Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
The distinction between Israel and the heathen (as Edom) is: Israel has
a covenant relation to God ensuring restoration after chastisement, so
that the heathen's hope of getting possession of the elect people's
inheritance must fail, and they themselves be made desolate
The reason for the chastisement of Israel was Israel's sin and
profanation of God's name
God has good in store for Israel, for His own name's sake, to revive
His people; first, by a spiritual renewal of their hearts, and, next,
by an external restoration to prosperity
The result is that the heathen shall be impressed with the power and
goodness of God manifested so palpably towards the restored people
1, 2. mountains of Israel--in contrast to "Mount Seir" of the
previous prophecy. They are here personified; Israel's elevation is
moral, not merely physical, as Edom's. Her hills are "the everlasting
hills" of Jacob's prophecy
"The enemy" (Edom, the singled-out representative of all God's foes),
with a shout of exultation, "Aha!" had claimed, as the nearest kinsman
of Israel (the brother of their father Esau), his vacated inheritance;
as much as to say, the so-called "everlasting" inheritance of Israel
and of the "hills," which typified the unmoved perpetuity of it
(Ps 125:1, 2),
has come to an end, in spite of the promise of God, and has become
De 32:13; 33:15).
3. Literally, "Because, even because."
swallowed you up--literally, "panted after" you, as a beast after its
prey; implying the greedy cupidity of Edom as to Israel's inheritance
(Ps 56:1, 2).
lips of talkers--literally, "lips of the tongue," that is, of the
slanderer, the man of tongue. Edom slandered Israel because of the
connection of the latter with Jehovah, as though He were unable to save
and Jer 24:9
had foretold Israel's reproach among the heathen
4. Inanimate creatures are addressed, to imply that the creature
also, as it were, groans for deliverance from the bondage of corruption
into the glorious liberty of the children of God
[POLANUS]. The completeness of the renewed
blessedness of all parts of the land is implied.
5. to cast it out for a prey--that is, to take the land for a prey,
its inhabitants being cast out. Or the land is compared to a prey cast
forth to wild beasts. FAIRBAIRN needlessly alters the Hebrew pointing
and translates, "that they may plunder its pasturage."
6. the shame of the heathen--namely, the shame with which the heathen
(Ps 123:3, 4).
7. lifted . . . mine hand--in token of an oath
they shall bear their shame--a perpetual shame; whereas the "shame"
which Israel bore from these heathen was only for a time.
8. they are at hand to come--that is, the Israelites are soon
about to return to their land. This proves that the primary reference
of the prophecy is to the return from Babylon, which was "at hand," or
comparatively near. But this only in part fulfilled the prediction, the
full and final blessing in future, and the restoration from Babylon was
an earnest of it.
10. wastes builded--
Isa 58:12; 61:4;
Am 9:11, 12, 14,
where, as here
(Eze 34:23, 24),
the names of David, Messiah's type, and Edom, Israel's foe, are
introduced in connection with the coming restoration.
11. do better . . . than at your beginnings--as in the case of Job
Whereas the heathen nations fall irrevocably, Israel shall be more than
restored; its last estate shall exceed even its first.
12. to walk upon you--O mountains of Israel
thee . . . thou--change from plural to singular: O hill of
Zion, singled out from the other mountains of Israel
thou shall no more . . . bereave them of men--Thou shalt no more
provoke God to bereave them of children (so the ellipsis ought to be
supplied, as Ezekiel probably alludes to
"I will bereave them of children").
13. Thou land devourest up men--alluding to the words of the spies
The land personified is represented as doing that which was done in it.
Like an unnatural mother it devoured, that is, it was the grave of its
people; of the Canaanites, its former possessors, through mutual wars,
and finally by the sword of Israel; and now, of the Jews, through
internal and external ills; for example, wars, famine (to which
"reproach of famine among the heathen," implies the allusion
14. bereave--so the Keri, or Hebrew Margin reads,
to correspond to "bereave" in
but "cause to fall" or "stumble," in the Hebrew text or
Chetib, being the more difficult reading, is the one least
likely to come from a corrector; also, it forms a good transition to
the next subject, namely, the moral cause of the people's
calamities, namely, their falls, or stumblings through
sin. The latter ceasing, the former also cease. So the same expression
"Neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall any more."
17. removed woman--
18, 19. The reason for their removal was their sin, which God's
holiness could not let pass unpunished; just as a woman's legal
uncleanness was the reason for her being separated from the
20. profaned my holy name, when they--the heathen
said to them--the Israelites.
These, &c.--The Israelites gave a handle of reproach to the heathen
against God, who would naturally say, These who take usury, oppress,
commit adultery, &c., and who, in such an abject plight, are "gone
forth" as exiles "out of His land," are specimens of what Jehovah can or
will effect, for His people, and show what kind of a God this so-called
holy, omnipotent, covenant-keeping God must be!
