Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
JERUSALEM, AND AGAINST
2. the holy places--the three parts of the temple: the courts,
the holy place, and the holiest. If "synagogues" existed before the
Babylonian captivity, as
seems to imply, they and the proseuchæ, or oratories, may
be included in the "holy places" here.
3. righteous . . . wicked--not contradictory of
Eze 18:4, 9
and Ge 18:23.
Ezekiel here views the mere outward aspect of the indiscriminate
universality of the national calamity. But really the same
captivity to the "righteous" would prove a blessing as a wholesome
discipline, which to the "wicked" would be an unmitigated punishment.
The godly were sealed with a mark
not for outward exemption from the common calamity, but as marked for
the secret interpositions of Providence, overruling even evil to their
good. The godly were by comparison so few, that not their salvation but
the universality of the judgment is brought into view here.
4. The "sword" did not, literally, slay all; but the
judgments of God by the foe swept through the land "from the
south to the north."
6. with the breaking of thy loins--as one afflicted with pleurisy; or
as a woman, in labor-throes, clasps her loins in pain, and heaves and
sighs till the girdle of the loins is broken by the violent action
of the body
7. The abrupt sentences and mournful repetitions imply violent
9. sword--namely, of God
The Chaldeans are His instrument.
10. to make a sore slaughter--literally, "that killing it may kill."
glitter--literally, "glitter as the lightning flash": flashing terror
into the foe.
should we . . . make mirth--It is no time for levity when such a
calamity is impending
(Isa 22:12, 13).
it contemneth the rod of my son, &c.--The sword has no more respect
to the trivial "rod" or scepter of Judah
than if it were any common "tree." "Tree" is the image retained from
Eze 21:2, 3.
God calls Judah "My son" (compare
FAIRBAIRN arbitrarily translates, "Perchance the
scepter of My son rejoiceth; it (the sword) despiseth every tree."
11. the slayer--the Babylonian king in this case; in general,
all the instruments of God's wrath
12. terrors by reason of the sword, &c.--rather, "they (the princes
of Israel) are delivered up to the sword together with My people"
smite . . . upon . . . thigh--a mark of
13. it is a trial--rather, "There is a trial" being made: the sword
of the Lord will subject all to the ordeal. "What, then, if it contemn
even the rod" (scepter of Judah)? Compare as to a similar scourge of
it shall be no more--the scepter, that is, the state, must
necessarily then come to an end. Fulfilled in part at the overthrow of
Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, but fully at the time of "Shiloh's" (Messiah's)
when Judea became a Roman province.
14. smite . . . hands together--
indicative of the indignant fury with which God will "smite" the
sword . . . doubled the third time--referring to the threefold
calamity:--(1) The taking of Zedekiah (to whom the "rod," or scepter,
may refer); (2) the taking of the city; (3) the removal of all those who
remained with Gedaliah. "Doubled" means "multiplied" or "repeated." The
stroke shall be doubled and even trebled.
of the slain--that is, by which many are slain. As the Hebrew is
FAIRBAIRN makes it refer to the king, "the sword of the
great one that is slain," or "pierced through."
entereth . . . privy chambers--
The sword shall overtake them, not merely in the open battlefield, but
in the chambers whither they flee to hide themselves
(1Ki 20:30; 22:25).
MAURER translates, "which besieged them";
FAIRBAIRN, "which penetrates to them." English
Version is more literal.
15. point--"the whirling glance of the sword"
naked (bared) sword" [HENDERSON].
ruins--literally, "stumbling-blocks." Their own houses and walls
shall be stumbling-blocks in their way, whether they wish to fight or
made bright--made to glitter.
wrapped, &c.--namely, in the hand of him who holds the hilt, or in
its scabbard, that the edge may not be blunt when it is presently drawn
forth to strike. GESENIUS, translates, "sharpened," &c.
16. Apostrophe to the sword.
Go . . . one way--or, "Concentrate thyself"; "Unite thy forces
on the right hand" [GROTIUS]. The sword is commanded to take the nearest
route for Jerusalem, "whither their face was set," whether south or
north ("right hand or left"), according to where the several parts of
the Chaldean host may be.
or other, . . . on the left--rather "set thyself on the left." The
verbs are well-chosen. The main "concentration" of forces was to be
on "the right hand," or south, the part of Judea in which Jerusalem
was, and which lay south in marching from Babylon, whereas the Chaldean
forces advancing on Jerusalem from Egypt, of which Jerusalem was north,
were fewer, and therefore "set thyself" is the verb used.
