and more fully developed.
Verses 15-28 Edit
Eze 37:15. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Eze 37:16. And thou, son of man, take to thyself a piece of wood, and write upon it: Of Judah, and the sons of Israel, his associates; and take another piece of wood, and write upon it: Of Joseph, the wood of Ephraim, and the whole house of Israel, his associates; Eze 37:17. And put them together, one to the other, into one piece of wood to thee, that they may be united in thy hand. Eze 37:18. And when the sons of thy people say to thee, Wilt thou not show us what thou meanest by this? Eze 37:19. Say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will take the wood of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his associates, which I put thereon, with the wood of Judah, and will make them into one stick, that they may be one in my hand. Eze 37:20. And the pieces of wood upon which thou hast written shall be in thy hand before their eyes. Eze 37:21. And say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will take the sons of Israel out of the nations among whom they walk, and will gather them from round about, and lead them into their land. Eze 37:22. I will make them into one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king over them all; and it shall not become two nations any more, and they shall
not henceforth be divided into two kingdoms any more; Eze 37:23. And shall not defile themselves by their idols and their abominations, and by all their transgressions; but I will help them from all their dwelling-places, in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; so that they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Eze 37:24. And my servant David will be king over them, and be a shepherd for them all; and they will walk in my rights, and keep my statutes and do them. Eze 37:25. And they will dwell in the land which I gave to my servant Jacob, in which their fathers dwelt; there will they dwell, and their children's children for ever; and my servant David will be a prince to them for ever. Eze 37:26. And I make a covenant of peace with them for ever, an everlasting covenant shall be with them; and I will place them, and multiply them, and put my sanctuary in the midst of them for ever. Eze 37:27. And my dwelling will be over them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Eze 37:28. And the nation shall know that I am Jehovah, who sanctifieth Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for ever.
The symbolical action commanded in Eze 37:16 and Eze 37:17, which the prophet no doubt performed in all its external reality (cf. Eze 37:19 and Eze 37:20), is easily understood, and expresses the thing to be represented in the the clearest manner. The writing of the names of the tribes composing the two kingdoms recalls to mind the similar act on the part of Moses (Num 17:1-13 :17ff.). But the act itself is a different one here, and neither the passage referred to nor Eze 21:15 furnishes any proof that עץ signifies a staff or rod. Ezekiel would undoubtedly have used מטּה for a staff. Nor have we even to think of flat boards, but simply of pieces of wood upon which a few words could be written, and which could be held in one hand. The ל before the names to be written upon each piece of wood is the sign of the genitive, indicating to whom it belongs, as in the case of the heading to David's psalms (לדוד). This is evident from the fact that in אץ אפרים the construct state is used instead. The name is to indicate that the piece of wood belongs to Judah or
Ephraim, and represents it. The command to Ezekiel to write upon one piece of wood, not only Judah, but “the sons of Israel, his associates,” arose from the circumstance that the kingdom of Judah included, in addition to the tribe of Judah, the greater portion of Benjamin and Simeon, the tribe of Levi and those pious Israelites who emigrated at different times from the kingdom of the ten tribes into that of Judah, who either were or became associates of Judah (2Ch 11:12., 2Ch 15:9; 2Ch 30:11, 2Ch 30:18; 2Ch 31:1). In the writing upon the second piece of wood, אץ אפרים is an explanatory apposition to ליוסף, and an accusative governed by כּתב. But the command is not to be understood as signifying that Ezekiel was to write the words עץ אפרים upon the piece of wood; all that he was to write was, “Joseph and the whole house of Israel, his associates.” The name of Joseph is chosen, in all probability, not as the more honourable name, as Hävernick supposes, but because the house of Joseph, consisting of the two powerful tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, formed the trunk of the kingdom of the ten tribes (Kliefoth). The “whole house of Israel, his associates,” are the rest of the tribes belonging to that kingdom. The two pieces of wood, with these inscriptions upon them, Ezekiel is to put together, and hold in his hand bound together in one. מה־אלּה לּך, what these (two pieces of wood) are to thee, is equivalent to, what thou meanest to indicate by them. For the rest, compare Eze 24:19. In the word of God explaining the action (Eze 37:19), the wood of Joseph is not the piece of wood with Joseph's name written upon it, but the kingdom represented by this piece of wood which was in Ephraim's hand, inasmuch as the hegemony was with the tribe of Ephraim. Instead of the wood, therefore, the tribes (not staffs) of Israel, i.e., the Israelites who constituted these tribes, are mentioned as his associates. God will put these upon the wood of Joseph (עליו), i.e., will join them together, and then place them with the wood of Judah, i.e., the kingdom of Judah, and unite them into one wood (or nation). את־עץ ,
the construction of which has been misunderstood by Hitzig, is neither in apposition to עליו, nor governed by נתתּי: “and will put them thereupon, upon the wood of Judah” (Hitzig and Kliefoth), or, “I add them to it, (namely) with the wood of Judah” (De Wette); but it is dependent upon לקח, “I take the wood of Joseph...and the tribes of Israel, his associates, which I put thereon, along with the wood of Judah, and make them into one wood.” The construction is rendered obscure simply by the fact that the relative clause, “which I put thereon,” is attached to the principal clause 'אני לקח וגו by Vav consec. In בּידי, “they shall be one in my hand,” there is probably an antithesis to בּיד אפרים, those who have come into Ephraim's hand, the tribes severed by Ephraim from the kingdom of God, will God once more bring together with Judah, and hold in His hand as an undivided nation. - In Eze 37:20 the description of the sign is completed by the additional statement, that the pieces of wood on which the prophet has written are to be in his hand before their eyes, and consequently that the prophet is to perform the act in such a way that his countrymen may see it; from which it follows that he performed it in its outward reality. The fulfilment of the instructions is not specially mentioned, as being self-evident; but in Eze 37:21-28 the further explanation of the symbolical action is given at once; and the interpretation goes beyond the symbol, inasmuch as it not only describes the manner in which God will effect the union of the divided tribes, but also what He will do for the preservation of the unity of the reunited people, and for the promotion of their blessedness. This explanation is arranged in two strophes through the repetition of the concluding thought: “they will be my people,” etc., in Eze 37:23 and Eze 37:27. Each of these strophes contains a twofold promise.
The first (Eze 37:21-23) promises (a) the gathering of the Israelites out of their dispersion, their restoration to their own land, and their union as one nation under the rule of David (Eze 37:21, Eze 37:22); (b) their purification from all sins, and
sanctification as the true people of the Lord (Eze 37:23). The second strophe (Eze 37:24-27) promises (a) their undisturbed eternal abode in the land, under David their prince (Eze 37:25); (b) the blessedness conferred upon them through the conclusion of an everlasting covenant of peace (Eze 37:26 and Eze 37:27). This second promise, therefore, constitutes the completion of the first, securing to the nation of Israel its restoration and sanctification for all time. The whole promise, however, is merely a repetition of that contained in Ezekiel 34:11-31 and Eze 36:22-30. - The three factors - the gathering out of the nations, restoration to the land of Israel, and reunion as one people - form the first act of divine grace. The union of the Israelites, when brought back to their land, is accomplished by God giving them in David a king who will so rule the reunited people that they will not be divided any more into two peoples and two kingdoms. The Chetib יהיה is not to be altered into the plural יהיוּ, as in the Keri; but גּוי is to be supplied in thought, from the preceding clause, as the subject to the verb. The division of the nation into two kingdoms had its roots, no doubt, in the ancient jealousy existing between the two tribes Ephraim and Judah; but it was primarily brought to pass through the falling away of Solomon from the Lord. Consequently it could only be completely and for ever terminated through the righteous government of the second David, and the purification of the people from their sins. This is the way in which Eze 36:23 is attached to Eze 36:22. For Eze 36:23 compare Eze 14:11 and Eze 36:25. Different interpretations have been given of the words, “I help them from all their dwelling-places, in which they have sinned.” They recall to mind Eze 36:29, “I help them from all their uncleannesses.” As הושׁע מן signifies, in that case, “to preserve therefrom,” so in the present instance the thought can only be, “God will preserve them from all the dwelling-places in which they have sinned.” Hengstenberg is of opinion that the redemption from the dwelling-places does not take place locally, but spiritually, through the cleansing
away of all traces of sin, first from the hearts, and then, in consequence, from all around. In this way is the land changed, through the power of the Lord, into another land, from a sinful to a holy one; just as before it had been changed from a holy to a sinful one through the guilt of the people. But if this were the only thought which the words contained, Ezekiel would certainly have placed the וטהרתּי אותם before 'והושׁעתּי וגו. As the words read, the deliverance of the people from their sinful dwelling-places is to precede their purification, to prepare the way for it and bring it to pass, and not to follow after it. The dwelling-places, at or in which they have sinned, cannot be the settlements in foreign lands, as Hitzig supposes, but only the dwelling-places in Canaan, to which the Lord would bring them after gathering them from their dispersion. הושׁע does not signify, “leading out from these dwelling-places,” which is the explanation given by Kliefoth, who consequently thinks that we must understand the words as denoting the leading over of Israel from the present Canaan, or the Canaan of this life, to which its sins adhere, to the glorified, new, and eternal Canaan. This view is utterly irreconcilable both with the words themselves and also with the context. Even if הושׁע meant to lead out, it would not be allowable to transform the “leading out” from the sinful Canaan into a “leading in” to the glorified and heavenly Canaan. Moreover, the further development of this promise in Eze 37:25 also shows that it is not in the glorified, eternal Canaan that Israel is to dwell, but in the earthly Canaan in which its fathers dwelt. It is obvious from this, that in all the promise here given there is no allusion to a transformation and glorification of Canaan itself. The helping or saving from all dwelling-places in which they have sinned would rather consist in the fact, therefore, that God would remove from their dwelling-places everything that could offer them an inducement to sin. For although sin has its seat, not in the things without us, but in the heart, the external circumstances of a man do offer various inducements to sin.
Before the captivity, Canaan offered such an inducement to the Israelites through the idolatry and moral corruption of the Canaanites who were left in the land. And with reference to this the Lord promises that in future, when His people are brought back to Canaan, He will preserve them from the sinful influence of their dwelling-places. But this preservation will only be effected with complete success when God purifies Israel itself, and, by means of its renovation, eradicates all sinful desire from the heart (cf. Eze 36:26-27). In this way וטהרתּי is appended in the most fitting way to 'והושׁעתּי . - Through the removal of all sinful influences from around them, and the purifying of the heart, Israel will then become in truth the people of God, and Jehovah the God of Israel (Eze 37:23).
Israel, when thus renewed, will walk in the rights of the Lord and fulfil His commandments, under the protection of its one shepherd David, i.e., of the Messiah (Eze 37:24, cf. Eze 36:27, and Eze 34:23); and its children and children's children will dwell for ever in its own land, David being its prince for ever (Eze 37:25, and cf. Eze 36:28 and Eze 34:24). What is new in this promise, which is repeated from Ezekiel 34 and 36, is contained in לעולם, which is to be taken in the strict sense of the word. Neither the dwelling of Israel in Canaan, nor the government of the David-Messiah, will ever have an end. לעולם is therefore repeated in Eze 37:26 in the promise of the covenant which the Lord will make with His people. The thought itself has already been expressed in Eze 34:25, and בּרית שׁלוּם is to be understood, both here and there, as comprehending all the saving good which the Lord will bestow upon all His sanctified people. There are only two factors of this salvation mentioned here in Eze 37:26 and Eze 37:27, namely, the multiplication of the people, as the earthly side of the divine blessing, and the establishing of His eternal sanctuary in the midst of them as the spiritual side. These two points refer back to the former acts of God, and hold up to view the certain and full realization in the future of what has hitherto been neither perfectly
nor permanently accomplished on account of the sins of the people. וּנתתּים, in Eze 37:26, is not to be taken in connection with והרבּיתּי אותם, so as to form one idea in the sense of dabo eos multiplicatos (Venema and Hengstenberg), for we have no analogies of such a mode of combination; but נתתּים, I make, or place them, is to be taken by itself, and completed from the context, “I make them into a nation, and I multiply them (cf. Eze 36:10-11, Eze 36:37). Ezekiel has here Lev 26:9 and Lev 26:11 in his mind, as we may see from the fact that the words, “I give my sanctuary in the midst of them for ever,” are obviously formed after Lev 26:11, “I give my dwelling in the midst of them;” in such a manner, however, that by the substitution of מקדּשׁי for משׁכּני, and the addition of לעולם, the promise is both deepened and strengthened. In the change of משׁכּני into מקדּשׁי, he may indeed have had the words of Exo 25:8 floating before his mind, “they shall make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them;” nevertheless he deliberately selected the expression “my sanctuary,” to indicate that the Lord would dwell in the midst of Israel as the Holy One, and the Sanctifier of His people. Moreover, the words are not, “my dwelling will be in the midst of them, or among them” (בּתוכם), but עליהם, over them. This expression is transferred from the site of the temple, towering above the city (Psa 68:30), to the dwelling of God among His people, to give prominence to the protective power and saving grace of the God who rules in Israel (cf. Hengstenberg on Psa 68:30). The sanctuary which Jehovah will give in Israel for ever, i.e., will found and cause to endure, that He may dwelling the midst of it to shelter and bless, is the temple, but not the temple built by Zerubbabel. As an objection to this Jewish interpretation, Jerome has justly said: “but how could it be said to stand ‘for ever,' when that temple which was built in the time of Zerubbabel, and afterwards restored by many others, was consumed by Roman fire? All these things are to be taken as referring to the church in the time of the Saviour, when His tabernacle
was placed in the church.” There is no reference whatever here to the rebuilding of the temple by Zerubbabel; not because that temple did not stand for ever and was destroyed by the Romans, but chiefly because God did not make it His abode, or fill this temple with His gracious presence (Shechinah). The sanctuary which God will place for ever among His people is the sanctuary seen by Ezekiel in Ezekiel 40ff.; and this is merely a figurative representation of the “dwelling of God in the midst of His people through His Son and Holy Spirit” (cf. Vitringa, Observv. I. p. 161), which began to be realized in the incarnation of the Logos, who is set forth in Joh 1:14 as the true משׁכּן, in the words ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, and is continued in the spiritual dwelling of God in the heart of believers (1Co 3:16; 1Co 6:19), and will be completed at the second coming of our Lord in the “tabernacle (σκηνή) of God with men” of the new Jerusalem, of which the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple, since Israel will then first have become in truth the people of God, and Jehovah (God with them) their God (Rev 21:3, Rev 21:22). - The promise concludes in Eze 37:28 with an allusion to the impression which these acts of God in Israel will make upon the heathen (cf. Eze 36:36). From the fact that Jehovah erects His sanctuary in the midst of Israel for ever, they will learn that it is He who sanctifieth Israel. קדּשׁ, to sanctify, means, “to remove from all connection either with sin or with its consequences. Here the reference is to the latter, because these alone strike the eyes of the heathen; but the former is presupposed as the necessary foundation” (Hengstenberg). The words rest upon the promises of the Pentateuch, where God describes Himself as He who will and does sanctify Israel (compare Exo 31:13; Lev 22:31-33). This promise, which has hitherto been only imperfectly fulfilled on account of Israel's guilt, will be perfectly realized in the future, when Israel will walk in the ways of the Lord, renewed by the Spirit of God.
Thus does this prophecy of Ezekiel span the whole future of
the people of God even to eternity. But the promise in which it culminates, namely, that the Lord will erect His sanctuary in the midst of His restored people, and there take up His abode above them for ever (Eze 37:26.), is of importance as helping to decide the question, how we are to understand the fulfilment of the restoration to Canaan into the land given to the fathers, which is promised to all Israel; whether, in a literal manner, by the restoration of the Israelites to Palestine; or spiritually, by the gathering together of the Israelites converted to the Lord their God and Saviour, and their introduction into the kingdom of God founded by Christ, in which case Canaan, as the site of the Old Testament kingdom of God, would be a symbolical or typical designation of the earthly soil of the heavenly kingdom, which has appeared in the Christian church. - These two different views have stood opposed to one another from time immemorial, inasmuch as the Jews expect from the Messiah, for whose advent they still hope, not only their restoration to Palestine, but the erection of the kingdom of David and the rebuilding of the temple upon Mount Zion, together with the sacrificial worship of the Levitical law; whereas in the Christian church, on the ground of the New Testament doctrine, that the old covenant has been abolished along with the Levitical temple-worship through the perfect fulfilment of the law by Christ and the perpetual efficacy of His atoning sacrifice, the view has prevailed that, with the abolition of the Old Testament form of the kingdom of God, even Palestine has ceased to be the chosen land of the revelation of the saving grace of God, and under the new covenant Canaan extends as far as the Israel of the new covenant, the church of Jesus Christ, is spread abroad over the earth, and that Zion or Jerusalem is to be sought wherever Christendom worships God in spirit and in truth, wherever Christ is with His people, and dwells in the hearts of believers through the Holy Spirit. It was by J. A. Bengel and C. F. Oetinger that the so-called “realistic” interpretation of the Messianic prophecies of the
Old Testament - according to which, after the future conversion to Christ of the Jewish people who are hardened still, the establishment of the kingdom of God in Palestine and its capital Jerusalem is to be expected - has been revived and made into one of the leading articles of Christian hope. By means of this “realistic” exposition of the prophetic word the chiliastic dogma of the establishment of a kingdom of glory before the last judgment and the end of the world is then deduced from the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse; and many of the theologians of our day regard this as the certain resultant of a deeper study of the Scriptures. In the more precise definition of the dogma itself, the several supporters diverge very widely from one another; but they all agree in this, that they base the doctrine chiefly upon the prophetic announcement of the eventual conversion and glorification of all Israel. - As Ezekiel then stands out among all the prophets as the one who gives the most elaborate prediction of the restoration of Israel under the government of the Messiah, and he not only draws in Ezekiel 40-48 a detailed picture of the new form of the kingdom of God, but also in Ezekiel 38 and 39, in the prophecy concerning Gog and Magog, foretells an attack on the part of the heathen world upon the restored kingdom of God, which appears, according to Rev 20:7-9, to constitute the close of the thousand years' reign; we must look somewhat more closely at this view, and by examining the arguments pro and con, endeavour to decide the question as to the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the future of Israel. In doing this, however, we shall fix our attention exclusively upon the exegetical arguments adduced in support of the chiliastic view by its latest supporters.