21. I had pity for mine holy name--that is, I felt pity for it; God's
own name, so dishonored, was the primary object of His pitying concern;
then His people, secondarily, through His concern for it
22. not . . . for your sakes--that is, not for any
merit in you; for, on the contrary, on your part, there is everything
to call down continued severity (compare
De 9:5, 6).
The sole and sure ground of hope was God's regard to "His own name," as
the God of covenant grace
which He must vindicate from the dishonor brought on it by the Jews,
before the heathen.
23. sanctify--vindicate and manifest as holy, in opposition to the
heathen reproaches of it brought on by the Jews' sins and their
punishment (see on
sanctified in you--that is, in respect of you; I shall be regarded
in their eyes as the Holy One, and righteous in My dealings towards you
(Eze 20:41; 28:22).
24. Fulfilled primarily in the restoration from Babylon; ultimately
to be so in the restoration "from all countries."
25. The external restoration must be preceded by an internal one. The change in their condition must not be superficial, but must be
based on a radical renewal of the heart. Then the heathen, understanding
from the regenerated lives of God's people how holy God is, would
perceive Israel's past troubles to have been only the necessary
vindications of His righteousness. Thus God's name would be "sanctified"
before the heathen, and God's people be prepared for outward blessings.
sprinkle . . . water--phraseology taken from the law; namely, the
water mixed with the ashes of a heifer sprinkled with a hyssop on the
the thing signified being the cleansing blood of Christ sprinkled on
the conscience and heart
(Heb 9:13, 14; 10:22;
from all your idols--Literal idolatry has ceased among the Jews ever
since the captivity; so far, the prophecy has been already fulfilled;
but "cleansing from all their idols," for example, covetousness,
prejudices against Jesus of Nazareth, is yet future.
26. new heart--mind and will.
spirit--motive and principle of action.
stony heart--unimpressible in serious things; like the "stony ground"
(Mt 13:5, 20),
unfit for receiving the good seed so as to bring forth fruit.
heart of flesh--not "carnal" in opposition to "spiritual"; but
impressible and docile, fit for receiving the good seed. In
they are commanded, "Make you a new heart, and a new spirit."
Here God says, "A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit
will I put within you." Thus the responsibility of man, and the
sovereign grace of God, are shown to be coexistent. Man cannot make
himself a new heart unless God gives it
(Php 2:12, 13).
27. my spirit--
The partial reformation at the return from Babylon
&c.; Ne 8:1-9:38)
was an earnest of the full renewal hereafter under Messiah.
28. ye . . . my people, . . . I . . . your
29. save . . . from all . . . uncleannesses--the province of Jesus,
according to the signification of His name
To be specially exercised in behalf of the Jews in the latter days
call for . . . corn--as a master "calls for" a servant; all the powers
and productions of nature are the servants of Jehovah
Mt 8:8, 9).
Compare as to the subordination of all the intermediate agents to the
Great First Cause, who will give "corn" and all good things to His
Ho 2:21, 22;
30. no more reproach of famine among the heathen--to which their taunt
"Thou land devourest up men," in part referred.
31. remember your . . . evil ways--with shame and loathing. The
unexpected grace and love of God, manifested in Christ to Israel, shall
melt the people into true repentance, which mere legal fear could not
(Eze 16:61, 63;
Jer 33:8, 9).
35. they shall say--The heathen, who once made Israel's desolation a
ground of reproach against the name of Jehovah Himself
(Eze 36:20, 21);
but now He so vindicates its sanctity
(Eze 36:22, 23)
that these same heathen are constrained to acknowledge Israel's more
than renewed blessedness to be God's own work, and a ground for
glorifying His name
Eden--as Tyre (the type of the world powers in general: so Assyria,
a cedar "in the garden of God, Eden,"
Eze 31:8, 9),
in original advantages, had been compared to "Eden, the garden of God"
from which she had fallen irrecoverably; so Israel, once desolate, is
to be as "the garden of Eden"
and is to be so unchangeably.
36. Lord . . . spoken . . . do it--
37. I will yet for this be inquired of--so as to grant it. On former
occasions He had refused to be inquired of by Israel because the
inquirers were not in a fit condition of mind to receive a blessing
(Eze 14:3; 20:3).
But hereafter, as in the restoration from Babylon
Da 9:3-20, 21, 23),
God will prepare His people's hearts
to pray aright for the blessings which He is about to give
(Ps 102:13-17, 20;
Zec 12:10-14; 13:1).
like a flock--resuming the image
(Eze 34:23, 31).
38. As the holy flock--the great flock of choice animals for sacrifice,
brought up to Jerusalem at the three great yearly festivals, the
passover, pentecost, and feast of the tabernacles.