17. Jehovah Himself smites His hands together, doing what He had
commanded Ezekiel to do (see on
in token of His smiting Jerusalem; compare the similar symbolical
(2Ki 13:18, 19).
cause . . . fury to rest--give it full vent, and so satisfy it
19. two ways--The king coming from Babylon is represented in the
graphic style of Ezekiel as reaching the point where the road branched
off in two ways, one leading by the south, by Tadmor or Palmyra, to
Rabbath of Ammon, east of Jordan; the other by the north, by Riblah in
Syria, to Jerusalem--and hesitating which way to take. Ezekiel is told
to "appoint the two ways" (as in
for Nebuchadnezzar, though knowing no other control but his own will
and superstition, had really this path "appointed" for him by the
out of one land--namely, Babylon.
choose . . . a place--literally, "a hand." So it is
translated by FAIRBAIRN, "make a
finger-post," namely, at the head of the two ways, the hand post
pointing Nebuchadnezzar to the way to Jerusalem as the way he should
select. But MAURER rightly supports English
Version. Ezekiel is told to "choose the place" where Nebuchadnezzar
should do as is described in
Eze 21:20, 21;
so entirely does God order by the prophet every particular of place and
time in the movements of the invader.
20. Rabbath of the Ammonites--distinct from Rabbah in Judah
Rabbath is put first, as it was from her that Jerusalem, that doomed
city, had borrowed many of her idols.
to Judah in Jerusalem--instead of simply putting "Jerusalem," to imply
the sword was to come not merely to Judah, but to its people within Jerusalem, defended though it was; its defenses on which the Jews relied
so much would not keep the foe out.
21. parting--literally, "mother of the way." As "head of the two ways"
follows, which seems tautology after "parting of the way,"
translates, according to Arabic idiom, "the highway," or principal
road. English Version is not tautology, "head of the two ways"
defining more accurately "parting of the way."
made . . . bright--rather, "shook," from an Arabic root.
arrows--Divination by arrows is here referred to: they were put into
a quiver marked with the names of particular places to be attacked, and
then shaken together; whichever came forth first intimated the one
selected as the first to be attacked
[JEROME]. The same usage existed
among the Arabs, and is mentioned in the Koran. In the Nineveh
sculptures the king is represented with a cup in his right hand, his
left resting on a bow; also with two arrows in the right, and the bow in
the left, probably practising divination.
images--Hebrew, "teraphim"; household gods, worshipped as family
talismans, to obtain direction as to the future and other blessings.
First mentioned in Mesopotamia, whence Rachel brought them
(Ge 31:19, 34);
put away by Jacob
set up by Micah as his household gods
stigmatized as idolatry
liver--They judged of the success, or failure, of an undertaking by the
healthy, or unhealthy, state of the liver and entrails of a sacrifice.
22. Rather, "In his right hand was [is] the divination," that is,
he holds up in his right hand the arrow marked with "Jerusalem," to
encourage his army to march for it.
captains--The Margin, "battering-rams," adopted by
less appropriate, for "battering-rams" follow presently after
open the mouth in . . . slaughter--that is, commanding slaughter:
raising the war cry of death. Not as
GESENIUS, "to open the mouth
with the war shout."
23. Unto the Jews, though credulous of divinations when in their
favor, Nebuchadnezzar's divination "shall be (seen) as false." This
gives the reason which makes the Jews fancy themselves safe from the
Chaldeans, namely, that they "have sworn" to the latter "oaths" of
allegiance, forgetting that they had violated them
(Eze 17:13, 15, 16, 18).
but he, &c.--Nebuchadnezzar will remember in consulting his idols
that he swore to Zedekiah by them, but that Zedekiah broke the league
[GROTIUS]. Rather, God will remember against them
their violating their oath sworn by the true God, whereas
Nebuchadnezzar kept his oath sworn by a false god;
24. Their unfaithfulness to Nebuchadnezzar was a type of their general
unfaithfulness to their covenant God.
with the hand--namely, of the king of Babylon.
25. profane--as having desecrated by idolatry and perjury his office
as the Lord's anointed.