The prophetic announcement, that the Lord will one day gather together again the people of Israel, which has been thrust out among the heathen for its unfaithfulness, will bring it back into the land given to the fathers, and there bless and greatly multiply it, has its roots in the promises of the law. If the stiff-necked transgressors of the commandments of God - these are the words of Lev 26:40-45 - bear the punishment of their iniquity in the land of their enemies, and confess their sins, and their uncircumcised heart is humbled, then will the Lord remember His covenant with the patriarchs, and not cast them off even in the land of their enemies, to destroy them, and to break His covenant with them; but will remember the covenant which He made with their ancestors, when He brought them out of Egypt before the eyes of the nations to be their God. He will, as this is more precisely defined in Deu 30:3., gather them together again out of the heathen nations, lead them back into the land which their fathers possessed, and multiply Israel more than its fathers. On the ground of this promise, of which Moses gives a still further pledge to the people in his dying song (Deu 32:36-43), all the prophets announce the restoration and ultimate glorification of Israel. This song, which closes with the promise, “Rejoice, ye nations, over His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and repay vengeance to His adversaries, and expiate His land, His people,” continues to resound - to use the words of Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, II 2, pp. 89, 90) - ”through all the Old Testament prophecy. Not only when Obadiah (Oba 1:17) and Joel (Joe 3:5) promise good to their nation do they call Mount Zion and the city of Jerusalem the place where there is protection from the judgment upon the nations of the world; but Micah also, who foretells the destruction of the temple and
the carrying away of his people to Babylon, beholds Mount Zion exalted at last above all the seats of worldly power, and his people brought back to the land of their fathers (Eze 4:1; Eze 7:14). The same Isaiah, who was sent to harden his people with the word of his prophecy, is nevertheless certain that at last a holy nation will dwell in Jerusalem, a remnant of Israel (Isa 4:3; Isa 10:21); and the holy mountain of Jehovah, to which His scattered people return from all the ends of the world, is that abode of peace where even wild beasts do no more harm under the rule of the second David (Isa 11:9, Isa 11:11). After all the calamities which it was the mournful lot of Jeremiah to foretell and also to witness, Jehovah showed this prophet the days when He would restore His people, and bring them back to the land which He gave to their fathers (Jer 30:3).... And the same promise is adhered to even after the return. In every way is the assurance given by Zechariah, that Judah shall be God's holy possession in God's holy land.”
Verses 15-28 Edit
This restoration of Israel Ezekiel describes, in harmony with Jer 31,
though in a much more detailed picture, in the following way: - ”The condition of things in the future will differ from that in the past, simply in the fact that Israel will then have a heart converted to fidelity and obedience by the Spirit of God (Eze 11:19; Eze 36:27), and will live in good peace and prosperity under the shelter of its God, who is known and acknowledged by all the world (Eze 36:23). The land to which it is restored, a land most decidedly represented by Ezekiel as the same as that in which its fathers lived (Eze 37:25), appears throughout merely as a happy earthly dwelling-place, and the promise of its possession as an assurance given to a nation continuing to propagate itself in peace” (Hofmann, p. 576). This manner of depicting the condition of the Israel restored and glorified by the Messiah, as a peaceful settlement and a happy life in the land of the fathers, a life rich in earthly possessions, is not confined, however, to Jeremiah and Ezekiel, but stands out more or less conspicuously in the Messianic pictures of all the prophets. What follows, then, from this in
relation to the mode in which these prophecies are to be fulfilled? Is it that the form assumed by the life of the people of Israel when restored will be only a heightened repetition of the conditions of its former life in Palestine, undisturbed by sin? By no means. On the contrary, it follows from this that the prophets have depicted the glorious restoration of Israel by the Messiah by means of figures borrowed from the past and present of the national life of Israel, and therefore that their picture is not to be taken literally, but symbolically or typically, and that we are not to expect it to be literally fulfilled.
We are forced to this conclusion by the fact that, through the coming of Christ, and the kingdom of heaven which began with Him, the idea of the people of God has been so expanded, that henceforth not the lineal descendants of Abraham, or the Jewish nation merely, but the church of confessors of Jesus Christ, gathered together out of Israel and the Gentiles, has become the people of God, and the economy of the Old Testament has ceased to constitute the divinely appointed from of the church of God. If, therefore, the Jewish people, who have rejected the Saviour, who appeared in Jesus Christ, and have hardened themselves against the grace and truth revealed in Him, are not cast off for ever, but, according to the promises of the Old Testament and the teaching of the Apostle Paul (Rom 11), ), will eventually repent, and as a people turn to the crucified One, and then also realize the fulfilment of the promises of God; there is still lacking, with the typical character of the prophetic announcement, any clear and unambiguous biblical evidence that all Israel, whose salvation is to be looked for in the future, will be brought back to Palestine, when eventually converted to Christ the crucified One, and continue there as a people separated from the rest of Christendom, and from the earthly centre of the church of the Lord gathered out of all nations and tongues. For, however well founded the remark of Hofmann (ut sup. p. 88) may be, that “holy people and holy land are demanded by one another;” this proves
nothing more than that the holy people, gathered out of all the families of the earth through the believing reception of the gospel, will also have a holy land for its dwelling-place; in other words, that, with the spread of the church of the Lord over all the quarters of the globe, the earth will become holy land or Canaan, so far as it is inhabited by the followers of Christ. The Apostle Paul teaches this in the same Epistle in which he foretells to Israel, hardened in unbelief, its eventual restoration and blessedness; when he explains in Rom 4:9-13 that to Abraham or his seed the promise that he was to be the heir of the world was not fulfilled through the law, but through the righteousness of the faith, which Abraham had when still uncircumcised, that he might become a father of all those who believe, though they be not circumcised, and a father of the circumcision, not merely of those who are of the circumcision, but of those also who walk in the footsteps of his faith. And the apostle, when developing this thought, interprets the promise given to the patriarch in Gen 12:7 and Gen 15:18 : “to thy seed will I give this land” (i.e., the land of Canaan), by κληρονομεῖν κόσμον (inheriting the world), he regards Canaan as a type of the world or of the earth, which would be occupied by the children born of faith to the patriarch.
This typical interpretation of the promise, given in the Old Testament to the seed of Abraham, of the everlasting possession of the land of Canaan, which is thus taught by the Apostle Paul, and has been adopted by the church on his authority, corresponds also to the spirit and meaning of the Old Testament word of God. This is evident from Gen 17, where the Lord God, when instituting the covenant of circumcision, gives not to Abraham only, but expressly to Sarah also, the promise to make them into peoples (לגּוים), that king of nations (מלכי עמּים) shall come from them through the son, whom they are to receive (Gen 17:6 and Gen 17:16), and at the same time promises to give to the seed of Abraham, thus greatly to be multiplied, the land of his pilgrimage, the whole land of Canaan, for an
everlasting possession (Gen 17:8). This promise the Lord, as the “almighty God,” has not carried into effect by making Abraham and Sarah into nations through the lineal posterity of Isaac, but only through the spiritual seed of Abraham, believers out of all nations, who have become, and still will become, children of Abraham in Christ. It was only through these that Abraham became the father of a multitude of nations (לאב המון, Gen 17:5). For although two peoples sprang from Isaac, the Israelites through Jacob, and the Edomites through Esau, and Abraham also became the ancestor of several tribes through Ishmael and the sons of Keturah, the divine promise in question refers to the people of Israel alone, because Esau was separated from the seed of the promise by God Himself, and the other sons of Abraham were excluded by the fact that they were not born of Sarah. The twelve tribes, however, formed but one people; and although Ezekiel calls them two peoples (Eze 35:10 and Eze 37:22), having in view their division into two kingdoms, they are never designated or described in the Old or New Testament as המון גּוים. To this one people God did indeed give the land of Canaan for a possession, according to the boundaries described in Num 34, so that it dwelt therein until it was driven out and scattered among the heathen for its persistent unfaithfulness. But inasmuch as that portion of the promise which referred to the multiplication of the seed of Abraham into peoples was only to receive its complete fulfilment in Christ, according to the counsel and will of God, through the grafting of the believing Gentile nations into the family of Abraham, and has so received it, we are not at liberty to restrict the other portion of this promise, relating to the possession of the land of Canaan, to the lineal posterity of the patriarch, or the people of Israel by lineal descent, but must assume that in the promise of the land to be given to the seed of Abraham God even then spoke of Canaan as a type of the land which was to be possessed by the posterity of Abraham multiplied into nations.
This typical phraseology runs through all the prophetical writings of the Old Testament, and that both with regard to the promised seed, which Abraham received through Isaac (Gen 21:12) in the people of Israel, and also with reference to the land promised to this seed for an inheritance, although, while the old covenant established at Sinai lasted, Israel according to the flesh was the people of God, and the earthly Canaan between the Euphrates and the river of Egypt was the dwelling-place of this people. For inasmuch as Abraham received the promise at the very time of his call, that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed, and the germs of the universal destination of the people and kingdom of God were deposited, according to Gen 17, in the subsequent patriarchal promises, the prophets continued to employ the names of Israel and Canaan more and more in their Messianic prophecies as symbolical terms for the two ideas of the people and kingdom of God. And from the time when the fortress of Jerusalem upon Mount Zion was exalted by David into the capital of his kingdom and the seat of his government over Israel, and was also made the site of the dwelling of Jehovah in the midst of His people, by the removal of the ark of the covenant to Zion, and the building of the temple which was planned by David, though only carried into execution by Solomon his son, they employed Zion and Jerusalem in the same typical manner as the seat and centre of the kingdom of God; so that, in the Messianic psalms and the writings of the prophets, Zion or Jerusalem is generally mentioned as the place from which the king (David-Messiah), anointed by Jehovah as prince over His people, extends His dominion over all the earth, and whither the nations pour to hear the law of the Lord, and to be instructed as to His ways and their walking in His paths.
Consequently neither the prominence expressly given to the land in the promises contained in Lev 26:42 and Deu 32:43, upon which such stress is laid by Auberlen (die messianische Weissagungen,
pp. 827 and 833), nor the fact that Mount Zion or the city of Jerusalem is named as the place of judgment upon the world of nations and the completion of the kingdom of God, to which both Hofmann and Auberlen appeal in the passages already quoted, furnishes any valid evidence that the Jewish people, on its eventual conversion to Christ, will be brought back to Palestine, and that the Lord, at His second coming, will establish the millennial kingdom in the earthly Jerusalem, and take up His abode on the material Mount Zion, in a temple built by human hands.
Even the supporters of the literal interpretation of the Messianic prophecies cannot deny the symbolico-typical character of the Old Testament revelation. Thus Auberlen, for example, observes (die mess. Weiss. p. 821) that, “in their typical character, the sacrifices furnish us with an example of the true signification of all the institutions of the Old Testament kingdom of God, while the latter exhibit to us in external symbol and type the truly holy people and the Messianic kingdom in its perfection, just as the former set forth the sacrifice of the Messiah.” But among these institutions the Israelitish sanctuary (tabernacle or temple) undoubtedly occupied a leading place as a symbolico-typical embodiment of the kingdom of God established in Israel, as is now acknowledged by nearly all the expositors of Scripture who have any belief in revelation. It is not merely the institutions of the old covenant, however, which have a symbolico-typical signification, but this is also the case with the history of the covenant nation of the Old Testament, and the soil in which this history developed itself. This is so obvious, that Auberlen himself (ut sup. p. 827) has said that “it is quite a common thing with the prophets to represent the approaching dispersion and enslaving of Israel among the heathen as a renewal of their condition in Egypt, and the eventual restoration of both the people and kingdom as a new Exodus from Egypt and entrance into Canaan (Hos 2:1-2 and Hos 2:16, Hos 2:17, Hos 9:3 and Hos 9:6, Hos 11:5, Hos 11:11; Mic 2:12-13; Mic 7:15-16;
Isa 10:24, Isa 10:26; Isa 11:11; Jer 16:14-15, and other passages).” And even Hofmann, who sets aside this typical phraseology of the prophets in Isa 11:11-15, where the restoration of Israel from its dispersion throughout all the world is depicted as a repetition of its deliverance from Egypt through the miraculous division of the Red Sea, with the simple remark, “that the names of the peoples mentioned in the 14th as well as in the 11th verse, and the obstacles described in the 15th verse, merely serve to elaborate the thought” (Schriftbeweis, II 2, p. 548), cannot help admitting (at p. 561) “that in Isa 34:5 אדום is not to be understood as a special prophecy against the Edomitish people, but as a symbolical designation of the world of mankind in its enmity against God.” But if Edom is a type of the human race in its hostility to God in this threatening of judgment, “the ransomed of Jehovah” mentioned in the corresponding announcement of salvation in Isa 35:1-10, who are to “return to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads,” cannot be the rescued remnant of the Jewish people, or the Israel of the twelve tribes who will ultimately attain to blessedness, nor can the Zion to which they return be the capital of Palestine. If Edom in this eschatological prophecy denotes the world in its enmity against God, the ransomed of Jehovah who return to Zion are the people of God gathered from both Gentiles and Jews, who enter into the blessedness of the heavenly Jerusalem. By adopting this view of Edom, Hofmann has admitted the typical use of the ideas, both of the people of Jehovah (Israel) and of Zion, by the prophets, and has thereby withdrawn all firm foundation from his explanation of similar Messianic prophecies when the Jewish nation is concerned. The same rule which applies to Edom and Zion in Isa 34 and Isa 35:1-10 must also be applicable in Isa 40-56. The prophecy concerning Edom in Isa 34 has its side-piece in Isa 63:1-6; and, as Delitzsch has said, the announcement of the return of the ransomed of Jehovah to Zion in Ezekiel 36, “as a whole and in every
particular, both in thought and language, is a prelude of this book of consolation for the exiles (i.e., the one which follows in Isa 40-66).” Ezekiel uses Edom in the same way, in the prediction of the everlasting devastation of Edom and the restoration of the devastated land of Israel, to be a lasting blessing for its inhabitants. As Edom in this case also represents the world in its hostility to God (see the comm. on Ezekiel 35:1-36:15), the land of Israel also is not Palestine, but the kingdom of the Messiah, the boundaries of which extend from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the world (Psa 73:8 and Zec 9:10). It is true that in the case of our prophet there is no express mention made of the spread of the kingdom of God over the lands, inasmuch as he is watchman over the house of Israel, and therefore, for the most part, principally speaks of the restoration of Israel; but it is also obvious that this prophetic truth was not unknown to him, from the fact that, according to Eze 47:22-23, in the fresh division of the land among the tribes by lot, the foreigners as well as the natives are to be reckoned among the children of Israel, and to receive their portion of the land as well, which plainly abolishes the difference in lineal descent existing under the old covenant. Still more clearly does he announce the reception of the heathen nations into the kingdom of God in Eze 16:53., where he predicts the eventual turning of the captivity, not of Jerusalem only, but also of Samaria and Sodom, as the goal of the ways of God with His people. If, therefore, in His pictures of the restoration and glorification of the kingdom of God, he speaks of the land of Israel alone, the reason for this mode of description is probably also to be sought in the fact that he goes back to the fundamental prophecies of the Pentateuch more than other prophets do; and as, on the one hand, he unfolds the fulfilment of the threats in Lev 26 and Deut 28-32 in his threatenings of judgments, so, on the other hand, does he display the fulfilment of the promises of the law in his predictions of salvation. If we bear this in mind, we
must not take his prophecy of the very numerous multiplication of Israel and of the eternal possession of Canaan and its blessings in any other sense than in that of the divine promise in Gen 17; ; that is to say, we must not restrict the numerous multiplication of Israel to the literal multiplication of the remnant of the twelve tribes, but must also understand thereby the multiplication of the seed of Abraham into peoples in the manner explained above, and interpret in the same way the restoration of Israel to the land promised to the fathers.
This view of the Old Testament prophecy concerning the eventual restoration of Israel on its conversion to Christ is confirmed as to its correctness by the New Testament also; if, for example, we consider the plain utterances of Christ and His apostles concerning the relation of the Israel according to the flesh, i.e., of the Jewish nation, to Christ and His kingdom, and do not adhere in a one-sided manner to the literal interpretation of the eschatological pictures contained in the language of the Old Testament prophecy. For since, as Hofmann has correctly observed in his Schriftbeweis (II 2, pp. 667, 668), “the apostolical doctrine of the end of the present condition of things, namely, of the reappearance of Christ, of the glorification of His church, and the resurrection of its dead, or even of the general resurrection of the dead, of the glorification of the material world, the destruction of the present and the creation of a new one, stands in this relation to the Old Testament prophecy of the end of things, that it is merely a repetition of it under the new point of view, which accompanied the appearing and glorification of Jesus and the establishment of His church of Jews and Gentiles;” these eschatological pictures are also clothed in the symbolico-typical form peculiar to the Old Testament prophecy, the doctrinal import of which can only be determined in accordance with the unambiguous doctrinal passages of the New Testament. Of these doctrinal passages the first which presents itself is Rom 11, where the Apostle Paul tells the Christians at Rome as a μυστήριον, that
hardness in part has happened to Israel, till the pleroma of the Gentiles has entered into the kingdom of God, and so (i.e., after this has taken place) all Israel will be rescued or saved (Rom 11:25, Rom 11:26). He then supports this by a scriptural quotation formed from Isa 59:20 and Isa 27:9 (lxx), with an evident allusion to Jer 31:34 (?33) also: “there shall come out of Zion the deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob,” etc.; whilst he has already shown how, as the fall of Israel, or its ἀποβολή, is the riches of the Gentiles and reconciliation of the world, the πρόσληψις will not nothing else than life from the dead (ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρῶν, Rom 11:11-15). The apostle evidently teaches here that the partial hardening of Israel, in consequence of which the people rejected the Saviour, who appeared in Jesus, and were excluded from the salvation in Christ, is not an utter rejection of the old covenant nation; but that the hardening of Israel will cease after the entrance of the pleroma of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God, and so all Israel (πᾶς ̓Ισραήλ in contrast with ἐκ μέρους, i.e., the people of Israel as a whole) will attain to salvation, although this does not teach the salvation of every individual Jew.
But Auberlen (die mess. Weissagungen, pp. 801ff.) puts too much into these words of the apostle when he combines them with Exo 19:5-6, and from the fact that Israel in the earlier ages of the Old Testament
was once a people and kingdom, but not really a holy and priestly one, and that in the first ages of the New Testament it was once holy and priestly, though not as a people and kingdom, draws the conclusion, not only that the Jewish nation must once more become holy as a people and kingdom, but also that the apostle of the Gentiles here declares “that the promise given to the people of Israel, that it is to be a holy people, will still be fulfilled in its experience, and that in connection with this, after the present period of the kingdom of God, there is a new period in prospect, when the converted and sanctified Israel, being called once for all to be a priestly kingdom, will become the channel of the blessing of fellowship with God to the nations in a totally different and far more glorious manner than before.” For if the apostle had intended to teach the eventual accomplishment of this promise in the case of the Israel according to the flesh, he would certainly have quoted it, or at all events have plainly hinted at it, and not merely have spoken of the σώζεσθαι of the Israel which was hardened then. There is nothing to show, even in the remotest way, that Israel will eventually be exalted into the holy and priestly people and kingdom for the nations, either in the assurance that “all Israel shall be saved,” or in the declaration that the “receiving” (πρόσληψις) of Israel will work, or be followed
by, “life from the dead” (Rom 11:15); and the proposition from which Paul infers the future deliverance of the people of Israel - viz., “if the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches” (Rom 11:16) - shows plainly that it never entered the apostle's mind to predict for the branches that were broken off the olive tree for a time an exaltation to even greater holiness than that possessed by the root and beginning of Israel when they should be grafted in again.
There is also another way in which Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, II 2, pp. 96 and 668) makes insertions in the words of the apostle, - namely, when he draws the conclusion from the prophetic quotation in Rom 11:25, Rom 11:26, that the apostle takes the thought from the prophetic writings, that Zion and Israel are the place where the final revelation of salvation will be made, and then argues in support of this geographical exposition of the words, “shall come out of Zion,” on the ground that in these words we have not to think of the first coming of the Saviour alone, but the apostle extends to the second coming with perfect propriety what the Old Testament prophecy generally affirms with regard to the coming of Christ, and what had already been verified at His first coming. This argument is extremely weak. Even if one would or could insist upon the fact that, when rendering the words וּבא (there will come for Zion a Redeemer), in Isa 59:20, by ἥξει ἐκ Σιὼν ὁ ῥυόμενος (the Redeemer will come out of Zion), the apostle designedly adopted the expression ἐκ Σιών, it would by no means follow “that he meant the material Zion or earthly Jerusalem to be regarded as the final site of the New Testament revelation.” For if the apostle used the expression “come out of Zion,” with reference to the second coming of the Lord, because it had been verified at the first coming of Jesus, although Jesus did not then come out of Zion, but out of Bethlehem, according to the prophecy of Mic 5:1 (cf. Mat 1:5-6), he cannot have meant the material Mount Zion by ἐκ Σιών, but must have taken Zion on the prophetico-typical sense of the central
seat of the kingdom of God; a meaning which it also has in such passages in the Psalms as Psa 14:7; 53:7, and Psa 110:2, which he appears to have had floating before his mind. It was only by taking this view of Zion that Paul could use ἐκ Σιών for the לציּון of Isaiah, without altering the meaning of the prophecy, that the promised Redeemer would come for Zion, i.e., for the citizens of Zion, the Israelites. The apostle, when making this quotation from the prophets, had no more intention of giving any information concerning the place where Christ would appear to the now hardened Israel, and prove Himself to be the Redeemer, than concerning the land in which the Israel scattered among the nations would be found at the second coming of our Lord. And there is nothing whatever in the New Testament to the effect that “the Lord will not appear again till He has prepared both Israel and Zion for the scene of His reappearing” (Hofmann, p. 97). All that Christ says is, that the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world for a witness concerning all nations, and then will the end come (Mat 24:14). And if, in addition to this, on His departing for ever from the temple, He exclaimed to the Jews who rejected Him, “Your house will be left unto you desolate; for I say unto you, Ye will not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Mat 23:38-39), all that He means is, that He will not appear to them or come to them before they receive Him with faith, “greet Him as the object of their longing expectation;” and by no means that He will not come till they have been brought back from their dispersion to Palestine and Jerusalem.
Even Mat 27:53 and Rev 11:2, where Jerusalem is called the holy city, do not furnish any tenable proof of this, because it is so called, not with regard to any glorification to be looked for in the future, but as the city in which the holiest events in the world's history had taken place; just as Peter (2Pe 1:18) designates the Mount of Transfiguration the holy mount, with
reference to that event, and not with any anticipation of a future glorification of the mountain; and in 1Ki 19:8 Horeb is called the Mount of God, because in the olden time God revealed Himself there. “The old Jerusalem is even now the holy city still to those who have directed their hopeful eyes to the new Jerusalem alone” (Hengstenberg). This also applies to the designation of the temple as the “holy place” in Mat 24:15, by which Hofmann (p. 91) would also, though erroneously, understand Jerusalem.
And the words of Christ in Luk 21:24, that Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, ἄχρι πληρωθῶσιν καιροὶ ἐθνῶν, cannot be used as furnishing a proof that the earthly Jerusalem will be occupied by the converted Jews before or at the second coming of the Lord. For if stress be laid upon the omission of the article, and the appointed period be understood in such a manner as to lead to the following rendering, viz.: “till Gentile periods shall be fulfilled,” i.e., “till certain periods which have been appointed to Gentile nations for the accomplishment of this judgment of wrath from God shall have elapsed” (Meyer), we may assume, with Hengstenberg (die Juden und die christl. Kirche, 3 art.), that these times come to an end when the overthrow of the might of the Gentiles is effected through the judgment of God, and the Christian church takes their place; and we may still further say with him, that “the treading down of Jerusalem by the heathen, among whom, according to the Christian view, the Mahometans also are to be reckoned, has ceased twice already, - namely, in the reign of Constantine, and in the time of the Crusades, when a Christian kingdom existed in Jerusalem. And what then happened, though only in a transient way, will eventually take place again, and that definitively, on the ground of this declaration of the Lord. Jerusalem will become the possession of the Israel of the Christian church.” If, on the other hand, we adopt Hofmann's view (pp. 642, 643), that by καιροὶ ἐθνῶν we are to understand the times of the nations, when the
world belongs to them, in accordance with Dan 8:14, in support of which Rev 11:2 may also be adduced, these times “come to an end when the people of God obtain the supremacy;” and, according to this explanation, it is affirmed “that this treading down of the holy city will not come to an end till the filling up of the time, during which the world belongs to the nations, and therefore not till the end of the present course of this world.” But if the treading down of Jerusalem by the Gentiles lasts till then, even the converted Jews cannot recover possession of it at that time; for at the end of the present course of this world the new creation of the heaven and earth will take place, and the perfected church of Christ, gathered out of Israel and the Gentile nations, will dwell in the heavenly Jerusalem that has come down upon the new earth. - However, therefore, we may interpret these words of the Lord, we are not taught in Luk 21:24 any more than in Mat 24:15 and Mat 27:53, or Rom 11:26, that the earthly Jerusalem will come into the possession of the converted Jews after its liberation from the power of the Gentiles, that it will hold a central position in the world, or that the temple will be erected there again.
And lastly, a decisive objection to these Jewish, millenarian hopes, and at the same time to the literal interpretation of the prophetic announcements of the restoration of Israel, is to be found in the fact that the New Testament says nothing whatever concerning are building of the Jerusalem temple and a restoration of the Levitical worship; but that, on the contrary, it teaches in the most decided manner, that, with the completion of the reconciliation of men with God through the sacrifice of Christ upon Golgotha, the sacrificial and temple service of the Levitical law was fulfilled and abolished (Heb 7-10), ), on the ground of the declaration of Christ, that the hour cometh, and now is, when men shall worship neither upon Gerizim nor at Jerusalem; but the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth (Joh 4:21-24), in accordance with the
direction given by the apostle in Rom 12:1. But the prophets of the Old Testament do not merely predict the return of the Israelites to their own land, and their everlasting abode in that land under the rule of the Messiah; but this prediction of theirs culminates in the promise that Jehovah will establish His sanctuary, i.e., His temple, in the midst of His redeemed people, and dwell there with them and above them for ever (Eze 37:27-28), and that all nations will come to this sanctuary of the Lord upon Zion year by year, to worship before the King Jehovah of hosts, and keep the Feast of tabernacles (Zec 14:16; cf. Isa 66:23). If, then, the Jewish people should receive Palestine again for its possession either at or after its conversion to Christ, in accordance with the promise of God, the temple with the Levitical sacrificial worship would of necessity be also restored in Jerusalem. But if such a supposition is at variance with the teaching of Christ and the apostles, so that this essential feature in the prophetic picture of the future of the kingdom of God is not to be understood literally, but spiritually or typically, it is an unjustifiable inconsistency to adhere to the literal interpretation of the prophecy concerning the return of Israel to Canaan, and to look for the return of the Jewish people to Palestine, when it has come to believe in Jesus Christ.
Chap. 38 Edit
Verses 1-9 Edit
Destruction of Gog with His Great Army of Nations - Ezekiel 38 and 39 Edit
Gog, in the land of Magog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, will invade the restored land of Israel from the far distant northern land by the appointment of God in the last times, and with a powerful army of numerous nations (Eze 38:1-9), with the intention of plundering Israel, now dwelling in security, that the Lord may sanctify Himself upon him before all the world (Eze 38:10-16). But when Gog, of whom earlier prophets have already prophesied, shall fall upon
Israel, he is to be destroyed by a wrathful judgment from the Lord, that the nations may know that God is the Lord (Eze 38:17-23). On the mountains of Israel will Gog with all his hosts and nations succumb to the judgment of God (Eze 39:1-8). The inhabitants of the cities of Israel will spend seven years in burning the weapons of the fallen foe, and seven months in burying the corpses in a valley, which will receive its name from this, so as to purify the land (Eze 38:9-16); whilst in the meantime all the birds and wild beasts will satiate themselves with the flesh and blood of the fallen (Eze 38:17-20). By this judgment will all the nations as well as Israel know that it was on account of its sins that the Lord formerly gave up Israel into the power of the heathen, but that now He will no more forsake His redeemed people, because He has poured out His Spirit upon it (Eze 38:21 -29).
Preparation of Gog and his army for the invasion of the restored land of Israel. - Eze 38:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Eze 38:2. Son of man, set thy face toward Gog in the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, Eze 38:3. And say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with thee, Gog, thou prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, Eze 38:4. And will mislead thee, and will put rings in thy jaws, and lead thee out, and all thine army, horses, and riders, all clothed in perfect beauty, a great assembly, with buckler and shield, all wielding swords; Eze 38:5. Persian, Ethiopian, and Libyan with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Eze 38:6. Gomer and all his hosts, the house of Togarmah in the uttermost north with all his hosts; many peoples with thee. Eze 38:7. Be prepared and make ready, thou and all thine assembly, who have assembled together to thee, and be thou their guard. Eze 38:8. After many days shalt thou be visited, at the end of the years shalt thou come into the land, which is brought back from the sword, gathered out of many peoples, upon the mountains of Israel, which were constantly laid waste, but now it is brought out of the nations, and they dwell together in safety;
Eze 38:9. And thou shalt come up, come like a storm, like a cloud to cover the land, thou and all thy hosts and many peoples with thee. - Eze 38:1 and Eze 38:2. Command to prophesy against God. גּוג, Gog, the name of the prince against whom the prophecy is directed, is probably a name which Ezekiel has arbitrarily formed from the name of the country, Magog; although Gog does occur in 1Ch 5:4 as the name of a Reubenite, of whom nothing further is known. The construction גּוג ארץ מגוג, Gog of the land of Magog, is an abbreviated expression for “Gog from the land of Magog;” and 'ארץ מג is not to be taken in connection with שׂים פּניך, as the local object (“toward Gog, to the land of Magog”), as Ewald and Hävernick would render it; since it would be very difficult in that case to explain the fact that גּוג is afterwards resumed in the apposition 'נשׂיא וגו. מגוג, Magog, is the name of a people mentioned in Gen 10:2 as descended from Japhet, according to the early Jewish and traditional explanation, the great Scythian people; and here also it is the name of a people, and is written with the article (המגוג), to mark the people as one well known from the time of Genesis, and therefore properly the land of the Magog (-people). Gog is still further described as the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. It is true that Ewald follows Aquila, the Targum, and Jerome, and connects ראשׁ with נשׂיא as an appellative in the sense of princeps capitis, chief prince. But the argument used in support of this explanation, namely, that there is no people of the name of Rosh mentioned either in the Old Testament or by Josephus, is a very weak one; whilst, on the other hand, the appellative rendering, though possible, no doubt, after the analogy of הכּהן ראשׁ in 1Ch 27:5, is by no means probable, for the simple reason that the נשׂיא occurs again in Eze 38:3 and Eze 39:1, and in such repetitions circumstantial titles are generally abbreviated. The Byzantine and Arabic writers frequently mention a people called ̔Ρῶς, Arab. Ru=s, dwelling in the country of the Taurus, and reckoned among the Scythian tribes
(for the passages, see Ges. Thesaurus, p. 1253), so that there is no reason to question the existence of a people known by the name of Rosh; even though the attempt of Bochart to find a trace of such a people in the ̔Ρωξαλᾶνοι (Ptol. iii. 5) and Roxalani (Plin. h. n. iv. 12), by explaining this name as formed from a combination of Rhos (Rhox) and Alani, is just as doubtful as the conjecture, founded upon the investigations of Frähn (Ibn Foszlan, u. a. Araber Berichte über die Russen älterer Zeit, St. Petersburg 1823), that the name of the Russians is connected with this ̔Ρῶς, Arab. ru=s, and our ראשׁ. Meshech and Tubal (as in Eze 27:13 and Eze 32:26), the Moschi and Tibareni of classical writers (see the comm. on Gen 10:2), dwelt, according to the passage before us, in the neighbourhood of Magog. There were also found in the army of Gog, according to Eze 38:5, Pharas (Persians), Cush, and Phut (Ethiopians and Libyans, see the comm. on Eze 30:5 and Eze 27:10), and, according to Eze 38:6, Gomer and the house of Togarmah. From a comparison of this list with Gen 10:2, Kliefoth draws the conclusion that Ezekiel omits all the peoples mentioned in Gen 10:2 as belonging to the family of Japhet, who had come into historical notice in his time, or have done so since, namely, the Medes, Greeks, and Thracians; whilst, on the other hand, he mentions all the peoples enumerated, who have never yet appeared upon the stage of history. But this remark is out of place, for the simple reason that Ezekiel also omits the Japhetic tribes of Ashkenaz and Riphath (Gen 10:3), and still more from the fact that he notices not only the פּרס, or Persians, who were probably related to the מדי, but also the Hamitic peoples Cush and Phut, two African families. Consequently the army of Gog consisted not only of wild Japhetic tribes, who had not yet attained historical importance, but of Hamitic tribes also, that is to say, of peoples living at the extreme north (ירכּתי צפון, Eze 38:6) and east (Persians) and south (Ethiopians), i.e., on the borders of the then known world. These are all summoned by Gog, and gathered together for an
attack upon the people of God. This points to a time when their former foes, Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistines, and Syrians, and the old imperial powers, Egypt, Asshur, Babel, Javan, will all have passed away from the stage of history, and the people of God will stand in the centre of the historical life of the world, and will have spread so widely over the earth, that its foes will only be found on the borders of the civilised world (compare Rev 20:8).
Eze 38:3-9 contain in general terms the determinate counsel of God concerning Gog. - Eze 38:3-6. Jehovah is about to mislead Gog to a crusade against His people Israel, and summons him to prepare for the invasion of the restored land of Israel. The announcement of the purpose for which Jehovah will make use of Gog and his army, and the summons addressed to him to make ready, form two strophes, which are clearly marked by the similarity of the conclusion in Eze 38:6 and Eze 38:9. - Eze 38:3. God will deal with Gog, to sanctify Himself upon him by means of judgment (cf. Eze 38:10). He therefore misleads him to an attack upon the people of Israel. שׁובב, an intensive form from שׁוּב, may signify, as vox media, to cause to return (Eze 39:27), and to cause to turn away, to lead away from the right road or goal, to lead astray (Isa 47:10). Here and in Eze 39:2 it means to lead or bring away from his previous attitude, i.e., to mislead or seduce, in the sense of enticing to a dangerous enterprise; according to which the Chaldee has rendered it correctly, so far as the actual sense is concerned, אשׁדלנּך, alliciam te. In the words, “I place rings in thy jaws” (cf. Eze 29:4), Gog is represented as an unmanageable beast, which is compelled to follow its leader (cf. Isa 37:29); and the thought is thereby expressed, that Gog is compelled to obey the power of God against his will. הוציא, to lead him away from his land, or natural soil. The passage in Rev 20:8, “to deceive the nations (πλανῆσαι τὰ ἔθνη), Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle,” corresponds to these words so far as the material sense is concerned; with
this exception, that Satan is mentioned as the seducer of the nations in the Apocalypse, whereas Ezekiel gives prominence to the leading of God, which controls the manifestations even of evil, “so that these two passages stand in the same relation to one another as 2Sa 24:1 and 1Ch 21:1” (Häv.). In Eze 38:4-6 the army is depicted as one splendidly equipped and very numerous. For לבשׁי מכלול, see the comm. on Eze 23:12, where the Assyrian satraps are so described. קהל , as in Eze 17:17. The words buckler and shield are loosely appended in the heat of the discourse, without any logical subordination to what precedes. Besides the defensive arms, the greater and smaller shield, they carried swords as weapons of offence. In the case of the nations in Eze 38:5, only the shield and helmet are mentioned as their equipment, for the sake of variation, as in Eze 27:10; and in Eze 38:6 two other nations of the extreme north with their hosts are added. Gomer: the Cimmerians; and the house of Togarmah: the Armenians (see the comm. on Eze 27:14). For אגפּים, see the comm. on Eze 12:14. The description is finally rounded off with עמּים רבּים . In Eze 38:7, the infin. abs. Niphal הכּון, which occurs nowhere else except in Amo 4:12, is used emphatically in the place of the imperative. The repetition of the same verb, though in the imperative Hiphil, equip, i.e., make ready, sc. everything necessary (cf. Eze 7:14), also serves to strengthen the thought. Be thou to them למשׁמר, for heed, or watch, i.e., as abstr. pro concr., one who gives heed to them, keeps watch over them (cf. Job 7:12 and Neh 4:3, Neh 4:16), in actual fact their leader.