HAVERNICK translates, as in
"slain," that is, not literally, but virtually; to Ezekiel's idealizing
view Zedekiah was the grand victim "pierced through" by God's sword of
judgment, as his sons were slain before his eyes, which were then put
out, and he was led a captive in chains to Babylon. English
Version is better: so GESENIUS
when iniquity shall have an end--
When thine iniquity, having reached its last stage of guilt, shall be
put an end to by judgment
26. diadem--rather, "the miter" of the holy priest
His priestly emblem as representative of the priestly people. Both this
and "the crown," the emblem of the kingdom, were to be removed, until
they should be restored and united in the Mediator, Messiah
(Ps 110:2, 4;
[FAIRBAIRN]. As, however, King Zedekiah alone, not
the high priest also, is referred to in the context, English
Version is supported by GESENIUS.
this shall not be the same--The diadem shall not be as it was
[ROSENMULLER]. Nothing shall remain what it was
exalt . . . low, . . . abase . . . high--not the general truth
but specially referring to Messiah and Zedekiah contrasted together.
The "tender plant . . . out of the dry ground"
is to be "exalted" in the end
the now "high" representative on David's throne, Zedekiah, is to be
"abased." The outward relations of things shall be made to
change places in just retaliation on the people for having so perverted
the moral relations of things [HENGSTENBERG].
27. Literally, "An overturning, overturning, overturning, will I make
it." The threefold repetition denotes the awful certainty of the event;
not as ROSENMULLER
explains, the overthrow of the three, Jehoiakim,
Jeconiah, and Zedekiah; for Zedekiah alone is referred to.
it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is--strikingly
Nowhere shall there be rest or permanence; all things shall be in
fluctuation until He comes who, as the rightful Heir, shall restore the
throne of David that fell with Zedekiah. The Hebrew for "right"
is "judgment"; it perhaps includes, besides the right to rule,
the idea of His rule being one in righteousness
Isa 9:6, 7; 11:4;
Others (Nebuchadnezzar, &c.), who held the rule of the earth delegated
to them by God, abused it by unrighteousness, and so forfeited the
"right." He both has the truest "right" to the rule, and exercises it
in "right." It is true the tribal "scepter" continued with Judah
"till Shiloh came"
but there was no kingly scepter till Messiah came, as the
spiritual King then
(Joh 18:36, 37);
this spiritual kingdom being about to pass into the literal,
personal kingdom over Israel at His second coming, when, and not
before, this prophecy shall have its exhaustive fulfilment
(Lu 1:32, 33;
Jer 3:17; 10:7;
"To thee doth it appertain").
28. Lest Ammon should think to escape because Nebuchadnezzar had taken
the route to Jerusalem, Ezekiel denounces judgment against Ammon,
without the prospect of a restoration such as awaited Israel.
it is true, speaks of a "bringing again of its captivity," but this
probably refers to its spiritual restoration under Messiah; or,
if referring to it politically, must refer to but a partial
restoration at the downfall of Babylon under Cyrus.
their reproach--This constituted a leading feature in their guilt; they
treated with proud contumely the covenant-people after the taking of
Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar
(Eze 25:3, 6;
Zep 2:9, 10),
and appropriated Israel's territory
furbished, to consume--MAURER
punctuates thus, "Drawn for the
slaughter, it is furbished to devour ('consume'), to glitter."
English Version, "to consume because of the glittering," means, "to
consume by reason of the lightning, flash-like rapidity with which
it falls." Five years after the fall of Jerusalem, Ammon was destroyed
for aiding Ishmael in usurping the government of Judea against the will
of the king of Babylon
29. see vanity . . . divine a lie--Ammon, too, had false diviners who
flattered them with assurances of safety; the only result of which will
be to "bring Ammon upon the necks," &c., that is, to add the Ammonites
to the headless trunks of the slain of Judah, whose bad example
Ammon followed, and "whose day" of visitation for their guilt "is come."
when their iniquity shall have an
30. Shall I cause it to return into his sheath--namely, without first
destroying Ammon. Certainly not
(Jer 47:6, 7).
Others, as the Margin, less suitably read it imperatively,
"Cause it to return," that is, after it has done the work appointed to
in the land of thy nativity--Ammon was not to be carried away captive
as Judah, but to perish in his own land.
31. blow against thee in, &c.--rather, "blow upon thee with the fire,"
&c. Image from smelting metals
(Eze 22:20, 21).
skilful to destroy--literally, "artificers of destruction"; alluding
32. thy blood shall be--that is, shall flow.
be no more remembered--be consigned as a nation to oblivion.