Eze 38:8 and Eze 38:9 indicate for what Gog was to hold himself ready. The first clause reminds so strongly of מרוב ימים in Isa 24:22, that the play upon this passage cannot possibly be mistaken; so that Ezekiel uses the words in the same sense as Isaiah, though Hävernick is wrong in supposing that הפּקד is used in the sense of being missed or wanting, i.e., of perishing. The word never has the latter meaning; and to be missed does not suit the context either here or in Isaiah, where יפּקד means
to be visited, i.e., brought to punishment. And here also this meaning, visitari (Vulg.), is to be retained, and that in the sense of a penal visitation. The objection raised, namely, that there is no reference to punishment here, but that this is first mentioned in Eze 38:16 or 18, loses all its force if we bear in mind that visiting is a more general idea than punishing; and the visitation consisted in the fact of God's leading Gog to invade the land of Israel, that He might sanctify Himself upon him by judgment. This might very fittingly be here announced, and it also applies to the parallel clause which follows: thou wilt come into the land, etc., with which the explanation commences of the way in which God would visit him. The only other meaning which could also answer to the parallelism of the clauses, viz., to be commanded, to receive command (Hitzig and Kliefoth), is neither sustained by the usage of the language, nor in accordance with the context. In the passages quoted in support of this, viz., Neh 7:1 and Neh 12:44, נפקד merely signifies to be charged with the oversight of a thing; and it never means only to receive command to do anything. Moreover, Gog has already been appointed leader of the army in v.7, and therefore is not “to be placed in the supreme command” for the first time after many days. מיּמים רבּים, after many days, i.e., after a long time (cf. Jos 23:1), is not indeed equivalent in itself to בּאחרית השּׁנים, but signifies merely the lapse of a lengthened period; yet this is defined here as occurring in the אחרית השּׁנים. - אחרית השּׁנים, equivalent to אחרית היּמים (Eze 38:16), is the end of days, the last time, not the future generally, but the final future, the Messianic time of the completing of the kingdom of God (see the comm. on Gen 49:1). This meaning is also applicable here. For Gog is to come up to the mountains of Israel, which have been laid waste תּמיד, continually, i.e., for a long time, but are now inhabited again. Although, for example, תּמיד signifies a period of time relatively long, it evidently indicates a longer period than the seventy or fifty years' desolation of the land during the Babylonian captivity; more especially
if we take it in connection with the preceding ad following statements, to the effect that Gog will come into the land, which has been brought back from the sword and gathered out of many peoples. These predicates show that in ארץ the idea of the population of the land is the predominant one; for this alone could be gathered out of many nations, and also brought back from the sword, i.e., not from the consequences of the calamity of war, viz., exile (Rosenmüller), but restored from being slain and exiled by the sword of the enemy. משׁובבת, passive participle of the Pilel שׁובב, to restore (cf. Isa 58:12); not turned away from the sword, i.e., in no expectation of war (Hitzig), which does not answer to the parallel clause, and cannot be sustained by Mic 2:8. מעמּים , gathered out of many peoples, points also beyond the Babylonian captivity to the dispersion of Israel in all the world, which did not take place till the second destruction of Jerusalem, and shows that תּמיד denotes a much longer devastation of the land than the Chaldean devastation was. והיא introduces a circumstantial clause; and היא points back to ארץ, i.e., to the inhabitants of the land. These are now brought out of the nations, i.e., at the time when Gog invades the land, and are dwelling in their own land upon the mountains of Israel in untroubled security. עלה signifies the advance of an enemy, as in Isa 7:1, etc. שׁואה, a tempest, as in Pro 1:27, from שׁאה, to roar. The comparison to a cloud is limited to the covering; but this does not alter the signification of the cloud as a figurative representation of severe calamity.
Verses 10-16 Edit
Account of the motive by which Gog was induced to undertake his warlike expedition, and incurred guilt, notwithstanding the fact that he was led by God, and in consequence of which he brought upon himself the judgment of destruction that was about to fall upon him. - Eze 38:10. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, It shall come to pass in that day, that things will come up in thy heart, and thou wilt devise an evil design, Eze 38:11. And say, I will go up into the open country, I will
come upon the peaceful ones, who are all dwelling in safety, who dwell without walls, and have not bars and gates, Eze 38:12. To take plunder and to gather spoil, to bring back thy hand against the ruins that are inhabited again, and against a people gathered out of the nations, carrying on trade and commerce, who dwell on the navel of the earth. Eze 38:13. Sabaea and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, and all her young lions, will say to thee, Dost thou come to take plunder? Hast thou gathered thy multitude of people to take spoil? Is it to carry away gold and silver, to take possession and gain, to plunder a great spoil? Eze 38:14. Therefore prophesy, son of man, and say to Gog, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Is it not so? On that day, when my people Israel dwelleth in security, thou wilt observe it, Eze 38:15. And come from thy place from the extreme north, thou and many peoples with thee, all riding upon horses, a great crowd and a numerous army, Eze 38:16. And wilt march against my people Israel, to cover the land like a cloud; at the end of the days it will take place; then shall I lead thee against my land, that the nations may know me, when I sanctify myself upon thee before their eyes, O Gog. - In Eze 38:10 דּברים are not words, but things which come into his mind. What things these are, we learn from Eze 38:11 and Eze 38:12; but first of all, these things are described as evil thoughts or designs. Gog resolves to fall upon Israel, now living in peace and security, and dwelling in open unfortified places, and to rob and plunder it. ארץ , literally, land of plains, i.e., a land which has no fortified towns, but only places lying quite exposed (see the comm. on Zec 2:8); because its inhabitants are living in undisturbed peace and safe repose, and therefore dwell in places that have no walls with gates and bars (cf. Jdg 18:7; Jer 49:31). This description of Israel's mode of life also points beyond the times succeeding the Babylonian captivity to the Messianic days, when the Lord will have destroyed the horses and war-chariots and fortresses (Mic 5:9), and Jerusalem will be inhabited as an open country because of the
multitude of the men and cattle, and the Lord will be a wall of fire round about her (Zec 2:8-9). For Eze 38:12, compare Isa 10:6. להשׁיב ידך is not dependent upon אעלה, like the preceding infinitives, but is subordinate to אמרתּ אעלה וגו: “thou sayest, I will go up...to turn thy hand.” השׁיב, to bring back, is to be explained from the fact that the heathen had already at an earlier period turned their hand against the towns of Israel, and plundered their possessions and goods. חרבות נושׁבות in this connection are desolate places which are inhabited again, and therefore have been rebuilt (cf. Eze 12:20; Eze 26:19). מקנה and קנין are synonyms; and מקנה does not mean flocks or herds, but gain, possession (cf. Gen 36:6; Gen 31:18; Gen 34:23). One motive of Gog for making the attack was to be found in the possessions of Israel; a second is given in the words: who dwell upon the navel of the earth. This figurative expression is to be explained from Eze 5:5 : “Jerusalem in the midst of the nations.” This navel is not a figure denoting the high land, but signifies the land situated in the middle of the earth, and therefore the land most glorious and most richly blessed; so that they who dwell there occupy the most exalted position among the nations. A covetous desire for the possessions of the people of God, and envy at his exalted position in the centre of the world, are therefore the motives by which Gog is impelled to enter upon his predatory expedition against the people living in the depth of peace. This covetousness is so great, that even the rich trading populations of Sabaea, Dedan, and Tarshish (cf. Eze 27:22, Eze 27:20, and Eze 27:12) perceive it, and declare that it is this alone which has determined Gog to undertake his expedition. The words of these peoples (Eze 38:13) are not to be taken as expressing their sympathies (Kliefoth), but serve to give prominence to the obvious thirst for booty which characterizes the multitude led by Gog. כּפיריה, their young lions, are the rapacious rulers of these trading communities, according to Eze 19:3 and Eze 32:2. - Eze 38:14 introduces the announcement of the punishment, which consists
of another summary account of the daring enterprise of Gog and his hosts (cf. Eze 38:14, Eze 38:15, and Eze 38:16 with Eze 38:4-9), and a clear statement of the design of God in leading him against His people and land. תּדע (Eze 38:14, close), of which different renderings have been given, does not mean, thou wilt experience, or be aware of, the punishment; but the object is to be taken from the context: thou wilt know, or perceive, sc. that Israel dwells securely, not expecting any hostile invasion. The rendering of the lxx (ἐγερθήσῃ) does not furnish any satisfactory ground for altering תּדע into תער = תּעור (Ewald, Hitzig). With the words 'והביאותיך וגו (Eze 38:16) the opening thought of the whole picture (Eze 38:4) is resumed and defined with greater precision, for the purpose of attaching to it the declaration of the design of the Lord in bringing Gog, namely, to sanctify Himself upon him before the eyes of the nations (cf. Eze 38:23 and Eze 36:23).
Verses 17-23 Edit
Announcement of the Wrathful Judgment upon Gog, as a Proof of the Holiness of the Lord
Eze 38:17. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Art thou he of whom I spoke in the former days through my servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for years in those days, that I would bring thee over them? Eze 38:18. And it cometh to pass in that day, in the day when Gog cometh into the land of Israel, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, that my wrath will ascend into my nose. Eze 38:19. And in my jealousy, in the fire of my anger, have I spoken, Truly in that day will a great trembling come over the land of Israel; Eze 38:20. The fishes of the sea, and the birds of heaven, and the beasts of the field, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the ground, and all the men that are upon the ground, will tremble before me; and the mountains will be destroyed, and the rocky heights fall, and every wall will fall to the ground. Eze 38:21. I will call the sword against him to all my holy mountains, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah: the sword of the one will be against the other. Eze 38:22. And I will strive with him by pestilence and by blood, and overflowing rain-torrents and hailstones; fire
and brimstone will I rain upon him and all his hosts, and upon the many peoples that are with him; Eze 38:23. And will prove myself great and holy, and will make myself known before the eyes of many nations, that they may know that I am Jehovah. - The announcement of the way in which the Lord will sanctify Himself upon Gog (Eze 38:16) commences with the statement in Eze 38:17, that Gog is he of whom God has already spoken by the earlier prophets. This assertion is clothed in the form of a question: האתּה, not הלא אתּה, which is the interrogative form used for an emphatic assurance; whereas האתּה does not set down the point in question as indisputably certain, but suggests the inquiry for the purpose of giving a definite answer. The affirmative reply to the question asked is contained in the last clause of the verse: “to bring thee upon them;” so that האתּה הוּא really means, thou art truly he. The statement, that Gog is he of whom God had already spoken by the earlier prophets, does not mean that those prophets had actually mentioned Gog, but simply that Gog was the enemy of whose rising up against the people of God the prophets of the former time had prophesied, as well as of his destruction by a wrathful judgment of the Lord. שׁנים (for years, or years long) is an accusative of measure, not asyndeton to baבּיּמים, as the lxx and many of the commentators down to Hävernick have taken it to be. The design of this remark is not to accredit the prophecy by referring to the utterances of earlier prophets, but to show that the attack of the peoples gathered together by Gog, upon the land and people of the Lord, is not an unexpected event, or one at variance with the promise of the restoration of Israel as a kingdom of peace. To what utterances of the older prophets these words refer is a question difficult to answer. Zechariah (Zec 12:2-3; Zec 14:2-3) is of course not to be thought of, as Zechariah himself did not prophesy till after the captivity, and therefore not till after Ezekiel. But we may recall Joel 4:2 and 11ff.; Isa 25:5, Isa 25:10., Eze 26:21; Jer 30:23 and 25; and, in fact, all the earlier prophets who
prophesied of Jehovah's day of judgment upon all the heathen.
Eze 38:18 and Eze 38:19 do not contain words which Jehovah spoke through the ancient prophets, and which Ezekiel now transfers to Gog and the time of his appearing (Hitzig and Kliefoth). The perfect דּבּרתּי in Eze 38:19 by no means warrants such an assumption; for this is purely prophetic, expressing the certainty of the divine determination as a thing clearly proved. Still less can 'נאם אד in Eze 38:18 be taken as a preterite, as Kliefoth supposes; nor can Eze 38:18 and Eze 38:19 be regarded as a thing long predicted, and so be separated from Eze 38:20-23 as a word of God which is now for the first time uttered. For the anthropopathetic expression, “my wrath ascends in my nose,” compare Psa 18:9, “smoke ascends in His nose.” The outburst of wrath shows itself in the vehement breath which the wrathful man inhales and exhales through his nose (see the comm. on the Psalm, l.c.). The bursting out of the wrath of God is literally explained in Eze 38:19. In the jealousy of His wrath God has spoken, i.e., determined, to inflict a great trembling upon the land of Israel. בּקנאתי (cf. Eze 5:13) is strengthened by בּאשׁ עברתי (cf. Ezekiel 21:36; Eze 22:21). The trembling which will come upon the land of Israel, so that all creatures in the sea, in the air, and upon the ground, tremble before Jehovah (מפּני), who appears to judgment, will rise in nature into an actual earthquake, which overthrows mountains, hills, and walls. מדרגות are steep heights, which can only be ascended by steps (Sol 2:14). This picture of the trembling of the whole world, with all the creatures, before the Lord who is coming to judgment, both here and in Joel 4:16, Zec 14:4-5,
rests upon the fact which actually occurred in connection with the revelation of God upon Sinai, when the whole mountain was made to quake (Exo 19:16.). The inhabitants of the land of Israel tremble at the terrible phenomena attending the revelation of the wrath of God, although the wrathful judgment does not apply to them, but to their enemies, Gog and his hosts. The Lord calls the sword against Gog, that his hosts may wound and slay one another. This feature of the destruction of the enemy by wounds inflicted by itself, which we meet with again in Zec 14:13, has its typical exemplar in the defeat of the Midianites in the time of Gideon (Jdg 7:22), and also in that of the enemy invading Judah in the reign of Jehoshaphat (2Ch 20:23). In לכל־הרי the ל is not distributive, but indicates the direction: “to all my mountains.” The overthrow of the enemy is intensified by marvellous plagues inflicted by God - pestilence and blood (cf. Eze 28:23), torrents of rain and hailstones (cf. Eze 13:11), and the raining of fire and brimstone upon Gog, as formerly upon Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:24). - Thus will Jehovah prove Himself to be the almighty God by judgment upon His enemies, and sanctify Himself before all the nations (Eze 38:23, compare Eze 38:16 and Eze 36:23).
Chap. 39 Edit
Verses 1-8 Edit
Further Description of the Judgment to Fall upon Gog and his Hosts
Eze 39:1-8. General announcement of his destruction. - Eze 39:1. And thou, son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with thee, Gog, thou prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. Eze 39:2. I will mislead thee, and conduct thee, and cause thee to come up from the uttermost north, and bring thee to the mountains of Israel; Eze 39:3. And will smite thy bow from thy left hand, and cause thine arrows to fall from thy right hand. Eze 39:4. Upon the mountains of Israel wilt thou fall, thou and all thy hosts, and the peoples which are with thee: I give thee for food to the birds of prey of every plumage, and to the beasts of the field. Eze 39:5. Upon the open field shalt thou fall, for I
have spoken it, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Eze 39:6. And I will send fire in Magog, and among those who dwell in security upon the islands, that they may know that I am Jehovah. Eze 39:7. I will make known my holy name in the midst of my people Israel, and will not let my holy name be profaned any more, that the nations may know that I am Jehovah, holy in Israel. Eze 39:8. Behold, it comes and happens, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah; this is the day of which I spoke. - The further description of the judgment with which Gog and his hosts are threatened in Eze 38:21-23, commences with a repetition of the command to the prophet to prophesy against Gog (Eze 39:1, cf. Eze 38:2-3). The principal contents of Eze 38:4-15 are then briefly summed up in Eze 39:2. שׁבבתּיך, as in Eze 38:4, is strengthened by שׁשּׁתיך, שׁשׁא, ἁπαχ λεγ.., is not connected with שׁשׁ in the sense of “I leave a sixth part of thee remaining,” or afflict thee with six punishments; but in the Ethiopic it signifies to proceed, or to climb, and here, accordingly, it is used in the sense of leading on (lxx καθοδηγήσω σε, or, according to another reading, κατάξω; Vulg. educam). For Eze 39:2, compare Eze 38:15 and Eze 38:8. In the land of Israel, God will strike his weapons out of his hands, i.e., make him incapable of fighting (for the fact itself, compare the similar figures in Psa 37:15; Psa 46:10), and give him up with all his army as a prey to death. עיט, a beast of prey, is more precisely defined by צפּור, and still further strengthened by the genitive כּל־כּנף: birds of prey of every kind. The judgment will not be confined to the destruction of the army of Gog, which has invaded the land of Israel, but (Eze 39:6) will also extend to the land of Gog, and to all the heathen nations that are dwelling in security. אשׁ, fire, primarily the fire of war; then, in a further sense, a figure denoting destruction inflicted directly by God, as in Eze 38:22, which is therefore represented in Rev 20:9 as fire falling from heaven. Magog is the population of the land of Magog (Eze 38:2). With this the inhabitants of the distant coastlands of the west (the איּים)
are associated, as representatives of the remotest heathen nations. Eze 39:7, Eze 39:8. By this judgment the Lord will make known His holy name in Israel, and show the heathen that He will not let it be blasphemed by them any more. For the fact itself, compare Eze 36:20. For Eze 39:8, compare Eze 21:12, and for היּום, see Eze 38:18-19.
Verses 9-20 Edit
Total Destruction of Gog and his Hosts
Eze 39:9. Then will the inhabitants of the cities of Israel go forth, and burn and heat with armour and shield and target, with bow and arrows and hand-staves and spears, and will burn fire with them for seven years; Eze 39:10. And will not fetch wood from the field, nor cut wood out of the forests, but will burn fire with the armour, and will spoil those who spoiled them, and plunder those who plundered them, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Eze 39:11. And it will come to pass in that day, that I will give Gog a place where his grave in Israel shall be, the valley of the travellers, and there will they bury Gog and all his multitude, and will call it the valley of Gog's multitude. Eze 39:12. They of the house of Israel will bury them, to purify the land for seven months. V.1 3. And all the people of the land will bury, and it will be to them for a name on the day when I glorify myself, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Eze 39:14. And they will set apart constant men, such as rove about in the land, and such as bury with them that rove about those who remain upon the surface of the ground, to cleanse it, after the lapse of seven months will they search it through. Eze 39:15. And those who rove about will pass through the land; and if one sees a man's bone, he will set up a sign by it, till the buriers of the dead bury it in the valley of the multitude of Gog. Eze 39:16. The name of a city shall also be called Hamonah (multitude). And thus will they cleanse the land. Eze 39:17. And thou, son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Say to the birds of every plumage, and to all the beasts of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come, gather together from round about to my sacrifice, which I slaughter for you, to a great sacrifice upon the mountains of
Israel, and eat flesh and drink blood. Eze 39:18. Flesh of heroes shall ye eat, and drink blood of princes of the earth; rams, lambs, and he-goats, bullocks, all fattened in Bashan. Eze 39:9. And ye shall eat fat to satiety, and drink blood to intoxication, of my sacrifice which I have slaughtered for you. Eze 39:20. And ye shall satiate yourselves at my table with horses and riders, heroes and all kinds of men of war, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - To show how terrible the judgment upon Gog will be, Ezekiel depicts in three special ways the total destruction of his powerful forces. In the first place, the burning of all the weapons of the fallen foe will furnish the inhabitants of the land of Israel with wood for firing for seven years, so that there will be no necessity for them to fetch fuel from the field or from the forest (Eze 39:9 and Eze 39:10). But Hävernick is wrong in supposing that the reason for burning the weapons is that, according to Isa 9:5, weapons of war are irreconcilable with the character of the Messianic times of peace. This is not referred to here; but the motive is the complete annihilation of the enemy, the removal of every trace of him. The prophet therefore crowds the words together for the purpose of enumerating every kind of weapon that was combustible, even to the hand-staves which men were accustomed to carry (cf. Num 22:27). The quantity of the weapons will be so great, that they will supply the Israelites with all the fuel they need for seven years. The number seven in the seven years as well as in the seven months of burying (Eze 39:11) is symbolical, stamping the overthrow as a punishment inflicted by God, the completion of a divine judgment.
With the gathering of the weapons for burning there is associated the plundering of the fallen foe (Eze 39:10), by which the Israelites do to the enemy what he intended to do to them (Eze 38:12), and the people of God obtain possession of the wealth of their foes (cf. Jer 30:16). In the second place, God will assign a large burying-place for the army of Gog in a valley of Israel, which is to be named in consequence “the
multitude of Gog;” just as a city in that region will also be called Hamonah from this event. The Israelites will bury the fallen of Gog there for seven months long, and after the expiration of that time they will have the land explored by men specially appointed for the purpose, and bones that may still have been left unburied will be sought out, and they will have them interred by buriers of the dead, that the land may be thoroughly cleansed (Eze 39:11-16). מקום שׁם, a place where there was a grave in Israel, i.e., a spot in which he might be buried in Israel. There are different opinions as to both the designation and the situation of this place. There is no foundation for the supposition that גּי העברים derives its name from the mountains of Abarim in Num 27:12 and Deu 32:49 (Michaelis, Eichhorn), or that it signifies valley of the haughty ones (Ewald), or that there is an allusion to the valley mentioned in Zec 14:4 (Hitzig), or the valley of Jehoshaphat (Kliefoth). The valley cannot even have derived its name (העברים) from the עברים, who passed through the land to search out the bones of the dead that still remained unburied, and have them interred (Eze 39:14, Eze 39:15). For העברים cannot have any other meaning here than that which it has in the circumstantial clause which follows, where those who explored the land cannot possibly be intended, although even this clause is also obscure. The only other passage in which חסם occurs is Deu 25:4, where it signifies a muzzle, and in the Arabic it means to obstruct, or cut off; and hence, in the passage before us, probably, to stop the way. העברים are not the Scythians (Hitzig), for the word עבר is never applied to their invasion of the land, but generally the travellers who pass through the land, or more especially those who cross from Peraea to Canaan. The valley of העברים is no doubt the valley of the Jordan above the Dead Sea. The definition indicates this, viz., קדמת, on the front of the sea; not to the east of the sea, as it is generally rendered, for קדמת never has this meaning (see the comm. on Gen 2:14). By היּם we cannot understand “the Mediterranean,”as the
majority of the commentators have done, as there would then be no meaning in the words, since the whole of the land of Israel was situated to the east of the Mediterranean Sea. היּם is the Dead Sea, generally called היּם הקּדמוני (Eze 47:18); and קדמת, “on the front side of the (Dead) Sea,” as looked at from Jerusalem, the central point of the land, is probably the valley of the Jordan, the principal crossing place from Gilead into Canaan proper, and the broadest part of the Jordan-valley, which was therefore well adapted to be the burial-place for the multitude of slaughtered foes. But in consequence of the army of Gog having there found its grave, this valley will in future block up the way to the travellers who desire to pass to and fro. This appears to be the meaning of the circumstantial clause.
From the fact that Gog's multitude is buried there, the valley itself will receive the name of Hamon-Gog. The Israelites will occupy seven months in burying them, so enormously great will be the number of the dead to be buried (Eze 39:12), and this labour will be for a name, i.e., for renown, to the whole nation. This does not mean, of course, “that it will be a source of honour to them to assist in this work;” nor is the renown to be sought in the fact, that as a privileged people, protected by God, they can possess the grave of Gog in their land (Hitzig), - a thought which is altogether remote, and perfectly foreign to Israelitish views; but the burying of Gog's multitude of troops will be for a name to the people of Israel, inasmuch as they thereby cleanse the land and manifest their zeal to show themselves a holy people by sweeping all uncleanness away. יום is an accusative of time: on the day when I glorify myself. - Eze 39:14, Eze 39:15. The effort made to cleanse the land perfectly from the uncleanness arising from the bones of the dead will be so great, that after the great mass of the slain have been buried in seven months, there will be men specially appointed to bury the bones of the dead that still lie scattered here and there about the land. אנשׁי תּמיד are people who have a permanent duty to discharge. The participles עברים and מקבּרים
are co-ordinate, and are written together asyndetos, men who go about the land, and men who bury with those who go about. That the words are to be understood in this sense is evident from Eze 39:15, according to which those who go about do not perform the task of burying, but simply search for bones that have been left, and put up a sign for the buriers of the dead. ראה, with the subject indefinite; if one sees a human bone, he builds (erects) a ציּוּן, or stone, by the side of it (cf. 2Ki 23:17). - Eze 39:16. A city shall also receive the name of Hamonah, i.e., multitude or tumult. To שׁם־עיר we may easily supply יהיה from the context, since this puts in the future the statement, “the name of the city is,” for which no verb was required in Hebrew. In the last words, וטהרוּ הארץ, the main thought is finally repeated and the picture brought to a close. - Eze 39:17-20. In the third place, God will provide the birds of prey and beasts of prey with an abundant meal from this slaughter. This cannot be understood as signifying that only what remain of the corpses, and have not been cleared away in the manner depicted in Eze 39:11-16, will become the prey of wild beasts; but the beasts of prey will make their meal of the corpses before it is possible to bury them, since the burying cannot be effected immediately or all at once. - The several features in the picture, of the manner in which the enemies are to be destroyed till the last trace of them is gone, are not arranged in chronological order, but according to the subject-matter; and the thought that the slaughtered foes are to become the prey of wild beasts is mentioned last as being the more striking, because it is in this that their ignominious destruction culminates. To give due prominence to this thought, the birds and beasts of prey are summoned by God to gather together to the meal prepared for them. The picture given of it as a sacrificial meal is based upon Isa 34:6 and Jer 46:10. In harmony with this picture the slaughtered foes are designated as fattened sacrificial beasts, rams, lambs, he-goats, bullocks; on which Grotius has correctly remarked,
that “these names of animals, which were generally employed in the sacrifices, are to be understood as signifying different orders of men, chiefs, generals, soldiers, as the Chaldee also observes.”
Verses 21-29 Edit
The Result of this Judgment, and the Concluding Promise
Eze 39:21. Then will I display my glory among the nations, and all nations shall see my judgment which I shall execute, and my hand which I shall lay upon them. Eze 39:22. And the house of Israel shall know that I am Jehovah their God from this day and forward. Eze 39:23. And the nations shall know that because of their wickedness the house of Israel went into captivity; because they have been unfaithful toward me, I hid my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their oppressors, so that they all fell by the sword. Eze 39:24. According to their uncleanness, and according to their transgressions, I dealt with them, and hid my face from them. Eze 39:25. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Now will I bring back the captivity of Jacob, and have pity upon all the house of Israel, and be jealous for my holy name. Eze 39:26. Then will they bear their reproach and all their faithlessness which they have committed toward me when they dwell in their land in security, and no one alarms them; Eze 39:27. When I bring them back out of the nations, and gather them out of the lands of their enemies, and sanctify myself upon them before the eyes of the many nations. Eze 39:28. And they will know that I, Jehovah, am their God, when I have driven them out to the nations, and then bring them together again into their land, and leave none of them there any more. Eze 39:29. And I will not hide my face from them any more, because I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - The terrible judgment upon Gog will have this twofold effect as a revelation of the glory of God - first, Israel will know that the Lord is, and will always continue to be, its God (Eze 39:22); secondly, the heathen will know that He gave Israel into their power, and thrust it out of its own land, not from weakness, but to punish it for its faithless
apostasy (Eze 39:23 and Eze 39:24; compare Eze 36:17.). עשׂה אתם (Eze 39:24), as in Eze 7:27, etc. But because this was the purpose of the Lord with His judgments, He will now bring back the captives of Israel, and have compassion upon all His people. This turn of the prophecy in Eze 39:25 serves to introduce the promise to Israel with which the prophecy concerning Gog and the whole series of prophecies, contained in Eze 35:1 onwards, are brought to a close (Eze 39:25-29). This promise reverts in 'עתּה אשׁיב וגו to the prophet's own time, to which Ezekiel had already gone back by mentioning the carrying away of Israel in Eze 39:23 and Eze 39:24. The restoration of the captives of Jacob commences with the liberation of Israel from the Babylonian exile, but is not to be restricted to this. It embraces all the deliverances which Israel will experience from the termination of the Babylonian exile till its final gathering out of the nations on the conversion of the remnant which is still hardened and scattered. לכן, therefore, sc. because God will prove Himself to be holy in the sight of the heathen nations by means of the judgment, and will make known to them that He has punished Israel solely on account of its sins, and therefore will He restore His people and renew it by His Spirit (Eze 39:29). - In what the jealousy of God for His holy name consists is evident from v.7, and still more plainly from Eze 36:22-23, namely, in the fact that by means of the judgment He manifests Himself as the holy God. ונשׂוּ is not to be altered into ונשׁוּ, “they will forget,” as Dathe and Hitzig propose, but is a defective spelling for ונשׂאוּ (like מלוּ for מלאוּ in Eze 28:16): they will bear their reproach. The thought is the same as in Eze 16:54 and Eze 16:61, where the bearing of reproach is explained as signifying their being ashamed of their sins and their consequences, and feeling disgust thereat. They will feel this shame when the Lord grants them lasting peace in their own land. Raschi has correctly explained it thus: “When I shall have done them good, and not rewarded them as their iniquity deserved, they will be filled with shame, so that
they will not dare to lift up their face.” - Eze 39:27 is only a further expansion of Eze 39:26. For the fact itself, compare Eze 36:23-24; Eze 20:41, etc. And not only will Israel then be ashamed of its sins, but (Eze 39:28, Eze 39:29) it will also know that Jehovah is its God from henceforth and for ever, as was affirmed in Eze 39:22, when He shall fully restore to their own land the people that was thrust into exile, and withdraw His favour from it no more, because He has poured out His Spirit upon it, and thereby perfectly sanctified it as His own people (cf. Eze 36:27).
The promise with which the prophecy concerning the destruction of Gog is brought to a close, namely, that in this judgment all nations shall see the glory of God, and all Israel shall know that henceforth Jehovah will be their God, and will no more hide His face from them, serves to confirm the substance of the threat of punishment; inasmuch as it also teaches that, in the destruction of Gog and his gathering of peoples, the last attack of the heathen world-power upon the kingdom of God will be judged and overthrown, so that from that time forth the people of God will no more have to fear a foe who can disturb its peace and its blessedness in the everlasting possession of the inheritance given to it by the Lord. Gog is not only depicted as the last foe, whom the Lord Himself entices for the purpose of destroying him by miracles of His almighty power (Eze 38:3-4, Eze 38:19-22), by the fact that his appearance is assigned to the end of the times, when all Israel is gathered out of the nations and brought back out of the lands, and dwells in secure repose in the open and unfortified towns of its own land (Eze 38:8, Eze 38:11-12); but this may also be inferred from the fact that the gathering of peoples led by Gog against Israel belongs to the heathen nations living on the borders of the known world,since this points to a time when not only will the ancient foes of the kingdom of God, whose destruction was predicted in Ezekiel 25-32, have departed from the stage of history and perished, but the boundaries of Israel will also
stretch far beyond the limits of Palestine, to the vicinity of these hordes of peoples at the remotest extremities on the north, the east, and the south of the globe. - So much may be gathered from the contents of our prophecy in relation to its historical fulfilment. But in order to determine with greater precision what is the heathen power thus rising up in Gog of Magog against the kingdom of God, we mut take into consideration the passage in the Apocalypse (Rev 20:8 and Rev 20:9), where our prophecy is resumed. Into this, however, we will not further enter till after the exposition of Ezekiel 40-48, when we shall take up the question as to the historical realization of the new temple and kingdom of God which Ezekiel saw.
Chap. 40 Edit
Verses 1-4 Edit
The New Kingdom of God - Ezekiel 40-48 Edit
The last nine chapters of Ezekiel contain a magnificent vision, in which the prophet, being transported in an ecstatic state into the land of Israel, is shown the new temple and the new organization of the service of God, together with the new division of Canaan among the tribes of Israel, who have been brought back from among the nations. This last section of our book, which is perfectly rounded off in itself, is indeed sharply distinguished by its form from the preceding prophecies; but it is closely connected with them so far as the contents are concerned, and forms the second half of the entire book, in which the announcement of salvation for Israel is brought to its full completion, and a panoramic vision displays the realization of the salvation promised. This announcement (Ezekiel 34-37) commenced with the promise that the Lord would bring back all Israel from its dispersion into the land of Canaan given to the fathers, and would cause it to dwell there as a people renewed by His Spirit and walking in His commandments;
and closed with the assurance that He would make an eternal covenant of peace with His restored people, place His sanctuary in the midst of them, and there dwell above them as their God for ever (Eze 37:26-28). The picture shown to the prophet in the chapters before us, of the realization of this promise, commences with the description and measuring of the new sanctuary (Ezekiel 40-42), into which the glory of the Lord enters with the assurance, “This is the place of my throne, where I shall dwell for ever among the sons of Israel” (Eze 43:1-12); and concludes with the definition of the boundaries and the division of Canaan among the twelve tribes, as well as of the extent and building of the new Jerusalem (Ezekiel 47:13-48:35). The central portion of this picture is occupied by the new organization of the service of God, by observing which all Israel is to prove itself to be a holy people of the Lord (Ezekiel 43:13-46:24), so as to participate in the blessing which flows like a river from the threshold of the temple and spreads itself over the land (Eze 47:1-12).
From this brief sketch of these nine chapters, it is evident that this vision does not merely treat of the new temple and the new order of the temple-worship, although these points are described in the most elaborate manner; but that it presents a picture of the new form assumed by the whole of the kingdom of God, and in this picture exhibits to the eye the realization of the restoration and the blessedness of Israel. The whole of it may therefore be divided into three sections: viz., (a) the description of the new temple (Ezekiel 40-43:12); (b) the new organization of the worship of God (Ezekiel 43:13-46:24); (c) the blessing of the land of Canaan, and the partition of it among the tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 47:1-48:35); although this division is not strictly adhered it, inasmuch as in the central section not only are several points relating to the temple - such as the description of the altar of burnt-offering (Eze 43:13-17), and the kitchens for the sacrifices (Eze 46:19-24) - repeated, but the therumah to be set apart as holy on
the division of the land, and the prince's domain, are also mentioned and defined (Eze 45:1-8).
The New Temple - Ezekiel 40:1-43:12 Edit
After a short introduction announcing the time, place, and design of the vision (Eze 40:1-4), the picture of the temple shown to the prophet commences with a description of the courts, with their gates and cells (Ezekiel 40:5-47). It then turns to the description of the temple-house, with the porch and side-building, of the erection upon the separate place (Ezekiel 40:48-41:26), and also of the cells in the outer court set apart for the sacrificial meals of the priests, and for the custody of their official robes; and proceeds to define the extent of the outer circumference of the temple (Ezekiel 42). It closes with the consecration of the temple, as the place of the throne of God, by the entrance into it of the glory of the Lord (Eze 43:1-12).
Eze 40:1. In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth
year after the city was smitten, on this same day the hand of Jehovah came upon me, and He brought me thither. Eze 40:2. In visions of God He brought me into the land of Israel, and set me down upon a very high mountain; and upon it there was like a city-edifice toward the south. Eze 40:3. And He brought me thither, and behold there was a man, his appearance like the appearance of brass, and a flaxen cord in his hand, and the measuring-rod; and he stood by the gate. Eze 40:4. And the man spake to me: Son of man, see with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thy heart upon all that I show thee; for thou art brought hither to show it thee. Tell all that thou seest to the house of Israel. - The twofold announcement of the time when the prophet was shown the vision of the new temple and the new kingdom of God points back to Eze 1:1 and Eze 33:21, and places this divine revelation concerning the new building of the kingdom of God in a definite relation, not only to the appearance of God by which Ezekiel was called to be a prophet (Eze 1:1, Eze 1:3), but also to the vision in Ezekiel 8-11, in which he was shown the destruction of the ancient, sinful Jerusalem, together with its temple. The twenty-fifth year of the captivity, and the fourteenth year after the city was smitten, i.e., taken and reduced to ashes, are the year 575 before Christ. There is a difference of opinion as to the correct explanation of בּראשׁ השּׁנה, at the beginning of the year; but it is certainly incorrect to take the expression as denoting the beginning of the economical or so-called civil year, the seventh month (Tishri). For, in the first place, the custom of beginning the year with the month Tishri was introduced long after the captivity, and was probably connected with the adoption of the era of the Seleucidae; and, secondly, it is hardly conceivable that Ezekiel should have deviated from the view laid down in the Torah in so important a point as this. The only thing that could render this at all probable would be the assumption proposed by Hitzig, that the year 575 b.c. was a year of jubilee, since the year of jubilee did commence with the day of atonement on the tenth of the
seventh month. But the supposition that a jubilee year fell in the twenty-fifth year of the captivity cannot be raised into a probability. We therefore agree with Hävernick and Kliefoth in adhering to the view of the older commentators, that ראשׁ השּׁנה is a contracted repetition of the definition contained in Exo 12:2, ראשׁ חדשׁים ראשׁון , and signifies the opening month of the year, i.e., the month Abib (Nisan). The tenth day of this month was the day on which the preparations for the Passover, the feast of the elevation of Israel into the people of God, were to commence, and therefore was well adapted for the revelation of the new constitution of the kingdom of God. On that day was Ezekiel transported, in an ecstatic state, to the site of the smitten Jerusalem. For היתה עלי יד יי, compare Eze 37:1 and Eze 1:3. שׁמּה evidently points back to העיר in Eze 40:2: thither, where the city was smitten. מראות , as in Eze 1:1. יניחני אל : he set me down upon (not by) a very high mountain (אל for על, as in many other instances; e.g., Eze 18:6 and Eze 31:12).
The very high mountain is Mount Zion, which is exalted above the tops of all the mountains (Mic 4:1; Isa 2:2) - the mountain upon which, according to what follows, the new temple seen in the vision stood, and which has already been designated as the lofty mountain of Israel in Eze 17:22-23.
Upon this mountain Ezekiel saw something like a city-edifice toward the south (lit.,from the south hither). מבנה is not the building of the new Jerusalem (Hävernick, Kliefoth, etc.). For even if what was to be seen as a city-edifice really could be one, although no tenable proof can be adduced of this use of כ simil., nothing is said about the city till Eze 45:6 and 48:156 and 30 ff., and even there it is only in combination with the measuring and dividing of the land; so that Hävernick's remark, that “the revelation has
reference to the sanctuary and the city; these two principal objects announce themselves at once as such in the form of vision,” is neither correct nor conclusive. The revelation has reference to the temple and the whole of the holy land, including the city; and the city itself does not come at all into such prominence as to warrant us in assuming that there is already a reference made to it here in the introduction. If we look at the context, the man with the measure, whom Ezekiel saw at the place to which he was transported, was standing at the gate (Eze 40:3). This gate in the wall round about the building was, according to Eze 40:5, Eze 40:6, a temple gate. Consequently what Ezekiel saw as a city-edifice can only be the building of the new temple, with its surrounding wall and its manifold court buildings. The expressions עליו and מנגב can both be brought into harmony with this. עליו refers to the very high mountain mentioned immediately before, to the summit of which the prophet had been transported, and upon which the temple-edifice is measured before his eyes. But מנגב does not imply, that as Ezekiel looked from the mountain he saw in the distance, toward the south, a magnificent building like a city-edifice; but simply that, looking from his standing-place in a southerly direction, or southwards, he saw this building upon the mountain, - that is to say, as he had been transported from Chaldea, i.e., from the north, into the land of Israel, he really saw it before him towards the south; so that the rendering of מנגב by ἀπέναντι in the Septuagint is substantially correct, though without furnishing any warrant to alter מנגב into מנּגד. In Eze 40:3, ויּביא is repeated from the end of Eze 40:1, for the purpose of attaching the following description of what is seen, in the sense of, “when He brought me thither, behold, there (was) a man.” His appearance was like the appearance of brass, i.e., of shining brass (according to the correct gloss of the lxx χαλκοῦ στίλβοντος נחשׁת קלל = , Eze 1:7). This figure suggests a heavenly being, an angel, and as he is called Jehovah in Eze 44:2, Eze 44:5, the angel of Jehovah.
Kliefoth's opinion, that in Eze 44:2, Eze 44:5, it is not the man who is speaking, but that the prophet is there addressed directly by the apparition of God (Eze 43:2 ff.), is proved to be untenable by the simple fact that the speaker (in Ezekiel 44) admonishes the prophet in Eze 40:5 to attend, to see, and to hear, in the same words as the man in Eze 40:4 of the chapter before us. This places the identity of the two beyond the reach of doubt. He had in his hand a flaxen cord for measuring, and the measuring rod - that is to say, two measures, because he had to measure many and various things, smaller and larger spaces, for the former of which he had the measuring rod, for the latter the measuring line. The gate at which this man stood (Eze 40:3) is not more precisely defined, but according to Eze 40:5 it is to be sought for in the wall surrounding the building; and since he went to the east gate first, according to Eze 40:6, it was not the east gate, but probably the north gate, as it was from the north that Ezekiel had come.
Verse 5 Edit
The Surrounding WallAnd, behold, a wall (ran) on the outside round the house; and in the man's hand was the measuring rod of six cubits, each a cubit and a handbreadth; and he measured the breadth of the building a rod, and the height a rod. - The description of the temple (for, according to what follows, הבּית is the house of Jehovah) (cf. Eze 43:7) commences with the surrounding wall of the outer court, whose breadth (i.e., thickness) and height are measured (see the illustration, Plate I a a a a), the length of the measuring rod having first been given by way of parenthesis. This was six cubits (sc., measured) by the cubit and handbreadth - that is to say, six cubits, each of which was of the length of a (common) cubit and a handbreadth (cf. Eze 43:13); in all, therefore, six cubits and six handbreadths. The ordinary or common cubit, judging from the statement in 2Ch 3:3, that
the measure of Solomon's temple was regulated according to the earlier measure, had become shorter in the course of time than the old Mosaic or sacred cubit. Fro the new temple, therefore, the measure is regulated according to a longer cubit, in all probability according to the old sacred cubit of the Mosaic law, which was a handbreadth longer than the common cubit according to the passage before us, or seven handbreadths of the ordinary cubit. הבּנין, the masonry, is the building of the wall, which was one rod broad, i.e., thick, and the same in height. The length of this wall is not given, and can only be learned from the further description of the whole wall (see the comm. on Eze 40:27).
Verses 6-16 Edit
The Buildings of the East Gate (See Plate II 1). - Eze 40:6. And he went to the gate, the direction of which was toward the east, and ascended the steps thereof, and measured the threshold of the gate one rod broad, namely, the first threshold one rod broad, Eze 40:7. And the guard-room one rod long and one rod broad, and between the guard-rooms five cubits, and the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate from the temple hither one rod. Eze 40:8. And he measured the porch of the gate from the temple hither one rod. Eze 40:9. And he measured the porch of the gate eight cubits, and its pillars two cubits; and the porch of the gate was from the temple hither. Eze 40:10. And of the guard-rooms of the gate toward the east there were three on this side and three on that side; all three had one measure, and the pillars also one measure on this side and on that. Eze 40:11. And he measured the breadth of the opening of the gate ten cubits, the length of the gate thirteen cubits. Eze 40:12. And there was a boundary fence before the guard-rooms of one cubit, and a cubit was the boundary fence on that side, and the guard-rooms were six cubits on this side and six cubits on that side. Eze 40:13. And he measured the gate from the roof of the guard-rooms to the roof of them five and twenty cubits broad, door against door. Eze 40:14. And he fixed the pillars at sixty cubits, and the court round about the gate reached to the pillars. Eze 40:15.
And the front of the entrance gate to the front of the porch of the inner gate was fifty cubits. Eze 40:16. And there were closed windows in the guard-rooms, and in their pillars on the inner side of the gate round about, and so also in the projections of the walls; there were windows round about on the inner side, and palms on the pillars. - ויּבוא אל שׁער is not to be rendered, “he went in at the gate.” For although this would be grammatically admissible, it is not in harmony with what follows, according to which the man first of all ascended the steps, and then commenced the measuring of the gate-buildings with the threshold of the gate. The steps (B in the illustration) are not to be thought of as in the surrounding wall, but as being outside in front of them; but in the description which follows they are not included in the length of the gate-buildings. The number of steps is not give here, but they have no doubt been fixed correctly by the lxx at seven, as that is the number given in Eze 40:22 and Eze 40:26 in connection with both the northern and southern gates. From the steps the man came to the threshold (C), and measured it. “The actual description of the first building, that of the eastern gate, commences in the inside; first of all, the entire length is traversed (Eze 40:6-9), and the principal divisions are measured on the one side; then (Eze 40:10-12) the inner portions on both sides are given more definitely as to their character, number, and measure; in Eze 40:13-15 the relations and measurement of the whole building are noticed; and finally (Eze 40:16), the wall-decorations observed round about the inside. The exit from the gate is first mentioned in Eze 40:17; consequently all that is given in Eze 40:6-16 must have been visible within the building, just as in the case of the other gates the measurements and descriptions are always to be regarded as given from within” (Böttcher). The threshold (C) was a rod in breadth, - that is to say, measuring from the outside to the inside, - and was therefore just as broad as the wall was thick (Eze 40:5). But this threshold was the one, or first threshold, which had to be crossed by any one who
entered the gate from the outside, for the gate-building had a second threshold at the exit into the court, which is mentioned in Eze 40:7. Hence the more precise definition ואת סף אחד, “and that the one, i.e., first threshold,” in connection with which the breadth is given a second time. את is neither nota nominativi, nor is it used in the sense of זאת; but it is nota accus., and is also governed by ויּמד. And אחד is not to be taken in a pregnant sense, “only one, i.e., not broken up, or composed of several” (Böttcher, Hävernick), but is employed, as it frequently is in enumeration, for the ordinal number: one for the first (vid., e.g., Gen 1:5, Gen 1:7).
The length of the threshold, i.e., its measure between the two door-posts (from north to south), is not given; but from the breadth of the entrance door mentioned in Eze 40:11, we can infer that it was ten cubits. Proceeding from the threshold, we have next the measurement of the guard-room (G), mentioned in Eze 40:7. According to 1Ki 14:28, תּא is a room constructed in the gate, for the use of the guard keeping watch at the gate. This was a rod in length, and the same in breadth. A space of five cubits is then mentioned as intervening between the guard-rooms. It is evident from this that there were several guard-rooms in succession; according to Eze 40:10, three on each side of the doorway, but that instead of their immediately joining one another, they were separated by intervening spaces (H) of five cubits each. This required two spaces on each side. These spaces between the guard-rooms, of which we have no further description, must not be thought of as open or unenclosed, for in that case there would have been so many entrances into the court, and the gateway would not be closed; but we must assume “that they were closed by side walls, which connected the guard-rooms with one another” (Kliefoth). - After the guard-rooms there follows, thirdly, the threshold of the gate on the side of, or near the porch of, the gate “in the direction from the house,” i.e., the second threshold, which was at the western exit from the gate-buildings near the porch (D); in other words, which stood
as you entered immediately in front of the porch leading out into the court (C C), and was also a cubit in breadth, like the first threshold at the eastern entrance into the gate. מהבּית, “in the direction from the house,” or, transposing it into our mode of viewing and describing directions, “going toward the temple-house.” This is added to אלם השּׁער to indicate clearly the position of this porch as being by the inner passage of the gate-buildings leading into the court, so as to guard against our thinking of a porch erected on the outside in front of the entrance gate. Böttcher, Hitzig, and others are wrong in identifying or interchanging מהבּית with מבּית, inwardly, intrinsecus (Eze 7:15; 1Ki 6:15), and taking it as referring to סף, as if the intention were to designate this threshold as the inner one lying within the gate-buildings, in contrast to the first threshold mentioned in Eze 40:6.
In Eze 40:8 and Eze 40:9 two different measures of this court-porch (D) are given, viz., first, one rod = six cubits (Eze 40:8), and then eight cubits (Eze 40:9). The ancient translators stumbled at this difference, and still more at the fact that the definition of the measurement is repeated in the same words; so that, with the exception of the Targumists, they have all omitted the eighth verse; and in consequence of this, modern critics, such as Houbigant, Ewald, Böttcher, and Hitzig, have expunged it from the text as a gloss. But however strange the repetition of the measurement of the porch with a difference in the numbers may appear at the first glance, and however naturally it may suggest the thought of a gloss which has crept into the text through the oversight of a copyists, it is very difficult to understand how such a gloss could have been perpetuated; and this cannot be explained by the groundless assumption that there was an unwillingness to erase what had once been erroneously written. To this must be added the difference in the terms employed to describe the dimensions, viz., first, a rod, and then eight cubits, as well as the circumstance that in Eze 40:9, in addition to the measure of the porch, that of the pillars adjoining
the porch is given immediately afterwards. The attempts of the earlier commentators to explain the two measurements of the porch have altogether failed; and Kliefoth was the first to solve the difficulty correctly, by explaining that in Eze 40:8 the measurement of the porch is given in the clear, i.e., according to the length within, or the depth (from east to west), whilst in Eze 40:9 the external length of the southern (or northern) wall of the porch (from east to west) is given. Both of these were necessary, the former to give a correct idea of the inner space of the porch, as in the case of the guard-rooms in Eze 40:8; the latter, to supply the necessary data for the entire length of the gate-buildings, and to make it possible to append to this the dimensions of the pillars adjoining the western porch-wall. As a portion of the gate-entrance or gateway, this porch was open to the east and west; and toward the west, i.e., toward the court, it was closed by the gate built against it. Kliefoth therefore assumes that the porch-walls on the southern and northern sides projected two cubits toward the west beyond the inner space of the porch, which lay between the threshold and the gate that could be closed, and was six cubits long, and that the two gate-pillars, with their thickness of two cubits each, were attached to this prolongation of the side walls. But by this supposition we do not gain a porch (אלם), but a simple extension of the intervening wall between the third guard-room and the western gate. If the continuation of the side walls, which joined the masonry bounding the western threshold on the south and north, was to have the character of a porch, the hinder wall (to the east) could not be entirely wanting; but even if there were a large opening in it for the doorway, it must stand out in some way so as to strike the eye, whether by projections of the wall at the north-east and south-east corners, or what may be more probable, by the fact that the southern and northern side walls receded at least a cubit in the inside, if not more, so that the masonry of the walls of the porch was weaker (thinner) than that at the side of the threshold and by
the pillars, and the porch in the clear from north to south was broader than the doorway. The suffix attached to אילו is probably to be taken as referring to אלם השּׁער, and not merely to שׁער, and the word itself to be construed as a plural (איליו): the pillars of the gate-porch (E) were two cubits thick, or strong. This measurement is not to be divided between the two pillars, as the earlier commentators supposed, so that each pillar would be but one cubit thick, but applies to each of them. As the pillars were sixty cubits high (according to Eze 40:14), they must have had the strength of at least two cubits of thickness to secure the requisite firmness. At the close of the ninth verse, the statement that the gate-porch was directed towards the temple-house is made for the third time, because it was this peculiarity in the situation which distinguished the gate-buildings of the outer court from those of the inner; inasmuch as in the case of the latter, although in other respects its construction resembled that of the gate-buildings of the outer court, the situation was reversed, and the gate-porch was at the side turned away from the temple toward the outer court, as is also emphatically stated three times in Eze 40:31, Eze 40:34, and Eze 40:37 (Kliefoth).
On reaching the gate-porch and its pillars, the measurer had gone through the entire length of the gate-buildings, and determined the measure of all its component parts, so far as the length was concerned. Having arrived at the inner extremity or exit, the describer returns, in order to supply certain important particulars with regard to the situation and character of the whole structure. He first of all observes (in Eze 40:10), with reference to the number and relative position of the guard-houses (G), that there were three of them on each side opposite to one another, that all six were of the same measure, i.e., one rod in length and one in breadth (Eze 40:7); and then, that the pillars mentioned in Eze 40:9, the measurement of which was determined (E), standing at the gate-porch on either side, were of the same size. Many of the commentators have erroneously imagined that by לאילם we are to understand the walls between the guard-
rooms or pillars in the guard-rooms. The connecting walls could not be called אילים; and if pillars belonging to the guard-rooms were intended, we should expect to find לאיליו. - In Eze 40:11 there follow the measurements of the breadth and length of the doorway. The breadth of the opening, i.e., the width of the doorway, was ten cubits. “By this we are naturally to understand the breadth of the whole doorway in its full extent, just as the length of the two thresholds and the seven steps, which was not given in Eze 40:6 and Eze 40:7, is also fixed at ten cubits” (Kliefoth). - The measurement which follows, viz., “the length of the gate, thirteen cubits,” is difficult to explain, and has been interpreted in very different ways. The supposition of Lyra, Kliefoth, and others, that by the length of the gate we are to understand the height of the trellised gate, which could be opened and shut, cannot possibly be correct. ארך, length, never stands for קומה, height; and השּׁער in this connection cannot mean the gate that was opened and shut. השּׁער, as distinguished from פּתח השּׁער, can only signify either the whole of the gate-building (as in Eze 40:6), or, in a more limited sense, that portion of the building which bore the character of a gate in a conspicuous way; primarily, therefore, the masonry enclosing the threshold on the two sides, together with its roof; and then, generally, the covered doorway, or that portion of the gate-building which was roofed over, in distinction from the uncovered portion of the building between the two gates (Böttcher, Hitzig, and Hävernick); inasmuch as it cannot be supposed that a gate-building of fifty cubits long was entirely roofed in. Now, as there are two thresholds mentioned in Eze 40:6 and Eze 40:7, and the distinction in Eze 40:15 between the (outer) entrance-gate and the porch of the inner gate implies that the gate-building had two gates, like the gate-building of the city of Mahanaim (2Sa 18:24), one might be disposed to distribute the thirteen cubits' length of the gate between the two gates, because each threshold had simply a measurement of six cubits. But such a supposition as this, which is not very probable in
itself, is proved to be untenable, by the fact that throughout the whole description we never find the measurements of two or more separate portions added together, so that no other course is open than to assume, as Böttcher, Hitzig, and Hävernick have done, that the length of thirteen cubits refers to one covered doorway, and that, according to the analogy of the measurements of the guard-rooms given in Eze 40:7, it applies to the second gateway also; in which case, out of the forty cubits which constituted the whole length of the gate-building (without the front porch), about two-thirds (twenty-six cubits) would be covered gateway (b b), and the fourteen cubits between would form an uncovered court-yard (c c) enclosed on all sides by the gate-buildings. Consequently the roofing of the gate extended from the eastern and western side over the guard-room, which immediately adjoined the threshold of the gate, and a cubit beyond that, over the wall which intervened between the guard-rooms, so that only the central guard-room on either side, together with a portion of the walls which bounded it, stood in the uncovered portion or court of the gate-building.
According to Eze 40:12, there was a גּבוּל, or boundary, in front of the guard-rooms, i.e., a boundary fence of a cubit in breadth, along the whole of the guard-room, with its breadth of six cubits on either side. The construction of this boundary fence or barrier (a) is not explained; but the design of it is clear, namely to enable the sentry to come without obstruction out of the guard-room, to observe what was going on in the gate both on the right and left, without being disturbed by those who were passing through the gate. These boundary fences in front of the guard-rooms projected into the gateway to the extent described, so that there were only eight (10-2) cubits open space between the guard-rooms, for those who were going out and in. In Eze 40:12 we must supply מפּה after the first אחת because of the parallelism. Eze 40:12 is a substantial repetition of Eze 40:7. - In Eze 40:13 there follows the measure of the breadth of the gate-building. From the roof of the one guard-room to the roof of the other
guard-room opposite (לגגּו is an abbreviated expression for לגג התּא) the breadth was twenty-five cubits, “door against door.” These last words are added for the sake of clearness, to designate the direction of the measurement as taken right across the gateway. The door of the guard-room, however, can only be the door in the outer wall, by which the sentries passed to and fro between the room and the court. The measurement given will not allow of our thinking of a door in the inner wall, i.e., the wall of the barrier of the gateway, without touching the question in dispute among the commentators, whether the guard-rooms had walls toward the gateway or not, i.e., whether they were rooms that could be closed, or sentry-boxes open in front. All that the measuring from roof to roof presupposes is indisputable is, that the guard-rooms had a roof. The measurement given agrees, moreover, with the other measurements. The breadth of the gateway with its ten cubits, added to that of each guard-room with six; and therefore of both together with twelve, makes twenty-two cubits in all; so that if we add three cubits for the thickness of the two outer walls, or a cubit and a half each, that is to say, according to Eze 40:42, the breadth of one hewn square stone, we obtain twenty-five cubits for the breadth of the whole gate-building, the dimension given in Eze 40:21, Eze 40:25, and Eze 40:29.
There is a further difficulty in Eze 40:14. The אילים, whose measurement is fixed in the first clause at sixty cubits, can only be the gate-pillars (איליו) mentioned in Eze 40:9; and the measurement given can only refer to their height. The height of sixty cubits serves to explain the choice of the verb ויּעשׂ, in the general sense of constituit, instead of ויּמד, inasmuch as such a height could not be measured from the bottom to the top with the measuring rod, but could only be estimated and fixed at such and such a result. With regard to the offence taken by modern critics at the sixty cubits, Kliefoth has very correctly observed, that “if it had been considered that our church towers have also grown out of gate-pillars, that we may see for
ourselves not only in Egyptian obelisks and Turkish minarets, but in our own hollow factory-chimneys, how pillars of sixty cubits can be erected upon a pedestal of two cubits square; and lastly, that we have here to do with a colossal building seen in a vision, - there would have been no critical difficulties discovered in this statement as to the height.” Moreover, not only the number, but the whole text is verified as correct by the Targum and Vulgate, and defended by them against all critical caprice; whilst the verdict of Böttcher himself concerning the Greek and Syriac texts is, that they are senselessly mutilated and disfigured. - In the second half of the verse איל stands in a collective sense: “and the court touched the pillars.” החצר is not a court situated within the gate-building (Hitzig, Hävernick, and others), but the outer court of the temple. השּׁער is an accusative, literally, with regard to the gate round about, i.e., encompassing the gate-building round about, that is to say, on three sides. These words plainly affirm what is implied in the preceding account, namely, that the gate-building stood within the outer court, and that not merely so far as the porch was concerned, but in its whole extent. - To this there is very suitably attached in Eze 40:15 the account of the length of the whole building. The words, “at the front of the entrance gate to the front of the porch of the inner gate,” are a concise topographical expression for “from the front side of the entrance gate to the front side of the porch of the inner gate.” At the starting-point of the measurement מן (מעל) was unnecessary, as the point of commencement is indicated by the position of the word; and in על לפני, as distinguished from על פּני, the direction toward the terminal point is shown, so that there is no necessity to alter על into עד, since על, when used of the direction in which the object aimed at lies, frequently touches the ordinary meaning of עד (cf. על קצותם, Psa 19:7, and על תּבליתם, Isa 10:25); whilst here the direction is rendered perfectly plain by the ל (in לפני). The Chetib היאתון, a misspelling for האיתון, we agree with Gesenius and others in regarding as a substantive: “entrance.” The entrance gate
is the outer gate, at the flight of steps leading into the gate-building. Opposite to this was the “inner gate” as the end of the gate-building, by the porch leading into the court. The length from the outer to the inner gate was fifty cubits, which is the resultant obtained from the measurements of the several portions of the gate-building, as given in Eze 40:6-10; namely, six cubits the breadth of the first threshold, 3 x 6 = 18 cubits that of the three guard-rooms, 2 x 5 = 10 cubits that of the spaces intervening between the guard-rooms, 6 cubits that of the inner threshold, 8 cubits that of the gate-porch, and 2 cubits that of the gate-pillars (6 + 18 + 10 + 6 + 8 + 2 = 50).
Lastly, in Eze 40:16, the windows and decorations of the gate-buildings are mentioned. חלּונות, closed windows, is, no doubt, a contracted expression for חלּוני שׁקפים אטמים (1Ki 6:4), windows of closed bars, i.e., windows, the lattice-work of which was made so fast, that they could not be opened at pleasure like the windows of dwelling-houses. but it is difficult to determine the situation of these windows. According to the words of the text, they were in the guard-rooms and in אליהמּה and also לאלמּות, and that לפנימה into the interior of the gate-building, i.e., going into the inner side of the gateway סביב סביב, round about, i.e., surrounding the gateway on all sides. To understand these statements, we must endeavour, first of all, to get a clear idea of the meaning of the words אילים and אלמּות. The first occurs in the singular איל, not only in Eze 40:14, Eze 40:16, and Eze 41:3, but also in 1Ki 6:31; in the plural only in this chapter and in Eze 41:1. The second אילם or אלם is met with only in this chapter, and always in the plural, in the form אלמּות mrof e only in Eze 40:16 and Eze 40:30, in other cases always אילמּים, or with a suffix אילמּיו, after the analogy of תּאות in Eze 40:12 by the side of תּאים in Eze 40:7 and Eze 40:16, תּאי in Eze 40:10, and תּאיו or תּאו in Eze 40:21, Eze 40:29, Eze 40:33, Eze 40:36, from which it is apparent that the difference in the formation of the plural (אילמות and אילמים) has no influence upon the meaning of the word. On the other hand, it is evident from our verse (Eze 40:16), and still
more so from the expression אילי ואל, which is repeated in Eze 40:21, Eze 40:24, Eze 40:29, Eze 40:33, and Eze 40:36 (cf. Eze 40:26, Eze 40:31, and Eze 40:34), that אלים and אלמּים must signify different things, and are not to be identified, as Böttcher and others suppose. The word איל, as an architectural term, never occurs except in connection with doors or gates. It is used in this connection as early as 1Ki 6:31, in the description of the door of the most holy place in Solomon's temple, where האיל signifies the projection on the door-posts, i.e., the projecting portion of the wall in which the door-posts were fixed. Ezekiel uses איל הפּתח in Eze 41:3 in the same sense in relation to the door of the most holy place, and in an analogous manner applies the term אילים to the pillars which rose up to a colossal height at or by the gates of the courts (Eze 40:9, Eze 40:10, Eze 40:14, Eze 40:21, Eze 40:24, etc.), and also of the pillars at the entrance into the holy place (Eze 41:1). The same meaning may also be retained in Eze 40:16, where pillars (or posts) are attributed to the guard-rooms, since the suffix in אליהמּה can only be taken as referring to התּאים. As these guard-rooms had doors, the doors may also have had their posts. And just as in Eze 40:14 אל־איל points back to the אלים previously mentioned, and the singular is used in a collective sense; so may the אל איל in Eze 40:16 be taken collectively, and referred to the pillars mentioned before.
There is more difficulty in determining the meaning of אילם (plural אלמּים or אלמּות), which has been identified sometimes with אוּלם, sometimes with אילים. Although etymologically connected with these two words, it is not only clearly distinguished from אילים, as we have already observed, but it is also distinguished from אוּלם by the fact that, apart from Eze 41:15, where the plural אוּלמּי signifies the front porches in all the gate-buildings of the court, אוּלם only occurs in the singular, because every gate-building had only one front porch, whereas the plural is always used in the case of אלמּים. So far as the form is concerned, אילם is derived from איל; and since איל signifies the projection, more especially the pillars on both sides of the doors and gates, it has apparently
the force of an abstract noun, projecting work; but as distinguished from the prominent pillars, it seems to indicate the projecting works or portions on the side walls of a building of large dimensions. If, then, we endeavour to determine the meaning of אילם more precisely in our description of the gate-building, where alone the word occurs, we find from Eze 40:30 that there were אלמּות round about the gate-buildings; and again from Eze 40:16 and Eze 40:25, that the אלמּים had windows, which entered into the gateway; and still further from Eze 40:22 and Eze 40:26, that when one ascended the flight of steps, they were לפני, “in front of them.” And lastly, from Eze 40:21, Eze 40:29, and Eze 40:33, where guard-rooms, on this side and on that side, pillars (אלים), and אלמּים are mentioned as constituent parts of the gate-building or gateway, and the length of the gateway is given as fifty cubits, we may infer that the אלמּים, with the guard-rooms and pillars, formed the side enclosures of the gateway throughout its entire length. Consequently we shall not be mistaken, if we follow Kliefoth in understanding by אלמּים those portions of the inner side walls of the gateway which projected in the same manner as the two pillars by the porch, namely, the intervening walls between the three guard-rooms, and also those portions of the side walls which enclosed the two thresholds on either side. For “there was nothing more along the gateway, with the exception of the portions mentioned,” that projected in any way, inasmuch as these projecting portions of the side enclosures, together with the breadth of the guard-rooms and the porch, along with its pillars, made up the entire length of the gateway, amounting to fifty cubits. This explanation of the word is applicable to all the passages in which it occurs, even to Eze 40:30 and Eze 40:31, as the exposition of these verses will show. - It follows from this that the windows mentioned in Eze 40:16 can only be sought for in the walls of the guard-rooms and the projecting side walls of the gateway; and therefore that ואל אליהמּה is to be taken as a more precise definition of אל־התּאים: “there were windows in the guard-rooms, and, indeed
(that is to say), in their pillars,” i.e., by the side of the pillars enclosing the door. These windows entered into the interior of the gateway. It still remains questionable, however, whether these windows looked out of the guard-rooms into the court, and at the same time threw light into the interior of the gateway, because the guard-rooms were open towards the gateway, as Böttcher, Hitzig, Kliefoth, and others assume; or whether the guard-rooms had also a wall with a door opening into the gateway, and windows on both sides, to which allusion is made here. The latter is by no means probable, inasmuch as, if the guard-rooms were not open towards the gateway, the walls between them would not have projected in such a manner as to allow of their being designated as אלמּות. For this reason we regard the former as the correct supposition. There is some difficulty also in the further expression סביב סביב; for, strictly speaking, there were not windows round about, but simply on both sides of the gateway. But if we bear in mind that the windows in the hinder or outer wall of the guard-rooms receded considerably in relation to the windows in the projecting side walls, the expression סביב סביב can be justified in this sense: “all round, wherever the eye turned in the gateway.” כּן לאלםּ, likewise in the projecting walls, sc. there were such windows. וכן implies not only that there were windows in these walls, but also that they were constructed in the same manner as those in the pillars of the guard-rooms. It was only thus that the gateway came to have windows round about, which went inwards. Consequently this is repeated once more; and in the last clause of the verse it is still further observed, that אל איל, i.e., according to Eze 40:15, on the two lofty pillars in front of the porch, there were תּמּרים added, i.e., ornaments in the form of palms, not merely of palm branches or palm leaves. - This completes the description of the eastern gate of the outer court. The measuring angel now leads the prophet over the court to the other two gates, the north gate and the south gate. On the way, the outer court is described and measured.
Verses 17-19 Edit
The Outer Court Described and Measured
Eze 40:17. And he led me into the outer court, and behold there were cells and pavement made round the court; thirty cells on the pavement. Eze 40:18. And the pavement was by the side of the gates, corresponding to the length of the gates, (namely) the lower pavement. Eze 40:19. And he measured the breadth from the front of the lower gate to the front of the inner court, about a hundred cubits on the east side and on the north side. - Ezekiel having been led through the eastern gate into the outer court, was able to survey it, not on the eastern side only, but also on the northern and southern sides; and there he perceived cells and רצפּה, pavimentum, mosaic pavement, or a floor paved with stones laid in mosaic form (2Ch 7:3; Est 1:6), made round the court; that is to say, according to the more precise description in v. 18, on both sides of the gate-buildings, of a breadth corresponding to their length, running along the inner side of the wall of the court, and consequently not covering the floor of the court in all its extent, but simply running along the inner side of the surrounding wall as a strip of about fifty cubits broad, and that not uniformly on all four sides, but simply on the eastern, southern, and northern sides, and at the north-west and south-west corners of the western side, so far, namely, as the outer court surrounded the inner court and temple (see Plate I b b b); for on the western side the intervening space from the inner court and temple-house to the surrounding wall of the outer court was filled by a special building of the separate place. It is with this limitation that we have to take סביב סביב. fעשׂוּy may belong either to לשׁכות ורצפּה or merely to רצפּה, so far as grammatical considerations are concerned; for in either case there would be an irregularity in the gender, and the participle is put in the singular as a neuter. If we look fairly at the fact itself, not one of the reasons assigned by Kliefoth, for taking fעשׂוּy as referring to רצפּה only, is applicable throughout. If the pavement ran round by the side of the gate-building on three sides
of the court, and the cells were by or upon the pavement, they may have stood on three sides of the court without our being forced to assume, or even warranted in assuming, that they must of necessity have filled up the whole length on every side from the shoulder of the gate-building to the corner, or rather to the space that was set apart in every corner, according to Eze 46:21-24, for the cooking of the sacrificial meals of the people. We therefore prefer to take עשׂוּי as referring to the cells and the pavement; because this answers better than the other, both to the construction and to the fact. In Eze 40:18 the pavement is said to have been by the shoulder of the gates. השּׁערים is in the plural, because Ezekiel had probably also in his mind the two gates which are not described till afterwards. כּתף, the shoulder of the agate-buildings regarded as a body, is the space on either side of the gate-building along the wall, with the two angles formed by the longer side of the gate-buildings and the line of the surrounding wall. This is more precisely defined by 'לעמּת ארך השׁ, alongside of the length of the gates, i.e., running parallel with it (cf. 2Sa 16:13), or stretching out on both sides with a breadth corresponding to the length of the gate-buildings. The gates were fifty cubits long, or, deducting the thickness of the outer wall, they projected into the court to the distance of forty-four cubits. Consequently the pavement ran along the inner sides of the surrounding wall with a breadth of forty-four cubits. This pavement is called the lower pavement, in distinction from the pavement or floor of the inner court, which was on a higher elevation.
All that is said concerning the לשׁכות is, that there were thirty of them, and that they were אל הרצפּה (see Plate I C). The dispute whether אל signifies by or upon the pavement has no bearing upon the fact itself. As Ezekiel frequently uses אל for על, and vice versâ, the rendering upon can be defended; but it cannot be established, as Hitzig supposes, by referring to 2Ki 16:17. If we retain the literal meaning of אל, at or against, we cannot picture to ourselves
the position of the cells as projecting from the inner edge of the pavement into the unpaved portion of the court; for in that case, to a person crossing the court, they would have stood in front of (לפני) the pavement rather than against the pavement. The prep. אל, against, rather suggests the fact that the cells were built near the surrounding wall, so that the pavement ran along the front of them, which faced the inner court in an unbroken line. In this case it made no difference to the view whether the cells were erected upon the pavement, or the space occupied by the cells was left unpaved, and the pavement simply joined the lower edge of the walls of the cells all round. The text contains no account of the manner in which they were distributed on the three sides of the court. But it is obvious from the use of the plural לשׁכות, that the reference is not to thirty entire buildings, but simply to thirty rooms, as לשׁכּה does not signify a building consisting of several rooms, but always a single room or cell in a building. Thus in 1Sa 9:22 it stands for a room appointed for holding the sacrificial meals, and that by no means a small room, but one which could accommodate about thirty persons. In Jer 36:12 it is applied to a room in the king's palace, used as the chancery. Elsewhere לשׁכּה is the term constantly employed for the rooms in the court-buildings and side-buildings of the temple, which served partly as a residence for the officiating priests and Levites, and partly for the storing of the temple dues collected in the form of tithes, fruits, and money (vid., 2Ki 23:11; Jer 35:4; Jer 36:10; 1Ch 9:26; Neh 10:38 -40). Consequently we must not think of thirty separate buildings, but have to distribute the thirty cells on the three sides of the court in such a manner that there would be ten on each side, and for the sake of symmetry five in every building, standing both right and left between the gate-building and the corner kitchens. - In Eze 40:19 the size or compass of the outer court is determined. The breadth from the front of the lower gate to the front of the inner court was 100 cubits. השּׁער התּחתּונה,
the gate of the lower court, i.e., the outer gate, which was lower than the inner. התּחתּונה is not an adjective agreeing with שׁער, for apart from Isa 14:31 שׁער is never construed as a feminine; but it is used as a substantive for חצר התּחתּונה, the lower court, see the comm. on Eze 8:3. מלפני denotes the point from which the measuring started, and לפני החצר the direction in which it proceeded, including also the terminus: “to before the inner court,” equivalent to “up to the front of the inner court,” The terminal point is more precisely defined by מחוּץ, from without, which Hitzig proposes to erase as needless and unusual, but without any reason. For, inasmuch as the gateways of the inner court were built into the outer court, as is evident from what follows, מחוּץ simply affirms that the measuring only extended to the point where the inner court commenced within the outer, namely, to the front of the porch of the gate, not to the boundary wall of the inner court, as this wall stood at a greater distance from the porch of the outer court-gate by the whole length of the court-gate, that is to say, as much as fifty cubits. From this more precise definition of the terminal point it follows still further, that the starting-point was not the boundary-wall, but the porch of the gate of the outer court; in other words, that the hundred cubits measured by the man did not include the fifty cubits' length of the gate-building, but this is expressly excluded. This is placed beyond all doubt by Eze 40:23 and Eze 40:27, where the distance of the inner court-gate from the gate (of the outer court) is said to have been a hundred cubits. - The closing words הקּדים have been very properly separated by the Masoretes from what precedes, by means of the Athnach, for they are not to be taken in close connection with ויּמד; nor are they to be rendered, “he measured...toward the east and toward the north” for this would be at variance with the statement, “to the front of the inner court.” They are rather meant to supply a further appositional definition to the whole of the preceding clause: “he measured from...a hundred
cubits,” relating to the east side and the north side of the court, and affirm that the measuring took place from gate to gate both on the eastern and on the northern side; in other words, that the measure given, a hundred cubits, applied to the eastern side as well as the northern; and thus they prepare the way for the description of the north gate, which follows from Eze 40:20 onwards.
Verses 20-27 Edit
The North Gate and the South Gate of the Outer Court (1 Plate I A)
The description of these two gate-buildings is very brief, only the principal portions being mentioned, coupled with the remark that they resembled those of the east gate. The following is the description of the north gate. - Eze 40:20. And the gate, whose direction was toward the north, touching the outer court, he measured its length and its breadth, Eze 40:21. And its guard-rooms, three on this side and three on that, and its pillars and its wall-projections. It was according to the measure of the first gate, fifty cubits its length, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Eze 40:22. And its windows and its wall-projections and its palms were according to the measure of the gate, whose direction was toward the east; and by seven steps they went up, and its wall-projections were in front of it. Eze 40:23. And a gate to the inner court was opposite the gate to the north and to the east; and he measured from gate to gate a hundred cubits. - With the measuring of the breadth of the court the measuring man had reached the north gate, which he also proceeded to measure now. In Eze 40:20 the words והשּׁער to החיצונה are written absolutely; and in Eze 40:21 the verb היה does not belong to the objects previously enumerated, viz., guard-rooms, pillars, etc., but these objects are governed by ויּמד yb denrevog e, and היה points back to the principal subject of the two verses, השּׁער: it (the gate) was according to the measure... (cf. Eze 40:15 and Eze 40:13). For the use of ב in definitions of measurement, “25 בּאמּה” (by the cubit, sc. measured), as in Exo 27:18, etc., see Gesenius, §120. 4,
Anm. 2. The “first gate” is the east gate, the one first measured and described. In Eze 40:23 the number of steps is given which the flight leading into the gateway had; and this of course applies to the flight of steps of the east gate also (Eze 40:6). In Eze 40:22, כּמדּת is not to be regarded as doubtful, as Hitzig supposes, or changed into כּ; for even if the windows of the east gate were not measured, they had at all events a definite measurement, so that it might be affirmed with regard to the windows of the north gate that their dimensions were the same. This also applies to the palm-decorations. With regard to the אלמּים (Eze 40:21), however, it is simply stated that they were measured; but the measurement is not given. לפּניהם (Eze 40:22, end) is not to be altered in an arbitrary and ungrammatical way into לפנימה, as Böttcher proposes. The suffix הם refers to the steps. Before the steps there were the אילמּים of the gate-building. This “before,” however, is not equivalent to “outside the flight of steps,” as Böttcher imagines; for the measuring man did not go out of the inside of the gate, or go down the steps into the court, but came from the court and ascended the steps, and as he was going up he saw in front (vis-à-vis) of the steps the אילמּים of the gate, i.e., the wall-projections on both sides of the threshold of the gate. In Eze 40:23 it is observed for the first time that there was a gate to the inner court opposite to the northern and the eastern gate of the outer court already described, so that the gates of the outer and inner court stood vis-à-vis. The distance between these outer and inner gates is then measured, viz., 100 cubits, in harmony with Eze 40:19.
In Eze 40:24-27 the south gate is described with the same brevity. Eze 40:24. And he led me toward the south, and behold there was a gate toward the south, and he measured its pillars and its wall-projections according to the same measures. Eze 40:25. And there were windows in it and its wall-projections round about like those windows; fifty cubits was the length, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Eze 40:26. And seven steps were its ascent and its wall-projections in the front of them,
and it had palm-work, one upon this side and one upon that on its pillars. Eze 40:27. And there was a gate to the inner court toward the south, and he measured from gate to gate toward the south a hundred cubits. - This gate also was built exactly like the two others. The description simply differs in form, and not in substance, from the description of the gate immediately preceding. כּמּדּות האלּ, “like those measures,” is a concise expression for “like the measures of the pillars already described at the north and east gates.” For Eze 40:25, compare Eze 40:16 and Eze 40:21; and for Eze 40:26, vid., Eze 40:22. Eze 40:26 is clearly explained from Eze 40:16, as compared with Eze 40:9. And lastly, Eze 40:27 answers to the 23rd verse, and completes the measuring of the breadth of the court, which was also a hundred cubits upon the south side, from the outer gate to the inner gate standing opposite, as was the case according to Eze 40:19 upon the eastern side. Hävernick has given a different explanation of Eze 40:27, and would take the measurement of a hundred cubits as referring to the distance between the gates of the inner court which stood opposite to each other, because in Eze 40:27 we have משּׁער in the text, and not מן השּׁער; so that we should have to render the passage thus, “he measured from a gate to the gate toward the south a hundred cubits,” and not “from the gate (already described) of the outer court,” but from another gate, which according to the context of the verse must also be a gate of the inner court. But it is precisely the context which speaks decidedly against this explanation. For since, according to Eze 40:18, the measuring man did not take the prophet into the inner court, for the purpose of measuring it before his eyes, till after he had measured from (a) gate to the south gate of the inner court, the distance which he had previously measured and found to be a hundred cubits is not to be sought for within the inner court, and therefore cannot give the distance between the gates of the inner court, which stood opposite to one another, but must be that from the south gate of the outer
court to the south gate of the inner. This is the case not only here, but also in Eze 40:23, where the north gate is mentioned. We may see how little importance is to be attached to the omission of the article in משּׁער from the expression משּׁער אל שׁער in Eze 40:23, where neither the one gate nor the other is defined, because the context showed which gates were meant. Hävernick's explanation is therefore untenable, notwithstanding the fact that, according to Eze 40:47, the size of the inner court was a hundred cubits both in breadth and length. - From the distance between the gates of the outer court and the corresponding gates of the inner, as given in Eze 40:27, Eze 40:23, and Eze 40:19, we find that the outer court covered a space of two hundred cubits on every side, - namely, fifty cubits the distance which the outer court building projected into the court, and fifty cubits for the projection of the gate-building of the inner court into the outer court, and a hundred cubits from one gate-porch to the opposite one (50 + 50 + 100 = 200).
Consequently the full size of the building enclosed by the wall (Eze 40:5), i.e., of the temple with its two courts, may also be calculated, as it has been by many of the expositors. If we proceed, for example, from the outer north gate to the outer south gate upon the ground plan (Plate I), we have, to quote the words of Kliefoth, “first the northern breadth of the outer court (D) with its two hundred cubits; then the inner court, which measured a hundred cubits square according to Eze 40:47 (E), with its hundred cubits; and lastly, the south side of the outer court with two hundred cubits more (D); so that the sanctuary was five hundred cubits broad from north to south. And if we start from the entrance of the east gate of the court (A), we have first of all the eastern breadth of the outer court, viz., two hundred cubits; then the inner court (e) with its hundred cubits; after that the temple-buildings, which also covered a space of a hundred cubits square according to Eze 41:13-14, including the open space around them (G), with another hundred cubits; and lastly, the גּזרה (J), which was
situated to the west of the temple-buildings, and also covered a space of a hundred cubits square according to Eze 41:13-14, with another hundred cubits; so that the sanctuary was also five hundred cubits long from east to west, or, in other words, formed a square of five hundred cubits.”
Verses 28-37 Edit
The Gates of the Inner Court (Vid., Plate I B and Plate II II). - Eze 40:28. And he brought me into the inner court through the south gate, and measured the south gate according to the same measures; Eze 40:29. And its guard-rooms, and its pillars, and its wall-projections, according to the same measures; and there were windows in it and in its wall-projections round about: fifty cubits was the length, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Eze 40:30. And wall-projections were round about, the length five and twenty cubits, and the breadth five cubits. Eze 40:31. And its wall-projections were toward the outer court; and there were palms on its pillars, and eight steps its ascendings. Eze 40:32. And he led me into the inner court toward the east, and measured the gate according to the same measures; Eze 40:33. And its guard-rooms, and its pillars, and its wall-projections, according to the same measures; and there were windows in it and its wall-projections round about: the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Eze 40:34. And its wall-projections were toward the outer court; and there were palms on its pillars on this side and on that side, and eight steps its ascent. Eze 40:35. And he brought me to the north gate, and measured it according to the same measures; Eze 40:36. Its guard-rooms, its pillars, and its wall-projections; and there were windows in it round about: the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Eze 40:37. And its pillars stood toward the outer court; and palms were upon its pillars on this side and on that; and its ascent was eight steps. - In Eze 40:27 the measuring man had measured the distance from
the south gate of the outer court to the south gate of the inner court, which stood opposite to it. He then took the prophet through the latter (Eze 40:28) into the inner court, and measured it as he went through, and found the same measurements as he had found in the gates of the outer court. This was also the case with the measurements of the guard-rooms, pillars, and wall-projections, and with the position of the windows, and the length and breadth of the whole of the gate-building (Eze 40:29); from which it follows, as a matter of course, that this gate resembled the outer gate in construction, constituent parts, and dimensions. This also applied to both the east gate and north gate, the description of which in Eze 40:32-37 corresponds exactly to that of the south gate, with the exception of slight variations of expression. It is true that the porch is not mentioned in the case of either of these gates; but it is evident that this was not wanting, and is simply passed over in the description, as we may see from Eze 40:39, where the tables for the sacrifices are described as being in the porch (בּאוּלם). There are only two points of difference mentioned in Eze 40:31, Eze 40:34, and Eze 40:37, by which these inner gates were distinguished from the outer. In the first place, that the flights of steps to the entrances to these gates had eight steps according to the closing words of the verses just cited, whereas those of the outer gates had only seven (cf. Eze 40:22 and Eze 40:26); whilst the expression also varies. מעלו being constantly used here instead of עלותו (Eze 40:26). עלות, from עלה, the ascending, are literally ascents, i.e., places of mounting, for a flight of steps or staircase. מעלו, the plural of מללה, the ascent (not a singular, as Hitzig supposes), has the same meaning.
The second difference, which we find in the first clause of the verses mentioned, as of a more important character. It is contained in the words, “and its אלמּים (the projecting portions of the inner side-walls of the gateway) were directed toward the outer court” (אל and ל indicating the direction). The interpretation of this somewhat obscure statement is facilitated by the fact that in Eze 40:37 אילו stands in the
place of אילמּו (Eze 40:31 and Eze 40:34). אילו are the two lofty gate-pillars by the porch of the gate, which formed the termination of the gate-building towards the inner court in the case of the outer gates. If, then, in the case of the inner gates, these pillars stood toward the outer court, the arrangement of these gates must have taken the reverse direction to that of the outer gates; so that a person entering the gate would not go from the flight of steps across the threshold to the guard-rooms, and then across the second threshold to the porch, but would first of all enter the porch by the pillars in front, and then go across the threshold to the guard-rooms, and, lastly, proceed across the second threshold, and so enter the inner court. But if this gate-building, when looked at from without, commenced with the porch-pillars and the front porch, this porch at any rate must have been situated outside the dividing wall of the two courts, that is to say, must have been within the limits of the outer court. And further, if the אילמּים, or wall-projections between the guard-rooms and by the thresholds, were also directed toward the outer court, the whole of the gate-building must have been built within the limits of that court. This is affirmed by the first clauses of Eze 40:31, Eze 40:34, and Eze 40:37, which have been so greatly misunderstood; and there is no necessity to alter ואילו in Eze 40:37 into ואלמּו, in accordance with Eze 40:31 and Eze 40:34. For what is stated in Eze 40:31 and Eze 40:34 concerning the position or direction of the אילמּים, also applies to the אילים; and they are probably mentioned in Eze 40:37 because of the intention to describe still further in Eze 40:38 what stood near the אילים. Kliefoth very properly finds it incomprehensible, “that not a few of the commentators have been able, in spite of these definite statements in Eze 40:13, Eze 40:34, and Eze 40:37, to adopt the conclusion that the gate-buildings of the inner gates were situated within the inner court, just as the gate-buildings of the outer gates were situated within the outer court. As the inner court measured only a hundred cubits square, if the inner gates had stood within the inner court, the north and south gates of
the inner court would have met in the middle, and the porch of the east gate of the inner court would have stood close against the porches of the other two gates. It was self-evident that the gate-buildings of the inner gates stood within the more spacious outer court, like those of the outer gates. Nevertheless, the reason why the situation of the inner gates is so expressly mentioned in the text is evidently, that this made the position of the inner gates the reverse of that of the outer gates. In the case of the outer gates, the first threshold was in the surrounding wall of the outer court, and the steps stood in front of the wall; and thus the gate-building stretched into the outer court. In that of the inner gates, on the contrary the second threshold lay between the surrounding walls of the inner court, and the gate-building stretched thence into the outer court, and its steps stood in front of the porch of the gate. Moreover, in the case of the east gates, for example, the porch of the outer gate stood toward the west, and the porch of the inner gate toward the east, so that the two porches stood opposite to each other in the outer court, as described in Eze 40:23 and Eze 40:27.”
In Eze 40:30 further particulars respecting the אילמּים are given, which are apparently unsuitable; and for this reason the verse has been omitted by the lxx, while J. D. Michaelis, Böttcher, Ewald, Hitzig, and Maurer, regard it as an untenable gloss. Hävernick has defended its genuineness; but inasmuch as he regards אילמּים as synonymous with אוּלם, he has explained it in a most marvellous and decidedly erroneous manner, as Kliefoth has already proved. The expression סביב סביב, and the length and breadth of the אלמּות here given, both appear strange. Neither of the length of the twenty-five cubits nor the breadth of the five cubits seems to tally with the other measures of the gate-building. So much may be regarded as certain, that the twenty-five cubits' length and the five cubits' breadth of the אלמּות cannot be in addition to the total length of the gate-building, namely fifty cubits, or its total breadth of twenty-five cubits, but must be included in them. For the אלמּות were
simply separate portions of the side-enclosure of the gateway, since this enclosure of fifty cubits long consisted of wall-projections (אלמּות), three open guard-rooms, and a porch with pillars. The open space of the guard-rooms was 3 x 6 = 18 cubits, and the porch was six cubits broad in the clear (Eze 40:7 and Eze 40:8), and the pillars two cubits thick. If we deduct these 18 + 6 + 2 = 26 cubits from the fifty cubits of the entire length, there remain twenty-four cubits for the walls by the side of the thresholds and between the guard-rooms, namely, 2 x 5 = 10 cubits for the walls between the three guard-rooms, 2 x 6 = 12 cubits for the walls of the threshold, and 2 cubits for the walls of the porch; in all, therefore, twenty-four cubits for the אלמּות; so that only one cubit is wanting to give us the measurement stated, viz., twenty-five cubits. We obtain this missing cubit if we assume that the front of the wall-projections by the guard-rooms and thresholds was a handbreadth and a half, or six inches wider than the thickness of the walls, that is to say, that it projected three inches on each side in the form of a moulding. - The breadth of the אלמּות in question, namely five cubits, was the thickness of their wall-work, however, or the dimension of the intervening wall from the inside to the outside on either side of the gateway. That the intervening walls should be of such a thickness will not appear strange, if we consider that the surrounding wall of the court was six cubits thick, with a height of only six cubits (Eze 40:5). And even the striking expression סביב סביב becomes intelligible if we take into consideration the fact that the projecting walls bounded not only the entrance to the gate, and the passage through it on the two sides, but also the inner spaces of the gate-building (the guard-rooms and porch) on all sides, and, together with the gates, enclosed the gateway on every side. Consequently Eze 40:30 not only as a suitable meaning, but furnishes a definite measurement of no little value for the completion of the picture of the gate-buildings. The fact that this definite measure was not given in connection with the gates of the outer court, but was only
supplemented in the case of the south gate of the inner court, cannot furnish any ground for suspe